Hong Kong Apartments
When you arrive you may need to look at Serviced Hong Kong apartments (see our Classifieds) as an interim solution to your housing needs. Longer-term, you will need to look at Hong Kong apartments on (typically) a two year lease with a break clause exercisable by either party after 12-months. Either party may request removal of the break clause by mutual agreement. Hong Kong apartments can be small (upwards of 800 square feet for a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment) and comparatively expensive. Because of this, accommodation can be something of an adjustment. To take an apartment lease you will need to have a HKID card (for which you will need a visa), so getting one should be your first priority on arrival. Appointments to get a HKID can be booked in advance, even before you physically get to Hong Kong. You will be immediately issued with a temporary card, which will suffice for taking a lease, opening utility accounts etc.
Renting or Leasing Hong Kong Apartments
Rental prices for Hong Kong apartments range enormously according to the location, the floor, age/condition and whether there is a maid’s room or facilities, e.g. swimming pool, gym and security. A family apartment in a predominantly non-European area like North Point, Tai Koo, Olympic or South Horizons (Aberdeen) will be cheaper than in a more mixed area like Happy Valley. Try Pok Fu Lam if you want better value on the island, or Discovery Bay (read Around DB Magazine) on Lantau island if you want a more family friendly environment.
Areas like Mid levels (near Central), Repulse Bay and Stanley tend to be expensive with lots of corporate lets. Lamma Island and South Lantau offer different living environments, which blend low-cost expat with local. If you want to go ”off the grid” there are alternatives such as Sea Ranch. Sai Kung and Tai Po will suit those wanting a larger property and who don’t mind driving to Hong Kong Island and paying for parking, if commuting to Central. Visit the District Councils homepage and see what Wikipedia says about each district.
Hong Kong Real Estate Agents
When looking at Hong Kong apartments you really need to use an estate agent, although you can sometimes find listings on one of the internet forums (see links) where a tenant is looking to break a lease. A lot of the property available is registered centrally, so all the Licensed Realtors can access the same properties. Some vendors list only with one agency, so it is best to pick an agent close to where you want to stay as they might have some exclusives. The biggest agencies are Midland, Century 21 and Centaline. However long the lease, estate agents charge the landlord and tenant 2 weeks rental as a finders fee each. Although some will be willing to help secure short term lets, their fees usually make serviced apartments and long-stay hotels more viable. With volatile property values and rents generally rising, don’t agree to a break clause unless you want to risk renegotiating your rent upwards after a year, or risk finding yourself looking for an alternative apartment. When looking at Hong Kong Apartments, here are some tips:
- Only register with one or two agents. With no Western-style property brochures you could see the same apartment with two agencies and be liable to two fees if you take it.
- Pick agents that really understands your requirements and can communicate clearly.
- You can make offers, but try asking for a rent-free period instead. If your landlord is an investor this will allow them to be flexible on pricing without affecting the yield.
- Talk to your employer about whether you have, or can have, housing provisions included in your contract. The rent on Hong Kong apartments can be used to offset some of your salaries tax, providing the lease is in your name and there is the appropriate term in your contract of employment.
- On top of the estate agents fee, expect to pay one month’s rent in advance and two months security deposit.
- Your agent should produce a ‘snagging list’ of repairs required and arrange for the utility meters to be read. Repairs might be a basic repainting of the interior, servicing of the air conditioners and a polish for the wooden floor, if applicable.
- Be prepared to compromise on having that ‘nice to have’ guest room or great ‘entertainment space’. Focus on what you need day-to-day and find temporary solutions to one-off requirements. For example, rather than throwing a house party, book a private dining room or rent a space such as The Factory.
Thinking of Buying?
If you are considering purchasing a property in Hong Kong, you might find this video informative.
In May 2015 EJ Insight reproduced a map by Dr. Leung Kai-chi, assistant program director of I.CARE Leadership of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, showing Hong Kong property prices by local district superimposed on a MTR map.
Renting a Room/Serviced Apartment
If you are considering renting a room or a short term apartment try Craigslist, Easyroommate or AirBnB. As a more expensive alternative, there are lots of serviced apartments in Hong Kong that give you the privacy of an apartment with maid/concierge-type services.