Attracted to its amiable weather, clean air and affordable housing, Haikou is the new home for a growing number of Chinese migrating to the capital of Hainan, China’s southernmost province.
According to a recent joint research from the National Bureau of Statistics and China Central Television, Haikou ranks first among the top 20 "happiest" cities in the country.
Haikou Mayor Ni Qiang said the sense of well-being comes from the quality of transportation, prices, lifestyle, healthcare, education, ecology and air quality.
"Haikou takes residents’ feelings as the top priority and strives to optimize every aspect related to living," he said.
Statistics show the city has a population of only 2.04 million, a stunning difference between Beijing’s 19 million and the 8.7 million in Zhejiang’s provincial capital Hangzhou.
In another ranking to assess cities, the 2014 Chinese Cities’ Competitiveness Blue Paper by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, placed the city third among 289 cities.
Haikou’s appeal was also captured by the Wall Street Journal, which reported that Chinese property purchasing goals have changed from investment to enjoyment as they pour money into Zhuhai, Haikou, Taipei and Hong Kong for their second and third properties.
Statistics show that non-locals bought a combined 1.31 million square meters in 2013, or 12,952 units, 43.14 percent of Haikou’s total residential sales.
According to the Haikou Statistics Bureau, the city’s average property price hit 8,109 yuan per square meter last year, up 14.73 percent year-on-year.
At the same time, the average price in Beijing was 45,000 yuan per square meter for second-hand homes.
Among recent buyers was Yun Jie, who was born in Haikou and moved to Beijing after graduation. She said she has sold her property in Beijing and decided to move back to her hometown due to Beijing’s air pollution.
Her reasoning was backed up by the Haikou Statistics Bureau, which noted a new property boom in Haikou as buyers move to escape worsening air quality in North China.
According to the China National Environment Monitor Center, Haikou had the best air among 74 monitored cities in the first quarter this year. 
In 2013, its P.M.2.5 pollution was only 25.6 micrograms on average.
Haikou’s traffic control measures are also attracting new residents. The city  launched a number of new measures including mapping out a new transport network, connecting 32 roads and giving priority to public transportation. 
The city’s urban planning bureau vows to build a better transportation network by 2016.
Not only Chinese have been attracted. International expats are also enjoying the city.
Giovanni Carni, an Italian student at Hainan University who has lived in the city for four years, called Haikou his "second hometown."
"I was attracted to the city since the first day I arrived , especially its splendid sand beaches and palm trees," Carni said.
SOURCE: China Watch
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