Old versus New – living in Hong Kong Apartments
One of the many great things about Hong Kong is the variety of homes and lifestyles that are available here for residents and new comers to choose from.
Going back to the pre Qing Dynasty days, most of Hong Kong was occupied by fisherman who set up small villages for their families seeking out a living by fishing the china seas. Once the Qing Dynasty was defeated in the opium wars, and Hong Kong became a British colony, much building went on in both Kowloon side and Hong Kong Island to create this thriving and busy commercial and trading port city around the edges of Victoria Harbour.
Under British rule, the colonial workers engineered the waterways and road systems, and colonial era buildings both commercial and residential were built along the waterfronts and up into the hills. Rows of shops with living quarters above popped up and sprawling mansions were erected for the elite foreigners to escape some of Hong Kongs hot and humid weather. Some of these were lost when the Japanese invaded but the biggest threat to the colonial buildings came during the 1970’s and 80’s. This was the time big property development came into play and many of these buildings and homes were torn down and replaced with the massive sky scrapers and high rise residential developments that have reshaped Hong Kong into this powerhouse dynamic city sparkling around one of the worlds most admired harbours, and that we know it as today.
Fortunately for Hong Kong, there was a wave of criticism that Hong Kong was ripping down it’s heritage. People like David Tang stepped in to embrace the era of colonialism with his famous Shanghai Tang store on Peddar Street and the opening of the globally famous and still much loved China Club. Budding architects, city designers, private citizens and philanthropists stepped in to save what is left of the colonial days buildings and houses which are now protected and cherished. Small pockets of apartment buildings exist in some of the inner suburbs, and a handful were saved on the Peak areas.
All of this building and ripping down and re-building has given Hong Kong residents a wide choice of the type of home they wish to live in.
Hong Kong is apartment city. Being some of the most expensive real estate in the world, smaller land parcels of mega high value are proportioned upwards by developers to get maximum returns on the space. This can create a building with several one bedroom apartments on each floor and 40 odd stories high. In some of the outer city complex’s there can be 2 or 50 buildings such as these in the one development, with multi shared resort style facilities.
Take Consideration Time
Things to consider are : This is Hong Kong. Hong Kong is unlike any other city in the world. It is a magnate for young workers who get reasonable salaries who enjoy social activities most nights. Few people entertain in their homes, and therefore a nod at a kitchen is considered highly respectful. Young ex pats tend to eat out most nights or get food delivered. Yes you can have a swimming pool and gym on site. Chances are you will never need a car so that is a massive saving on purchase, running and insurance right there and, the MTR, buses and taxis are very reasonable.
To get your head around everything you thought you might need to what you will actually need is simply a lifestyle adjustment. The big decision always comes down to price. And when prices are some of the world’s highest, you realize that small can actually be good and a bit more affordable. A single person realises that one bedroom is more than enough and family and visitors can either take the couch or stay at a hotel down the road. Two bedrooms or more is quite a luxury in the inner city suburbs.
Convenience, New technology, Concierge facilities, no maintenance, swimming pool, fitness centre, Club house. All new residential apartment buildings are delivered equipped with all the facilities and amenities that you will ever need. Sparkling new kitchens and compact layouts can be mind assuring, and most are built with open views if not the harbour or hillside. The further up the tower you go will of course be more money out of your pocket, so setting a budget once you’ve had a good look around is a more sensible use of your time that pre setting and then feeling miserable with what you are being shown. These developments will always be in an area that has supermarkets and amenities like dry cleaning, and most likely they will be close to restaurants, bars, nightlife as well as parks and gardens and fitness trails.
Some buildings to consider would be Center Stage on Hollywood Road, Arezzo and Azura on Seymour Road, 38 Caine and Gramercy, and The Pierre on Aberdeen St. Further out look at new developments in Aberdeen, North Point, Causeway Bay and Qarry Bay.
To be fair OLD can be split into two categories. Original old and ultra renovated old.
Original old. This would be for the budget minded. You may find smaller windows and more than likely a walk up (no lift). However you might also find some very high ceilings and if you can manage to negotiate with the land lord or do it yourself a lick of paint can make a big difference. If the kitchen is old and un-renovated, keep in mind that you will likely not use it that much. You can buy plug in appliances if there is no oven, or if the stove top is old, you can buy a new plug in at Japan Home Store. Check the hot water system. Most apartments in Hong Kong have the hot water on demand that you switch on before shower or bath. Make sure there is plenty of daylight coming in. In both winter and summer Hong Kong can be quite humid and mildew can be a problem. Check for air conditioning units and test that they work. Investing in a dehumidifier is a really smart decision no matter where you live. Be clever and use your imagination. If this apartment is in a convenient location you can save yourself quite a lot of money.
You can find these buildings scattered all around the inner city suburbs of Soho, Sheung Wan, Sai Ying Pun, Wanchai and Kennedy town. If you look further out at Causeway Bay, Quarry Bay and North Point, the prices come down further and you are still on the excellent MTR blue line.
Renovated old. These are often some of the best apartments to live in. With the older buildings you definitely get more ceiling height which does make a big difference to a room. The renovated apartments have often had two bedrooms combined in to one or living space increased with an open plan layout. You may have a lift or a walk up. If a walk-up, the higher levels generally around 5 to 8 can be a little cheaper and often come with a wonderful rooftop garden or terrace. Some have had larger windows installed to bring in more daylight. These renovated buildings are placed all over Hong Kong is mostly low and mid rise buildings. Some the entire buildings have had a full makeover, and others it’s been up to the individual owners to maintain and upgrade their investment.
Inner city areas, Sai Ying Pun, Kennedy Town, Sheung Wan, Mid levels and Soho have some wonderful renovated apartments that suit the professional and working expat community. These areas are undoubtedly the most convenient for easy living with everything at your fingertips.