Young people who can’t afford rent in China’s megacities are sharing their beds to get by.
Rental posts advertising “same room, same bed” arrangements have surged on social media.
The practice involves the two tenants splitting rent and sleeping in the same bed at the same time.
Young people struggling in China’s megacities have found a way to fit rent into their dwindling budgets — sharing a bed with a stranger.
As the country faces a youth unemployment crisis, posts advertising shared bed spaces in urban sprawls like Shanghai and Beijing have been emerging on XiaoHongShu, China’s new version of Instagram.
The practice is different from “hot-bedding,” a trend in the West where tenants save on rent by taking turns to sleep. In China, “bedmates” sleep in the same bed at the same time, and split the cost of the room.
The intimate arrangement is prompting young tenants to think of new ways to maintain personal boundaries.
“Same room, same bed, different quilt” is a tagline often seen in these rental posts, such as one written by a young woman selling a bed space in Baoshan, Shanghai.
“Doesn’t snore, occasionally talks in sleep, wakes up around nine in the morning and goes to bed around nine in the evening, has Tuesdays off,” she wrote, describing herself for the ad.
She had been unable to afford rent alone since her friend moved out, she wrote. “I hope to stay with a fellow lady,” she added.
Her shared apartment, she said, has a “large space, bay windows, carpets, and two sets of tables and chairs.”
Several takers reached out online.
“I’m very interested. I hope to have a chance to chat with you,” one person commented. By late July, the poster said she’d found a tenant for the month of August.
Another post hawking a bed space in central Beijing for a monthly $250 welcomes “fellow ladies who love cleanliness.”
“I’m usually away from home every day from ten to seven in the morning, and the bed is very big,” they wrote, attaching photos of a small room fitted with a washing machine and kitchenette.
“Are you still renting this, sister?” asked a commenter.
‘Not being burdened by rent, while living normal lives’
The trend caught wider attention in early July after it surfaced in an article published by News Weekly, a Guangdong current affairs magazine.
“This sort of renting arrangement might sound bold and even absurd, but in first-tier cities, this co-rental approach is not uncommon,” the article said.
First-tier cities generally refer to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, China’s top four urban powerhouses. The average rent in these cities is around $12 per square meter, per business news outlet YiCai.
News site Youth36kr reported on an arrangement between two “bedmates” near Beijing who wanted to keep their monthly rent below $280.
The pair connected on XiaoHongShu, and neither knew the other’s real name or appearance until they met in their apartment room, for which they each pay $210 a month, Youth36kr wrote.
They’d reached an agreement: no snoring, no sleepwalking, and no bringing male guests home, the outlet reported.
“They fulfilled their most simple wish — not being burdened by rent, while living normal lives,” Youth36kr wrote.
A bleak economy for China’s youth
Bed-sharing comes as youth unemployment in China soared to 21.3% in June, per official statistics. Youth are classified as 16 to 24 years old in China.
Average starting salaries for graduates in China were around $810 per month in 2021, per a survey published by Beijing education research institute MyCOS in 2023.
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