Is this really living?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by immoimeme, Apr 30, 2010.

  1. immoimeme

    immoimeme having a nice day

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    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China_Business/LD28Cb02.html

    "China's 'homes' feel the squeeze
    By Olivia Chung

    HONG KONG - Soaring property prices in Beijing and other Chinese cities are giving rise to a new line of accommodation - "apartments" little wider than a narrow bed and hardly a meter longer, earning landlords ready cash at little cost and snapped up by young workers on low pay, often with families to support back home. "



    IMO this isn't living, it's voluntary imprisonment.
  2. Cupid

    Cupid New Member

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    The photo was shocking! A little porthole, no space whatsoever, no room for a fridge or microwave or anything? There must be another room somewhere that we don't see? Absolutely insane.
  3. MOIJTO

    MOIJTO Banned Member

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    :lol: Room for TV and internet connections!

    Home is where your heart is...literally!
  4. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    No one is forcing anyone to live there - they can live further away and pay more if they want. The girl in the article seemed pleased enough, and she's the one living there and paying! She is probably limited in her options as a migrant worker. There are far, far worse accommodation options here - plenty of rooms stuffed with bunk beds for those building the subways, plenty of tents outside being lived in by migrant workers, and plenty of homeless people too. This is another option - again, migrant workers choose to come to Beijing because it offers more than their home towns.
  5. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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  6. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    I realize that no one forces anyone to live in these capsules. But I would be so claustrophobic! I wonder if there are any common rooms. Where are the bathrooms? I could not exist in a place where I could not move around, can that be healthy? I think I'd rather be in a tent (depending on the weather, of course). They look worse than prison cells.
  7. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    The capsule hotel in Japan doesn't look bad at all if all you're looking for is a clean place to crash at night. If anything it forces you to spend more time exploring the city and not so much time in your "hotel" :).

    The Beijing cube apartments are atrocious. The open grating roof makes it looks like an animal cage. You can't even fart in your own apartment without your neighbor hearing it.
  8. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    I remember some old SROs in NYC that had ceilings like that.
  9. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I was gonna say, I definitely read that Japan has had these for a while, and thanks to the stock market crash and soaring real estate prices, people are using them more long-term now.

    The open grating sure is WEIRD though!
  10. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    The open grating on the ceiling is a way to allow for air flow/ventilation and light. The Japanese compartment hotels are enclosed, because they provide for light and air flow mechanically into each capsule. The capsule apartments in China, like the old SRO hotels I mentioned in NYC, didn't have that kind of technology in use, so air flow and light were provided by simpler means - open grating on the ceiling. It's not pretty, but it works.
  11. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    I love the comment from someone who says that you might as well just die. You will be living in the same size space and with a lot less worries in life. :lol:
    Gazpacho and (deleted member) like this.
  12. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but if you die, you can't get up and leave for a while. Unless of course you're a vampire :lol:
  13. icedance21

    icedance21 New Member

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    Why is the ceiling so unusually high considering the narrow width of the mini-apartment? Perhaps they could drop the ceiling and expand the sides a bit.

    I doubt that an adult could even stand up anyways, you'd have to spend your whole time lying down or crouching.
  14. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    Well, as it is, you can't really stand up very straight anyway. If they expand the width but shorten the height then you can't stand up at all. I imagine that would be against code. I would have to be able to stand up from time to time. Although I guess most people will use these to only sleep in.
  15. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    If there's a fire in that place, you're toast. I don't see any easy escape route just from looking at the picture.

    Where does one keep clothings, etc.?

    I'm afraid to ask what the blue bucket under the "bed" is used for.
  16. Hannahclear

    Hannahclear Well-Known Member

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    Well, people can adjust to most anything, but I wouldn't say it means one isn't living. I'd say it means that there's a real estate bubble.
  17. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    cruisin - the article says there are public bathrooms outside. These rooms will be used for sleeping, and to get a little privacy/quiet time. Privacy and quiet time is all relative too - this is still much more quiet and private than out on the street!

    If you ever come to Beijing and notice all the people standing/squatting and sitting around on little stools on the side of the road chatting or playing cards - this is why. Homes are not often private havens in Beijing - at least not for the lower class, they're shelter to sleep. In summer you'll see people sleeping on benches or random stretches of grass (I use the term loosely!) because the commute home is long so they nap in the middle of the day. I'm constantly amazing the places and positions I have seen the Chinese sleep.
  18. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

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    I'm dreading to think what the blue bucket in those photos is for.
  19. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    I've actually been to Beijing twice. No offense, but I did not like it there. I am somewhat germ phobic, it was nightmarish for me.
  20. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    Why would that offend me? I do wonder what you, as a germphobe, were expecting though? Especially to come twice (was that a choice?) Most people who come to China realise before coming that the hygene standards and realities are lower than the developed world. China is a developing country.

