Date
20 October 2017
A 100-square-foot subdivided unit in an industrial building in Sai Ying Pun close to the University of Hong Kong campus is asking for HK$7,500 a month. Photo: HKEJ
A 100-square-foot subdivided unit in an industrial building in Sai Ying Pun close to the University of Hong Kong campus is asking for HK$7,500 a month. Photo: HKEJ

Capitalism to communism on rental platform

One can take a cue from Aristotle’s philosophy of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and apply it to the co-sharing economy.

Enter Homates, a new local start-up that provides a flatshare platform for roommates and landlords.

Eleven months into its operation, the online rental platform has attracted more than 10,000 members and has quickly expanded to Taiwan and Singapore.

Similar to Airbnb and match-making websites, Homates groups young people under one roof based on their living habits and preferences.

That also marks a return from capitalism to communism thanks to the ever-rising home market that has seen a 50 per cent jump in prices in the past five years.

Ideally, people live on their own because they would like to have more space.

Unfortunately, space is a luxury in this city, and hence, financial considerations rather than privacy rule the day.

“Many people living in sub-divided flats are paying between HK$4,000 and HK$6,000 per month,” founder Benson Yiu said. “Why don’t people group together for a bigger and normal home unit?”

Yiu, who was an exchange student at California Institute of Technology, started this idea with his classmates who studied co-renting apartments in his graduate thesis.

He told online portal hk01: “When we were in university, we lived with roommates. Why can’t we do it after we start working?

“Young people need a safe and reliable environment and a partner for co-renting”.

The service is popular among young people between 20 and 35, mostly university students who cannot get into university halls.

These university halls, which charge between HK$50 and HK$80 a day during the school term, provides more than 100 square feet of open studio usually for two or three students.

The students in residence are the lucky ones. The majority, however, need to pay double if not triple if they want to live closer to campus.

For example, a 100-square-foot subdivided unit in a Sai Ying Pun industrial building close to the University of Hong Kong campus is asking for HK$7,500 a month.

Imagine what these young people can save if they group together in two for a unit at less than HK$15,000, and three at less than HK$22,500 a month.

In fact, the communist approach was seen in some units in Mount Kellett Road on the Peak where a three-story house was sub-divided into four 1,200-1,500 sq.ft apartments at a monthly rental of HK$60,000, according to a report by Ming Pao last month.

Not bad for the young renters who paid HK$15,000.

Well, the sky is the limit when it comes to living creatively in Hong Kong.

– Contact us at [email protected]

BK/AC/RA

EJ Insight writer

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