Bigger than a prison cell: Hong Kong opens housing market with micro-flats

Real estate developers in Hong Kong, already home to one of the most expensive housing markets in the world, are coming up with a new way to encourage young, middle class residents to buy: A 16-square-metre studio for as little as US$200,000. These flats, which cater to aspiring home owners priced out of the overheated Hong Kong housing market, are roughly three times the size of a prison cell. The micro-flats are seeking to fill the gap between affordable public housing and private developers – though they will remain well outside many house hunters’ budgets.

You see these very small flats that I think could be described as inhumane if you compare [them] … with units that would be used to house refugees, or even earthquake victims, in other places.

Fernando Cheung, vice-chairman of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Labor Party

With many larger and pricier flats bought by wealthy mainland Chinese buyers, the smaller homes are targeted at young professionals, university graduates and newly married couples, among others, who are seeking to live independently from their parents and are looking for more reasonable prices. Activists are pushing the government to build more affordable and public rental housing.