Associated Press

These women, often from rural areas, are regularly kept in apartments that their lovers buy for them in urban centers.

Keeping a mistress is a normal part of life for successful Chinese businessmen and government officials, and in some ways they have become more visible in recent years, playing roles in corruption scandals and even, sometimes, turning in their lovers.

They and their big-spending partners may also be contributing to ever-increasing real estate prices in some of China’s biggest cities. That’s because these women, often from rural areas, are regularly kept in apartments that their lovers buy for them in urban centers, near his work or home. The practice has created entire neighborhoods of apartments in big Chinese cities filled with women who would otherwise be living at home with their families, or perhaps sharing a rental.
 

In a colorful article today London-based magazine Aeon, one "ernai" or "second woman" living in a $400,000 Beijing apartment explains:

Local estate agents target provincial officials and businessmen looking to put their money into Beijing’s property bubble, and the men fill up the apartments, bought as investments, with their women. ‘Half of the apartments are empty,’ she explained. ‘And the other half are full of girls.'

Quantifying how many apartments there are housing mistresses in China is close to impossible, but the practice of having, and "keeping" a mistress is widespread among the wealthy. About 90 percent of the top officials brought down by corruption scandals had mistresses, a government report from 2007 found. One had 18, it suggested. "Keeping a mistress is just like playing golf," one real estate developer who spent $6,100 a month to support a 20-year-old art major told The New York Times in 2011. "Both are expensive hobbies."

The state-run Beijing Evening Daily estimated back in 2010 that there were 200,000 mistresses living in apartments in Beijing alone, and said that if they could be driven out of the city as part of an on-going prostitution drive, there would be a “turning point” in housing prices there.
 

Since then, home prices have only gone way, way up.

This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    On Paris Metro, Drug Abuse Reaches a Boiling Point

    The transit workers’ union says some stations on Line 12 are too dangerous to stop at. What will the city do?

  2. Environment

    Britain's Next Megaproject: A Coast-to-Coast Forest

    The plan is for 50 million new trees to repopulate one of the least wooded parts of the country—and offer a natural escape from several cities in the north.

  3. Design

    These Sneakers Are Your Free Transit Pass

    A new BVG-Adidas collaboration means unlimited travel along Berlin’s public transit network for the rest of 2018. That is if you can find a pair.

  4. A small accessory dwelling unit—known as an ADU—is attached to an older single-family home in a Portland, Oregon, neighborhood.
    Design

    The Granny Flats Are Coming

    A new book argues that the U.S. is about to see more accessory dwelling units and guides homeowners on how to design and build them.

  5. People walk through a crosswalk.
    Equity

    Great Cities Enable You to Live Longer

    Dense, well-educated, immigrant-friendly cities boost longevity—especially for the low-income.