From Shanghai’s city center, it’s an easy 40-minute ride by train to the western suburb of Hongqiao, which means “Rainbow Bridge.” The area is considered a gateway to China’s prosperous Yangtze River Delta economic zone, which accounts for one-fifth of the country’s gross domestic product and one-third of its exports and imports. The neighborhood, first established in the 1990s, is populated with spacious villas and luxury apartments, and known for international residents drawn there by good schools, amenities, and convenient transportation options.

“Hongqiao is one of Shanghai’s earliest expatriate communities,” said Regina Yang, Knight Frank China’s director and head of research and consultancy, adding that many Koreans and Japanese people with high-ranking positions reside in the neighborhood.

Families, in particular, flock to the acclaimed international schools nearby, and the business community is also well represented, attracted to the neighborhood’s proximity to the high-speed rail station and the Shanghai Hongqiao Airport International Airport, a major hub for domestic and regional flights, with some international routes.

Boundaries

According to Ms. Yang, Hongqiao is bounded on the north by Xian Xia Road, to the east by Zhongshan Xi Lu (Inner Ring Road), to the south by Yan’an Elevated Road, and to west by the Outer Ring Road, or S20 Freeway, adjacent to the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.

Shirley Tang, senior director of Savills Shanghai Residential Sales, said that in recent years, the government has set policies to foster growth in a “Greater Hongqiao” region, but the traditional core is well developed and should remain relatively unchanged.

Price Range

Prices vary widely on luxury properties depending on the size, but villas are generally 300 to 750 square meters (3,229 to 8,073 square feet) and average between CNY 27 million to CNY 90 million (US$4 million to US$13.34 million). Luxury apartments are 100 to 500 square meters (1,076 square feet to 5,382 square feet), and priced between CNY 8.5 million to CNY 50 million (US$1.26 million to US$7.41 million).

Ms. Tang, senior director of Savills Shanghai Residential Sales, noted at the uppermost end of the spectrum is Kingdom Park, a new luxury development with palatial, 1,200-square-meter (12,900-square-foot) units priced up to 120 million yuan (US$17.77 million).

Housing stock

Expect luxury apartments between two to four bedrooms (with a loft), and villas with five and six bedrooms. According to Kari Hakala of Joanna Real Estate, the luxury developments boast clubhouses with gyms, swimming pools, spas, and libraries, along with 24-hour security.

For instance, One Park, a development with units priced between CNY 57,750,000 (US$8.55 million) and CNY 72,750,000 (US$10.77 million), includes a library of more than 13,000 square feet—designed by a famed British designer Areen Design—to serve the residents of its 330 apartments, 21 serviced apartments, and 15 villas.

What makes it unique

“Hongqiao is special because of the internationalism of that community and the good amenities for residents. It’s a key area, and now with the new airport terminal that opened, and the establishment of a new financial center, its importance cannot be understated for the future of Shanghai,” Ms. Tang said. In March, the Hongqiao airport unveiled a newly renovated terminal with a 40% increase in floor space.

She noted that the area would be serviced by what will eventually be known as the Hongqiao Transportation Hub, an integrated mega-network of 56 types of transportation modes, including the airport, a major bus terminal, a railway going directly into the heart of Shanghai, and a forthcoming maglev train station—all of which means, of course, that developers are putting top dollars into the area.

Luxury amenities

Hongqiao’s retail and restaurant offerings are world class. One popular destination for weekend picnics is Red Town, a creative retail and art complex set among the remains of an old steel factory. It now houses the Shanghai Sculpture Museum, along with cafes and gift shops.

The Hongmei Entertainment Street is one of Shanghai’s best known nightlife destinations, with dozens of bars and restaurants along the pedestrian-only thoroughfare. There are art galleries, bakeries, fitness centers, beauty salons, independent boutiques galore, and even the infamous Pearl Market, where real pearls (and fake ones) may be found.

Hongqiao also boasts a number of five-star hotels, including the Xijiao Hotel, Grand Millennium, a Marriott, and a Hilton. There are myriad green spaces and parks, along with the Hongqiao Golf Club, which offers a course, driving range, and even night golfing.

And arguably the biggest draw for buyers is the neighborhood’s reputation as a location for top-notch K-12 education, including the Shanghai Community International School, the Yew Chung International School of Shanghai, and Shanghai Yaohua International School, Britannica International School, Rainbow Bridge, the Japanese School, and Soong Ching Ling Kindergarten.

Who lives there

The majority of buyers are Chinese nationals, mainland as well as Hong Kong and Macau. Many residents are also from the United States, Britain, France, South Korea and Japan. Expatriates who work in Shanghai but want a suburban haven for their families see Hongqiao as their first choice for neighborhoods. “The education is world class and the villas are bigger, and there are many families here because the community around there is very supportive,” Mr. Hakala said.

Hongqiao is also the preferred place of residence for many Fortune 500 CEOs in the Asia-Pacific region. “We think many high-end developers are putting their money in that area because buyers are buying there to … travel where they want easily,” Ms. Tang said. She noted that the Hongqiao Central Business District is teeming with company headquarters, and those business owners choose the neighborhood because they can travel easily by high-speed rail, bus, and plane through the Hongqiao Transport Hub.

Notable residents

Though many celebrities in the area choose to remain private, high-profile figures like actors Feng Shaofeng and Wu Qili, as well as Gold medalist swimmer Zhuang Yong, are known to own property in the area.

General outlook

There are more developments coming, according to Mr. Hakala. “In that area, there are a few older housing units in the area, and lots of investment companies are buying them up to redevelop or renovate,” he said.

“Prices are steadily rising every year,” he said. “They are expanding the airport, and the international schools are building new sections. There is growing demand and it’s a good neighborhood where you have everything you need.”

“It’s a very special area in Shanghai,” Ms. Tang added. “With the Greater Hongqiao area undergoing development, the area will become even more international, with more amenities nearby. As for the central Hongqiao area, it’s already matured and developed, and it will remain a good area.”

Follow Mansion Global:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | Messenger
Write to us: info@mansionglobal.com

Stay up to date with Mansion Global newsletters