Shanghai is a giant city and your experience really depends on a few factors like:
1) where you live in the city
2) do you speak basic Mandarin
3) do you make nice money
4) do you have to use the internet
If you can afford to live in Jing'an or the French Concession, you can live a fashionable metropolitan lifestyle like you would in New York City. There's amazing food (Asian, Western and fusion). You'll be surrounded by entrepreneurs, artists, fashion designers and models. Many of whom do speak English.
It gets better if you speak basic Mandarin though. You don't need to care about the characters. Just learn to speak, that's important enough. The nice thing about Mandarin is China is so big everyone has an accent, so for Chinese it really doesn't matter so much that you have one too.
Depending on how and what kind of money you make, your experience also changes. Like most places in Asia, English teachers are the lowest rank in the hierarchy of foreigners here. Chinese know. But if you're an entrepreneur, even (or especially) an online one, that's high regarded. The problem with working online here is obviously the firewall which can make it very difficult. I've heard good stories about Shadowsocks which seems to work better than regular VPNs.
The recent China vs. America tensions are in fact making people slightly more hostile against Western foreigners. But remember this is Shanghai, it's a metropolitan city, they're usually much less xenophobic than out in the country. Mostly Shanghainese are happy to embrace foreigners, become friends with them, as long as they speak English. And as long as you invest a lot of time. Just popping in and out like a nomad isn't necessarily going to work so well with Chinese. Relationships are long-term.
🎒 Nomad Score3.9/5 210 reviews💵 Cost okay📡 Internet very bad😀 Fun great👮 Safety goodTap to Open🌥Feels 26°79°24°75°😷AQI531$1,933 / mo2Mbps×
I lived and worked (at a law firm) in Chengdu for about 3 months. I absolutely loved the city! It's so different from east coast China, especially given the Tibetan influences in many areas. I had a company arrange my apartment and registrations, but was a seamless process. I am a white, American male who speaks a decent bit of Mandarin, and I found the locals to be incredibly hospitable. China is general is extremely affordable for a Westerner, and Chengdu offers the luxuries of any large, Western city/metro area.
🎒 Nomad Score3.16/5 202 reviews💵 Cost good📡 Internet very bad😀 Fun okay👮 Safety goodTap to Open🌧Feels 20°68°20°68°🥵😷AQI566$948 / mo2Mbps×
My favorite place in China. Best months of the year are April to October. Any who loves rivers, mountains, rock climbing, caves, rafting, etc. will love it here. Biggest reccommendation, buy or rent a scooter and go exploring! There's so much to see. I made a lot of Chinese and international friends while studying Chinese here (Omeida Chinese Academy: www.omeidachinese.com ) That made my experience even better.
🎒 Nomad Score3.14/5 167 reviews💵 Cost good📡 Internet very bad😀 Fun good👮 Safety goodTap to Open🌥Feels 27°81°25°78°🥵😷AQI687$1,140 / mo2Mbps×
🎒 Nomad Score3.11/5 187 reviews💵 Cost good📡 Internet very bad😀 Fun okay👮 Safety goodTap to Open🌥Feels 28°82°26°78°😷AQI7612$1,305 / mo2Mbps×
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