news story about a young couple who paid 40,000 yuan (US$5,630) for a 70-square meter apartment in the small city of Hegang in China’s northeastern province of Heilongjiang has started a conversation about the seemingly Herculean feat of home ownership in China’s most expensive cities where many young Chinese work.
Xiao Hao and his girlfriend moved to Hegang two years ago from the metropolis of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, where average housing prices are over 20,000 yuan (US$2,820) per square meter.
Both are livestreamers and work from home. Because of Hegang’s lower cost of living, the couple only spends around 1,000 yuan (US$140) a month, one-fifth to one-tenth of his monthly wage. “Without home and car loans, I feel free even when I’m breathing,” Xiao Hao told media.
As more young people consider making the move to Hegang, others are leaving it, citing decreasing population and the sluggish economy as reasons. Some former Hegang residents told media that good jobs are scarce in the small northern city, and they had little interaction with locals.
Reliant on coal mining and traditional heavy industry, Hegang is struggling to transform and upgrade due to lack of resources, analysts said. As a result, the city’s population has dropped more than 15 percent over the past 10 years. Analysts advised young people not to see Hegang through rose-colored glasses and to make important life decisions based on their own situations.