Zhang Zuyong, 28, believes the rush to leave for smaller cities began at the end of last year. Months before that, Zhang left Beijing for a new job in the Yangpu Economic Development Zone, in northwestern Hainan province.
There his current employer provided him with 150,000 yuan ($22,000) to help him settle down in a new environment, along with free accommodation. A master of sciences and IT engineer, Zhang says the sum would have doubled if he had a doctorate.
Zhang says it was a hard decision to leave the capital, but it was made easier by the fact that he was exhausted working at a website, was in a bad mood and in poor health.
“To me Beijing and Hainan are the same. Neither of them is my hometown,” he says.
Zhang says he’s 60 percent satisfied with his life in Hainan. One of the problems is that his girlfriend, who left a good job in Sichuan to be with him, is now unemployed. “That worries her and her parents a lot,” Zhang says.
Zhang says that if you want to leave a first-tier city “it’s important to choose the right city. Provincial capitals and the like are better choices”.
“Having stayed in Beijing for eight yeas, I really miss the cultural environment and better infrastructure,” he says, adding that he anticipates difficulties educating his children in Yangpu, when and if he has them.