High costs hindering many from going home for holiday

By Hou Liqiang ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-01-30 08:35:44

The cost of returning home for Spring Festival is a deterrent, according to a recent survey.

Eighty percent of respondents to an online survey by Yangcheng Evening News and said the costs involved in making the trek home were more than their monthly salaries.

About 57 percent of respondents to the survey, which sought the opinions of 611 netizens, said financial concerns would be uppermost in their minds when they were with their families.

About 30 percent opted not to return home and 25 percent said the reason came down to cost.

The findings were borne out by another survey. Beijing News polled 100 people and found 40 percent of respondents said the cost of returning home posed a heavy burden.

The survey targeted four categories: white collar workers, migrant workers, public servants and people working in other fields in Beijing.

It found that more than 50 percent had a Spring Festival budget of between 5,000 yuan ($827) and 10,000 yuan.

At least half of respondents said the costs involved were equivalent to, or more than, their monthly salary.

Both surveys found that the major costs involved expenditure on travel, presents and cash given to parents and children.

Tang Fuyun, a migrant worker from Sichuan province, said she has returned home for the festival only three times since getting married 19 years ago.

"The cost of going back home for the festival is too high," the 40-year-old said.

"My budget for the festival this year is about 10,000 yuan and the annual income of my husband and I in Beijing is just over 60,000 yuan," she added.

Tang said she would not have returned home this year if her father hadn't suffered a serious fall, even though she hasn't seen her 16-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter for years.

The social schedule can also be exhausting, she said.

Gatherings and receptions all take up precious time and there is little chance to relax and rest, she said.

Sun Zhengcai, 33, runs a drugstore in Liaoyang, Liaoning province, and will be on duty during Spring Festival.

"The usual cost of the festival for me is about 40,000 yuan," Sun said.

But Sun said he still yearned to return home, despite the cost, as it's a time for people to be with their families.

Li Gang, a migrant worker from Hebei province, said festival travel usually costs him about 3,000 yuan.

Li is going home this year but will not meet as many relatives. This is due to time constraints but he will save hundreds of yuan from not needing to buy as many presents.

"I usually make about 50,000 yuan a year, but I didn't make that much this year and also didn't get my salary on time," Li said.

"I will feel embarrassed when I visit because I don't have much money," Li explained.

Li Junfu, an associate professor at Beijing University of Technology, said it's a tradition to give presents or money to relatives during Spring Festival and the expense can be high.

"It didn't matter before how much money people had or what presents they gave," Li said.

"But now some people are quite generous and hand out large amounts of money and give expensive presents. That puts others under pressure."

Li suggested people give money or presents based on their own financial situation instead of trying to copy others.

If the situation continues, it might alienate relatives and weaken family ties, as many may choose not to go back home, Li said.

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