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Hong Kong is a truly exciting city - to work, to live, to explore - especially for international young people and expats. One of the most stressful part of relocating to a new city is searching for and finding somewhere to live. It’s insanely overwhelming and you are most definitely not alone!
The rental market in Hong Kong is dense, fully alive and flourishing. It’s an expensive city to live in, to invest property in, but the good news is that there are thousands to hundreds of thousands of amazing properties to choose from, if you know how and where to look.
If you have not yet relocated to Hong Kong but are considering or on the move to, you should understand some general background information that anyone who lives in Hong Kong should be well-informed about. Hong Kong is an international hub, with tons of people from all over the world coming in and out every day. Most expats who have resided here for years and ended up building businesses and families here all have similar stories. They come here for a holiday and ten years later, they are still here and loving life. Hong Kong is magnificent. It’s magical. It’s alluring. It’s captivating, and it will keep you here just because it’s one of those places that stamp a special place in people’s hearts due to its unique qualities of the perfect balance between tradition and innovation and influences of the East and the West. There is a highly transient expat community in Hong Kong, especially because it was a former British Colony until 1997. There is a huge population of expats in compact little Hong Kong, which adds up to two things:
This shouldn’t be surprising since Hong Kong is all about the fast-paced life. Nothing is ever slow in Hong Kong. People don’t stop to take in the urban city views or hang out on the side of the street to have a conversation just because. It is a crazy metropolis that can be summed up by two words: Hustle and Efficient. If you want things done fast, it will be done fast, which is one of those things that foreigners take some time to get used to in the beginning but end up loving it.
Hong Kong is small if you simply quantify it and calculate its area size, but the city is big and vibrant if you calculate it by the numerous different neighbourhoods and residential areas spread all over the Islands. Hong Kong can be categorized in to three main areas, from its famous city central’s trademark hectic spaces to its less known, laid-back and serene outlying islands that seems a world away.
When people first come to Hong Kong, one questions always trumps their mind - “Where do I stay?” A simple analogy would be a comparison to New York, where the city is separated in to five different boroughs (The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island) each with its own unique characteristics and city culture. Our beautiful city of Hong Kong can be separated in to three distinct locations: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and The New Territories. Location is key but even more so in Hong Kong. It makes a world of a difference where you choose to live in Hong Kong. There are so many different areas and districts, each with its own totally unique personalities that may or not not be suitable for you. Exploring the different areas is important because it takes some time to really find the right area for you. The best thing to do is to first narrow down which Island you want to start your home-hunt. Don’t try to view homes in every area and every neighbourhood of Hong Kong, if you do that, you will never find a place. There are just too many options so narrowing down according to your work and lifestyle choices is the best way to go about the process.
Hong Kong Island is comprised of numerous suburbs and localities, and each of these neighbourhoods have residential areas for rent and to buy. Hong Kong Island is featured by lots of business, commercial and financial centers, high-end luxury shopping malls, nightlife, convenient transportation and really vibrant expat community.
The great thing about Hong Kong is that it is so easily accessible everywhere by public transport and more and more MTR (underground railway networks) are being built and opened, which makes getting anywhere in Hong Kong extremely efficient. In this article, we are only going to focus on the main and most popular areas that expats choose to live in and to give you a little 411 of those neighbourhoods. In the following weeks, we will introduce a new neighbourhood in each blog article to introduce you to the authentic ins and outs of Hong Kong to help you choose the most suitable residential area for yourself. Do keep up with us to get the insider scoop for all things real estate in Hong Kong coming forth!
Kowloon is the adjacent island right across the ocean from Hong Kong Island. It is an urban area in Hong Kong comprising of the Kowloon Peninsula and New Kowloon. Kowloon is much less international community wise than Hong Kong Island. Over 94.2% of Kowloon’s residents are of Cantonese ethnicity. The Kowloon Island comprises of the following locales:
Again, we will focus on the main areas of Hong Kong where expats and the international community like to live:
The New Territories is one of the areas where nobody really ventures out to unless its for a weekend hike or camping adventure. This has changed in the recent years, with more and more expats and International communities of people moving out to the New Territories to set up home. There is much more open space in the outlying islands, along with significantly more affordable housing options which has created a welcoming niche and surge of expats living in this area. The New Territories can be featured by its much quieter environment away from the busy city life, plentiful nature, relatively cheaper cost of living and wonderful local dining options that makes Hong Kong so full of character.
Each week from now on, we will journey in to a different neighbourhood in Hong Kong and get the real authentic experience of what its like to live there by fellow residents, so keep up with us if you want to get to know Hong Kong better than a local.
A word of advice for our final words: Whatever you do, never sign a lease contract in Hong Kong without actually physically seeing the property. Always go and view the property in person. What you see and hear in advertisements is not the full story and many have fallen prey to this by signing a lease without ever seeing the home and by then its too late and you have already committed to a one-to-two year lease term. Pictures can also be deceiving and don’t listen to what the landlords or real estate agents tell you over the phone. Always go and check the facts for yourself to make sure that it matches your expectations and standards. Hong Kong is an efficient city and things can get done with the snap of a finger. You can sign a new lease and move in to a new home in a day if you wanted to, but its best to be careful and not make any rash decisions in a new city.
If you need any help with hunting for your next cozy home in Hong Kong, our professional team at Engel & Volkers are always here to answer your questions and help you along your journey to find the best suitable match for you tastes and needs.
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