    Beijing is actually incredibly beautiful once you get beyond the pollution and hygene - which not that many Westerners do. :( Or those that do live in the expat areas (where the lack of hygene is better hidden and they can be in denial). Today is May Day long weekend and it's sunny and people are dancing in the parks and going to temple fairs. If you came before 2008 A LOT has changed because if the Olympics. It's hard to change habits, especially since the Chinese consider that their standards have been working for decades, why change? And then came SARS...

    I think China celebrates spring more than most because it means less being in their cramped homes and more being outside. Four of my friends have said they'd live in the capsule if it was available in their areas.
  21. Dr.Siouxs

    Dr.Siouxs Well-Known Member

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    it probably serves the dual purpose of holding both drinking water and urine. :D
  22. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    You just had to say that, didn't you. I thought that it was probably just for drinking/cleaning water. They do have bathrooms.

    I would find it extremely claustrophobic to live in such a small room.

    However, what we are accustomed to in the west is very different from what people are accustomed to ane expect in the developing world.

    Many poorer people in developing countries live in dormitories where they have even less space than a cubicle in a room spared by many. And are happy to do so as it is preferable to living on the street or in a slum shanty.

    When I was in the Philippines more than one Filipino who lived in a dormitory told me that he/she would feel very lonely to sleep alone in a room.

    Different places and cultures have different orientations to space. The downside of our orientation to space is that it separates us. You have people living alone in big houses who are unbelievably lonely and people don't even know their neighbours. This is not a plight suffered by most Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos - and others who are collectivist in orientation.

    You'd make friends very quickly in the Beijing cubicle. And surely have no problem should you have need to borrow one or two more blue pails.:)
    Finnice and (deleted member) like this.
  23. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't expecting clean, but I wasn't expecting it to be as bad as it was. I was aware and prepared for the pollution, but hadn't really thought about the physical filth, even in some of the nicer places. It was before 2008. I did not want to go the second time, but sometimes we have to do things we don't like ;). At least the second time I knew to bring some hand wipes, Lysol, and peanut butter :lol:.

    However, I feel fortunate that I met some very interesting people, walked on the Great Wall, saw The Forbidden City, Summer Palace, & Tiananman Square. It was just very difficult for me to be there.
  24. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    My major concern is fire safety. There's only one door out of each cubicle. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
  25. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    All of this is available at both foreign and local supermarkets. Peanut butter and hand wipes since at least 2000, and Lysol since around 2004 I think. Chinese peanut butter is much tastier than American (Australian is too :p), less salt (actually it may be salt free).

    orbitz, my concern is also fire safety. The Chinese government takes fire safety seriously about once every two years, usually after there's a disaster publicised in the press, and sporadically in between and a quick money maker. :( :mad:
  26. PrincessLeppard

    PrincessLeppard Well-Known Member

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    I figured many Westerners would be all :yikes: at this, as many can't believe I live in "only" 750 square feet.

    For me personally, if it came down to a dorm vs. a cube, I'd take the cube every time.
  27. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

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    As an American who is accustomed to a large living space, including a huge lawn, it seems a horrible situation.But I think it is all relative.

    How much individual space does a crew member on a cruise ship have, how much room does a worker for traveling carnival - which on one of our walks, DH and I saw the trailers provided and they did not appear to be more than a sleeping compartment, etc. And are those individual spaces?

    I am sure that there are other examples. Would I want to live in that type of space? Fortunately, I don't have to so I can't tell you how I would feel. I think that I am of the same opinion as PL.
  28. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    I have no trouble in small spaces (in college I'd manage to sleep on half of a twin bed, because the other half would be full of textbooks and papers :lol: ), but I'd feel claustrophobic on a submarine. Mostly because I'd know that I'm stuck in a metal tube deep in the middle of the ocean...:scream:

    I had friends who went to UCLA, and there, every piece of furniture touched another piece of furniture, with just enough space between the beds for people to walk through. It wasn't the fact that it was small - it was the fact you had to share such a tiny space with two other people! Lack of privacy would do me in. I'm an introvert and need the alone time.

