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Public Housing = Poor Living Conditions? These Asian Countries Say No!

Overseas Property | May 9, 2020

In Hong Kong, living in public houses is a symbol of lower-income residents. But the case differs in Singapore, Taiwan and Korea. Public housing in these countries are tourists’ favorites and the living environments are good. Do you know what are the differences between government housing in these places?

Hong Kong

Public Housing = Poor Living Conditions? These Asian Countries Say No!
Public housing estate in Hong Kong. Image from Alamy.
Image from dorasunhk.

There are two types of public housing in Hong Kong. The first is housing for rental, which is called public housing. The second is housing for sale with government subsidy, which is known as Home Ownership Scheme flats. When constructing government housing, the government is only responsible for providing land and is not responsible for dealing with the cost. At present, there are about 770,000 government housing units in Hong Kong. Two million people live in government housing, accounting for about 25% of the total population. Compared to other places, the number, type and space of public housing in Hong Kong are relatively small.


HDB flats in Singapore. Image from

Over 80% of Singaporeans live in HDB flats (government housing in Singapore), proving the large quantity of them. In terms of types of HDB flats, there are various types ranging from one-room (studio), two-rooms (one living room and one bedroom), three-rooms (one living room and two bedrooms), four-rooms (one living room and three bedrooms), five-rooms (A living room, a dining room, three bedrooms) to six-rooms (a living room, a dining room, four bedrooms). As for the average size of the space, three-room flats occupy a space of about 700 square feet and five-room flats occupy a space up to 1,000 square feet. HDB flats have a lease term of 99 years. Singaporeans receive subsidies to buy flats and they can buy HDB flats by using their provident fund savings.


Taiwanese government housing. Image from Liberty Times News.
Image from Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of China.

There are four kinds of government housing in Taiwan: social housing (for rental only), public housing (built, sold and managed by the government), “suitable housing” (合宜住宅, the government provides land but private developers are responsible for the construction) and “youth living housing” (青年生活住宅, still under planning).

South Korea

Image from LH Groups.
Government housing in Korea. Image from The Business Times.

The South Korean government plans to build one million government housing units over the next five years. By 2022, South Korea’s government housing units are expected to grow to 2 million, amounting to 9% of the national total. There are two types of government housing in South Korea. The first type is a permanent rental (no lease term, for low-income households, with an area of less than 430 square feet) and the second is national rental (30-year lease term, for low- and middle-income households, with an area of less than 915 square feet).


Spacious sees that Hong Kong’s government housing has a relatively simple structure. Due to spatial constraints, it seems unlikely that Hong Kong will build government housing units as large as elsewhere. However, Hong Kong can make reference to the types of government housing in other places. Perhaps they will bring new inspiration to Hong Kong’s government housing policies.


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