24 March 2019
A young couple try their luck in applying for the latest round of Home Ownership Scheme offerings. Photo: HKEJ
A young couple try their luck in applying for the latest round of Home Ownership Scheme offerings. Photo: HKEJ

Would you go this far to own a home?

Most young couples in Hong Kong want to have a home of their own before they get married.

But knowing their love for each other is simply not enough to realize their dream, unless they have rich parents or win Mark Six, they have to work very hard to save enough money for the down payment.

Take it from this couple, who have done what seem unthinkable to many in order to own their home, sweet home.

Last June, Chuen and Helen were finally given the keys to their flat with a saleable area of 500 square feet in Tuen Mun for which they paid HK$3 million, Oriental Daily reports.

But how they got there is worth telling.

Since he finished schooling in 2009, Chuen has been working as an administrative staff at the Hospital Authority.

“My salary back then was less than HK$10,000, but I had to save HK$3,000 a month. If I overspent in a certain month, I had to cut back and make up for the shortfall in the coming months.”

With a clear goal to have their own place as soon as possible, the couple drew up a rigorous saving plan that got even harsher when they decided to get married two years ago.

“I quit having breakfast and bring my own lunch to the office. In order to save on transport fares, I walk all the way from home to the hospital. All that could save me a thousand dollars. I don’t find it unbearable; it has become a habit already,” Chuen said.

Helen is a nurse. Her starting salary was HK$22,000. After deducting the regular monthly expenses, she could save around HK$10,000 a month.

How was she able to do it? For lunch, Helen used to eat two pieces of bread every day. But she later cut it down to one a day as she wanted to save more. She also worked overtime to increase her take-home pay.

For dating, they went to parks. “We would have a walk and take some pictures. We don’t have to spend a dime dating that way,” Helen recalled.

Couples go to expensive restaurants for some fancy dinner once in a while, but for Chuen and Helen, eating out at a fast-food joint is already a luxury.

“The most expensive thing I’ve bought over the years is a pair of Timberland shoes,” Helen said. In five years, she was able to save HK$400,000.

To give their saving plan a push, the two even skipped having a wedding banquet.

After six years of self-denial, the couple managed to save HK$700,000 and became proud owners of their own home.

But their sacrifices didn’t end there. They have to continue their belt-tightening regime to be able to pay back the mortage of HK$11,000 a month.

The story has gone viral on social media. Some netizens applauded their ability to save enough for their own home, but others ridicule them for being “house slaves”.

“It’s not worthwhile for one to sacrifice that much in order to buy a home,” says one comment. “Life shouldn’t just be about saving money and paying bills.”

Regardless of what others think, Chuen and Helen believe they made the right choice. The price of a similar flat in their Tuen Mun neighborhood has risen 10 percent over the past year.

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EJ Insight writer

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