    Actually, recently I've been drooling over Tumbleweed Tiny Houses . I don't like having such a large space to be in, it feels like a waste for me. I definitely prefer to be efficient. But yeah, a capsule is definitely too small, but then again I'm an introvert and I wouldn't be outside for the other 18 hours of the day. :lol:
  29. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    My dad served on a submarine in the US Navy. They slept stacked - the butt of the man above you was inches from you - and in shifts.

    My friends across the street from me are not from the US. Our houses are comparable in size. In mine, I have 3 people. In theirs, they have approx. 8 (it varies). Same number of bedrooms, but in their opinion, their house is so large that they've actually chosen to rent out what they consider to be the extra rooms. It's all relative.
  30. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

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    It's kind of surreal in cities like Beijing or Hong Kong where everything else is pretty cheap compared to the US or European countries, but then you look for apartments.... :eek:

    I guess that's to be expected when you have so many people in a small area.

    It's not unusually high, it's the camera angle. The article says the rooms are 2 meters high, about 6'6".

    Yeah, that pretty much sums up a lot of college rooms. But even the smallest college dorms I've found to be a larger than the ones here. I mean, at least there was room for furniture.
  31. iloveemoticons

    iloveemoticons Well-Known Member

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    Yeah. There might be a bit of a bubble right now, but I would imagine that in the long run, housing prices in Beijing, Shanghai, and other urban centers are going to keep rising into the foreseeable future. This is a massive country whose economy had been repressed by communism and only in the past two decades really seen expansion. Beijing is going from the drabness of communism to a world class metropolis, and prices are rising commensurately.
  32. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Angelskates might have a better perspective on this than I do. But, I imagine that part of the housing expense is due to there being no real suburban housing. I recall that there is a great deal of empty space around Beijing, but everyone is crowded into living in the city. Possibly because there is no public transportation to get people from more remote areas. Or, because there are no/limited utilities extended to more remote areas. Though that may have changed since I was there. If that is still the case, we may see a large effort to get housing on the perimeters of the city, people spreading out to get nicer accommodations.

    China/Beijing is not the only place where I've noticed that phenomenon. There are areas in the US, where I have noticed that housing within the city is very expensive, but little has been done to develop more affordable housing in the areas around the city. I noticed in parts of Texas, which has vast expanses of undeveloped land, that the suburban properties are very small. That quite large houses are built practically on top of each other and those developed areas are surrounded by acres/miles of nothing.
  33. KCC

    KCC Active Member

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    Do people living in these apartments have any "stuff"? I did not see space for a few changes of clothes (including a coat and umbrella), a mirror/comb/toothbrush/towel, some food and a plate, etc. I'd give up the television for a few more changes of socks & underwear, a book or two and a reading light. I'm another person who prefers privacy over larger shared spaces, but this is about half the size for me to be comfortable for more than one night.
  34. timing

    timing fragrance free

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    I think things are stored under the bed where the blue bucket is and in bags hanging above the bed. I was wondering if the blue bucket was a trash container with a lid to keep the smell down.
  35. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    I think there are a few reasons for this.

    1. Most people do not go out and buy their own plot of lands miles from everyone else. They look for an already built home in an established neighborhood. Most people do not want to be completely alone, just outside of the city (and I mean just, not miles and miles away) and out of the super small and expensive apartments.

    2. Builders snatch up areas of land and want to make as much profit off of it as they can. So they put as many houses as they can in this space.

    I think the examples of places in the US are different than in Beijing.
  36. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    I'd think that many people who are buying houses have kids, and thus would want a place with an established school system and a big-box store. You aren't going to get that in the middle of nowhere, and it would take some risks for a middle-of-nowhere place to be developed.

    Where my parents live, a new state university recently came up. It's growing, but it's slow. The developers bet wrong because they spent untold amounts of money building giant McMansions with giant lawns that nobody could afford aside from I guess some of the professors. The real estate bubble burst very badly (it's the worst county hit in the state) and there are now neighborhoods full of unfinished houses there. There was no market for such houses, but they built anyway.

    Here in LA many people live miles and miles from their workplace just so they can be in the suburbs with a house with a lawn. But it's definitely not in the middle of nowhere.
  37. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely, the US examples are very different from Beijing. I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I was saying they were the same. Sometimes my train of thought takes off and I don't transition properly :D.

    Anyway, with regard to the Texas example, it's not so much that I am suggesting building in the middle of nowhere. It's more that, there is so much space to spread out, and the homes are on such tiny lots. I guess it strikes me as being odd because living in the NE, there is not much land left to develop, and yet most suburban properties are much larger. Even with much smaller homes on them. You rarely see communities where all of the houses are divided by walls, in the NE.