Apartment or prison cell? In Hong Kong, it’s hard to tell

In New York, micro housing is also on the rise

Micro-units in Hong Kong (Credit: Society for Community Organization)
Micro-units in Hong Kong (Credit: Society for Community Organization)

Apartment living in New York City is often likened to living in a shoebox, but in Hong Kong, increasingly tiny living spaces are being compared to local prison cells.

One new project in Happy Valley offers flats with usable floor area of 61 square feet, slightly less space than cells at a prison 30 minutes away, Bloomberg reported. Hong Kong has addressed the issue of affordable housing by bulking up its supply of housing, but it’s resulted in the rise of “nano flats” — units that fall below 200 square feet.

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The volume of new apartments smaller than 431 square feet jumped from 5 percent in 2010 to 27 percent in 2016. The share of these apartments is expected to swell to 43 percent next year. These small units fly off the market, resulting in higher per-square-foot pricing.

New York has also looked to smaller units to increase its housing stock. The city’s first legal micro-unit apartment building opened last year at Carmel Place On East 27th Street. It’s not yet clear if the trend will catch on throughout the city. The minimum size of apartments in New York, however, is still 400 square feet, though there are exceptions. [Bloomberg] — Kathryn Brenzel