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Vlogger’s Take on Hometown Comforts Causes Big City Blues

“Bigger cities offer more opportunities for young people from smaller towns to find well-paid jobs.

By NewsChina Updated May.1

Netizen Comments:
 • “Bigger cities offer more opportunities for young people from smaller towns to find well-paid jobs. Remaining in their hometowns may hamper their dreams for a wealthier life – usually in smaller cities and towns, only those who come from means, resources and connections can lead prosperous lives.”  

• “People in small cities and towns now have significantly improved material lifestyles. But big cities may offer more diverse and numerous cultural activities, such as theater, concerts and exhibitions, which are often scarce in smaller places.”  

• “It’s a peculiar comparison. There are far more ordinary people living very modest lives in small towns. You cannot overlook the majority of population and focus on the lifestyles of a select few wealthy people.” Source: Sina Weibo 

Expert Comments: 
Chu Yin, former professor at the University of International Relations in Beijing: “In recent years, many towns in China have experienced a rapid economic growth. But these places often lack good job opportunities, and competition for the few desirable jobs available is fierce. This competition extends beyond individual job seekers’ skills to the economic strengths, resources and social connections of families.” Source: Blue Whale Finance  

Phoenix Weekly, Beijing-based news portal: “It’s like a fortress besieged: those who are outside want in, and those who are inside want out. Big city dwellers yearn for the comforts of small-town life, while small town residents admire the freedom that big cities promise.”  

The Paper, Shanghai-based news portal: “With the rapid progress of e-commerce and express logistics, the disparities in choice between large cities and small towns are diminishing. Additionally, thanks to the growth of short videos and livestreaming, the gaps in consumption values, habits and purchasing power in various regions are fading away.” 

A Beijing-based vlogger who visited her small hometown for Spring Festival only to find that many of her former classmates are living better lives than she does in the big city has shed light on the shifting dynamics between China’s urban and rural areas.  

Known to her more than 200,000 followers as “Xing Yue (Star Moon)” on video website Bilibili, the young woman recently found work at a Beijing-based internet company after completing her graduate degree in communications at King’s College London.  

In her post on February 12, Xing Yue recounted how she previously perceived her hometown in Central China’s Jiangxi Province as poor and felt that anyone who stayed would live an impoverished life. But upon her return, she found her old classmates, friends and acquaintances were living much more comfortably than she ever could in Beijing.  

She explained that some of her classmates live in large single-family homes, own luxury cars and have inherited lucrative family businesses. Many also have stronger spending power than most working-class people in big cities, she said.  

Her video, which garnered 1.81 million views, resonated with many netizens, who pointed out the many challenges wage workers in China’s major cities like Beijing face, such as high housing and living costs. In contrast, residents of smaller cities and towns often enjoy a more relaxed and affordable lifestyle due to their lower living expenses.  

Some said the video challenges prevailing stereotypes that smalltown residents lead dull lives, while others indicated that the trend highlights the progress of China’s urbanization and narrowing regional gaps. However, there are also voices cautioning against these sweeping generalizations that overlook the less privileged, who make up the majority of rural residents.