It's well documented that China's cities have been growing at a rapid clip, with people moving from the countryside to vast metropolitan areas in search of better opportunities. But at the same time there's a bit of a reverse migration: stressed Chinese workers leaving good city jobs, because they're fed up with crowded, smoggy cities, to move back to rural communities.
As Bloomberg Businessweek reports, there are few hard numbers on this growing trend, but those studying it say that it's mostly affluent urbanites stressed out from their job and looking for a change of pace.
Among the 20,000 or so residents of Lijiang’s ancient city, some 95 percent are urban transplants, up from almost none 15 years ago, estimates Pan Hongyi, deputy director of the Travel Research Institute at Lijiang Normal Technical College. “Many people come planning to visit but never leave,” says Pan. Often the transplants run guesthouses, teahouses, or restaurants catering to tourists.
That doesn't mean the statistics are wrong about China's rapid urbanization. But the urban to rural trend can be easy to overlook since it's masked by a massive number of less-affluent Chinese moving from the rural to urban areas.
And because of the wealth of people moving back to the countryside, it could mean more investment in small, rural towns like Lijiang:
To capitalize on the trend, his company, Lijiang Derun Real Estate Development, is investing $161 million to build 400 high-end villas and a five-star hotel in Lijiang.
Stressed Chinese Leave Cities, Head for the Countryside [Bloomberg Businessweek]
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com