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Hong Kong has a number of popular residential areas for expat’s to set up home, each area catering to people’s differing lifestyle preferences. Families with young children tend to favour the southern part of Hong Kong Island, and a few of the outer Islands while single expats and young couples prefer Central, the Mid-Levels area and towards Sai Ying Pun. Affluent expats often rent expensive apartments or homes at the Peak, Repulse Bay or Shouson Hill.
Single expats and young couples in Hong Kong enjoy living in the Mid-Levels, an area just south of Central and Wan Chai, and barely ten minutes' drive from The Peak. This area is very popular due to its close proximity to the city centre's vibrant nightlife. The Mid-Levels is also a good area for expat families as there are good private schools nearby, as well as outdoor attractions such as the Zoological and Botanical Gardens. The extraordinary Central-Mid-Levels Escalator, the world's longest outdoor escalator, runs from here to the city centre. Historical apartments dating back to the colonial era can be found in this area alongside modern
Wan Chai is a cross between a major commercial district and a trendy residential area. It boasts a great selection of hotels, shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, as well as a full range of accommodation types. Rental options in Wan Chai range from reasonably priced dwellings to luxurious serviced apartments. There are many low to mid range clothing stores to browse in Wan Chai and plenty of good fresh and cooked food to be found at the wet markets in the area. Supermarkets and food halls can be found at the nearby upmarket shopping centre Pacific Place along with cinemas and department stores.
Expats looking for more reasonably priced accommodation and a sense of integration with the local Hong Kong population should consider renting in the residential part of this area. Although this neighbourhood doesn’t have any large-scale shopping malls, it does have supermarkets, traditional wet markets and a few good restaurants for expats to enjoy. The well-priced apartments in this area are also generally in good condition and there have recently been a number of new residential developments released to the market with ultra modern fit-outs and excellent sea views. Being directly on the MTR blue line, offers a lot of convenience.
Happy Valley is a popular Hong Kong neighbourhood favoured by many expats, and is most renowned for the famous Happy Valley Racecourse, as well as its close proximity to the shopping and nightlife hub of Causeway Bay. It has a village atmosphere with great brunch restaurants and sports bars.
Happy Valley offers a range of accommodation for expats, from classic low-rise complexes to tall, modern apartment buildings. There are also a number of short-term serviced apartments available for expats to rent in Happy Valley. Those who prefer a little quieter and green space, but who’d also like to be close to the energy of the city centre, find this area attractive particularly amongst French families thanks to the close proximity to the French International School.
Jardine’s Lookout is an exclusive residential area located on the mountain above Happy Valley. This area is home to an elite community living in large detached houses and luxurious apartment complexes. Jardine’s Lookout has plenty of useful amenities for expats to use, as well as a beautiful landscape of wooded hills and great views over Victoria Harbour. There are also international schools nearby for the children of expat families.
Not only is the Peak the highest locale on Hong Kong Island, it is also its most affluent residential area. Height restrictions have ensured that the low-rise buildings don’t detract from the beautiful views, nor do they block any of the cool evening breezes that caress the neighbourhood. Many housing complexes in the area offer Clubhouse facilities with swimming pools, tennis courts and gymnasiums, and there are also lovely walks and hiking trails to be enjoyed in the area. In contrast to Mid-Levels, where high-rise apartment living is the norm, the Peak claims townhouses and single-family homes. The upper-primary and secondary campus of the highly rated German Swiss International School is located on the Peak.
Contrary to its name, Repulse Bay is one of Hong Kong’s most beautiful beachside suburbs with close proximity to the central business districts. The neighbourhood is inhabited by a number of wealthy Hong Kong business people and their families. This is an idyllic location for expat families who are attracted to its scenic palm-fringed beach and the close proximity to international schools. Those who live in Repulse Bay will need a car, as there is no MTR stop. There are however plenty of buses, mini buses and taxis that service the area to Central districts. The Pulse has a full selection of restaurants and shops and some exciting nightlife. Also it is a short commute to Stanley Village which has every amenity with further banking facilities, supermarkets, shops, medical and dental centers and post office.
Though expats previously regarded the Kowloon peninsula as an inconvenient and less developed place to live, perceptions have changed, and these days many expats are making one of the many high-rise apartments of West Kowloon home. Most of the newer complexes have superb facilities and fantastic communal amenities, but the older apartment blocks will not come so well serviced. Shopping centers abound and the MTR connects to the area, providing a quick commute into town.
Many expat families have also begun to settle in Kowloon Tong as it now plays host to a handful of well-respected international schools. Furthermore, accommodation featuring a rarity in Hong Kong -“space” - is also more readily available amid its quiet neighbourhoods. Colonial-style houses, low-rise apartments and a smattering of gated communities make up this high-end residential area. Kowloon Tong is serviced by Festival Walk, a ritzy shopping centre, and is connected to the city centre by the MTR. International schools in Kowloon Tong include the American International School, Australian International School, Yew Chung International School and Beacon Hill School.
Sai Kung, a small fishing village, is a popular place for expats and locals alike, and it’s easy to see why people love it. Seafood restaurants line the streets, and there is a definite community atmosphere with cool bars, a town square and a mix of excellent restaurants and shopping. Included in Sai Kung is the Sai Kung East Country Park, which is a haven for hikers, cyclists and campers. There are also two yacht clubs and marinas, for those who like sailing or wish to own a boat and some of Hong Kong’s best golf courses.
Clearwater Bay has two beautiful beaches and offers a fantastic safe beach lifestyle, perfect for children and pets, and popular amongst Australian families. The primary drawback to living in Sai Kung is the distance to commute to Hong Kong Island. Sai Kung is not on the MTR line, however nearby Hang Hau which is a large shopping precinct does have an MTR station which connects to all Central commercial districts. Most people who live here drive a car which gives them greater flexibility commuting.
Lantau Island, an enormous chunk of land, is nearly twice the size of Hong Kong Island and is home to Disneyland, the Hong Kong International Airport and the Lantau South Country Park, the largest country park in Hong Kong. There are also many residential spots on Lantau, including Discovery Bay, a popular place for expats to live. Lantau Island is significantly greener than Hong Kong Island, and strict ordinances help curb development and maintain the aesthetic appeal. Even though more commercial ventures and housing projects are present nowadays, the island is still relatively sparsely populated.
Most people living on Lantau Island have to travel off the island for work. Thankfully, it is well-connected to the mainland via the MTR line and by frequent ferry services. Having access to beautiful beaches, plenty of hiking trails and outdoor pursuits make this a good choice for families.
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