China: Around The Nation

Woman, 56, lives alone in unfinished apartment block in Chinese mountain ghost town

The nights are spooky and the weeds are high, but Lei Xiuyang doesn’t want to waste the deposit she paid to developer who ran off before finishing project

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 4:31pm

A retired woman has been living alone in a half-finished block of flats in Chinese ghost town since 2014 because she didn’t want to waste the 150,000 yuan deposit she paid to the developer who disappeared half way through the project.

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Lei Xiuying is one of about 20 people who are staying in the deserted compound that covers more than a square kilometre in Lichuan, Hubei province, the Chongqing Morning Post reported.

Hers is the only occupied flat in a building of 48 apartments.

But her quiet life is far from idyllic. Lei, 56, never dares go out after dark. She often has insomnia because of strange sounds emanating from empty rooms next door. She always shuts the doors and window and keeps the light on until dawn.

“I want to make sure people in the next building know that I’m still alive,” Lei told the paper.

A trip to the grocery involves a 2km walk across an abandoned construction site choked with high grass and weeds.

The handful of tenants were among about 500 buyers who paid deposits in 2013 for flats in the cooler mountainous city to escape the torrid summers in neighbouring Chongqing.

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But the cash-strapped developer abandoned the project the following year, leaving the compound half completed.

Having paid her deposit, Lei decided to move in anyway.

There are many other abandoned real estate projects in the same city, the paper said.