The newly crowned Miss Hong Kong, 23-year-old Louisa Mak Ming-sze, rued in an interview last month the fact that she can't afford to move out of her parents' home, thanks to the city's prohibitive property prices.

"If you don't even have a place to sleep, how can you talk about dreams and aspirations?" she said.

I admire Mak for speaking out. As a 20-something Hong Kong Chinese living at home, I know how she feels. Your 20s are supposed to be a time when you become independent, but living at home largely prevents you from doing so.

Friends in the same situation often talk about how much they yearn for independence, to be away from the watchful eyes of their families. It's not that we aren't allowed to do as we please, it's just that we can never feel completely at ease.

From small things, like being asked what time you'll be home, to what a friend describes as "invisible powers dictating what you can and can't do" - it all comes down to toeing the line due to filial piety and respect for your elders.

I wish I could make my family understand that staying out all night, not having meals at home and turning my room into a private sanctuary that I sometimes don't emerge from for days are not marks of disrespect to them.

They are actions born out of a longing for my own space.