Not wealthy, but happy and healthy
Not wealthy, but happy and healthy
Cai Hua (left), with her family.
Cai Hua, 42

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.

By Menglin Huang @CNNMoney - Last updated June 25 2012: 5:23 PM ET
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