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US homes are a waste of space but Hong Kong micro flats are inhumane

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Bigger is not always better when it comes to housing. Property developers have conditioned us to believe that upscaling will boost our status, open up possibilities and, as a result, make us happier. But there is no evidence that laying out more cash for extra floor area does anything other than increase costs. It makes more sense to live sustainably and within means, as Hongkongers who migrate to Western countries quickly find out.

Initially, they are dazzled by the scale and prospects, by houses that are typically 2,000 sq ft or more. Selling a standard, 430-sq-ft Hong Kong flat will buy that in the suburbs of most American, Canadian or Australian cities and there will still be money left. But such properties come with a myriad of obligations, starting with cleaning and maintenance. And a wasteful – even environmentally unfriendly – amount of energy is required to light, cool and heat such large areas.

According to a study by University of California, Los Angeles-affiliated researchers, Americans don’t have much use for all that space anyway. The median size of the single-family US house peaked at 2,467 sq ft in 2015 and has since been falling. For almost four decades,........

© South China Morning Post