Sunday, March 18, 2012

Markets in Everything: Cave Homes in China

LA Times -- "More than 30 million Chinese people live in caves, many of them in Shaanxi province where the Loess plateau, with its distinctive cliffs of yellow, porous soil, makes digging easy and cave dwelling a reasonable option (see photo above).

"It's like living in a villa. Caves in our villages are as comfortable as posh apartments in the city," said Cheng Wei, 43, a Communist Party official who lives in one of the cave houses in Zaoyuan village on the outskirts of Yanan. "A lot of people come here looking to rent our caves, but nobody wants to move out."

The thriving market around Yanan means a cave with three rooms and a bathroom (a total of 750 square feet) can be advertised for sale at $46,000. A simple one-room cave without plumbing rents for $30 a month, with some people relying on outhouses or potties that they empty outside."


At 3/18/2012 1:01 PM, Blogger O. Mencken said...

Not sure if it's good for your health. If that fellow in the picture is Cheng Wei, aged 43, it's not!

At 3/18/2012 1:06 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

If you are visiting Yanan you may want to stay in the Yang Jia Ling Cave Hotel.

The Yang Jia Ling "The hotel provides you with choice of over 200 rooms and suites of various grades and specifications are tastefully decorated as the cave style"

At 3/18/2012 1:21 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

He's 76, see full article.

At 3/18/2012 2:46 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Well I wonder how many people if given the chance in this country would opt for a hole in the wall type domicile?

There's on in Festus, Mo that's actually quite nice if you like that sort of thing but its been turned over at least three times that I know since the early eighties...

At 3/18/2012 4:10 PM, Blogger Jason said...

I used to cave a lot… I would love to live in a cave. The temperature is constant — the average temperature of the outside air for the whole year.

The only downside is the constant water seepage… but you could route all of the water to a cistern and use it in your cave-house.

At 3/18/2012 7:34 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

The only downside is the constant water seepage… but you could route all of the water to a cistern and use it in your cave-house.

This is not a problem in Shaanxi. The area does not get that much rain. I lived there for two years and do not remember a large amount of rainfall but even if you did get a downpour the caves are sealed very well. People have learned to deal with the soil conditions in the Loess plateau for millennia so water infiltration is not much of a worry.

The biggest problem comes from earthquakes but fortunately those are rare in Shaanxi. That said, anyone who lives in the area knows about the damage done by the Great Earthquake in 1556. It killed around a million people and wound up destroying most of the cave dwellings in the region.

At 3/18/2012 7:56 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

It seems, two-thirds of China is desert, and 90% of the population lives in a small area:

At 3/18/2012 8:04 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

And, it seems, the Gobi desert is expanding quickly:

Beijing Hit With Sandstorm from the Gobi Desert
March 20, 2010

"The Gobi Desert is growing by more than 1,000 square miles every year, creeping ever closer to Beijing."

At 3/19/2012 1:06 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Night satellite photos of earth:

At 3/20/2012 12:00 AM, Blogger StVIS said...

Structurally, they're probably better than some of the new condo buildings China's building. I communicate with partners working in China, and I am beyond belief how badly built some of this stuff is: how new apartments will go totally to hell (water leaks, cracks, molds, walls pealing, cement washing away, toilets break or regurgitate waste when neighbors flush, odors, vinyl floors bubbling or peeling) in only a few years. And this isn't cheap stuff either: we're talking about homes that would be very expensive in the US, meaning a few hundred grand and above.


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