Six-Month Secret Mall Stay in Shanghai Ends with Police

Living in an expensive city like Shanghai can be a challenge, especially for students who are on a tight budget. But one Chinese student took resourcefulness to a whole new level when he managed to avoid paying rent by secretly living under a mall staircase for six months. This astonishing story has captured the attention of people around the world, showcasing both the ingenuity and the struggles of young individuals trying to make ends meet.

Creating a Hidden Dwelling

The student, whose identity remains undisclosed, transformed the secluded space under the stairs into a livable area. Equipped with an ergonomic chair, a tent, a mattress, a table, and even a computer, he managed to create a comfortable living space in this unlikely location. To power his electronic devices, he ingeniously used an inverter, allowing him to generate electricity for his computer, cellphone, and even a kettle. It’s an impressive display of adaptability and resourcefulness that speaks to the challenges faced by many students in expensive cities.

An Unnoticed Haven

For six months, the student went completely unnoticed by the mall’s security and visitors. He carefully maintained his hidden abode, even cleaning up the small space to make it more livable. The fact that he was able to go undetected for such a long period of time highlights the hidden corners and overlooked spaces that exist within bustling city centers. It also raises questions about the effectiveness of security measures in public spaces.

A Place to Study

The student initially caught the attention of a security guard several months ago. When approached, he explained that he needed a quiet place to study. Understanding the pressures of education, the guard allowed him to stay, unaware of the extent of his living arrangements. This reveals the lengths some students are willing to go to secure a conducive environment for their studies. In China, the Gaokao exams, known as the “world’s toughest” exams, are a significant hurdle for high school seniors seeking admission to universities. The student was reportedly studying for these exams, which highlights the immense pressure and determination that Chinese students often face.

Unfortunate Discovery

Despite managing to keep his secret hidden for months, the student’s luck eventually ran out. Another security guard stumbled upon his hidden dwelling and was less sympathetic to his studying excuse. On October 30, the student was arrested, bringing an end to his unconventional living arrangement. The incident serves as a reminder of the underlying struggles faced by many young individuals trying to navigate the high costs of living in major cities.

The Cost of Living in Shanghai

Shanghai, known for its vibrant culture and booming economy, is also one of the most expensive cities in the world. According to a ranking by the Swiss banking group Julius Baer, it is considered the second-most-expensive city for “living well.” The American consulting firm Mercer also ranks Shanghai as one of the most expensive cities to live in, placing it 12th overall. These rankings shed light on the financial challenges that residents, particularly students, face in Shanghai.

The Resilience of Students

The story of the Chinese student living under a mall staircase is a testament to the resilience and resourcefulness of young individuals striving to overcome financial obstacles. It showcases their ability to adapt, innovate, and find creative solutions to meet their basic needs. While the circumstances of this particular case may be extreme, it serves as a reminder of the broader struggles faced by students worldwide.

The Need for Affordable Housing Solutions

The incident also highlights the pressing need for affordable housing solutions, especially for students and young people in expensive cities. The lack of affordable accommodation options forces individuals to resort to unconventional living arrangements, such as the case of the Chinese student. Governments, organizations, and educational institutions must work together to address this issue and provide affordable housing options that alleviate the financial burden on students.

A Lesson in Ingenuity

While the actions of the Chinese student may have been illegal, there is an element of admiration for his resourcefulness and ingenuity. The ability to create a livable space under a mall staircase, complete with electricity and basic amenities, is a testament to human adaptability and survival instincts. It serves as a reminder that sometimes, the most extraordinary solutions can arise from the most challenging circumstances.

Inspiring Others

The story of the Chinese student living under a mall staircase has captured the imagination of people worldwide. It serves as a reminder that even in the face of adversity, there is always room for resourcefulness, creativity, and resilience. This story has the potential to inspire others to think outside the box and find innovative solutions to their own challenges, whether they’re financial, educational, or personal.


The tale of the Chinese student living under a mall staircase for six months is a remarkable one. It sheds light on the financial struggles faced by students in expensive cities like Shanghai and highlights the need for affordable housing solutions. It also showcases the resilience and ingenuity of young individuals who are determined to overcome obstacles in pursuit of their goals. While the circumstances may be extraordinary, the story serves as a reminder that sometimes, the most remarkable solutions can emerge from the most unexpected places.

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