Amazing! Unable to afford rent, Beijing vagabond builds and lives in an “egg” home
Beijing vagabond, a literal translation for the Chinese word beipiao, refers to the group of people who do not have a Beijing hukou (permanent residence), who migrated to Beijing from other places of China seeking opportunities and better life. Beipiao is also a life style of being a drifter in Beijing.
Dai Haifei, 24, has just graduated from college and now works an employee at an architectural design company in Beijing, built himself this egg-shaped hut using materials that costs only 6400 Chinese yuan (less than US$1000).
The “Egg house” is about two meters high, three meters long and two meters wide (Height: 6.5 feet; Length: 10 feet; Width: 6.5 feet). The hut was woven with bamboo and pegged with nails. Outside bamboo, there are mats, insulation film and waterproof film. The outermost is the insulation layer made up of sacks stuffed with sawdust and grass seed, “In the spring, grass can grow from within.”
The egg-shaped cabin is not well-furnished. One bed about one meter wide (twin-size), a few books on the bed side. A water tank is hidden at the end of the bed. The pressure system can pump up water for washing. ”One tank can be used for about three days. After the water runs out, I fill the tank with water from my company,” Dai Haifei said. As the “shell” is just about a hand’s span thick, the inside is not much warmer than the outside. On top of the hut is a solar panel. The storage cell of the panel provides electric power at night. When the door is closed, the thermometer reads 4 ℃ (40 F).
“Even without paying rent, I still don’t have much money left at the end of the monthly payroll cycle. But now my living standard has been clearly elevated,” said Dai Haifei. He has been living in the cabin for almost two months. Not burdened with rent, he manages to go to cafe and enjoy life of a petty bourgeois every now and then.
Asked about why he is willing to suffer the notoriously cold winter weather, Dai said, “I don’t think that much. In fact, I don’t feel I am suffering. Winter in Hunan is more intolerable than in Beijing. There it is cold and damp. So I am doing okay. I only sleep here. My comforter is very thick. I even woke up from heat last night. My parents know about my life. I gave them a call about where I live. They also feel happy I can save money on rent.
“My parents think I should own a house, find a girlfriend and marry her. But they don’t know it is so hard to achieve in Beijing. I rented an apartment before. It was a big apartment separated into multiple small rooms. A 12-square-meter room (130 square feet) charges 800 to 900 yuan (US$130 – 145). Earlier this year, I had to go back to Hunan to finish my final project before graduation, so I wished to terminate the lease. The real estate agent found many excuses to withhold the deposit. So I am free. I don’t want to worry about these things too much.”
Selected comments from Chinese netizens
People in foreign countries can afford a car or a house after working for ten years. Can we do that after working for an entire life?
Bro, make more and sell them to Chinese rich men as toys for kids, or sell them to people in the West who are fond of traveling. It is so much cheaper than an RV.
Watch out for upcoming chengguan!
Big as the world is, we don’t have a house of our own. It is too hard to buy a house.
You won’t set a housing reform in motion, will you?
When can I have a house of my own? How can the working class possibly afford to buy a house? My country! Alas, my country! ……