It’s March, 2015. I have back pain from carrying around baby and get a massage in Siping. I chat with the guy working there.
He asks: “What’s the dowry if you marry in Austria?”
I: “We don’t really have a dowry, at least not anymore.”
He: “That’s great. When I got married in 2012, the dowry was 120,000 Yuan RMB (over EUR 17,000 or USD 19,000) and an apartment. Nowadays, it’s 320,000 Yuan RMB (over EUR 45,500 or USD 51,500) and an apartment. Prices have skyrocketed in recent years. And that’s just Songyuan, where I’m from. Prices are much higher in the bigger cities. I saved my father a lot of money by marrying in 2012 and not later.”
I: “Where did you meet your wife?”
He: “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: “We plan to send him to primary school here.”
He: “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’d think twice about sending him to school here.”
He goes on: “Our son just started going to kindergarten. His grandmother was afraid that he would get hit by the older kids there, 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.”
He then asks: “How many kids are you planning on having?”
I: “Probably 2 or 3. How about you, do you plan on having another one?”
He: “I don’t think so. One is enough. We can’t afford having more children. Raising children is expensive. We have to spend over 1000 CNY (about EUR 140 or USD 160) a month just for milk formula.”
Have you ever had a similar conversation? I’d love to read your stories.
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