I have visited a few hutong houses. While some of my former Microsoft expatriates like the exotic feelings and the bragging rights of living in the hutong houses, I would not want to live there. These hutong houses usually have no private bath room, no heating and no insulation. The temperature of Beijing can drop to as low as -10 C in the winter. It is like living in Minnesota without out heating in winter. Why on earth would any body want to live there?
Does the government or the real estate developers provide enough compensation for their old houses? I have no way to know for sure. But I am very confident that compensations are provided. Will the compensation satisfy everyone’s desire? That is another question.
I have recently met a bus driver who lived in Beijing for generations. He was proudly telling me of his new apartment provided by the real estate developers. He got three times the size of his old “run-down” apartment in a very desirable location. He has another “shelter” close to the newly developed CBD area. He has not lived their for many years because of its terrible condition. He told me that he would easily get 15000RMB (over 2000USD) per square meter from the developers for compensation. He will have a meeting with the other owners in the same building to determine a fair amount of compensation. “15000 RMB per square meter is fair to me but may not be enough for every one. Some people will always want more and they think that by sticking around, they can make more money. I am not that greedy” He said.
Read the full post over at Dr. Mark Nan Tu’s blog. (Apologies for pulling the quote a little bit out of context.)