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January 19, 2012

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Family gifts add to cost of going back

NOT everyone is delighted to be returning home for Chinese New Year after a year or more away.

Some are worried about the high cost of their return, with the need to buy gifts for relatives and give red envelopes to the children.

A recent survey found many migrant workers in Shanghai complaining that the trip home could cost them one or two months' salary. Some chose to bring their parents to the city for the holiday rather than return to their hometowns.

At Shanghai Railway Station, Zhong, a middle-aged woman from Sichuan Province, told Shanghai Daily that going back home was proving expensive for her, and not just because of the cost of travel.

Zhong, a furniture factory worker, said she earned about 2,000 yuan (US$317) a month. "I only make a little money. I give 50 yuan to each child of my relatives, and 400 to 500 yuan to my parents. Every year, these cost me 1,000 yuan at least, half my monthly salary," Zhong said.

Money spent on travel home is a large sum for people like Zhong.

A train ticket from Shanghai to her hometown costs more than 300 yuan, but a bus ticket would be up to 700 yuan.

Liu Fen, 29, a chemical researcher from Hebei Province, said she and her husband started saving money in December to pay for the journey home. "We estimate we'll spend 15,000 yuan on social expense," she said. "It's impossible for us to give less, because people at my hometown reckon everyone makes huge money in big cities like Shanghai."


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