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Zig-zagging left and right through a maze of dark, narrow corridors in a high-rise's basement, 35-year-old kitchen worker Hu has joined the many thousands of Chinese fleeing fast-rising property prices by heading down - down underground.
Hu lives here beneath an affluent downtown apartment building, in a windowless, 4 square-meter (43 square-foot) apartment with his wife. For 400 yuan ($65.85) a month in rent, there's no air-conditioning, the only suggestion of heat is a pipe snaking through to deliver gas to the apartments above and the bathroom is a fetid, shared toilet down the hall.
"I can't afford to rent a house," said Hu as he showed off his meager appointments. Living in basement apartments isn't illegal in China, but like anywhere else it is nothing to brag about and Hu, who guts fish for 2,500 yuan a month at a popular Sichuanese hotpot restaurant on the street above, declined to provide his given name. "If I weren't trying to save money, I wouldn't live here," he said.
Locals have dubbed Hu and his fellow subterranean denizens the "rat race" - casualties and simultaneously emblems of a housing market beyond the government's control.
Despite efforts to discourage property speculation and develop affordable housing, a steady stream of job-seekers from the countryside and a lack of attractive investment alternatives have kept prices soaring. Residential property prices rose 10 percent in November from the same month of 2012, according to data released last week, and have been setting new records every year since 2009. Prices in Beijing are rising even faster - 16 percent a year - with rents climbing 12 percent a year.
Apartments are so small that Hu said he and his wife have trouble sleeping together in their tiny bed. He has resorted to spending most nights in another basement apartment provided by his restaurant. His wife yearns for a larger home above ground and in the meantime makes do by decorating the room with plastic bells and flowers that Hu says she finds in the street. Their dream of owning a home remains distant and Hu says basement living has hurt their relationship.
But housing prices are not the only problem in the region: In some of the capital cities in SE Asia, traffic is getting so bad that I think in the future people will have to live at their workplace and go home, if they can afford one, only on weekends.
But housing prices are not the only problem in the region:
In some of the capital cities in SE Asia, traffic is getting so bad that I think in the future people will have to live at their workplace and go home, if they can afford one, only on weekends. Perhaps offices will be outfitted with pull-down beds and portable partitions for employees to stay the night. When you have to commute 5 or more hours/day, maybe it's not so bad.
reply to post by zeroBelief
Any way out of this mess?
Is this gonna start happening in N. Amer. or has it already with people living underground in subways and sewer systems?edit on ppm105America/ChicagoSun, 05 Jan 2014 21:38:19 -0600190pm14 by pandersway because: (no reason given)