Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs said most people live in a small box.
That seems to be a good description of Hongkongers.
At first glance, a new studio flat in the Upper East project in Hung Hom looks like a bargain.
It is selling for merely HK$3 million (US$390,000).
But it is less than 200 square feet in size, and Kowloon Development Co. Ltd. (00034.HK) will not have it ready until 2018.
For HK$3.2 million, you can get a 198 sq ft studio unit in Aspen Crest in Diamond Hill, which Far East Consortium International Ltd. (00035.HK) is launching tomorrow.
In that price range, you can also get a unit of similar size next to Wanchai Computer City in one of those 30-year-old buildings with 42 subdivided flats.
Far East chairman David Chiu Tak-cheong confessed to the Hong Kong Economic Journal: “I am very sorry – we can only make smaller units, because smaller units get more buyers.”
The 61-year-old son of the legendary Asia Television Ltd. boss Deacon Chiu Te-ken said, “The most unfair thing in the world is the ratio of the income of hard-working Hong Kong people to their living space.”
Bravo to the developer who came up with this sensational marketing line.
Incidentally, Far East is also offering a 650 sq ft unit, at more than HK$13 million.
Perhaps we just have too many people on the planet.
High property prices are a common phenomenon in many cities.
That is why people live in their cars, boats or tents.
This week, the Washington Post ran a story about a 23-year-old German student who bought an unlimited-use train pass and lives on trains instead of paying rent.
Well if this idea works, Hong Kong Tramways Ltd., the ferry operators and even MTR Corp., can develop an extra source of revenue from midnight to early morning.
Hong Kong has a special problem.
Unlike in Tokyo or Taipei, where internet bars with sleeping facilities are popular, Hongkongers don’t buy into the concept.
Neither will they settle for hourly hotels, which are more for sex than sleep.
I know some young people may sleep in their co-working spaces, but I think more of them prefer just to crash in a 24-hour McDonald’s, because the staff will not wake you up as long as you have something you bought from them on your table.
Unlike in China, where factory workers or masseuses are often provided with staff quarters, Hongkongers in general do not have the luxury of being able to live in their workplace, unlike foreign domestic helpers, who must live with their employers.
We pray the new economy will create solutions for the imbalance in resource allocation — as we know too well, land is the No. 1 issue, and the root issue, in Hong Kong.
We also pray that someone living in a subdivided flat, the Hong Kong version of a US garage, will come up with amazing stuff like Microsoft’s Bill Gates or Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Jobs said, “I want to put a ding in the universe” and did so.
Well, no matter how small you live, it should not limit the size of your dream.
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