Singapore couple learn to live in a small space in Hong Kong

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For the past eight months, a 150 sq ft flat in Wan Chai - one of three subdivided units - has been home for Lim Wei Wen and his wife.
Singaporean Lim Wei Wen and his wife Tan Yan Han in their 150 sq ft apartment in Wan Chai. ST PHOTO: JOYCE LIM

HONG KONG - Before moving to Hong Kong, Singaporean couple Lim Wei Wen and Tan Yan Han had heard all about the high property prices in the city and how families are often crammed into small flats.

But, it was only when they moved into one such flat last year that they realised how bad it can get.

For the past eight months, a 150 sq ft flat - one of three subdivided units - in Wan Chai has been home for Mr Lim and his wife, who pay a monthly rent of HK$6,300 (S$1,140).

Mr Lim, 25, who works in the financial sector, had wanted to live and work in the city. His main concern was to live affordably in the heart of the city and he did not mind the size of the flat.

The unit is about the size of his bedroom in the condominium in Singapore where he used to live with his parents. But, unlike in his parents' home, where they could hang out in the living room for instance, the couple have found themselves having to spend most of their time on a super-single-sized bed in their Hong Kong flat.

The bed, which is as wide as two pillows laid side by side, is the largest piece of furniture in the flat. In front of the bed, without a partition, is a kitchen with a small sink and an induction stove.

Given the tiny kitchen, Ms Tan, 25, who works for a food publication, cannot help knocking over plates and bowls sometimes when she whips up dishes such as curry chicken, bak kut teh and laksa.

Without any space for a sofa or chairs, the couple have to eat their meals on their bed.

They keep most of their belongings in a storage compartment under the bed. Lift up the mattress and the bed frame serves as an ironing board, said Mr Lim with a chuckle. "We have learnt to be more innovative after moving to Hong Kong."

The bed frame also serves as a "dining table" whenever he has guests over for dinner, he said. The couple once shared a meal on their bed with three family members who visited them. Said Ms Tan: "My mum said, 'Are you crazy? (Are) you sure you want to stay in this room?'"

But, it is Mr Lim's dream to work overseas and such hardship is nothing compared with the exposure and invaluable experience that he will gain from the stint, he said.

Ms Tan added: "I have no regrets. This place really brings us closer to each other."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 14, 2017, with the headline Singapore couple learn to live in a small space in Hong Kong. Subscribe