Hundreds of thousands of northerners leave Beijing as “northern geese fly south” ….

Since 2016, more than 100,000 northern drifters have chosen to leave each year. Meanwhile, a study on China’s population migration and urbanization development says that the talent moving out of Beijing in 2019 is no longer concentrated in neighboring cities, and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei urban circle has become weaker than the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta in the south. And the cities with the most sources of population migration from southern tier 1 cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are all Beijing. In other words, more and more northern drifters, are moving south.

Drifting to the South

Outside the car window, the city of Beijing is regressing a little. Skyscrapers, dense traffic, and noisy people …… suddenly appear a row of ancient buildings with yellow tiles and red walls, which is the Yonghe Palace. Xu Mengying, sitting in the car, reacted and clicked, taking the last photo of the northern drift.

In 2016, Xu Mengying graduated from university, and for the sake of the film dream in her heart, she came to Beijing and entered an Internet studio to do film promotion work. She has participated in planning more than 500 movie premieres, witnessed the buzz and grandeur on the red carpet, and experienced the overtime night at 3 a.m., taking a taxi Home from Sanlitun and breaking down and crying at the entrance of the neighborhood. At any subway entrance or road in Beijing, she had to keep up with the hurrying crowd, “because stopping would make her anxious”.

Xu Mengying decided to say goodbye to this anxiety at the age of 25. on the last day of June 2020, she packed her four years of drifting in the north into three cardboard boxes, three woven bags, two shoulder bags, a bundle of bedding and a 28-inch suitcase, and boarded a plane that left Beijing for the south.

The plane flew to Ningbo, Zhejiang. After landing, Xu Mengying took a deep breath, the air was moist and fresh. Xu Mengying is a Tianjin native, 25 years, Life is limited to the north. Previously, her impression of Ningbo was only summarized by her boyfriend’s statement, “There are a lot of rich people and big cockroaches”.

Zhang Heng, 37, had also never been to Hangzhou before she decided to leave Beijing and go south. However, unlike Xu Mengying, the man of science who graduated in aerospace, is all about planning. Household, housing, and educational resources …… Zhang Heng thoroughly analyzed Hangzhou before officially moving away from Beijing. It took him a full four years to turn the idea of moving south to Hangzhou into reality. in the summer of 2019, Zhang Heng took his wife and children and drove two days to move from the south side of Beijing to the banks of the Qiantang River in Hangzhou.

Xu Mengying and Zhang Heng are not an exception. On March 13 this year, Zhang Xuefeng, a netizen teacher from Qiqihar, Heilongjiang, tweeted that he left Beijing, where he had struggled for 14 years, to settle in Suzhou. He replied to netizens in the comment section that he left Beijing to go south because of his child’s account problem.

Since 2016, more than 100,000 northern drifters choose to leave every year. Meanwhile, a research report on China’s population migration and urbanization development based on Jingdong’s big data says that the talent moving out of Beijing in 2019 is no longer concentrated in the surrounding cities, and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei urban circle has become weaker than the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta in the south. And the cities with the most sources of population migration from southern tier 1 cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are all Beijing.

In other words, more and more northern drifters, are moving south.

▲ Photo / Screenshot of “Beijing Love Story

Taking Root

On the third day after leaving Beijing, Xu Mengying was lying on a bed in an apartment in Ningbo. With the sound of birds chirping outside the window, she watched a movie with lychees and red tissues in her hand. There is a cool breeze coming in from the balcony, soft and gentle.

Not long ago, Xu Mengying was immersed in the anxiety of drifting north. Her deepest anxiety about Beijing originated from settling down. Xu Mengying jumped from a big factory to a central enterprise in her 3rd year of drifting in the north. At the farewell dinner, the senior director of the department revealed her personal difficulties for the first Time: “I haven’t settled down yet, and it’s still a problem for my children to go to school.”

The director sitting across the table was a “winner in life” in Xu Mengying’s mind – a management in a big factory, famous in the industry, and very free in wealth.

“Such people can not settle, I stay here for what?” Xu Mengying felt the cruelty of settling down for the first time and felt that being rooted in Beijing was out of reach.

Soon, entering the institutional unit, Xu Mengying saw an even crueler case. In the eyes of the public, Beijing’s system seems to mean “arranged hukou”, but Xu Mengying’s leadership does not have a hukou yet. Xu Mengying saw his leader holding up his cell phone every day, calling all sorts of people and trying to get his children into a Beijing household and a Beijing school.

