When density is just a number, in future.

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(Source: KopiAndProperty.com)

It was my 4th or 5th trip to Hong Kong. Only this time, it’s free since I was there for a business trip. I love Hong Kong more than other city states when it comes to food. (Yeah, compared to the other two) Let’s not debate, it’s just a personal taste bud which is also shared by my wife and a few other friends. I arrived late in the evening and went to have the roast goose which is a famous dish in Hong Kong. It does not disappoint! Succulent. The restaurant is in Wan Chai called ‘Keung Kee.’ Cheap enough lah, not those too famous and too expensive ones. Anyway, this is not a food blog, so let’s continue with property. Look at the image. This is the view from my office in Wan Chai. Yeah, it’s super compact I would say. Buildings are extremely close to one another and when I was walking from my hotel to my office, I would say it feels cramped in comparison to Kuala Lumpur. However, I think density is just a number in Hong Kong. The reason is simple, even when we look at the seating arrangements in their typical restaurants, everyone sits very near to everyone else and all of them think it’s okay! Try doing the same seating arrangements in Kuala Lumpur and I think people would stop coming unless there’s no other choices in the neighbourhood.

Would Kuala Lumpur reach Hong Kong’s type of density? Well, Greater Kuala Lumpur would not reach this kind of density so fast BUT then again, there are still LOTS of land in Hong Kong. The further it is away from the island, the cheaper it gets. For example New Territories? Image shows some home options from a property site called hongkonghomes.com  The current exchange rate between RM to HK$? Its RM1 to HK1.75 (as at 22 March 2017) As per payscale.com, a median income for an assistant marketing manager would be HK$305,047 per annum (HKD25,420 per month). Okay, all these homes listed in the image would be out of reach of this group of professionals. Perhaps it would be more affordable when they reach manager or senior manager level. When we look at the properties WITHIN the island itself or perhaps the CBD area, the prices become totally unaffordable. When we try to search for cheaper areas, for example Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon, it would show typically smaller sizes and the prices double if not more than those in the further away from the island areas.

Is high density really that bad? I mean if it’s already the norm, it would be totally normal. Look at the image of a basketball court built into the only piece of existing land surrounded by buildings in Wan Chai, Hong Kong. Hey, it’s still a basketball court and it’s still fully usable. Do we really need lots of space between the court and the buildings surrounding it? In places with more available empty lands, answer is yes. In Hong Kong, as long as it functions, let’s do it. We can see that one day when we reach this stage of development, density would just be a number. The kids from that generation would not know that they need more space and may even ask why there are so much unused space in some far away village. It’s not efficiently utilised! Haha. This is also the reason why connectivity between further areas into the city where work is would be vital. Without this connectivity, the prices would go up even faster as demand continue to rise faster than people could accept the supply, which is further away. This is why I am all for more connectivity and all for newer integrated developments further away from the city centre. Let’s increase ‘useful’ supply of homes. I have just stayed at my best friend’s HDB flat in Choa Chu Kang. There are blocks after blocks of HDB flats. Yet, I do not think majority of Singaporeans would feel cramped. In fact I saw a sepak takraw court and even external gym to be shared by everyone. Well, the days will come. Perhaps in future, we may become the Hong Kong or Singapore of today. Happy following.

written on 21 march 2017

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