Housing in Hong Kong is the most expensive and least affordable in the world, according to the latest Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey. With the housing prices on average 17 times annual income, 88 percent of young people aged 19 to 29 has lost hope that they could afford owning an apartment of their own.
The current median monthly wage, as announced by the government, is around HK$15,000 (approximately US$1,950), while the median monthly domestic household income in 2014 was HK$23,500 (approximately US$3,000). Though the figures look promising in a city with highly affordable daily necessities, what truly eats up Hong Kongers’ income is housing.
A 400-square-foot property in Tai Po, a suburban district in the New Territories, goes for approximately HK$4.68 million, 200 times the median domestic household income. In other words, an average family would have to spend all of their income for 16.5 years to buy one of the cheapest properties in town.
Even if an individual were to win the 1st division prize in the city’s biggest lottery game, the Mark Six, the prize money might not manage to cover a humble apartment if he or she is unlucky and has to share the winnings with others. The 1st division prize is around HK$8 million, but if you have to share with another person, you only get half the amount.
Tse Kwun Tung, another columnist from Inmediahk, listed three necessary conditions for young people to have an apartment of their own:
But others believed there are a lot more challenges than the three:
Another comment disagreed with the idea of finding a partner to share the mortgage:
The pain of not having a room of one’s own is not shared by the wealthy business sector. Lau Ming-Wai, the son of a local tycoon, advised that if young people his age spend less money on movies and travel to Japan, they would be able to buy an apartment. It is not hard to imagine why netizens trashed his advice. From the comments section of Passion Times’ report:
Hoping for a big drop in the home prices may be as unrealistic as Lau’s advice, according to experts. The city’s property market not only serves local demand but also a large number of wealthy mainland Chinese investors. Future land supply will be challenging due to political stagnancy as well as environmental and preservation concerns.
Soaring property prices are a significant source of social discontent in Hong Kong. When Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was running his election campaign in 2012, he vowed to keep prices low, but they continue to rocket up in the past two years. As Hong Kong politics are still dominated by the wealthiest, it is unlikely that policies that go against their interests will become reality anytime soon.