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Wed, Sep 01, 2010
China Daily/ANN
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Single life loses glamour in face of high-cost housing
by Huang Yuli

A friend who works in banking was unexpectedly dismissed not long ago. The job hunting that followed wasn't smooth. One month later, still without a new job, she could no longer afford the one-bedroom apartment she rented along the Third Ring Road. In the end she had to look for a roommate to share the rent.

The woman was more than frustrated. She worked a long time before she could finally afford not to share a home with others, now she was back to the square one. After she realized how fragile her financial capacity could be and quickly her living situation could change, the woman who once believed fervently in the single life began wishing she had a boyfriend.

Many Beijingers are finding the swinging single lifestyle promoted by some magazines is not all it's cracked up to be.

Housing price is the first reality that hits the majority of office workers. A survey released last week by Women of China magazine showed high housing prices are among top three factors that worry modern women. In a city where land is more expensive than gold, many women of marriageable age find it an impossible mission to be able to purchase a home with a partner, let alone to do so on their own.

A joke popular a while ago on the Internet said a wife was angry her husband bought too much insurances for his short-term business trip, blaming him for wasting money. The husband replies, "I did that because I'm afraid you couldn't pay the mortgage by yourself if anything happened to me."

Renting is a better choice for the young, but the desire to have a bit of private space is not easy to fulfill. Statistics showed the average rental price of an apartment in Beijing already exceeded the average salary of undergraduates in 2009. According to a report by Beijing Evening News, many newly employed workers spend half of their income on renting.

Sharing an apartment or even a room is not only widespread among recent graduates, it is the same case with some senior office workers. A single woman approaching her 30s gave me her reason for still sharing a dorm with three others: she wanted to save money to buy an apartment, a home for herself in this city. Though she knew it would be much easier with a man involved, she decided to take action on her own since her Mr Right hasn't showed up yet.

Having a job is no guarantee that women don't need financial support from a partner.

"Whoever says single is fabulous is a liar," said an old friend. Though the single woman was still in her mid-20s, she likes to call herself an "elder leftover". According to her, those who embrace the single life do so because they once got hurt in a relationship and haven't rediscovered their courage and faith in love.

She has a bunch of single girlfriends, and their panic upsets her.

"Being single in a big city without a shoulder to cry on is never something fun," she said. "Sometimes I feel so scared of getting sick, because I'm afraid no one will be there at my bed side if I'm in hospital."

Staying single used to be a trend among city dwellers, which made numerous women disdain mundane and married life and hasten to fill their social calendar with cocktail parties. But now, several years later, when they have finally begun thinking about settling down, they are finding men of their age are no longer available. They now long for the life they used to strive to escape.

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