Soaring Rents a Growing Concern for Average Chinese

September 17, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015
A property agent sitting in front of a board posting various property sales as he waits for house buyers by a street in Beijing. (Gou Yige/AFP/Getty Images)
A property agent sitting in front of a board posting various property sales as he waits for house buyers by a street in Beijing. (Gou Yige/AFP/Getty Images)

While owning a home is out of reach for the majority of Chinese citizens, soaring rents have also become a cause of financial worry for the average worker. One blogger recently said, people can’t afford to buy or rent.

In order to pay their rent and get by, many Chinese have to drastically cut other expenditures or think of creative living arrangements.

Beijing resident, He Juan reluctantly settled for a “rental marriage,” last May when she and her boyfriend of many years decided to get married. Unable to afford a house, which more affluent young Chinese women nowadays consider a prerequisite for marriage, she jokingly told the Daily Economic News on Sept. 8 that she caught on to the “naked marriage” fashion trend.

Naked marriage in mainland China refers to the growing number of couples getting married without a wedding ceremony, party, rings, house, or car, because these things are over their budget.

Ms. He and her husband live in a 60 sq. meter, two-bedroom apartment near Muxidi in Beijing where their rent is 3,600 yuan (US$563), quite high considering that the average worker’s annual income in Beijing is only 50,415 yuan (US$7,879) according to data released by the Beijing Bureau of Statistics on May 6.

Ms. He said that during their toughest economic times, rent took half of their combined income.

Rents Sharply Up

Rents in five major cities, including Beijing, Chengdu, and Guangzhou, have gone up 10-20 percent in the last year, according to the China Real Estate Index System Report (CREIS) for August 2011, published by China Index Academy on Sept. 7.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for August has reached 6.2 percent, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. In six out of the nine cities that reported in the CREIS report, rental increases exceeded CPI growth.

Prices of home sales have declined in August. The average sq. meter price for a home in Beijing was 23,506 yuan (US$342 per sq. ft.), a 6.3 percent drop compared to July.

However, even at this price, an average 60 sq. meter (646 sq. ft.), two-bedroom apartment still cost 1.4 million yuan (US$219,161), as reported by Basic-5I5J, a major Chinese real estate sales and consulting firm in Beijing.

Hu Jinghui, Vice-CEO of Basic-5I5J, told Daily Economic News that real estate sales are suffering because many people cannot afford it now. They are forced to rent, which in turn adds more pressure on the rental market, according to Hu.

Hu also blamed high rents on rising inflation of consumer goods, saying real estate owners are forced to raise rents in order to combat the increase in commodity prices.

Trying to Get by

Mr. Zhou from China’s southwestern Chongqing City told The Epoch Times, rents in Chongqing have almost doubled in recent years. A two-bedroom apartment was only 700-800 yuan a few years ago, but this year the same sized apartment costs 1,300 yuan, the said.

Ms. Li, a manager at a foreign firm in Tianjing told The Epoch Times that rents there are very close to those in Beijing. Her two-bedroom apartment in the Heping district of Tianjing costs 3,000 yuan (US$469). When she lived in the Daxing district of Beijing last year, she only paid 1,800 yuan for a similar sized apartment, she said.

Mr. Yang and his wife, both migrant workers in China’s southwestern Kunming Province, rent a single room. They share a bathroom with the entire floor, and their rent is 200 yuan. They like the weather in Kunming, and the living condition is ok, but it’s hard when their son stays with them during school breaks, Mr. Yang told The Epoch Times. “It’s hard to earn money, so we try to get by with what we have,” he said.

Anin, a blogger on China’s popular real estate web site, said: “The biggest problem with the present housing market is that people can’t afford to buy or rent. Rents are expected to increase further this fall, and again in spring, by around 10 percent.”

Read the original Chinese article.