Why China’s millennials are happy to own nothing

BLOOMBERG (TIP): Two decades ago, Tyler Xiong and his parents had to live in a commune guided by the strict socialist teachings of Mao Zedong.

Today Xiong, a 28-year-old tech entrepreneur, voluntarily lives among 500 people in a co-sharing community near Beijing’s Silicon Valley .Xiong has two pairs of shoes and fewer than 10 outfits. He does not use a car and travels by taxi. His philosophy: if you can rent it, why own it.

Faced with a widening wealth gap and the slowest economic growth in more than two decades, millions like Xiong find themselves priced out of the big cities and are rejecting the consumer trappings of a modern lifestyle.Instead, they’re embracing the sharing economy to a far greater degree than their Western counterparts. In a recent survey , Nielsen found that 94%of Chinese are willing to share, compared with just 43% of North Americans.

Xiong is one of nearly 5,000 people across China who have moved into co-living spaces called You+, a name meant to inspire young people to infinitely expand their horizons. His community , located in a shuttered school, holds business workshops, helps register companies and s now trying to create a database to match skills and rela ionships. About 60 startups call the location home.

You+ echoes a similar movement in the West, where startups like Common (US), Nest Copenhagen (Denmark) and Sende (Spain) are selling mostly young urbanites on he co-living lifestyle.

For as little as about $500 a month, You+ residents gain access to a private room with a bathroom, co-working space that functions as an office, and entertainment facilities ncluding a bar, disco and game room. “Instead of working for years at a company to gain some capital, such a pla ce allows young people to experiment with their startup ideas at very low costs,” says Su Di, the 36-year-old You+ cofounder.

As Xiong sees it, China’s communal history combined with his generation’s embrace of social and economic change, is driving the rapid growth of the sharing economy . In China’s most recent fi ve-year plan for economic de velopment, officials highlighted the sharing economy as a way to help the county naviga te a tricky path from exportled growth to consumption.The sharing economy will generate $335 billion by 2025, up from $15 billion today , accor ding to PWC. (PTI)

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