I’m not going to candy-coat it: the difference between what a Westerner makes in Shanghai, and a local Chinese person, is dramatically different. Laowai (foreigners) make a lot more money, and you might find Chinese senior executives making way less than subordinates. This is why, in the wake of the recent ANA crash, the company wasn’t sure if they should compensate the victims’ families based on a Western monetary scale, or a Chinese scale.
As a Westerner, however, this is good news if you get transferred to Shanghai. There’s good money to be made, goods and services are cheap, and you can live like a king or queen if you land the right job. I caught up with Candice Kraughto, who used to be in charge of public relations for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Her husband got a job in Shanghai two years ago, so they packed up their lives and moved to a whole new life. Candice now volunteers for an expat magazine and, aside from the publication deadlines, is pretty much a tai tai, or lady of leisure. She took me out for a day of shopping, dining, and massage in the French Concession, giving me a glimpse of a pretty fabulous (albeit uncomplicated) life in China.
Then on my last night in the big city, I had to have a grand finale with dinner somewhere on the Bund. Mr. & Mrs. Bund is highly recommended by everyone, and reservations are hard to come by. We got in because the receptionist made a mistake, and they had to honor our reservation; it ended up working out better, as we had to go at 11 p.m. to have their late-night prix fixe menu, which is more affordable than ala carte. Here’s how you might live it up in Shanghai:
If you have some time, check out the Tian Zifang area, which is in the French Concession. It's yet another maze of alleyways filled with trendy boutiques, craft stores, bars and coffee shops, art studios and more. There's a lot of cool stuff in there you'll want to buy, but can't fit into your already-stuffed suitcase. (Who, me?)
These are just the highlights. If you want to see all of my Shanghai photos, click here.