City Weekend

Creative Hongkongers cash in on city’s problems, profiting from housing squeeze and even recycling

They have developed entrepreneurial mindset from living in dense city motivated by money

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 April, 2017, 2:32pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 April, 2017, 2:32pm

More and more Hongkongers have become increasingly disillusioned with politics and many more are complaining that it’s tough to live and work in the city due to high rents and low salaries.

But no matter how hard things get, Hongkongers will always surprise you with their creativity, and can always find a way out of a tight spot or turn adversity into advantage.

Take for example, the couple arrested last Sunday for fighting over a bill on their first date at a Japanese barbecue restaurant in Mong Kok.

The incident immediately triggered online debate about the practice of going Dutch, known as “AA” in Hong Kong. Hours later, the restaurant’s owner Simon Wong launched an “AA menu”.

Professor Anthony Fung Ying-him, director of the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s School of Journalism and Communication, said strict market regulations had encouraged Hongkongers to adopt a resourceful and entrepreneurial mindset.

“Hong Kong is a very small place that’s very much motivated by money. That somehow forces many ... businesses to find every possible way to survive or come out better than the rest,” Fung said.

Below are four fascinating examples of Hongkongers finding a way to make the best out of the worst situation.


Homes are getting increasingly smaller, ranging from shoebox apartments to subdivided flats to micro flats to nano flats and now space capsule units.


Hongkongers speculate on everything to make a quick profit – they include special stamps (first day covers), commemorative banknotes, concert tickets, toys, electronic gadgets, property and even car park spaces.


A way to increase profit from recycling used cardboard boxes is to drench them in water to make them heavier and sell for more money because they are sold by weight.


Taxi drivers with multiple mobile phones on the dashboard are suspected of being members of the city’s unofficial discount gangs which offer up to 20 per cent fare reductions to passengers to maximise earnings. Offering such discounts attracts more regular passengers. These taxi drivers were on the roads well before Uber arrived, with many of them rumoured to have been making as much as HK$50,000 a month.