Do you want to do so much for the account? Why don’t you change to another place? Why does it have to be Beijing? Xu Mengying couldn’t understand it, and felt so much pressure that she was “suffocating”.

Zhang Heng, 37, could understand the urgency of settling down. He is the type of northern drifter who has a car and a house, and is just one hukou away from being rooted in Beijing.

In 2015, Zhang Heng’s son turned 3 years old and was preparing for kindergarten. Zhang Heng, who is used to planning, immediately thought of his son’s future. Before junior high school, the child could still receive compulsory Education in Beijing according to the school district. But what about high school? What about the all-important college entrance exam?

What touched the father even more was the experience of his neighbor. Zhang Heng’s neighbor’s child was in his first year of junior high school and had planned to return to Changsha, where he was registered, to attend high school after finishing junior high school in Beijing. In order to adapt in advance, the neighbor put his child into a summer school program at a middle school in Changsha. The results showed that the child, who had done well in Beijing, did not pass the exam in Changsha.

At that time, Beijing had not yet implemented a policy of settling households on points, so Zhang Heng felt hopeless and began to plan to leave Beijing and settle in another place. Because his mother-in-law was sick and hospitalized in Hangzhou, Zhang Heng and his wife finally chose Hangzhou for the convenience of care. At that time, Hangzhou’s settlement policy was friendly to Zhang Heng, and people with a specialist’s degree or above could settle down after paying social security for two years, or purchasing a house.

The settlement policy in southern cities has become more open. Shenzhen has lowered the threshold for young people with a specialist’s degree or higher to settle in the city, while those with a master’s or doctoral degree who have studied abroad can settle in Guangzhou by paying social security. In Shanghai, another cosmopolitan city, fresh graduates from double-class universities who meet the eligibility requirements can also settle in the city.

At the end of 2015, he bought a small 61-square-meter house in Xiasha, Hangzhou. The house is adjacent to the Qiantang River, and you can see the rushing tide from the balcony. According to the local policy in Hangzhou, you can apply for settlement the day after you buy the house.

In 2019, the new house was renovated and Zhang Heng officially said goodbye to Beijing, where he had stayed for 18 years. He also hesitated during the four-year wait. 2016 saw the introduction of Beijing’s household settlement points policy, which was officially launched in 2018. Zhang Heng declared twice, once by a dozen points and once by nine points. He also thought about it and waited. But the day he waited for the real points to settle in the household he might have been in his 40s, and he didn’t want to see himself in middle age but still worried about the hukou.

The first day after moving into his new home in Hangzhou, Zhang said, “I don’t want to see myself worrying about the hukou in my middle age.

On the second day after moving into his new home in Hangzhou, Zhang Heng stood on his balcony and watched the early morning sunlight spilling over the Qiantang River with sparkling waves. He remembered his balcony in Beijing, facing the neighborhood gate, where he saw a constant stream of cars early in the morning.

There was also a greenway along the river below his new home. In Beijing, Zhang Heng had always wanted to run in the morning, but there was no park near his home, and the surrounding green belt turned into bare branches in winter. Now, he can run in the morning and see the greenery in the south at the same time.


In Ningbo, Xu Mengying has to live in a rented apartment for a while longer. The price of housing here is a bit higher than she expected. She thought she could rent a room in Ningbo for more than 1000 a month, but decent houses are more than 2000 yuan. Xu Mengying finally rented a one-bedroom apartment with the help of her colleagues for 2500 a month, which is about the same as the rent for a shared room in Beijing.

More than 1000 kilometers away in Foshan, Guangdong, 95-year-old Chen Lu already has a small house in his own name. 40 square feet of one-bedroom, after paying the down payment, the monthly mortgage is only 2000 yuan, no pressure.

Chen Lu, who likes stability, had a plan to buy a house from the day she graduated. She went to university in Beijing and, like many young people, naturally stayed after graduation. in March 2017, Chen Lu joined a real estate company as an intern to learn about the Beijing property market.

In the same month, Beijing issued the “strictest ever” property market regulation policy. One of the requirements was “five consecutive years of social security payment in Beijing”, so Chen Lu, who had just graduated, was not qualified to buy a house. At the same time, the company can apply for the Beijing work residence permit residence is tightening, Chen Lu does not know in the time he waited in line for the permit, housing prices will rise several times.

