Known as the “Paris of the East” and competing with Hong Kong to be known as the "Pearl of the Orient", expats moving to Shanghai will find themselves in a metropolis shaped by local and international influences. By some measures the largest city in the world, Shanghai also boasts one of the largest ports in the world.

While Beijing and Hong Kong are perhaps more likely to capture the imaginations of those looking to move to China, Shanghai has functioned as a gateway for commerce between the East and the West for more than a century.

The city continues to be the gateway to China's vast economy and is the country's leading financial centre. Its willingness to attract international business and adaptive spirit mean that Shanghai’s foreign population continues to grow steadily. Among them are some of the best and brightest in fields such as finance, biomedicine, high-tech industries and education.

Expats moving to Shanghai become part of this skilled workforce, often joining one of the many international companies that continue to open branches in a city on the cutting edge of global economics.

For decades, Shanghai has grown upwards and sprawled outwards, with glass, concrete and steel sprouting up between ancient temples, forest parks and traditional neighbourhoods nestling distinctly Western-looking areas. While this has provided security and comfort to an international population, life in Shanghai can become isolated, as parts of the city have perhaps forsaken some of their local flavour in adopting a more international character.

The city’s uniquely Chinese cosmopolitanism has, however, contributed to a glamorous character defined by vast magnitudes of people, spectacles and colour.