Hong Kong's cage homes

Hong Kong’s Cage Homes

August 17, 2018 | Real Estate Perspectives

Toronto is regarded as an international city. As the unofficial capital of a country that whole-heartedly welcomes immigrants, and thrives on the dynamism of a melting pot of cultures, we are a mix of people from around the globe. In fact, according to the Canadian Government, the Toronto immigration rate is the highest per capita in the entire world! Further, 43% of immigrants to Canada choose to come to the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), so talk about a magnet for diversity. (Check out Wikipedia for more details here.)

With people arriving from all different parts of the globe, and all carrying with them different ideas of what a home in a big city looks like, there can be some radically contradictory ideas about what is considered spacious and what is thought of as cramped.

The costs of living in an urban centre can vary from place to place, but one of the cities that consistently ranks at the top of the list for most expensive real estate is Hong Kong. When a city ranks at the top of that kind of category, it means its citizens are forced to make lifestyle choices on size and standards. In other words, being central comes with a pretty severe price, not just on space but on your mental capacity to handle small spaces.

This eye-opening video sheds light on life for some residents in Hong Kong right now. Brace yourself though if you’ve never looked at real estate outside of Toronto: Some people in Hong Kong live in comparably nano-sized quarters that will seem unfathomable to residents in Toronto. In that city, where space is at an extremely high premium, people will sometimes sacrifice their mental health and wellness just to remain in Hong Kong. The easy-out answer is that Hong Kong is suffering from a lack of space issue, but the reality is much more complicated and will probably come as a surprise. Take a look at this video here for a thought-provoking explanation of what the deeper issues are around the real estate prices in Hong Kong:

So, what do you think? Could you adapt to a micro sized apartment like Hong Kong’s cage homes? Have you lived in a similar apartment set-up or a place of similar size – what was that like? What kind of toll would this take on your mental health? Would you be agreeable to paying more tax to see if better options could be created for housing? What would you do if you were a politician in a city like this?

It’s a complicated scenario to work through, but thankfully in Toronto, we aren’t dealing with the same hurdles. It may be true that developers here have a lot of red tape to get through in order to have new construction project approved, but fundamentally, density is happening and projects are slowly coming through to partly satisfy the need for housing in our city. We are definitely a long way from ever needing to consider cage or coffin homes in Toronto!