The CCTV drama We’re Getting Married has taken viewers by storm, tapping into sentiment not so much for its romantic possibilities but for reflecting financial realities.
One scene in particular stands out. When the leading man proposes to his beloved, his main concern is not to impress her with flowers or a ring but to present her with a property certificate, a statement of a decent bank account and proof of vehicle ownership.
It’s hardly a heartwarming plotline but it reflects a basic truth in China: these three “licenses” are widely accepted as the entry tickets for marriage, especially in major cities.
The show’s airing coincides with a netizen-compiled chart about marriage budgets doing the rounds online. The chart claims that in the top three mainland cities — Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai — marrying a local lady can easily cost a suitor more than two million yuan (US$328,095), most of which goes into housing.
The astonishing figure is not unbelievable. According to the last census, the number of Chinese men of marriageable age is almost double the figure for women, allowing prospective wives to be choosier.
Housing prices are tough to predict but with the rigid demand for marriage and therefore homes, it stands to reason that property prices in Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai will be more resilient than in other cities — even if the bullish housing market suddenly turns south.
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