Date
20 October 2017
Almost half of the small new homes are either in Tseung Kwan O or North West New Territories. Only 11 per cent are on Hong Kong Island. Photo: Bloomberg
Almost half of the small new homes are either in Tseung Kwan O or North West New Territories. Only 11 per cent are on Hong Kong Island. Photo: Bloomberg

Prison break, Hong Kong version

Perhaps no one except Hong Kong people understands better this famous line from the American TV series Prison Break: “We are captives of our own identities, living in prisons of our own creations.”

Why? Because many of us live like prisoners in our homes which are smaller than a cell.

Even state-owned Wen Wei Pao came up with this conclusion and urged the government to do something about the situation.

On Sunday, the paper reported that the average area per person in Hong Kong is only 161 square feet. The number falls to 51 square feet for people living in subdivided flats.

That is well below the average of 341 square feet for Beijing and 260 square feet for Shanghai, according to an official survey last month, although some might have some doubts when it comes to China data.

The minimum area per person in China is 54 square feet.

Elsewhere in Asia, the numbers also make Hong Kong look bad.

The minimum size of a house in Japan is 269 square feet but the target is 431 square feet in urban districts and 592 square feet in the countryside.

This might explain why Hong Kong people are so crazy about Japan, although they might still encounter a small hotel built like a sub-divided flat.

In a small country like Singapore, the government set rules for new homes to be at least 753 square feet outside the core district but limit the smaller units of at least 538 square feet to a very small number.

In New York, the city requires homes with multiple dwellings – the US version of subdivided flats – to be at least 70 square feet, with one room to be at least 150 square feet.

Back in Hong Kong, the city is getting smaller, or at least we stand to live in a smaller place.

More than 80 per cent of newly completed private residences are small units, according to the Rates and Valuation Department.

Out of the 8,789 completed units, 7,286 (close to 83 percent) are below 753 square feet. Of this, 2,912 (nearly one-third) are below 430 square feet.

From another perspective, the number of small to medium-sized units are up 40 per cent, outpacing the year-on-year increase of 18 per cent in total completed units.

Almost half of these small new homes are either in Tseung Kwan O or North West New Territories. Only 11 per cent are on Hong Kong Island.

The trend will continue until at least 2020. Close to three-quarters of homes would be small to medium-sized in the next four years, according to the latest release from the Transport and Housing Bureau, because 71,900 units out of 98,000 homes will be small.

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RA 

EJ Insight writer

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