Young Chinese want to show their peers, TikTok by TikTok, how glorious it is to live alone

  • Young TikTokers in China say they are bucking the trend of chasing houses, marriage and cars.
  • Hundreds of Douyin content creators are publishing video diaries glorifying living alone in silence.
  • Some say that living alone helps them save more, while others focus their videos on cooking.

At 36, TikToker Xiang Xiaoyu says she has lived alone in her apartment for seven years and has no plans to get married.

And this is how she wants her life to be, Xiang says in one of his videos, in which she is seen making her bed, cooking, and eating meals by herself in her 1,000-square-foot home.

“Other people may think I’m lonely, but I love this happiness that I can call my own,” said Xiang, who has 21,000 followers.

Single at 36, Wang is falling behind the life goals most young Chinese set for themselves.  But she says that she prefers it that way.

Single at 36, Wang is falling behind the life goals most young Chinese set for themselves. But she says that she prefers it that way.

Wang Xiaowang/Screenshot/Douyin

It’s a sentiment that’s all the rage on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, where hundreds of content creators post video diaries of themselves living alone.

In Modern China, where one is expected to own a house, get married and buy a car before the age of 30these young people, mostly born in the 1990s, say they are perfectly content with renting apartments and ignoring society’s prescribed life goals.

The immense pressure to secure high-paying jobs and work long hours has pushed many young people in China to resort to “lying on the floor”: abandoning the rat race and doing the bare minimum. But if their videos are to be believed, TikTokers who signed up to live on their own are thriving while subverting traditional Chinese expectations.

Zheng Xiangwang, a TikToker with 69,000 followers, posted a video in march That sums up the idea.

“You can live alone in a 28-square-meter duplex apartment. When you’re at home, all the space is yours,” he narrates about a montage of his life at home.

Zheng says it’s the small victories that count. He boasts that he can blast music whenever he wants, cook whatever he wants to eat, and can leave the bathroom door open when he poops.

You can poop as long as you want when you live alone, Zheng boasts.

You can poop as long as you want when you live alone, Zheng boasts.

Zheng Xiaowang/Douyin/Screenshot

“Who wouldn’t want to try my blessed solo life?” he adds.

Many videos also show young women cooking at home. Lai Xiaofei, who has 878,000 followers, posts videos of herself coming home, sitting down, and preparing meals like cheesy mashed potatoes mixed with instant ramen.

She describes herself as a “girl born in 1998” and he tells viewers to “never give up your interests and independence for other people.”

Many household products are often featured prominently in these home videos, such as a portable bathtub and a hot water dispenser.

Other young TikTokers say that living alone has helped them save money.

“I earn 8,000 yuan a month, my rent is 1,800 yuan, my living expenses are 2,000 a month.” says a TikToker calling himself “Mao Xiao’s Diary” and breaks down his daily food and travel expenses for viewers. The TikToker’s 8,000 yuan salary is worth about $1,115.

He avoids luxury brands, never goes to clubs and writes articles as a side job, said the Tiktoker.

Another TikToker, “Nong Xiao A Hao,” claims to have saved 60,000 yuan, or about $8,600, over six years while renting an apartment and earning $1,300 a month. The average salary in China is around $1,390, according to Hong Kong-based data analytics firm CEIC.

“If your clothes and shoes can still be worn, then it’s okay,” Nong Xiao A Hao tells the viewers. “Luxury items, never buy them.”

Not everyone in Douyin is convinced. A TikToker with 10,000 followers posted a video on April 14 that mocked the trendcomparing online versions of living alone, where a man cooks a sumptuous meal out of cleverly designed household items, with the real thing, where the man simply goes home and eats noodles.

“The reality of living alone is turning on your computer at home and ordering takeout once you get off work,” one Douyin user wrote in a featured comment on this video.

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