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Housing prices force exodus to suburbs | Updated: 2013-07-05 17:33

Sky-rocketing housing prices have forced many people in Beijing to move out to distant suburbs in search of more affordable homes. Inner-city Beijing has boomed as a commercial district while remote suburbs have become sprawling residential zones.

Property prices have shot up out of reach. Even middle-income earners can’t afford a home in central Beijing.

So it’s become a trade-off between price and distance. And many people are prepared to travel a long way.

Densely populated residential areas in the suburbs include Tongzhou in the east, Wangjing in the northeast and Huilongguan in the north. A one-way commute from each of these areas to the central business district takes about 40 minutes to an hour.

An uncomfortable hour on the subway or gridlocked traffic on the road.

Liu Zhilin, is an expert in property policy and urban planning. She says more needs to be done to meet the needs created by the surge in commuters. Needs like job opportunities, transport, utilities and other public services.

Liu said, "In recent decades, we have seen a housing boom in suburban areas, but we have not seen equal boom of jobs or an equal supply of public services and infrastructure, and that is a problem. I think the government should rethink its planning strategy and change it from a zoning perspective, dividing residential and commercial land, to different philosophy of increasing the balance between jobs and housing, not just in the inner-city but also in suburban areas."

The challenge ahead is to create a better urban design, to make it possible for people to have a decent home near their place of work.

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