Chen Lu once looked at a small home of more than 70 square meters in Beijing Yizhuang, the total price of more than 4 million, the calculation has to sell two suites in Sichuan home to make up the down payment, which means emptying the pockets of the last generation and the previous generation.

Can not see the future of Chen Lu in April 2020, listen to the Family arrangements, to join a state-owned enterprises in Foshan. In her original impression, Foshan was just a third or fourth-tier city, without much population and without many office buildings.

After coming to Foshan, the stereotype in Chen Lu’s mind collapsed. Foshan has a lot of “Beijing identities”: flat and wide roads, office buildings lined up, and many luxury cars in the underground parking lot. Here, through the “popularization” of her colleagues, she was also introduced to Bentley, Ferrari and Maserati for the first time, and felt first-hand the “stifling wealth” of the southerners. Later, she chatted with her colleague and learned that the headquarters of Midea, Little Bear Electric and Beyoncé were all located here.

At night, Chen Lu, who lives in the industrial park, pushed open the window and looked out of the house. The logo of Gree shines on the building next door, and the street light shines the palm leaves on the green belt downstairs, and the evening breeze blows and sways gently.

Xu Ning, a native of Baotou, Inner Mongolia, saw egrets and waves in the south at the age of 31. In 2011, she started drifting north with a shoulder bag on her back, and eight years later, because of the recurring sea in her Dreams, she quit her job naked and went to Xiamen. Once, like Chen Lu, Xu Ning also considered settling down in Beijing. She asked the agent about second-hand houses in Beijing, and her request was “particularly remote, the layout is particularly bad, but the price is okay”.

Xu Ning was always surprised when she received information about houses. The most impressive one was a 30 square meter house near Yanjiao, with a price of about 1 million yuan, but the lighting was bad and the house was triangular in shape, so even the feng shui was not good. There is also a house of choice, located in Lishui Bridge South, near the Aosun, more than 100 square meters, the house is bright and square, except that the price is more than 10 million …… 8 years in Beijing, engaged in the publishing industry, Xu Ning’s salary just rose from 4,000 yuan to 6,000 yuan, the average price of housing in Beijing has doubled.

It’s hard to buy a house, and it’s hard to rent a house. Xu Ning has moved 8 times in Beijing, and her sense of wandering is always there. She has been involved in the scams of rental agents; she has seen the common living room suddenly made into a partitioned room, and the promised space is half smaller; she has also met unfriendly neighbors who knocked on the door before she went to sleep and shouted “if you make any more noise, you will be killed with a knife” ……

▲ Photo / Screenshot from “Go, You’re the Best

The experience has made her cautious. The first time I saw this, I was able to get to the top of the list. When she first moved in, there was no washing machine installed in the house, so she asked the agent and was told that someone would bring it to her. Xu Ning didn’t believe her, she had heard too many such “words” in Beijing, but the end result was nothing. The landlord sent her a screenshot of the order directly from Taobao, and only then did she let her guard down.


Xu Ning felt that Xiamen could give her the human touch that Beijing could not. When she stayed in a hotel, the receptionist would take the initiative to ask her if she needed to be picked up and send out mangoes; when she asked for directions, the passerby would enthusiastically lead her directly to her destination; when she took a bus, she saw the driver remind the person who stopped the bus, “It’s too dangerous for you to stop like this, I will stop for you. The service industry in the south is well developed, and the service consciousness germinates from various details.

However, Xiamen also showed the helpless side to Xu Ning. In the first few months after coming to Xiamen, Xu Ning had not been able to find a suitable job. Xu Ning was working as a copyright agent for English books in Beijing, and although the pay was low, she enjoyed the fulfillment of the job. She once finished reading a book by an unknown British author in one night and burst into tears. She tried to recommend this author to many publishers, but because one did not become a book, two did not have fame, was repeatedly rejected. Finally, Guangxi Normal University Press accepted her recommendation and published the book. The book sold well, and the author’s second book was signed.

But in Xiamen, no such position awaited Xu Ning. During the Epidemic, Xu Ning became anxious, did not sleep easily, and was always swiping her phone. The social platform was filled with the bumpy 35-year-old leaving her job, and she felt that it might be her 31-year-old self, “about to be abandoned by society as it is”.

