85% of Migrants Feel They 'Don't Belong' in First-Tier Cities

By Rachel Deason, February 24, 2017

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When China Youth Daily surveyed 2,000 young people working in China’s tier one cities — Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen — the results revealed a surprising disconnect between migrants and their chosen homes. 

Over 85 percent of respondents revealed that they don’t feel a sense of belonging in the big cities. For many, over 44 percent, this is because they lack an urban hukou (household registration) that would give them better access to city amenities like good schools and housing.

Still, many surveyed do not wish to return home to their families. This is because China’s eastern cities offer more opportunities than tier two or three cities. Such feelings came out in the survey, with 59 percent saying big cities can provide better jobs, 49 percent saying they can experience more new ideas and emerging industries in big cities and 45.3 percent saying inner-city transportation is more convenient.

Many migrants see apartment ownership as an important step to fitting in, but while tier one jobs often pay much more than jobs back home, the cost of living is astronomical in places like Shanghai, where the average starting salary is around RMB5,800 a month and the average second-hand apartment is priced at about RMB45,800 per square meter.

Respondents also feel that starting a family in the city would create a personal connection to the city. Many migrants to tier one cities maintain familial connections to their hometowns, returning for the New Year and sending money back home. But young people overwhelmingly leave rural areas to work in the cities, creating a lose-lose limbo for those seeking connections.

"Most of my friends are working in Shanghai since leaving college," Chen Zeyi, who comes from a northern town, told China Youth Daily. "My social circle is also in Shanghai. I don't have any friends if I return home."

[Image via GBTimes]

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