Feature

How to beat Hong Kong’s housing crisis

The week's news at a glance.

China

Anne PetrieThe Standard

Hong Kongers are taking to the seas, said Anne Petrie in the Hong Kong Standard. With apartment rents on “Asia’s most crowded island” soaring, families are increasingly opting for houseboat living. Certain bays have become villages unto themselves. In Discovery Bay, for example, about a hundred families “are bobbing about,” mostly on smallish boats moored in various spots. Some of the boats are connected to each other by narrow bridges; others float freely. The only way to get to the mainland is to take a water taxi. Of course, with so much open sea and sky, “everyday comings and goings are on public display.” So “if you want privacy, this might not be for you.” A bigger deterrent: “the sewage disposal system—or lack of it.” If you live on a houseboat, you’re supposed to have a storage tank for sewage so it can be pumped out of the harbor. But springing for such an expense would defeat the purpose of cheap living afloat, so most people don’t bother. Still, thousands of boat dwellers think the stench and the lack of privacy are a fair trade. In Hong Kong, “peace and tranquility are hard to come by.”

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