Cai Hua, 42
Cai Hua (left), with her family.
I've experienced great changes over the past decades, moving up from a sales clerk to a sales director, and from a monthly income of about $150 to thousands of dollars.
I started a new family with my current husband in Shanghai in 2000, living with his parents. It is not a spacious home, but luckily we have a courtyard that is rarely seen in a metropolitan city like Shanghai. We grow grapes and trees in the yard, and enjoy living as a big family. That is why, although my husband and I now own another apartment, we still haven't moved out.
We used to have a strict budget before, but now we never worry about the price of food. We even have hired a long-term maid to cook and clean. Plus, we each have our own car, a Toyota Corolla and a Chevrolet Sail.
My definition of middle class is having more than $32,000 in annual income. My income has already reached this level but sending my child to school has also cost me a lot of money.
As far as I know, the cost of living is relatively cheaper in the U.S. considering the income level. Prices have been rising rapidly in China in recent years. Only a few years ago, I would be very excited every time I received my bonus, say $1,500, and maybe I would go shopping. The same amount of bonus today can buy almost nothing.
Although we are not considered wealthy in China, my family is still above a lot of others. I am pretty satisfied with what I have right now -- an enjoyable job and a healthy and happy family.
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