Tell me about your experience living in Shenzhen



Well, putting aside the thread based on an american newspaper article,


and this sad excuse for a forum,

I'd like to hear from any Forumosans who currently live in Shenzhen or lived there before.

You guessed it, I'm being transferred over there, and would like any descriptions of your experiences living there.

Or if you even visited for more than, say, a week, I'd be glad to hear what you thought of it.

I'm less concerned with political opinions and more with daily life, eating, renting, cost of living, things to avoid, etc. Thanks in advance!


Never spent more than a week there, but I do travel to Shenzhen fairly frequently. Parts of it are reasonable, or indeed quite beautiful, such as the port area of Shekou (蛇口). Other areas are downright sleazy and revolting, and crawling with pimps and beggars, such as the border point with HK at Luowu.

If you can, try and get yourself into Shekou where there has been a foreign presence for sometime and still a relatively big foreign population. Because of this there also very decent foreign eateries and pubs. It also lacks the built up feel of other parts of the city. There's an out door eating area with a ship plonked in the middle of a park which has a distinctly festive vibe. There's also a very good supermarket gearing to western, predominantly American, tastes.

If you believe the Chinese presss then you'd think Shenzhen was the murder capital of the planet, and there does seem to be some nasty shit happening with gangs and so on. Remember that there are literally millions of migrant workers here, a fairly serious drug problem involving ice, an unbelievable number of street hookers and quite a degree of the sort of street crime you just don't see in Taiwan. With that in mind, you may want to seriously consider how safe a house you want to live in.

As for rents, you should be able to get something decent for around Rmb5,000, but may seek to go as low as Rmb2,000 depending on how willing you are to adopt a third world lifestyle.



First of all, Shenzhen is a very big place. It's like saying you want to live in LA, but don't specify between West LA, Beverly Hills, and Compton. Shenzhen has its version of all of those.

Shenzhen "proper" ie Futian is pretty nice, modern, and relatively clean. Lots of new residential high-rises, lots of shopping, western places like Haagen Daaz with its ultra pricing. Luohu, the border "town" is both nice and sleezy. Shekou as mentioned is where a lot of foreign companies and foreigners live. Outside the "guan" (Shenzhen is nominally divided into guannei (inside the gates - customs) and guanwai (outside the gates). Outside the gates are definitely more factory towns. These can be downright shitty, nasty hookers, pickpockets, dirty streets, crazier-than-Taiwan driving (so much so even the Taiwanese complain... imagine that). That said, you will be surprised at what you can also find that's nice. A beach in NanAo. I also go horseback riding now in Guanming.

So assuming you're working for a foreign company, and are stationed in Shekou, I'd say it's not bad, comparable to parts of Taipei.


Extremely helpful and insightful, thanks both!

Apparently our office is in Futian, and I presume the place they find for me will be near there. Thanks for the heads up.


Futian is a pretty bland area. It's around halfway between Shenzhen and Shekou.



Bland? OK, maybe. Jack described it as:

I guess clean and modern fall under bland ... but if I gotta live there for three years, I'd rather be there than outside the gates.

I live in Ximen now, which is not exactly modern or clean by most standards.

Either way, I can live with bland. I'd rather live in a bland sanitized area and travel to the wilder parts when the need strikes me.


Sorry. Futian is also a very big district. I've only seen certain parts that are nice, and went to the nice shopping district for computer parts. In general, it's a lot cleaner than other parts of Shenzhen. But Futian also has neighbourhoods that are dirty, shady, KTVish. But there are a lot of high-rises and lots of construction all the time. And the streets are much cleaner.

If you want super amazing, check out Huawei's Company Town (BanTian). They built it to look like Silicon Valley.

All in all, you really should make a trip out here and see with your own eyes. And especially since I don't know where your company is (nor am I familiar with Futian that much).


Thanks, Jack.

I will actually make a trip out there, because ye olde company is gonna fly me there on a fact-finding trip in October.

Generalizations though they may be, I like the feedback I've gotten here. It's not just you and HGC, is it? 2 Forumosans been there only? More generalizations welcome!! Hell, i know so little about this place ...


I lived in SZ for 6mths a while back and now still travel over there regularly, I found it pretty comfortable. I had an apartment in Honey Lake close to the Che Gong Miao MTR station, this was convenient to travel to Futian daily. As I took the wife and kids I decided to get an apartment in a complex with ~10 buildings surrounding a park area and pool (then cost RMB4,500). Honey Lake is a nice area with a Sam's Club (Walmart), Papa John's pizza, McD's, KFC (they are prevalent in China), B&Q, etc. thought there is not a large Expat contingent.

I also looked at apartments in Shi Jie Zhi Chuang (window of the world), prices were a little cheaper, that area also has a Walmart and considerably more foreigners. But the MTR ride would be a little longer

As people have mentioned many foreigners live in Shekou (though honestly I believe this is changing), however I would not suggest that unless you fancy a 1hr or more commute per day.. They are extending the MTR all the way to Shekou but don't think it is planned to open any time soon… Taxi's are cheap and fairly safe so just taxi down to that area when you have the urge, evenings &/or weekends (I used to go down somewhat regularly to have a beer in the Irish bar or a Brazilian Barbeque). The place with the big boat, bars & restaurants is called "SeaWorld".

