Beijing’s Rat Tribe of Subterranean Humans

InterestingShitPublished: July 22, 201716 views
Published: July 22, 2017

Turning would-be survival bunkers into homes by choice and economics, Beijing residents are moving into Cold War-era structures, paying half the rent of their above-ground counterparts.

Pay $20 per month in exchange for living in a room barely big enough for a bed - it’s the deal of the day for Beijing residents, who migrated from China's rural areas into the big city and opt to live in concrete bunkers, originally designed to be bomb shelters under Chairman Mao. The search for a better life has left them with limited access to affordable housing.

The residents, numbering about a million at one point in around 10.000 bunkers below ground, share bathrooms and kitchens and see the sun only when they leave for work. They remain unseen to the world above ground until it is time for the morning commute.

The profile of these people are various – students, service workers, professionals; both young and old, living in so called apartments barely big enough to fit a bed.

In 2010 efforts began to evict these rent-paying residents from their illegal homes. Many still reside underground, dreaming of the day they can afford an above-ground home where there are windows and sunlight, but the majority are accepting of their living conditions.

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