The big cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou lure millions of young Chinese with abundant jobs and seemingly endless opportunities.
But living in these hubs comes at a cost. As with any other metropolis, expenses tally up when you are in Beijing, especially if you want to buy a house and settle down. In the capital, for example, the average price of an apartment is around 60,000 yuan or about 9,000 US dollars per square meter, a tidy sum when the average monthly salary is 9,000 yuan.
Even so, Chinese residents still prefer owning a home over renting one, still very much influenced by the line of thought that property can only be a family nest when you own it. However, many must resort to renting as ownership becomes prohibitively expensive.
The conditions in the homes available for rent are not always top-notch, and repair is often overdue for furniture and furnishings. Tenants often must sublet their apartments to split the rent, which would otherwise eat into the larger part of your salary.
Enter long-term rental apartments, small flats or studios that can accommodate one person and provide comfortable living conditions at a relatively affordable price. Will what they have to offer be enough to let the market shift traditional purchasing habits? How will this business model fare in a society that values ownership of land and property?
Bao Zu Po is a nickname for landlady in Chinese, usually depicting a dreadful lady who leases many rooms and collects rent with an attitude of disdain.
Guo Wei, a businesswoman who understands what young girls working in Beijing already go through, set up her apartment brand after this stereotypical figure out of irony, though aiming to provide a safe place for girls and offer them a cozy home.
Bao Zu Po is only available for young female tenants. It offers a variety of services from accepting parcels to spas, gyms and beauty salons. Currently Bao Zu Po is only available in Beijing, but it already turned out to be a great success.
The Chinese government is encouraging young graduates to set up their own companies, and the You International Community is riding on this initiative. It leases residential buildings that are then renovated into mostly one-bedroom suites aimed at young tenants. What makes it different from other apartment brands is that it is not only a place for the young to live and rest but also a place to start their own businesses.
You International Community provides tenants with an open office space so that they can pool their resources and information together. It also bundles in services such as business license application, tax claim and IP protection, saving tenants time and money as they become entrepreneurs of their own.