Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Never Catching Up

Hong Kong has lots of tiny match box-sized homes beyond the reach of many
This afternoon a colleague of mine received numerous phone calls on her mobile and I asked her why she was so popular.

She explained that she and her three cats lived in a flat over 300 square feet in Kowloon's Cheung Sha Wan, a 10-minute walk to the MTR station for over HK$8,000 a month.

But now the landlord had increased the rent to HK$10,000 which is beyond her budget so she and her furry friends have to move.

Now she is in the process of finding another place to live, hence the numerous calls from agents. She is considering a flat that is a 10-minute walk from the West Rail Line that goes towards Tuen Mun for almost HK$10,000.

In her early 40s, she hopes to at least rent a more comfortable (bigger) place, and even with a decent-paying salary she finds the rent increases hard to bear.

"We're basically paying the landlord's mortgage," she said with a sigh of frustration. "The government says us young people should make sacrifices by working harder and saving more money, but every time I am ready to buy a flat, the prices go up even higher and I have to save more. It's non stop."

She feels the government is in cahoots with property developers, and not looking out for the interests of young people -- who are in their 40s and working hard to try to buy a flat of their own.

But they are limited by their salaries in terms of earning potential so how can they catch up with runaway real estate prices?

Unless they won the Mark 6 or suddenly inherited millions of dollars, it's near impossible for average people -- considered on the low-end of the middle-class scale -- to afford a place to live.

Having a place to live has always been the biggest issue of living in Hong Kong -- back then flats were considered expensive and looking back now they were a bargain. But who had that much money then?

It's harder now with Hong Kongers competing with mainlanders for flats, though the latter thankfully are more interested in luxury apartments. Some critics believe a bubble has been forming in the property sector for years and now it's time to pop.

But will it? Everyone needs a place to live...

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