If working in Futian (close to exhibition center), another new and decent area to look at is close to Coco Park, this is a new shopping center/mall (with everything that entails) but they have a couple of outdoor bar's/restaurants and it is right on an MTR stop (Gou Wu Gong Yuan).. apartment prices right here are pretty steep (~RMB7000).. Though a block away prices quickly drop.. I regularly stay in a hotel in this area.

There is another new shopping center closer to LoWu, though the name escapes me right now.. it has a nice outdoor area full of bars out front, no idea of prices but again a pretty modern new area.

If possible I would suggest trying to get close to one of the newer shopping centers/malls, if you do it will offer the convenience of many international branded stores (StarBucks, McD, KFC, Pizza Hut, Haagendazs, Walmart?, etc.) and a safer feeling environment. Also suggest trying to get close to an MTR station..

Being a Brit, one of the greatest things about SZ is HK is only 1hr away.. So if and when you need to get away from it all or need some essentials you can't find in China it's quick and in-expensive.


Wow, more details, thank you!

lemme ask:

how's the cost of living compared to taiwan?

And I know that there's a bus from SZ to HK and back, but is there also a hydrofoil? and a train?

And someone mentioned that there's both "inside the gates" and "outside the gates". Does that mean that one must pass thru a border crossing (or equivalent) to leave HK and then another to enter SZ proper? it seems one would have to carry a passport 24/7.


(1) Mostly cheaper.
(2) There's a ferry from Shekou to HK or Kowloon. The standard trip is by a metro train to the border at Luowu.
(3) Shenzhen is a Special Economic Zone. there are checkpoints like toll booths on the roads in and out. Technically, you can get a visa for Shenzhen SEZ and you are not permitted to leave the SEZ, likewise local residents need special permission to live and enter the SEZ. The reality is these are very porous artificial borders. The fgates are an hour or so out of town on either direction, so you won't need your passport/ID unless you are heading out somewhere else.



Thanks again. I'm going to keep on grilling you all as best I can.

  • Any report on the nightlife in SZ? Bars? Live music? Areas to go and areas to avoid? (or is that the same as the advice I got earlier?)

  • Does the average person speak Mandarin or Cantonese?


Another question:
Let's say I visit the SEZ and stay there for a few days, now I want to go into China proper ... where do I get a visa? Go back to HK or can it be done in Shenzhen?


Bars as above. Most of the foreign hangs are in Shekou, but if your taste extends to amphetamine fuelled mainland techno, you won't be disappointed almost anywhere.

Most people are from other parts of China, so the lingua franca is Putonghua.

Nope, you ask for a proper China visa at the border, as it's good for the SEZ and beyond.




It's a pity I have registered here so late - you probably don't need any more advice on living in Shenzhen! :slight_smile:

You will have lived here a while by now - how are you finding it? :sunglasses:


Back from the dead.

I've been offered a position in Shenzhen; so aside from the info above from a few years ago, what's it like? Anything changed (well... you know what I mean..) Big city so large range I know, but is it more a Taipei, a Taizhong, or a Kaohsiung overall?

-Safety compared to Taipei? Not in the sticks, but the main shopping/nightlife/etc areas?
-Is the air even worse than HK? Does it make Taizhong look pristine?
-I've love to settle down in an area like Taipei's Tianmu, Beitou, Xindian, Daan, or even Xinyi. Does this exist in Shenzhen? And I'm not just talking hills and houses, more like does the same vibe exist if that makes any sense...
- Motorcyle ownership avail/common? How about scooters?

Thanks in advance!


Ummm . . . well, Shenzhen is full of increasingly desperate people, So far Taipei has been spared that horror show. Mostly, as a foreigner, you'll be fine. I guess we still enjoy some novelty factor to the jobless thugs of the hinterland. A strange let's not go there just in case sort of thing, but if you read the Chinese press, it is the crime capital of China.

You can find really, really nice places in Shekou, which is eminently livable.

Air quality sucks, but is improving as those filthy, mostly HK, Taiwanese and South Korean owned factories operating there precisely for the previously lax anti-pollution laws and on razor thin margins are squeezed to death by the sudden enforcement of labour and environmental laws. It's a divine day here in HK, for example, and Shenzhen's just an hour from where I sit and tap.

It sure as shit isn't Taichung, possibly closer, on the face of it, to Kaohsiung. But that's a very superficial suggestion. It's China, it's a different place altogether.



Hmmm... I was atleast hoping to only have to lower my standards to Taizhong.... Maybe I will have to put "black A6 + driver included" into the contract. :discodance:

How's it compare to outskirts Beijing? Like 3rd, 4th ring road type area?


Oh yes indeed, it is a hardship post and you should pile that very much into whatever contract you are signing. Secure housing a must, and a driver and a decent car. Obviously this only applies if you have that luxury. Better if you could adjust that after you arrived, or go see first.

There are gated mostly foreign communities, but I've not been to any.



Think of it as the modern day Babylon, Sodom and Gomorra all wrapped into one.