Find a Place in HK
By Emma MARIANI
HOW TO FIND A DECENT & AFFORDABLE PLACE TO LIVE IN HONG KONG.
Can you imagine living in a 20 square meters “prison cell” alike room in a humid building for a shockingly high price? Been there, done that. Most of expats in Hong Kong have had at least one terrible experience when it comes to housing.
And do you know why?
Because we were totally unprepared and inexperienced, but at the time urgently needed a place to live. This mixture results in a rushed decision to choose accommodation which originally looks like an “acceptable” option, but in the end turns out to be like living through a horror scenes.
Living in Hong Kong is great, but your housing can make or break your experience, therefore I’m writing this article for you to avoid such pain which I (and many others) have gone through. You’re welcome.
Step 1 - CHOOSE THE RIGHT LOCATION:
Understanding what is the right area of Hong Kong is the most crucial step towards finding a place that suits your needs best. This city has a very peculiar geographical distribution: living in the northern part of New Territories, Kowloon or Hong Kong island makes a big difference, in terms of location, lifestyle, cost of living and many other factors.
To make things simple I’d say that Hong Kong Island, especially the northern part, is the most modern and international district of the city where most banks, shopping areas, fancy restaurants, cafes, as well as clubs and bars are located.The biggest population of internationals are living here, especially the expats who work for banks and big companies. Living here will be very expensive since the cost of living is higher than elsewhere, but if you want to keep to a more “western” lifestyle in terms of shopping, food and entertainment,that’s probably the right choice for you - if your budget allows!
Kowloon is the southern portion of the “mainland” part of Hong Kong. Though many foreigners also live here, it doesn’t have that international feel like Hong Kong Island. You will feel a huge difference as it’s more local, with a typical “Hong Kong flavor”.
Kowloon gives you a wide range of options, from expensive to cheap restaurants and shops, from international to local. It might not be as “fancy” as the central district, but if you want to save some money and explore authentic Hong Kong, I’d recommend you to choose this part of the city.
Finally, we have the New Territories, which is the widest area of Hong Kong as well as the most “remote” one and less densely populated. Most of the region is covered with land and woods, but there are urban areas as well, especially located along the MTR line. Life here will be less hectic and rents are cheaper. Reaching the city center might be longer, especially for those who don’t live close to a metro station. Here you’ll be able to find a more spacious place for a reasonable price. If you don’t like skyscrapers and busy streets being in touch with nature, the New Territories might be the right fit for you.
Step 2 - CHOOSE THE RIGHT CHANNEL
Especially when you have some budget constraints (and who doesn’t ?!) you want to make sure to start your flat-hunt in advance. Hong Kong is typically a city where expats come and go very often thus the turnover is high. This means that rooms and flats will often have vacancies for new people to come in, so it’s important to know where to catch the right opportunity at the right time!
One of the obstacles you might face is the language barrier. It is especially clear with websites where most people advertise in their local language rather than English. Therefore if you are looking for a genuine accommodation priced at the market level I would suggest not to look at websites but check facebook groups. This is a frequently overlooked channel where you can find genuine opportunities. Here are some options for you:
Here you’ll easily find private as well as agency offerings no matter if you are looking for a room, apartment or you need a flatmate to join you. You can also find people offering short term and long term lets. Dealing with private landlords is always more convenient since you won’t be required to pay an agency fee and you’ll have first-hand information from those who already live in the flat.