For Qiu Juan, 30 years old and resident in Shanghai, the biological clock is ticking.

It is not the concern of not being able to get pregnant that worries the student advisor at a university.

Qiu is afraid of not being able to find a man to bring an apartment into the marriage.

Hendrik Ankenbrand

Business correspondent for China based in Shanghai.

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If she wants to buy an apartment for herself, as is customary in China, where 70 percent of the population live in condominiums, Qiu has to be patient a little longer. It will be 5 years, to be precise, before she can afford her dream of a modest two-room apartment in the Jiading district - but only if prices per square meter don't rise. It is not very likely. Over the past 15 years, the price in the big cities has often risen by 10 percent - a year.

Jiading, where the University of Qiu is also located, is not one of the top addresses in the city.

If things go very well, the 30-kilometer drive to the city center takes three quarters of an hour, but in the notorious congestion of the 25 million-inhabitant metropolis that is rather an illusory value.

Jiading is an industrial cluster with over 300 companies from the automotive industry.

Volkswagen, the state-owned company SAIC and Volvo, which is now owned by China, have plants here.

Qui Juan came to Shanghai 7 years ago, right after completing her studies in neighboring Hangzhou.

She's sick of paying rent.

The 3,000 yuan she pays for her room in a shared apartment could be better invested by herself than to help the landlord pay off their investment.

Live, don't speculate

She doesn't want anything big, just a place that belongs to her, so that she finally feels part of the city and has a place for father and mother when they come to visit from their home village in the neighboring province of Jiangsu. The parents are simple workers and have saved 300,000 yuan over the years to help their daughter buy a home. This even saves 5,000 yuan (670 euros) every month. Including her parents' money, Qiu has an amount of 700,000 yuan (94,000 euros) at his disposal - too little for the legally required down payment of 30 percent for a 65 square meter apartment, the purchase price of which in Jiading is currently a good 3 million yuan (400,000 Euro).

Chinese square meters are exaggerated compared to the German counting method, because even the elevator is proportionately included in the measured variable. The apartment that Qiu has in mind corresponds in terms of size and price to an apartment in the Hamburg district of Eimsb├╝ttel. This is much closer to the city center, but that is by far not the biggest difference. It is housing affordability that is dramatically much lower in China. Because while the average earnings in Shanghai are 72,000 yuan a year (9,650 euros), they are around six times higher in the German twin city.

How can it be that despite this huge gap between income and property prices, your own apartment in China is a part of life like noodles and rice? The short answer to the question is: it can't be. At least not anymore. Not in the big cities on the east coast, where almost all life in the People's Republic is concentrated. China has a huge social problem. Never since the privatization of the until then purely state housing market in the nineties has the dream of owning your own four walls been as unrealistic as it is today in the People's Republic.

Xi Jinping recognized this too.

"Apartments are there for living, not for speculating," said the president, turning China's entire housing policy on its head.

In the past, the leadership had absolutely nothing against big real estate developers like Evergrande building one tower after another in China's cities and getting the money for them from the bank.

The fact that Evergrande is now facing bankruptcy and, due to its gigantic debt burden of over 300 billion dollars, also worries large parts of the international financial world, has a lot to do with the fact that at the age of 30, Qiu Juan has to continue to pay rent despite a good job in Shanghai increased at ever shorter intervals and ever larger leaps.

Keywords: china, shanghai, qiu juan, correspondent, jiading district, volkswagen, concern, home, real estate market, dream, parents, anyone, apartment, man, housing market