subdistricts that were built in 2000. In the first three years of the century, the population quickly rose to more than 100,000.
The family of Beijing native Du Bo moved to Tiantongyuan in 2005 because at 5,600 yuan per sq m the area was still relatively cheap.
“Our old home in Haidian district was scheduled for urgent demolition, so we had to find another place to live,” the 26-year-old said.
Though the family would have preferred an apartment in the downtown, Du’s parents could not afford
to move to such an expensive area. The urgency of the situation meant the family of four, which included his grandfather, had no alt
ernative but to move to the 120-sq-m, three-bedroom apartment in Tiantongyuan.
“Dirty” and “chaotic” were Du’s first impressions of the neighborhood. Unlicensed traders bloc
ked the roads, meaning people could not park their cars, and feral cats and dogs often ap
peared on the streets. As a result, some people simply bought apartments to rent to tenants.
Du said he has heard that in a building near his tower block, one bedroom can accommodate eight people. “It’s like a dormitory at college,” he said.