I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…if we hadn’t moved to Hong Kong, there is no chance we would be living in a small apartment, especially now as a family of three. Our former Vancouver digs – 800 sq ft one bedroom place (see photos of that here) was never going to cut it for us as a family home. We “knew” that when we bought it. And of course it absolutely could have…we just weren’t in a mindset to make it work. That says a lot about us but also says about societal norms.
This month’s topic for the Small Family Homes Blog Community that I contribute to examines house size and family size. It was easy for me to connect this topic to our current living situation in Hong Kong, and to those living around us. Since moving to Asia nearly three years ago, I have become very interested in small space living. As an interior designer, adapting our lifestyle (baby included!) to work in under 600 sq ft has been a novel task requiring smart design solutions. That being said, small space living is a relative term. And that’s where I think it gets interesting. Compared to North American (and many other country’s) standards, we live in a small space. By Asian standards, our flat is fairly typical, if not above average. Here are a couple stats:
The graphic above illustrates Hong Kong’s average house size of 484 sq ft and comparative size to other countries. Breaking that down, considering average household size of 2.9, the average Hong Konger lives in 161 sq ft. This works out to just a quarter of the floor space of the average Australian or American.
For a personal comparison, our pre-baby flat was 420 sq ft (take a tour here), and fairly roomy by Hong Kong standards. Braden and I each had 210 sq ft, well above the 161 sq ft average. At 590 sq ft (take a tour here and read about how we’ve adapted it for a toddler here), our current flat is spacious too (roughly 20% larger than average) and allows Braden, Campbell and I each nearly 200 sq ft of space.
Where it gets alarming is when you consider those in spaces below the average. Public rental housing affords individuals approximately 130 sq ft per capita. Considering over 30% of Hong Kong’s population of over 7 million are housed in these types of conditions, that’s a lot of small apartments.
Smaller still are places for those with very low incomes with no other options. The infamous Hong Kong “coffin apartments” are small flats that have been illegally subdivided into as many as 20 smaller “units”. How this is a livable housing solution is beyond me. Read the full article (one of many) here.
On the other end of the spectrum, where money is no object, you can have an incredible mansion with all the comforts and luxuries on can imagine. This 3,362 sq ft house, for example, is located in a prestigious area of Hong Kong – The Peak – with incredible views of the famous Hong Kong skyline. It is currently listed for sale for $330,000,000 HKD (+$42,000,000 USD) or can be rented for around $47,000 USD per month. And this is just one example, with many pricier options available too.
I hope you enjoyed and maybe learned something from this this quick overview of the housing situation in Hong Kong. This post was written for inclusion in the January collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series and follow our community board on Pinterest for the latest small homes and family minimalism pins!