Lifestyle

A Guide to Hong Kong Housing Options for Expats



As a newcomer to Hong Kong, some expats might be astonished by the housing options that are available in this vibrant and international city where the east meets west. Because of Hong Kong’s history as a colony, the residential buildings here are also a mix of the east and west.

If you are an expat from a non-Asian country, you are probably used to a larger apartment or house with plenty of space but due to limited land supply, which in turn led to high property prices, Hong Kong’s most popular residential areas are usually high density and rather pricy.

However, fear not, regardless of your lifestyle or budget, you will surely find something suitable.

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Apartment

Due to the scarcity of land, apartment blocks in Hong Kong are mainly high rises with many of them built near or on top of MTR stations. As the Hong Kong Government continues urban planning in new towns, the majority of these apartment units are serviced by a developed infrastructure that consists of an extensive transportation network, a wide array of restaurants and one-stop shopping malls, providing residents with daily convenience. For the newer developments that were completed during the past decade, most of them feature a clubhouse complete with gym, playground and swimming pool as the basics. Apartments in Hong Kong are smaller in size compared to those in the Americas and Europe but the biggest advantage of living in an apartment in Hong Kong is convenience. Usually, a 1-bedroom apartment is around 500 to 700 sq. ft., while a 2-bedroom can range from 500 to over 1000 sq. ft. Though the Mid-Levels has been traditionally a favourite with expats but they are expanding their options to districts along the MTR Island line and even across the harbour to Kowloon West, Tsang Kwan O and Tung Chung, where there is an abundant supply of new apartments.

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Tong Lau

Referring to residential structures built in the late 19th century to the 1960s, these old buildings are characterised by big balconies and the lack of elevators. Mostly located in districts like Wanchai, Sai Ying Pun, Sham Shui Po and Kowloon City, they may not have the modern amenities such as management service and a clubhouse but are generally well layout and generously spacious, plus residents can have access to the roof. Another advantage is that Tong Laus are less expensive no matter if you are renting or purchasing. The only downside is that, due to their history, these old buildings will require more maintenance and repairs and the cost can become quite high.

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Village House

Primary distributed in the New Territories, the village houses in Hong Kong are usually 2 to 3 storeys high. They are particularly popular among those who love nature, have pets or enjoy extra space like a roof or garden. Many might have the impression that village houses are in faraway rural areas that are highly inconvenient but that’s not the fact, the village houses in Hong Kong can actually be categorised into three different types ― connected countryside, island and traditional village community.

For connected countryside, residents only need to stay just a bit farther from the town centre to enjoy the serenity of the suburbs and at the same time, have the convenience of the city. Districts such as Sai Kung, Tuen Mun, Tai Wai, Shatin and other new towns are perfect examples.

Island settlements like Mui Wo and Pui O might seem a long daily commute but as the transportation network of the city extends deeper into the islands, travelling to work is actually not that bad. The relatively easy access, coupled with peaceful environment, has made these areas increasingly popular among expats. Another bonus is that the rent is much cheaper compared to that of connected countryside.

Residents of traditional village communities are, in majority, indigenous inhabitants. These traditional village communities can only be found in seemingly distant areas like Pat Heung, Ping Shan and Hung Shui Kiu, but if you prefer a genuine country life, this is the choice for you. As these village communities still follow century old traditions and customs, you will also be in for a treat to a cultural experience of a lifetime.

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Serviced Apartment

Serviced apartments are becoming increasingly popular and common in Hong Kong. As Hong Kong’s hectic lifestyle and long work hours make it difficult for anyone to maintain a work-life balance, many are turning to serviced apartments for a hassle-free and pampered living style. With the majority of them located in major finance and business districts, the furnish-ready units come with hotel-grade services and facilities, offering utmost convenience and are especially welcome by expats and young professionals.

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Mansion

Mansions are a rare commodity in Hong Kong and thus much more expensive compared to the other housing options. If you decide to live in a house, you should properly get a car too because mansions are mostly located up in the hills or in rather remote locations, or be prepare to take a taxi for your daily errands. The biggest advantage of getting a mansion is definitely the amount of living space that usually also includes a front and back yard, and your only sacrifice is convenience.

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