Zhang Heng was in Hangzhou, and did not find a job in the aerospace industry. He simply opened a jewelry studio with his wife, and also opened a Taobao store, hoping to be looked after by the capital of e-commerce.

In the past year, online education has risen rapidly, and Xu Ning, who couldn’t find a job, eventually became an English teacher at an online education institution. She blows the sea breeze in Xiamen, takes classes, and has enough time to watch egrets and waves.

More and more industries tend to be Internet-based, and the lively southern cities are always more sensitive to such developments, and talent flows in with them. In a list of Top 20 cities with net inflow of high-end talents in the national Internet industry, there are 17 southern cities, while only 3 northern cities are listed.

If we spread out the map of Internet majors, we will find that many second- and third-tier cities in the south have become important places for the majors. Tencent has set up its southwest headquarters in Chongqing, Xiaomi has set up its second headquarters in Wuhan, and Byte Jump has expanded its territory to Wuhan, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Nanjing and many other cities outside the north. Xu Mengying in Ningbo benefited from this, and she returned to the big Internet factory once again

Unlike the screws in the big factory in Beijing, Xu Mengying has gained more achievement in the big factory in Ningbo. One of the things she is used to doing in Beijing can be easily praised in Ningbo. If she mentions her past history as a drifter in the north, people around her look at her highly. She knows that this is the halo that Beijing has given her.

▲ Photo / Screenshot from “Beijing Women’s Illustrated

Bumbling and inactivity

The beauty of Beijing always flashes in Xu Mengying’s memory: the well-connected subway network, the brand-name stores everywhere, and the bright nightlife. In contrast, Ningbo has only four subway lines, and most of the stores close at 90 pm.

Xu Mengying suffered from the discomfort of being a northerner coming south. After coming to Ningbo, she saw cockroaches that were bigger than those in the north and screamed out in fear. She likes salty and spicy flavors and finds the Food here too bland, and needs to have a jar of spicy sauce to mix with her rice every day. During the rainy season in the south, moisture clings to the sheets and the weather is still muggy. At night, Xu Mengying tossed and turned and had trouble sleeping. At one point, she wanted to “go back to Beijing”. Then her boyfriend bought her a cool mat, and she learned that southerners have the habit of sleeping on cool mats in summer.

Some habits did not change, to Ningbo, Xu Mengying still continue the big factory 996, Chen Lu also felt, no matter which city, the back is written struggle. After entering a state-owned enterprise, Chen Lu began a small and large week of work and rest, small week off one day, big week off two days. She inquired around and learned that this is an unwritten tradition in Foshan’s physical manufacturing companies.

Zhang Heng also found it difficult to enroll in school in Hangzhou. In Hangzhou, private schools, like public schools, are divided by district, with one additional requirement – an admissions interview. The admissions ratio at Zhang Heng’s son’s school is three to one, and “some schools have become ten to one. Zhang Heng is planning to change to a bigger house in the coming year. He went to see new properties, either in remote Yuhang and Xiaoshan, or as high as the average price of 40,000 to 50,000 square meters, he could only look to the second-hand market.

A few days ago, Xu Mengying’s boyfriend also ended 7 years of drifting in the north and returned home to Ningbo. When the boyfriend was in Beijing, he was a product manager in a large Internet factory, and also won many awards from the company. He witnessed the departure of many friends. Once, at a dinner party to send his friends out of Beijing, Xu Mengying’s boyfriend was asked, “Is there anything you are not happy about in Beijing?” He suddenly froze, thinking that if he really had to say goodbye to Beijing, where he had struggled for many years, it might mean that he would never have such a good opportunity and such a good platform again.

Beijing is the center of politics, Culture and science and innovation. It is the first choice for major conferences, and there are cultural salons in the alleyways of the hutongs, live houses at odd hours, and various exhibitions and musicals to inculcate the literary youth. The back factory village is full of big Internet factories, and the desire for freedom of wealth and the sense of screws happen at the same time inside the glass curtain wall. It has never been short of dreamers. In the “2020 College Student Employability Report”, Beijing is still the first in the ranking of “desired employment cities” in the eyes of college students.

“It’s a place where the gods fight, and I can’t talk about anything special.” Xu Mengying continues to live in Ningbo with no hurry, she can’t say which is better: drifting north or going south, she just thinks that bogging down and doing nothing are the original way of life.

▲ Photo / Screenshot of “Go, You’re the Best

(At the request of the interviewer, the characters in the article are pseudonyms)