|A woman plays a gourd flute at Lianchi Park in laid-back Baoding, Hebei Province. (Li Hao/GT)|
Since backwater Baoding announced its plan to become the deputy administrative capital of China, news reports and social media have been overflowing with uptight Beijingers saying they would never move to this city of 11 million people 180 kilometers outside the capital.
But whether you are a foreigner or a Chinese, there are plenty of reasons why moving to Baoding could be a good idea. You'll work less, save more, and have a bigger place. If you are single, you'll find it easier to get married. If you have a family, you could own your own home in a tenth of the amount of time it would take in the capital. And if you miss the culture and amenities of Beijing, you are only a 40-minute ride away by high speed train. Here are four reasons why you should consider moving to Baoding.
Playing mahjong on the street. (Li Hao/GT)
Own a house
Right now, the average housing price in Baoding is 6,000 yuan ($960) per square meter.
That's one-tenth the current average price of real estate in Chaoyang district, where an apartment goes for 60,000 yuan per square meter inside the Fourth Ring Road. Even in Tongzhou district, apartments cost more than 20,000 yuan per square meter. But you had better move fast, housing prices are already starting to spike in Baoding.
During Qingming Festival, about 30 people driving in a convoy, all with Beijing plates, drove to Baoding to investigate buying property, Liu Zhenguo, manager of Yahua Hotel, told Metropolitan.
Before the announcement that Baoding would be the deputy capital, the average price of real estate was 3,000 to 4,000 yuan per square meter. As an extra bonus for buyers, you do not need a local household registration (hukou) or to have paid social insurance for five years to buy in Baoding, unlike Beijing.
A donkey burger. (Li Hao/GT)
No traffic jams
Baoding is heaven for commuters, compared to Beijing. First of all, traffic is much lighter. Second, there is no need to enter the licence plate lottery or park your cars at home once a week, like in Beijing. Third, Baoding has few Bentley, Porsche or Lamborghini cars, so you can drive without feeling ashamed. Better yet, the town is small enough that you can get almost anywhere on an electric bicycle. And the city is building a subway system. Mike Orchard, an expat who lived in Baoding for two years, told Metropolitan, "Compared with Beijing, the congestion in Baoding is much better."
Low cost of living
Everything is cheaper in Baoding than Beijing. Taxis start out at 5 yuan. Foreigners working in Baoding can expect free accommodation. Going to school would be much cheaper than in Beijing. The best kindergarten in Baoding only charges about 1,500 yuan per month.
For a mere 100 yuan, you can treat four people to a delicious dinner at a local restaurant. The local food is delicious, as well.
According to Orchard, "The best thing about Baoding is the food. There is a wide selection of restaurants, decently priced and good quality." Baoding's donkey burgers are especially well regarded. However, local people fear an influx of well-heeled Beijingers could drive prices up.
Liu Hao, a 26-year-old computer engineer who grew up in Baoding but now works in Beijing, worries, "If more Beijing people come here, the prices of the housing and even the food like the donkey burger will soar." In an online forum for Baoding residents, people expressed fear that the price of a donkey burger will double.