Cooler hous­ing mar­ket builds warmer love

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWOCENTS - By Lucy Yao Page Ed­i­tor: chenxi­meng@glob­al­

What is the se­cret in­gre­di­ent of a long-last­ing love? Pas­sion, beauty, hu­mor, mu­tual un­der­stand­ing or sim­i­lar mind­sets? Those are all key in­gre­di­ents, yes. But af­ter wit­ness­ing the ups and downs of the hous­ing mar­ket in Bei­jing, I would say hous­ing prices should be added to that list.

Fall­ing in love is not hard, but ty­ing the knot and build­ing a fam­ily is not easy, es­pe­cially in a mu­nic­i­pal­ity like Bei­jing where a place of one’s own is in­dis­pens­able. I can­not deny that by tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture, a house or an apart­ment seems to hold more value and se­cu­rity than with most of my West­ern friends. It’s of­ten con­sid­ered an es­sen­tial fac­tor for plant­ing roots in a city. In fact, real es­tate is a rigid de­mand for cou­ples and fam­i­lies since rent­ing doesn’t work in the long run for many. Why not? Be­cause it’s still a sellers’ mar­ket and ten­ants are in a very vul­ner­a­ble po­si­tion in the rental mar­ket in China. A land­lord can sim­ply de­cide how happy or mis­er­able your life will be liv­ing in their apart­ment. I have been work­ing in Bei­jing for five years, and I have al­ready moved five times. No mat­ter what hap­pens, it’s al­ways the ten­ants who foot the bill. For ex­am­ple, you can do noth­ing but leave when the land­lord sud­denly wants to sell his place. You have to en­dure if he in­sists on not re­turn­ing your de­posit for no rea­son. Most rental con­tracts are signed an­nu­ally so that they can in­crease the price an­nu­ally. You ei­ther pay more or leave. Af­ter en­coun­ter­ing sev­eral un­pleas­ant rental ex­pe­ri­ences, a per­son yearns for an end to the mi­gra­tory life­style. For cou­ples, the de­sire to set­tle down is even stronger. There­fore, changes and trends in the hous­ing mar­ket are a hot topic among cou­ples and af­fect re­la­tion­ships. Bei­jing’s hous­ing in­dus­try wit­nessed a surge in 2016 and at the be­gin­ning of 2017. I still re­mem­ber the panic and up­set when my boyfriend and I ped­aled around dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties look- ing at apart­ments that in­crease in price ev­ery week or even ev­ery day. We were not ready to marry or set­tle down but the rock­et­ing prices kept re­mind­ing us that each day our hes­i­ta­tion came at a cost. It was like the stock mar­ket where no one wants to buy at the peak, but no­body knows what will hap­pen next. We talked and quar­reled a lot over this ques­tion as our sense of hap­pi­ness be­came hi­jacked by a seem­ingly un­cer­tain fu­ture.

Dur­ing that time, a cou­ple of my friends also broke up over their dif­fer­ent ideas about apart­ments. Typ­i­cally, the man was not will­ing to set­tle down, while the woman felt too pres­sured to wait and watch the prices es­ca­late out of reach.

For­tu­nately, af­ter a se­ries of poli­cies launched in the first half of the year, the mar­ket started to cool in 2017. Hous­ing prices more re­cently have been drop­ping con­stantly and buy­ers fi­nally no longer feel the need to rush. I feel a sense of re­lax­ation and can fo­cus on my own life based on my will, at my own pace. As for my re­la­tion­ship, we have quar­reled less and find we have more time and pa­tience to fol­low our true feel­ings. We can grow to­gether un­til both sides feel it is time to set­tle.

I have to say that a lower, sta­ble hous­ing mar­ket grants cou­ples more space to fo­cus on their own hap­pi­ness and to fol­low the nat­u­ral rhythm of love.

I’m not say­ing that life es­sen­tials like shel­ter are not im­por­tant, but we live to love, not love to live, don’t we?

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