Would you move to China to pay $30 a month in rent? What if it meant your new home was in a cave? While most New Yorkers would probably pass on the opportunity, there are approximately 30 million people in China who have grown accustomed to this lifestyle.
Most Chinese caves are in the Shaanxi province, where the soil is very porous and easy to dig through. Chinese caves range from simple, one-bedroom living spaces, to full scale homes with modern features. According to a report from the LA Times, a cave with three bedrooms and one bathroom could sell for $46,000. The nicest caves have plumbing and electricity, are very spacious and have architectural features similar to traditional luxury homes. People also buy furniture and hang pictures on the walls to make the caves feel homier.
These caves are often hailed as “eco-friendly” because they use significantly less energy than traditional homes and apartments. Unlike modern homes, caves naturally maintain a constant temperature throughout the year and therefore require no energy for heating and cooling. They also require significantly less building materials than traditional homes, which greatly reduces their ecological footprint. Some caves have not even been updated to include electricity or running water, making them the least energy intensive of them all.
Cave dwelling is certainly not a new phenomenon in China. However, if you do decide to move there in hopes of adopting this lifestyle, it might prove to be more difficult than you think. Most families have passed down their cave homes from generation to generation and have no plans to sell their caves any time soon.