For young people in HK, owning a home is a pipe dream

HONG KONG • Ousted localist lawmaker Yau Wai Ching caused jaws to drop last month when she said at a public forum that young Hong Kongers have no room for sex, no thanks to low wages and sky-high property prices.

Her comments have struck a chord, with a new survey released on Tuesday showing that the majority, or 54.1 per cent, of Hong Kong people aged 18 to 34 no longer dream of owning a home.

For some of the 26.6 per cent who are still interested, they expect to work for up to 25 years before they can buy their first home, according to the study by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG).

Interest in owning property has cooled substantially since 10 years ago, when 55.1 per cent of respondents in a similar survey said they would consider buying a home.

HKFYG's Ms Chan Shui Ching said the findings reflect the young generation's expectations for independent living space which are frustrated by the hefty housing price tags.

In the survey commissioned by the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, 55.6 per cent believe they would need financial help from their family to buy a home.

The study also found that while young people occupied about 126 sq ft of living space on average currently, they hoped to double that to 270 sq ft, the South China Morning Post reported.

"Architects are looking for solutions to think in terms of space - that is, changing the concept from area to volume," Mr Vincent Ng, president of the architects' group, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Some architects, he said, are proposing to elevate ceiling heights from 3.5m to 3.7m in small flats and "putting the bed on the upper level and using the wardrobe as the staircase".

The Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey last year found Hong Kong housing to be the least affordable, Bloomberg reported.

Singapore, while by no means a cheap city to own property, ranked 27th on the list.

The republic's overall affordability score has held steady in recent years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2016, with the headline 'For young people in HK, owning a home is a pipe dream'. Print Edition | Subscribe