Business / Industries

Shanghai residents seeking ideal home

By Wu Yiyao (China Daily) Updated: 2015-05-25 07:19

Shanghai residents seeking ideal home

A villa in suburban Shanghai. Suburban villas are still popular among the wealthy in Shanghai amid increasing concerns over urban air quality. [Photo/China Daily]

Hong Zhijian, a 54-year-old company owner in Shanghai, drives from his downtown home to his suburban villa every Friday evening. Like many of the wealthiest people in Shanghai, he owns several properties in the city which serve various functions.

"After I retire, I think I will move to a village in remote suburban Shanghai, raise some chickens and keep a dog. I may also rent a small patch of a paddy field," said Hong.

Despite the fact that Hong owns four properties in the city while many people are struggling to even get on the housing ladder, Hong said he has so far failed to achieve his ideal lifestyle in one of China's most populous cities.

Getting the ideal home in Shanghai is never an easy task, given its population density, as well as the city's high house prices and limited land supplies.

The definitions of ideal housing change fast. Land supplies, average income levels, cultural trends and demographic dynamics have made Shanghai's high-end property market more diverse than ever these days.

Suburban villas, spacious downtown apartments, riverside high-rise luxurious apartments and serviced apartments are among the favorite housing options for Shanghai's richest people.

A typical luxury house in Shanghai in the 1930s was a mansion in the city center with several bedrooms and function rooms. These mansions had a superior location in today's Huangpu, Xuhui and Jing'an districts. Today, most of these houses have either been transformed for commercial use as boutiques, hotels or restaurants, or have been protected as cultural heritage. Some have spacious courtyards that could host equestrian drills.

One can hardly find a residence like these 1930s mansions nowadays due to the lack of available land in the city. Also, today's residents have different requirements for their lifestyle. Many rich people have built cellars in the basements of their villas, or transformed a bedroom into an entertainment room and even a gym.

As population density increases in Shanghai, luxury housing is not limited to three-story buildings such as mansions and villas. High-rise projects such as apartment buildings are also sought after. The definition of prestigious locations has also broadened, with a greater focus on the city's financial center and business districts such as Lujiazui and Nanjing Road.

"In the 2000s, high-rise residential buildings with river views were among the most popular. These reminded people of Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong and Westminster in London," said Du Jun, a realty agent in Lujiazui.

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