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Rent, not buy! More Chinese youngsters try new ways for housing

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A young couple in a long-term apartment in Beijing. Reuters

TIANJIN (Xinhua) – From buying to renting, an ever-growing number of Chinese young people have switched their pursuits for their dwellings, spurring China’s long-term rental apartment market.

This new style of renting is normally owned or leased by real estate companies, offering various sizes of apartments with unified furniture and necessary appliances.

Su Zifang, a 32-year-old professional speaker from north China’s Shanxi Province, now lives in a Link Apartment, a long-term rental apartment brand of Tianjin Housing Group in northern Tianjin Municipality.

Frustrated by moving six times within eight years due to the old facilities in traditional rental apartments, Ms Su now pays 2,700 yuan (about $392) a month to rent an over 50-square-meter apartment.

“Thanks to free Wi-Fi, necessary household appliances and a weekly cleaning service, I can save about 10,000 yuan a year, in favour of my career development,” Ms Su said, adding that a 24-hour service is also available to handle any problems which may arise.

The long-term rental apartment has gained popularity among locals in Tianjin. Liu Qianli, a local native, rented a single room on the 20th floor in a Link Apartment because of the close distance to her workplace.

“It meets the needs of many graduates and white-collars, who prefer independent living spaces after a long day at work,” said Ms Liu, who is satisfied with her current living conditions.

With a total 228 apartments ranging from 35 to 114 square meters, Link Apartment saw its occupancy rate stand above 90 percent since its opening in September 2017, according to its deputy general manager Yin Wenkai.

Tan Hongbo, 25, said it’s hard to know the quality of houses and apartments in the traditional rental market. “It is definitely not an easy task to find a satisfying apartment.”

With the online-to-offline model, people can access information published on the Internet or an app on their smartphones to rent a suitable apartment.

Xu Man decided not to buy houses either after she graduated from Nanjing University in east China’s Jiangsu Province.

Ms Xu now lives in Unests International Youth Community in Shanghai, where she met her boyfriend, Samuel. They cook together, meet friends together, read books online in the public areas, and participate in various activities organized by the community.

“Many Chinese people believe owning a house has a sense of belonging, but I think that sense of belonging lies in the quality of life and social relations, where friends, lovers, and family members make a home. I don’t want to sacrifice my living quality to buy a house,” said Ms Xu.

Since the Chinese government has reiterated on many occasions that “housing is for living, not speculation,” many real estate companies in the country have taken actions.

“Long-term rental apartments are just one of our major business projects,” said Mao Wenbin, general manager of Longfor Group Holdings Limited’s Guangzhou branch.

Guanyu, Longfor’s long-term leasing apartment brand, had 10 projects in seven cities by the end of July 2017, said Han Shi, vice president of Longfor and CEO of Guanyu.

China Vanke, one of the country’s top property developers, offered 12,000-18,000 apartments for long-term leasing as of July in 2017.

With more favourable policies in sight, the long-term rental apartment market boasts huge potential. As of March 2018, there have been more than 1,200 long-term rental apartment projects in China, with a total of over 2 million apartments, according to 58 Anjuke Institute.

Nearly 300 million Chinese people are expected to rent houses by 2030, creating a market value of 4.6 trillion yuan, according to a report by Guanghua School of Management with Peking University.

Experts believe the development of long-term leasing apartments in China is transforming the deep-rooted concept of buying a lifelong house.

Liu Weimin, a researcher with the Development Research Centre of the State Council, said the increasing amount of migratory population generates a large rental group.

“As more and more people move from small and medium-sized cities to large cities during the process of urbanization, China’s overall leasing market still has potential for development.” Mr Liu said.

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