8 Things to Pack When Moving to Shanghai

You’ve decided to pick up your life and move to Shanghai; the contract is signed, visa in hand, and now it’s time for the last step –packing! Where do you even begin to pack for starting a new life in Shanghai?

Luckily, Shanghai is becoming more and more western friendly. The assortment of western products and brands is easier to find than in most parts of China. However, between import taxes and availability, some of your go-to brands may cost you an arm and leg or simply just not be available. Avoid paying extra for luggage of unnecessary things or spending too much upon arriving to Shanghai by following this expat guide.

Here are 8 essential things you need to pack when moving to Shanghai.

1. Prescriptions and Medications

Most over the counter medicines can easily be found in pharmacies in Shanghai and for even cheaper than at home! If you are privy to a certain brand though, it may be hard to find in the Chinese pharmacies as the brands are not the same as you are used to.

It’s a smart idea to pack a small supply kit of your preferred allergy medicine, Dayquil/Nyquil, and Ibuprofen until you get settled and find the closest pharmacy that you can navigate. There is nothing worse than getting sick abroad and being lost in translation trying to find just the right medicine.

If you use a certain type of birth control or specialty medication, it’s best to ask your doctor to write a prescription for a 6-month or 1-year supply. Switching dosage or brands can mess with your system and you definitely don’t want to add that to the list when moving to Shanghai1. Prescriptions and Medications

2. Makeup

There are a variety of western makeup stores as well as Korean makeup brands available in Shanghai. As with all imports, if you do happen to find the brand you use from home it will likely carry a high import tax.

Westerners go nuts for Korean makeup brands –as you should, however, often times, local Chinese and Korean makeup brands contain whitening agents. Unless you’re a pro at reading Chinese characters or its stated in English, you may not know the ingredients of what you are putting on your face. It’s wise for those with sensitive skin, especially, to stock up on familiar make up brands from home.

3. Contact Solution

Contact solution is not something that is widely available at stores. It must be purchased at special eyeglass or contact lens stores and will come at a much higher price.

4. Deodorant

Deodorant is not widely used in most Asian countries as most Asians don’t produce odor from sweat, so they don’t find the need to use it. Although you might come across deodorant in Shanghai, it will likely be much weaker than the brands you’re familiar with. If you sweat a lot or require a clinical strength deodorant, definitely stock up with 4-6 bottles before moving to Shanghai.

5. Shoes

This one seems obvious, of course you need shoes, but unless you have relatively small feet you should plan to bring shoes for all seasons. It can be difficult to find larger size shoes and when you do, the selection won’t be great.

Shanghai has very distinct seasons, so you will need a range of shoes to trek around the city. Sneakers, rain boots, heels/dress shoes, sandals (especially if you are planning to escape on vacation to the Philippines) and don’t forget slippers!

6. Tampons

In China, most women use pads, so you’ll easily find a wide variety in that department. However, if you’re like most western women who prefer tampons, you’ll be on a scavenger hunt searching high and low. There are select foreign stores that carry tampons in Shanghai but they come at a higher price. OB and Tampax are the main western brands sold and typically come in a box of 8, so you will definitely need to bring enough to make it through your first few months in China. Then you can wait until your next trip home or abroad, or just get one of your kind friends to sneak some back for you!

7. Baby Formula

Baby formula produced in China is mostly counterfeit or produced with melamine.  Imported brands come at an extremely high price. Save money and bring your babies preferred brand with you.

8. Western Comfort Food

Although you can find nearly everything when you live in Shanghai, it might not be the brand you’re familiar with. For those days when life in Shanghai is not so great and you’re feeling a bit homesick, it’s always nice to have a jar of Trader Joe’s peanut-butter to dig into (or whatever you may fancy from home).

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