Thousands of commuters in the Beijing region spend 6 to 9 hours a day in buses, trains and taxis to get to work and home. Sleeper cities like Yanjiao, east of Beijing, are home to millions of people that cannot afford in Beijing anymore. Surveys found that in 2016, Beijing has become the world’s most expensive city for renters.
According to a report by the Global Cities Business Alliance, average rental prices in Beijing are 1.2 times higher than average salaries. Prices are also rising for people that are looking to buy a home, with property prices having gone up by 28 per cent in the twelve months to September last year.
As owning a home – or renting – is not an option for many middle-income workers in Beijing, sleeper cities such as Yanjiao, with high-rise apartment buildings keep growing. The BBC reports that, according to a 2013 Chinese government survey, Beijing residents spend on average 52 minutes on the road to work each day. For people living in sleeper cities, their hours ‘on the road’ may total more per day than the hours they spend at work. As most commuters travel by bus, Beijing bus terminals have become new economic centres, with food stalls serving food all day and unlicensed trying to sell a quick non-bus trip to tired commuters.
Further reading on BBC