100 Years Until Retirement



If you’re planning to retire in China, good luck. As the surly bouncer that decides who gets to go behind the velvet ropes of that exclusive nightclub would say (without even the slightest hint of sympathy): “If your name isn’t on the list, you’re going to have to go to the end of the line.” Over in Beijing, the No. 1 retirement home has a waitlist of over 10,000 people waiting for space on 1,100 beds. Meaning? You have to wait a lifetime to get in, literally.

According to a staff member at the home, only about a dozen spaces come up each year. Even if the home accepted the maximum amount of applicants per year, it could take up to a century for those towards the bottom of the wait list to even be offered a spot. As macabre as it may sound, the people who have been waitlisted are basically waiting for current residents to die off so that they can take their highly coveted spots. The reason for the limited spaces available? The shortage of elderly care available, due to the fact that elderly Chinese, by tradition, have generally lived with and been looked after by their children.

Approximately 450,000 senior citizens in Beijing live separately from their families but there are only 215 public nursing and 186 elderly care homes available. The city is currently working to increase its facilities with a tentative 120,000 beds that will presumably be available by 2015 for old people. But the beds do not come cheap: a nice private care home charges around $40,000 a year – the equivalent of a year’s tuition at many universities including Brown and Dartmouth.

The city of Shanghai has created plans to increase the number of retirement care homes in addition to bringing in caretakers from other provinces. The government’s policies will most likely stick by their ‘nine-seven-three’ concept: 90% of old people will live at home, 7% will receive government care, and 3% will live in private facilities.

With odds like those, your chances of getting admitted into The Standard Hotel on a Saturday night are way better.

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