Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Capsule apartments for China’s poor [AsiaOne]

For more, please go to Beijing ‘capsule room’ has first tenant (AsiaOne, April 10, 2010)

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Capsule apartments for China’s poor
Source – AsiaOne, published May 02, 2010

Welcome to Wen Jiao’s home.

The cramped quarters on the outskirts of Beijing can just about fit her bed and her laptop.

A view inside a capsule apartment. The unit might be less than 2 square meters, but tenants can sit, lie down, watch TV, and go on the Internet. Photo: Reuters

The 22 year old has been jobless since she graduated from university last year, and is waiting for a breakthrough in her music career.

In the meantime money is hard to come by, so this two-metre squared capsule apartment is all Wen could afford, as the rent is just 250 Yuan, or 50 dollars per month.

She said: “Because of the high prices of housing. I have never thought of buying a house. The rental fees get more expensive as the housing prices soar– it’s extremely difficult for poor people like me. I can’t afford to rent a house. Even if I have a job, I can only make about 3,000 Yuan per month. One third of my salary will go to rental fees, so I feel very upset.”

The block has eight such capsule apartments, although there is no toilet in the building.

Wen Jiao, 22, sits in her capsule apartment. China must tackle its property bubble for the sake of economic health and social stability, even if the market feels some short-term pain in the process, an official financial newspaper said. Photo: Reuters

The owner and designer of the compact housing, a former engineer, says he conceived the plan to help those struggling with Beijing’s soaring property and rental prices.

Huang Rixin, the 78-year old owner said: “I hope we can get the real estate developers’ sympathy as the house prices are rocketing, and hope they realise that there are still lots of poor university graduate and poor people in need.

I wish they can sometimes donate some of the high-priced houses they fail to sell and make them capsule apartments to rent out, it would benefit more people. I want to raise awareness and encourage people to use ingenuity.”

Urban property inflation in China rose to 11.7 percent in the year to March, and economists believe the official figures seriously understate the extent of price rises.

The population of 20-something collage graduates struggling to live on the cheap has been estimated to have reached around a million, with 10 percent of these people based in Beijing.

Filed under: AsiaOne, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education

2 Responses

  1. Ting says:

    Hey, found this really interesting and horrified by the size of these rooms. Really useful for my dissertation!! Do you know of any other cases within beijing and where the residents of the hutongs get moved to??? 🙂 great work

    • Greetings Ting! Glad to hear from you – what’s even more intriguing is the rising cost of property in China. Apartments in Shanghai would set one back about 40,000RMB per square metre on the higher ends. (thankfully rental rates are comparatively low still)

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