The Greater Bay Area Offers BETTER Housing Opportunities

eric lee

With Hong Kong's high-speed rail being put to use this September and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge to be opened this year, Hong Kong will be more closely connected to mainland China than ever in the near future. Living in Guangzhou, Nansha or Zhongshan and commuting to Hong Kong for work everyday is becoming a very real possibility for many people.

During an interview last week, Frederick Ma, chairman of the MTR Corporation, suggested building a “Hong Kong Town” near high-speed train stations, and encouraged young Hongkongers to consider buying homes in the mainland—“Buying a home near the Guangzhou South railway station would be like living in Connecticut and going to New York for work. It would only take an hour to go from home to your office building.” New York City isn’t the only example. High property prices and small living spaces are problems shared by many major cities in the world, and it is thus very common for people to live an hour outside the city.  

Soaring housing prices have been a major issue in Hong Kong for a long time, and although the Task Force on Land Supply has 18 land supply options, it would be an uphill battle for all parties involved to reach an agreement on any of these alternatives—a terrible shame in my opinion. In addition, because the existing land policies, premiums for farmlands and sales of Home Ownership Scheme flats are all based on market prices, they have served as a booster for the city’s sky-high housing prices. Recently, the Urban Renewal Authority purchased an old building in Western Hong Kong at a record-breaking price of HK$23,568 per square foot. It is easy to see why it’s virtually impossible for young Hongkongers to buy homes without financial assistance from their parents. On the other hand, with the current market price at just over RMB2,000 per square foot, and a 500-square-foot flat around a million Yuan, the Greater Bay Area definitely makes for a affordable choice.

Of course, moving to the Greater Bay Area would come with a series of life adjustments. But on the positive side, it would help young Hongkongers get to know the mainland better and to understand that China’s vast market is a goldmine of opportunities.

Take Wang Wei, the founder of SF Express, who had moved to Hong Kong from the mainland as a young boy. Despite not having a college degree, he always had his finger on the pulse of China’s economic development, and built a logistics empire from a tiny shop with only six employees. Another example is Frank Wang, who, after graduating from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2006, founded Dà-Jiāng Innovations, which went on to become the world leader for unmanned aerial vehicles with 70% of global market shares. He once said: “I would not have achieved all this if I hadn’t lived in Hong Kong.” By integrating the advantages of both Hong Kong and Shenzhen, he had successfully built a world-class enterprise from the ground up. 

Properties in the Greater Bay Area are much more affordable compared to Hong Kong’s homes, which is undoubtedly a good thing. However, at the same time, if young people are more open and willing to take part in the country’s development and seize the opportunities that come with it, they will be able to make greater contributions to society.


>>Previous Issue: A Brief History of the Home Ownership Scheme