Areas and suburbs in Shenzhen
Shenzhen is one of China’s fastest-growing expat destinations. The city’s rapid growth and urbanisation have resulted in rent prices skyrocketing, and expats hoping to live close to Shenzhen’s city centre should expect to pay highly for the privilege.
Due to its size, expats in Shenzhen will want to make sure they choose accommodation in an area which is convenient for getting to work and school. Commutes between certain parts of the city can be as long as 90 minutes during morning and evening rush hours, and expats will likely want to do all they can to avoid this.
Shenzhen is split into nine administrative districts, some falling within the Special Economic zone and some lying just outside its borders. Some of the most popular expat areas in Shenzhen are explored below.
Nanshan is one of Shenzhen’s most popular areas and is frequently referred to as the city’s ‘garden district’. This area alone is home to almost a million people and a significant percentage of Shenzhen’s expat population.
Nanshan is known for being clean and giving residents easy access to some of Shenzhen's best green spaces. The area is particularly popular with expat families, who will have access to a vast selection of international schools within the district. Apartments in Nanshan are generally of a high standard and slightly cheaper than neighbouring districts like Futian.
Expats living in Nanshan will be able to choose from an abundance of public transport options. There are six metro lines which run through the neighbourhood, as well as a host of bus and taxi services. The district also boasts a beautiful ferry terminal which offers residents a quick and easy way of visiting nearby Hong Kong.
Technically a part of the Nanshan district, Shekou deserves special mention due to its extreme popularity among expats. This small neighbourhood has by far the highest population of expats in Shenzhen. New arrivals should have no difficulty finding accommodation in one of the area's many residential complexes, most of which offer amenities like gardens, swimming pools and exercise facilities.
Shekou also boasts the city's highest concentration of international schools, a factor that draws many foreign families to settle down here. For those looking for a night on the town, there is an array of excellent restaurants, pubs and bars to meet their needs.
While Shekou seems to have everything an expat will need, many new arrivals complain that they feel isolated from the rest of the city. Those who prefer to avoid the infamous 'expat bubble' should look to areas like Futian and Louhu for a more authentic experience of the local culture.
Futian is Shenzhen’s main business and administrative centre. This busy and modern district houses city landmarks like the Stock Exchange Building, Library and Concert Hall. Some of China’s tallest buildings dominate the Futian skyline, adding to it’s urban feel.
Futian is also one of the most expensive and exclusive districts in Shenzhen. Its pricey and modern apartments are particularly popular with young and single expats, especially due to its excellent public transport network and proximity to green areas in the Nanshan district.
Overseas China Town (OCT), Coco Park and Honeylake are popular expat enclaves within the Futian district. These areas boast plenty of creative spaces, bars, cafes and restaurants to keep city residents entertained.
While there are a handful of international schools in the district, family size apartments in Futian can be exorbitantly expensive. Coupled with the lack of green spaces, this generally leads expat with children to look for accommodation in the more family-friendly Nanshan.
Futian’s rush hour traffic is particularly infamous and as such expats should look for accommodation as close to their place of work as possible.
Louhu is Shenzhen’s trading and financial centre. The district is one of the oldest in Shenzhen, and expats in the area will be able to get a good sense of the city's history and culture in this former fishing village.
Louhu offers residents a shoppers paradise, where luxury designer clothing, pricey antiques and even cheap fake goods will be at their fingertips. There is also no shortage of entertainment options in Louhu. It is an extremely popular area for visitors to Shenzhen, with a diverse range of bars, Karaoke lounges and nightclubs on offer.
Nature lovers will find many beautiful natural landmarks in Louhu, including Wutong Mountain and a number of rivers. With so much to see and do in the district, expats living in Louhu are unlikely to ever find themselves feeling bored.
Accommodation in Louhu is not nearly as exorbitantly priced as some other areas in Shenzhen. However, most of the apartments in this area are also notably smaller and older than those that an expat would be able to find in districts like Nanshan and Futian.