Think Renting in Your City is Bad? Try Beijing

Can China’s Renters Survive the Demands and Costs in the Country’s Cities?

Compared with the numbers of a few years ago, first and second tier cities in China have an oversupply of stock on the housing market. Additionally, restrictions on multiple-home purchases are easing and “expected to be eased completely,” according to China Daily. That’s good news for city residents, right?

Not so fast. Many of the benefits of urban life—including schooling, healthcare, and retirement benefits—are only available to those who hold an urban hukou (residence certificate). This inequality persists even as China’s leaders have recently taken steps to ease urban residence restrictions in smaller cities.

Then there are the results of a recent survey which concluded that the 1990s generation are less interested in purchasing property than their older counterparts were at their age. The People’s Daily calls this “progressive.” Even so, as this graphic shows, renting is no cakewalk either. Data analyzed by Sohu Business shows that most migrants who move to the city rent. And renting has many pitfalls, from rental prices that are rising faster than average salaries, to communal living involving as many as 20 “roommates,” to broken leases from real-estate agents and landlords.

China may have an overstock of homes, but most of the country’s youth rent because they can’t afford to buy, and it’s not easy.


As more and more youthful “drifters” flock to China’s first- and second-tier cities, this free-floating class is beginning to demand a greater degree of stability. The first thing a new arrival needs is a place to live. Faced with insane housing prices, drifters have no choice but to rent.


Age Distribution of Renters


Renters are generally young, and most don’t have any savings. To save money, they spend vast amounts of time battling with the rental market.


The Law of the Nonexistent Perfect Apartment

A good living environment means high prices; cheap rent means a long commute. Young renters crisscross the entire city looking for a decent place to stay, and in the end, exhausted, they settle for anywhere with a bed, hot showers, and Internet so they can work...


What Renters Look For in an Apartment


Renting Makes For Interesting Human Encounters

Living together with upwards of 20 people crammed into warren-like apartments, group renters enjoy a diverse array of fascinating roommates. But differences in living habits can make it rough going.


Ideal Roommate


The Reality


Finally you’re sick of communal life, ask for your deposit back...then you’re in trouble again!


Shady Intermediaries Don’t Return Deposits


Oh, the Tyranny of the Year-Long Lease!

Unreasonable demands, confiscating rent and deposit, and spontaneous evictions happen all the time when folks back out of rental agreements. And trying to reason with agents is just banging your head against the wall...


Landlords Raise Rent at the Drop of a Dime


Rents Are on the Rise Across the Country

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, as of this September rents have been rising nonstop in large and medium-cities for an average of 45 months running!


Length of Time During Which Rents Have Been Rising in China’s Major Cities


Salaries Aren’t keeping Up With Rent


Note: Averages for rent are from; averages for salary are from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.


In order to pursue my dreams, I can put up with—loneliness!—high cost of living!—stress in the workplace!


Real Estate Prices Are the Last Straw