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If Today Was My Birthday

“Lalalalalalala…Happy Birthday To You!” [Clapping] Time to make a wish and blow out the candles!

Let’s cut to the chase. Imagine if you are part of the post-80s or -90s generation struggling to move up in your career - what would you wish for on your birthday? A chance to travel around the world? Tie the knot and start a family? Get a promotion and a raise?

There is a fine line between a dream and a reality. In a city where work-life balance seems to be long forgotten (or did it ever exist?), working day and night only stifles your creativity and erodes your motivation to live your dream. Perhaps the young generation is more practical - they work as if there is no tomorrow in hopes of earning a few extra bucks to get a roof above their heads. Sadly, the once achievable goal has now become an unaffordable luxury.

It seems that the common theme of young people’s dreams tends to revolve around home purchase. However, a blissful married life has nothing to do with money. Though most newlyweds wish to live in a big house, a compact flat is actually livable for many people. Unfortunately, a tiny 200 sq. ft. studio flat in Hong Kong costs a staggering HKD$3 million. The absurdly high price tag for such a shoebox apartment is too costly for anyone who remains at the bottom of the social ladder.

A promotion and a raise may be one of the most positive news the employed can receive, but did you ever realise how much their salaries would have to be increased in order to afford a place to call home? According to the latest figure from Census and Statistics Department, real wage index is only up 4% as opposed to the doubling housing prices over the last decade. According to the International Monetary Fund, Hong Kong's GDP per capita ranks 7th in the world. However, the house price-to-income ratio is approaching its record high. Oh, the irony!

If Today Was My Birthday

As very few property listings are under HKD$ 3 million nowadays, first home buyers hesitate over buying overpriced property. You know how the saying goes for property agents: here today, gone tomorrow. Even if you can afford the initial deposit, one has to keep in mind that this is just the start of it - the buyer also needs to go through the next 20 to 30 years paying the mortgage. If an interest rate hike (expected in the 2nd half of the year 2015) and a weakening economy emerges in the near future, the pressure of paying the mortgage could be immense.

Housing prices are now close to an all-time high. To ease the challenge of buying property, the government is actively seeking land for sale and continuing to build subsidized housing (mainly small and medium-sized units). An increasing number of home upgraders are closing their deals due to the relaxation of Double Stamp Duty and the 3-D cooling measures keep most investors out of the market. If things go well for the next few years, supply and demand will soon recover its balance. Fingers crossed, everyone!

If today was your birthday, let’s not worry about home purchase during this joyful moment. There’s nothing like birthdays to remind us how we should cherish moments with our loved ones. If there is someone or something to blame for bringing up this topic, let's drink and blame it on the alcohol!