Wife vs. House: Chinese Men Discuss What They Can Afford

by on Wednesday, September 30, 2009


From NetEase:

A post-80s generationís quandary: Should I support a wife or a house?

I was born in Ď83, in a mid-level city. I graduated from college in Ď06 and returned to work in my hometown. Iíd been together with my girlfriend since freshman year of high school, we broke up January of this year. My family circumstances are typical. My high school and college years were the time that we had the greatest financial difficulties. My parents were both unemployed without income. My tuition fees were borrowed from relatives, and my parents worked odd jobs to support my living expenses.

In my senior year of college my parentsí former employer [a government owned enterprise] declared bankruptcy, bought them health insurance and pension, and paid RMB 20,000 in compensation. That was just enough to pay back the four yearsí tuition I had borrowed. Now, my family has no debt, my parentsí income is around RMB 2000 per month, and have health insurance.

My job situation: In my senior year I interned for a software company in my hometown (I found the job myself), Delphi Development, and stayed after graduation. Right now my salary is around RMB 1300 (Iím not sure exactly how much). I travel for work over 200 days a year. Normally, I am pretty frugal so I basically donít use much of my salary. Plus year-end-bonuses and others, I can save around RMB 20,000 a year.

Letís talk about my ex-girlfriend situation: When we broke up in January we were almost together for 9 years. 9 years of a relationship isnít easy, but she never planned to marry me, mainly because she considers my family poor. Her father is a middle school teacher, is very respected at the school, and should have an annual income of more than RMB 40,000. Her mother is a retired government official, and has a high pension income, so overall her family situation and my family situation were like heaven and hell.

In fact, I wanted to break up in Ď06, perhaps being away by myself all the time has made me unhappy, and in communicating with my ex, I understood that her idea was that we donít have to have an apartment (her parentsí home is 150 sq meters), but I have to have at least RMB 100,000 to marry her. Moreover, when we are together, she pretty much doesnít need to spend any [of her] money. Since the beginning of high school, it has basically been like this. so I have to spend a lot of money every year being with her. When I was in college I worked part time, since money from home wasnít enough. Her only hobby is to make herself beautiful, or simply put: shopping.

The shopping expenses during university I wonít mention, but between Ď07 till when we broke up, New Yearís, Chinese New Year, May 1st, and Oct 1st were all spent in the provincial capital, where shopping was the 1st priority. The spending I kept track of totals more than RMB 12,000, excluding the random everyday expenses. Thinking about this going on long term, I do not have the ability to marry her, and am instead wasting her time (sheís a few months older than me). Since Ď07, I have had this idea of being independent, so we split.

[The original poster calculates here that buying an average apartment of around 90 sq meters in his hometown costs about RMB 220,000, and that he should be able to pay it off within 10 years]

The choice between an apartment and a wife:

1. Marriage: nowadays women are all very practical. The level of emotional involvement is unimportant, she just canít suffer being with you. If she is better off than you financially, she wouldnít want you. Even if she didnít care about your poor circumstances, you yourself probably wouldnít be able to accept it either. The girls who have poor financial circumstances are all looking above, and basically look down upon us poor people. Those who are truly worse off then me, I imagine if the two of us were to marry and have kids, just supporting everyday life is going to drain me, unless there was some big change to our income. Otherwise, I imagine our entire lives will be spent in monotony, itís impossible to turn the situation around. Worse, itís even possible to be abandoned by the wife, kicking you away when she finds a bigger and better tree to hug.

2. Buy apartment and not marry: like I said before, in ten years, or before I turn 35 I will have an apartment that belongs to me (secret: my parentsí place could count as mine too, city center, 100 sq meters, but not in a residential community). When I reach 35 I should be unladen and could consider buying a car.

Not marrying seems impossible to many people, perhaps Iím not like other people, I can live by myself my entire life. If youíre not like me, planning to be a perpetual bachelor, then this post may be pointless for you. If youíre in a big city or a city with a larger real estate bubble, then itís hard for you to even walk my path. A friendly warning to brothers who want to remain single, even without a wife and children we still need to be responsible. Donít think that life will be easy because of this decision. On the contrary, we have even more pressure. Think about the reason we have for not marrying: to give ourselves and our parents better lives. If you end up not taking good care of your parents and not gaining anything yourself, then itís really not worth it. Perhaps we didnít really have a choice, but if we decided, then we need to stick with it. And those brothers who plan to marry, you chose to take on more responsibilities than me, I can only salute you.

In fact, I already have pressure from all sides. After all in the Chinese view of society, building a family is the right thing to do, and not doing so is hard for others to accept. This past Chinese New Year was the most painful in my life. Relatives, friends who came home from other provinces and old classmates didnít understand my choice and found it hard to accept. Todayís society gives us even more pressure, and we cannot choose to escape [responsibility] nor can we run our heads into the wall, so we can only choose a the narrow path that both society and we ourselves can accept.

Lastly, I want to commiserate the death of my romance with a grave heart, and face my long single life with enthusiasm. My road will become better as I walk.


Brother has spoken truth.


The truth of reality.


The true circumstances of life today.


Deeply feel the same, nothing else to say. Just the feelings of someone in the same position.


True! Be a woman in the next life! Women are like that, always looking up [for someone better].


Sigh..youíre better off than meÖmy second-tier city is much more expensive than yoursÖthe average price is around 4k [per square meter]ÖI make around 3-4k..but itís not an iron rice bowl [a stable job], so I donít dare to buy an apartment.


Touches my heart~deeply feel the same! Being unable to let your parents live in comfort yet wanting to still get married is the worst failure of filial piety, so we definitely must not have parents who are not rich pick up the tab for our marriage and must rely on ourselves! If one must be single, then be single, it is not that big of a deal!


Making it on your own truly is really difficult. I feel your pain.


Hahahaha, after laughing [I will] jump off the building!!!!!


Ding! Looks like another good man!


Actually after you marry, itís faster for two people to save money!