Stressed Chinese Desert Cities, Seek out Greener Pastures

16 Jul 2013, Posted by Frangipani Country Estates in City vs Country

In a recent survey by Luxembourg based Regus, 75% of Chinese workers said their stress is growing, the highest percentage among 80 countries polled.

Six years ago, Bei Yi did something many people considered crazy. He quit a high-paying job in Shanghai as a manager at an industrial glass company, sold his car and apartment, and left one of China’s most desirable cities. His destination: the town of Lijiang, deep in China’s poor southwest province of Yunnan, once a place of banishment for those who ran a foul of the emperor.

Friends and family were perplexed. “‘How can you come from such a lively, important city and move to a far-off mountain area to live?’ they all asked me. They didn’t understand at all.” recalls Bei, now 34 and proprietor of a guesthouse in Lijiang’s old city, which features rushing streams and ancient alleys. “In someways, my life in Shanghai would have been considered quite good,” he says, sipping Pu’er tea in the bright sunshine on a recent Friday, with his Old English sheepdog lying nearby.

“But I was not happy at all.”

Bei’s decision to abandon city life has made him something of a pioneer. Fed up with choking smog, traffic jams, unsafe food, stress, and the general toxicity of life in urban China, a growing number of affluent Chinese are deserting big cities such as Beijing and Shenzhen and settling in remote regions, says Gary Sigley, professor of Asian Studies at the University of Western Australia, who is studying the migration. Bei cites work stress as the No. 1 motivation for his move.

Source: Times of India dated May 04, 2013