Following industrial upgrading and demographic restructuring, counties, the intermediate belts between urban and rural China, are at a crossroads as they reshape their growth engine and lifestyle. Driven from overcrowded megacities, many young Chinese have flocked to counties, investing in greenhouse agriculture, opening coffee shops and setting up nursing homes. This has created a divide between the newcomers and long-term inhabitants, as county authorities try to induce more young people to stay by establishing facilities and infrastructure, as well as education and medical services. But few young teachers are willing to work in county schools because of the meager salaries, while medical staff are overworked as hospitals expand. Experts warn that counties should observe the red lines of ecological protection and permanent agrarian land conservation before they rush to reckless development.