“In a central Beijing basement room he shares with two others, He Bing, 23, who recently arrived from Chongqing city tries on his new shirt and borrowed tie and suit for size the night before a examination to become an insurance salesman. Migrants from other parts of China who are the backbone of the service sector in Beijing typically live in simple houses outside of the city centre or in air-raid shelters or basements like this one, paying 300 to 700 yuan a month in rent. With property prices skyrocketing in the Chinese capital, they cannot afford any other type of housing. Air raid shelters and basement spaces beneath apartment blocks are partitioned into rooms and rented out. Basement-dwellers, unkindly dubbed the ‘rat tribe’ by the Chinese press, rarely see the sun from their rooms and often put up with mold and mildew on their clothes and bedding in the summer, but many make this space their comfortable home in their time in the capital.” – Sim Chi Yin
See more photos and bios of folks living in China’s subterranean micro apartments. Photos by Sim Chi Yin.