Hong Kong has it all: authentic local areas, expat bubbles, island life, buzzling spots in the city and tranquil oases near the beach or mountains and anything in between all of this. So where to live? I will give some pointers to help you decide where to live:
- Logistics. As always real estate agents will say its about location, location and location. But I would like to add the importance of logistics. You’ll have to make up your mind about how and how long you want to commute to work and city. Are you going to drive a car? Or like most people in HK will rely on MTR, buses and taxi’s? Some parts of Hong Kong are more easy when you have a car (with driver), like Sai Kung, Stanley, Repulse Bay, New Territories. While in other area’s it doesn’t make sense to drive a car, simply because they are not allowed in that area (Discovery Bay) or you’ll have a fight for parking spaces. Note that although on the map far away, the logistics might not be so bad if close to MTR or ferry, while walking and (mini)buses can add significantly to your commute time.
- Think about what surrounding you want to live in? Is it the buzz of the city (Midlevels, Sai Yin Pun, Kennedy Town, Causeway Bay, Happy Valley, TST), the beautiful view of beaches or mountains (Southside HK Island, Discovery Bay), in an authentic Chinese setting (Kowloon, New Territories) or more remote in village houses (South Lantau, Lamma island, Sai Kung)? Ask yourself the question, where will I spend most time in the weekend? Sportclubs, restaurants, bars, hiking, beach etc. How important is it to live in that area or will I accept the travel time?
- With kids some additional aspects might be good to consider. Schooling can be very difficult to arrange. And it is often said that you first need to secure a spot in one of the international schools before choosing your residential area. So definitely don’t take schooling for granted while exploring potential areas. Besides this you might want to check how child friendly the area is. Are there any playgrounds (inside and outside), can you go easy around with a stroller, scooter or bike? Will it be easy for kids to make friends?
- Determine a max budget and keep that in mind while exploring areas. It is the combination of location, size (net sqft), floorlevel (high/medium/low) and state of the building (renovated/new or old/basic) that determine the price. If you found a nice area with fits all your requirements, you still need to check if the kind of apartment you are able to find for your budget fits your expectations regarding size, floor and state of the building. Or the other way around if you have strong preferences regarding sqft or the state of the building, you might need to compromise on the area and look at bit further away from the city center.
Finding the right spot is about setting your priorities right. What will make you feel at home? And that is not so easy to say when you just landed in a completely new place. A pre-visit can help you. Talk to other expats, who I am sure each have a different story to tell. Although you can do a lot of research online, you know best when you get to feel and experience the area’s yourself. Or ask a relocation consulting firm for advice. ExpatWise will help you narrow down the area’s and will help you decide.