Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Laowai* have left the building

By the end of the summer, my helper just pointed out, there will no longer be any laowai (foreigners) in our complex. We've generally had a good handful (5-6?) units of us throughout the years at any given time.

Why are we all leaving? For various reasons, but generally when someone leaves a foreigner's apartment, we try to find friends to take it over. Not this time. Why? Well, to put it simply, this place has just gotten a little rich for our blood.

When we first moved to China (oh here she goes again with the "back in my day" grandma stuff), our rent for a 1500 sq ft place in another complex was less than $500 US. That's pretty steep for China, but it felt like a steal to us. In fact, everybody's rent felt like a steal. We were relatively rich, to the point where we didn't want to tell anyone what we paid for anything (and believe me, they asked).

Right now in our complex it's impossible to find a 3 bedroom apartment for less than about $1,500 US. All of us who are giving up apartments or have had to renew leases have had landlords ask for a $700-1,000 a month increase. This is mostly due to the high demand to live within a kilometer of one of the best schools in our city. And apparently, there are enough really wealthy Chinese out there who can afford to bump us out and educate their children. So we foreigners are packing up and heading for greener pastures. Actually, it's likely that they'll be less green as this is a fairly beautiful complex, but hopefully they'll be cheaper pastures.

* Laowai is what we are affectionately called here. It means "old outsider" and is somewhat equivalent to calling us "gringos."

No comments: