Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Asia Minute: 88-Square-Foot Apartments in Hong Kong

Hong Kong apartment housing
Kin Cheung/AP
In this June 10, 2017 photo, Donny Chan reads on his bed at his apartment, one of a growing number of tiny, upscale units known as "microflats" in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s property developers are scaling down, way down, for younger, middle-class buyers, offering micro-sized upscale apartments with stratospheric price tags. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

In Hong Kong, the housing supply is so tight that some apartments now under construction are smaller than a one-car garage.

Take a construction project now underway in the New Territories, built by Hong Kong’s largest property developer.

Bloomberg reports that most of the 5,400 units are about 280 square feet. Some 200 apartments are about half that size.

And according to public documents cited by Bloomberg, two apartments are just 88 square feet — about the size of two king-sized beds.

But small doesn’t necessarily mean cheap.

A couple of years ago, a 128-square-foot apartment in Hong Kong sold for nearly a quarter of a million U.S. dollars — more than $1,700 per square foot.

Many apartments are subdivided — split into even smaller units — sometimes with illegal and dangerous re-wiring.

The lack of affordable housing was one factor behind anti-government protests in Hong Kong in the summer of 2019.

In her annual policy address that autumn, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam called housing the “toughest livelihood issue” in the city — and pledged more public housing, available to more of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people.

Little progress has been made in this area — but local media say it’s likely to be part of Lam’s next annual policy speech — coming in less than two weeks.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
Related Stories