11 micro-apartments that will make you feel claustrophobic

Just over a year ago, Hong Kong politician and then-chief executive Leung Chun-ying made a dire announcement about his territory's lack of affordable housing, calling it "the gravest potential hazard" to society.

Roughly 7% of land in Hong Kong is zoned for housing, most of it going to wealthier families. (For perspective, 75% of New York City is zoned for housing.)

The shortage has led to young people, the elderly, and families sometimes living in squalid conditions where they pay hundreds of dollars per month for less than 100 square feet of living space.

Here's what the crisis looks like up close:

Hong Kong's micro-apartments
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Hong Kong's micro-apartments

Hong Kong has announced plans to build more affordable homes over the next decade. By 2027, it plans to add 280,000 public homes and 180,000 private homes. Until then, parts of Hong Kong will remain claustrophobic as ever.

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo 

Until they can move up the ranks at their jobs, thousands of newly employed workers turn to ultra-tight spaces as their first homes.

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 

But families also find their way to these micro-apartments. In a 60-square-foot apartment in Hong Kong, a mother spends $487 a month to house herself and her son. Families who are less fortunate must split up due to lack of space.

Tyrone Siu/Reuters

If there is one silver lining, it's that residents can make use of common areas that offers a touch more space, including a toilet and sink. Still, for two dozen people, the resources quickly spread thin.

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 

Simon Wong, a 62-year-old resident, has just enough room to hang a few shirts and pairs of pants. His rent of $226 would be enough to share a small one-bedroom apartment in some American towns.


Inside a 600-square-foot apartment complex in Hong Kong sit 19 units, all measuring less than 25 square feet. They are known as "cubicle homes." Or, more ominously, "coffin homes."

 REUTERS/Bobby Yip 

Low-wage work all but guarantees people spend years, sometimes decades, in the micro-apartments, unless an elderly son or daughter can move them out. Seniors relying on social security often spend their remaining years cooped up.


But not even coffin homes are the worst of it. Some residents, predominantly elderly men, stay in public housing that swap bunk beds for stackable cages. Typically, up to 12 men live in one room.

REUTERS/Bobby Yip 

Kong Siu-Kau is one such tenant. He complains there are often bed bugs and putrid smells from poor sanitation.

REUTERS/Bobby Yip 

Although Hong Kong officials have promised relief packages meant to open up more land for housing, residents are still widely forced to make due with what they've got.

REUTERS/Tyrone Siu 

Even if they might want or need more space, residents are often within arm's reach of the things they treasure most.

Tyrone Siu/Reuters


​​​​​​See Also:


SEE ALSO: 27 crazy pictures of micro-apartments around the world

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