Settling In

I am settling into Shanghai pretty well. It helps to have a spouse living here for over a year ahead of me already, but that is not a relocation strategy I would recommend. The day before I arrived, Rebecca moved into our new apartment. Yes kids, she coordinated and executed a household move by herself. In Shanghai, China.

I love our new apartment, for so many reasons. First is the location. We live in an area of Shanghai called Xuhui. More specifically, we live in the former French Concession. In the early part of the last century, sections of the city were conceded to different governments. While that’s all gone and the various conceded areas are mostly just a memory, our area retains some of its architectural feel from that time period. Lots of one way streets, tons of trees, and a big variety of buildings.

The second reason to love our apartment is the service. The building was once entirely serviced or corporate apartments, run essentially like a hotel. That has evolved over time, and some of the units (like ours) are owned by various individuals. There is still a front desk staff however, and their services are available to everyone in the building. The building staff is super helpful. Need a taxi? They flag one down. Need help carrying some stuff? The doorman is happy to lend a hand. If anything in the apartment needs repair, the building staff comes up and takes care of it.

Third apartment love, the Internet. Yes, our router is apparently hidden somewhere in the ceiling. And once in a while we have to flip a breaker to reset it. But the speed is acceptable and for whatever reason, it is not as restricted as we would normally expect. One of these days I am going to track down where the router is and see if I can relocate it somewhere more accessible. While WiFi is great, I am a fan of wired connections when possible.

The fourth reason to love our apartment is the full-sized, side-by-side Samsung refrigerator. That might sound silly, but try living out of dorm fridge for an extended period, and you will understand. It is quite common practice to go to the market every day or two, so larger refrigerators are not always standard kitchen equipment. While I enjoy having the option of various markets and shops close at hand, I also sometimes want to go to the big Carrefour and stock up.

Right next to the refrigerator is love number five, the oven. As in bake a cake, cookies, dumplings, or Ikea cinnamon swirls in, oven. It is not at large as a regular oven in the States, but it is fine for the two of us.

Our apartment was available furnished, but what came with it could only be politely described as Marriott hotel chic, circa 1995. Serviceable, but not really our thing. We had the furniture taken out, and have bought some basic pieces of furniture from Ikea that are more our style. We have already picked up a couple fun old chairs for the living room to give the place a more some more soul, and over time we will add to it. Picking out your furnishings is a bit of a pain and expense, but we plan on being here for at least 4 years, and it really makes the place feel like home.

The bathrooms are a little small, but outfitted in fancy marble. The fixtures are high-end, but very old school. It reminds me of a bathroom of a fancy hotel, in 1940. Good news is tons of water pressure, and the tankless water heater means you can’t run out of hot water. Why in the world haven’t  those things taken off in the USA?


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