Soaring property values in China have some Chinese living like hamsters in tall stacks of shipping containers. For less than $80 a month, rural migrants can rent out a stark steel metal container on the outskirts of Shanghai. In 2001, officials tore down a similar container village in Pudong, consisting of over 100 “homes”, because it was “too dangerous”. The teetering stack of containers in Shanghai has been housing Chinese migrant workers for over a decade.
The origin of the unusual city comes down to a single 70-year-old man (known to the renters simply as “Old Man”) who bought the empty containers from a local customs official. Originally planning to use them for storage, he paid to have the containers stacked on the side of a road. He then snaked electrical and water lines through the stack to each container before deciding they would be better suited as homes for migrants pursuing the exploding, but expensive, Chinese “rat race”.
Soon his entire village was populated with workers, One young migrant followed the entrepreneurial lead of Old Man and turned her container into a small supermarket selling food, drinks, and other daily necessities to the other nearby container-dwellers.
Lest you think the life of a container-dweller is too miserable, one occupant noted:
“The iron containers are quite solid and I do not have to worry about leakages during rain or the roof collapsing.”
Check out pictures of the Shanghai Container Village below.