China Elevator Stories

“I saved my father a lot of money by marrying in 2012”

I chat with a massage therapist in Siping.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


It’s March, 2015. I have back pain from constantly carrying my baby son and decide to get a massage in Siping. I chat with the blind massage therapist.

He asks me: “What’s the dowry if you marry in Austria?”
I tell him: “We don’t really have a dowry, at least not anymore.”
He says: “That’s great. When I got married in 2012, the dowry was 120,000 Yuan and an apartment. Nowadays, it’s 320,000 Yuan and an apartment. Prices have skyrocketed in recent years. And that just covers Songyuan, where I’m from. Prices are much higher in bigger cities. I saved my father a lot of money by marrying in 2012 and not later.”

house in Kunming - Ruth Silbermayr

I ask him: “Where did you meet your wife?”
“We met at our workplace in Shenyang. We have the same job.”

He has a two-year-old son. We talk about raising kids.

He asks: “What are your plans for your son’s education? Will you send him to school in China?”
I tell him: “We plan to send him to primary school in Austria.”
He explains: “Chinese schools ask a lot from children. My friend’s child leaves for primary school at 6 in the morning and comes back home at 6 in the evening. She then has to do homework assignments until 12 at night. On the weekends, she has to take private lessons and finish some more assignments. There’s no time to play or meet up with friends. If I were you, I also wouldn’t send him to school here.”

He then says: “Our son just started going to kindergarten. His grandmother was afraid that the other kids would hit him, but we thought it would be good for him to be with other children. When someone hits him, he’ll tell the teacher and the teacher will do something about it. He’s playing there all day, so I think it’s fine.”

After a while, he asks: “How many kids are you planning on having?”
I tell him: “Probably 2. How about you, do you plan on having another one?”
“I don’t think so. One is enough. We can’t afford having more children. Raising children is expensive. We have to spend more than 1000 Yuan a month just for milk formula.”

Would you send your kids to school in China?

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