File photo (Photo/Xinhua)
APO has a good job at a good company, but he can't stay in Shenzhen.
"I would love to stay in Shenzhen, but the housing prices right now are forcing me to leave," said Apo.
After seven years in the city, much of the time spent working at tech giant Huawei, Apo has decided to make the move to Wuhan in Hubei Province, where he will be able to afford to buy an apartment.
Apo is originally from Yunnan Province, and Shenzhen's rapid growth and job opportunities appealed to him.
But even with his wage of about 150,000 yuan (US$24,165) per year, a small apartment is still out of his reach.
Like many young people in China, Apo wants to have an apartment in his name before he gets married. He hopes to marry his girlfriend in the next three years.
As housing prices and rent in Shenzhen have increased rapidly over the past few months, many young people have found themselves forced to change apartments or leave the city altogether.
According to data released by the research arm of Centaline Group, the average rent citywide in May was 66.6 yuan per square meter. The rent in Longhua New Area increased by 22.82 percent — the most in the city — compared with last year.
Liu Guohong, deputy director of a research center on the city's development, said Shenzhen is becoming less appealing to talented tech workers because of rising rent and housing prices.
Liu said it would be very difficult for technology research staff to settle down in Shenzhen.
"I will apply to work at Huawei's Wuhan office," said Apo. "The company promises to give me a same salary."
The leaving of many young talented tech workers also takes a toll on businessmen.
Li Da, who owns a high-tech company in Shenzhen, recently decided to relocate his company to Changsha, Hunan Province.
Li's decision isn't easy as he has been living in Shenzhen for 26 years. But one-third of his research team quit their jobs at the beginning of this year. All moved back to inland cities like Changsha and Zhengzhou.
Li tried to raise their salaries, hoping to make them stay. But his efforts didn't pay off because of the high housing prices in the city.
"What I can do most is to raise their annual salaries by 150,000 yuan. But it is far from enough to persuade them because home prices in their hometowns is only one-sixth of Shenzhen's," said Li.
"It wasn't rare to see people leave the company in the past few years, but it is different now," said Li, adding that many core employees with high incomes are also leaving. "They matter."
"One of them was a sales manager that had worked for me for more than 10 years," he said.
He said the sales manager saved more than 1 million yuan working for him. "She planned to buy a 52-square-meter apartment in Shekou because of the better school in the area, but had to give up because the price of the apartment rose to 3.38 million."
Home prices in some areas like Shekou, Qianhai and Bao'an have increased by up to 50 percent over the past months.
They have no other choice but to leave, Li said.
Li said he chose Changsha not because he is from Changsha, but it is the hometown of many of his former core employees. "In addition, it is relatively easy to recruit new talented people because there are quite a few universities there."