25 People Live in Tiny Beijing Apartment to Fend off High Rents

July 15, 2013 Updated: July 15, 2013

Downtown Beijing landlords squeezed 25 college students into a cramped, fetid apartment, charging each person $130 (800 yuan) for a bunk bed, Chinese state-run media found on Monday.

Inside their 861 square feet apartment, students wait at least two hours for a shower and sleep in beds less than a foot away from each other.

“The average person needs ten minutes to use the bathroom, so it would take a grand total of 4 hours and ten minutes for these 25 people,” estimated a netizen from Guangdong Province on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform.

“So many people have to endure such extreme conditions to survive,” commented a netizen from the eastern province of Anhui. “Can such living conditions really be sustainable?” 

Another netizen replied, “I give it less than two years for something to go terribly wrong.”

The apartment has a rent price tag of over $1,303 (8,000 yuan) a month but landlords are getting $3,258 (20,000 yuan) from the 25 students.

Still, even the demanding sum of $130 is a better alternative for the students than other properties in downtown Beijing.

Beijing’s central business district is notorious for its high rents that average around $9,776 (60,000 yuan), rivaling rates in New York City, and cramming many people into small spaces is a common phenomenon.

“This doesn’t come as a shock or a surprise,” wrote an overseas netizen with the pseudonym China Pass. “I’ve heard of 168 people living in a 4,843 square feet basement. It happens so frequently in Beijing.”

“Shoving so many people into tiny living spaces is a common practice not only in big cities but in smaller ones as well,” posted the official Weibo account of a fire department in Hainan Province, a small island off the mainland.

“High rent drove away the Starbucks in the Beijing business district,” noted a Henan Province netizen, “Nobody can take the increasing rents in Beijing.” 

Research by Ariel Tian. Translation by Frank Fang.