Space is Money

Last week, Beth (the other mission intern) and I moved into our new apartment. We have been staying at a guest house until now. So we were extremely excited to finally move into our own place. Like most apartments in the US, our new place has two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. However, the size of our place is less than half the size of my apartment in Philadelphia for the same amount of money because in Hong Kong, space is money. Our bedrooms are about 6″x7″ (see photo below)

My bedroom complete with Ikea furniture

The living room is quite large by HK standards because we can fit an actual sofa, a small dining room table which used to be a desk and a cabinet to keep our dishes. It is large enough to host parties and or do yoga.

Living room with more Ikea furniture

So far, so good. Now we move into the kitchen. The kitchen contains a microwave, a small fridge, one electric burner, and a small sink. Amazingly, the sink is big enough to allow me to still not do dishes every single day!

Counter space??… Completely unnecessary.

Finally, the bathroom. Thankfully, the shower is separate from the toilet, which was not the case at our guest house which meant that the toilet got wet every time someone took a shower and was unpleasant to use until the seat dried.


I joke about the lack of space, but in all seriousness, Beth and I are incredibly luckily. We have separate bedrooms, a sizable living room, a kitchen to cook in and a functional bathroom. Many of the domestic workers here do not actually have their own space. (Although by law, they are required to have their own bedroom.) The clients of the shelters here sleep three or four to a room in a room the size of mine.

The title of this post, “space is money,” highlights the issue of space in Hong Kong. Millions of people live here in very small space and have adapted by building incredibly tall buildings with small apartments. Whereas designer clothing or a foreign car indicates privilege in the US, more space indicates privilege and money here. Physical space is a luxury.

I’m incredibly happy with our apartment. I have finally unpacked both suitcases and can cook in my own space. The lack of space will prevent me from accumulating more things and encourage me to maintain a certain level of cleanliness and organization which I sometimes struggle with. I have already learned about the value of space over here, so I encourage all of you to think about your own living space. What does it mean when physical space is a luxury?


One thought on “Space is Money

  1. Really good thoughts. I had a friend who gave a speech about this by asking how we were sitting in the audience: were we using one, both, or none of the armrests? What does the way we take up space with our bodies say about us as people?

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