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China’s fresh graduates are freaking out at living costs in tier-one cities as rents are high

China’s army of fresh graduates are roughing it out on their first jobs in first-tier cities as accommodation eats up almost half of their income and a surge in apartment rents outpaces growth in average starting pay over the past five years.

The monthly pay for first-time jobseekers among graduates in big cities grew at 2 per cent annually over the past five years to 5,290 yuan (US$819) in 2020 from 4,793 yuan in 2015, according to recruitment platform Zhilian Zhaopin, while top graduates from the elite Tsinghua University commanded about 17,682 yuan.

Both are however below the minimum pay of 21,000 yuan needed to lease an entire apartment on their own in Beijing, according to a survey by Beike Research Institute. That leaves many of them to share a nano-flat about the size of a car parking bay, much like in Hong Kong, to survive the crunch.

Fresh graduates spend 40 per cent of their salaries on rent in coveted job markets like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, its survey of 4,600 people aged between 20 and 25 in 35 cities showed. The institute is part of Beike Zhaofang, the country’s biggest online property portal operated by US-listed KE Holdings.


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