Renters' Guide to Apartments in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Apartments
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Apartments in Hong Kong aren’t cheap. There—we said it. Yes, it’s true that the city can lay claim to the most expensive real estate in the world— up on The Peak—and yes, it’s true that you don’t get much for your money. But, while the city regularly ranks on the top of world rental price lists there are ways to save here that you don’t get in London and New York.

Cheap Apartments

  • Think small. You’ll find tiny apartments here, which offer cheaper rents than NYC, London, or other comparable cities. The downside is the postage stamp-sized rooms you get.
  • Think high. While London and New York built out, Hong Kong built up. You can save yourself money by living out of the main areas, but still be 20mins away by public transport.
  • Think rural. If you can stand all the bugs, Hong Kong has a little talked about and a very large slice of countryside. Prices can be incredibly low for village houses in the New Territories while commutes are still only around an hour.

Types of Long Term Rentals

If you’re looking for a long term rental, the first thing you need to do is decide what type of property you want and with it where you want to live.

  • Houses – There are very few houses in Hong Kong. Land is at a premium so the houses that do exist tend to be either in the sticks, such as the New Territories and on the islands of Lantau and Lamma, or in pricey enclaves, such as the swanky south side communities on Hong Kong Island. Houses in a small village can be a bargain, while anywhere closer to the city or on Hong Kong Island will demand sky-high rents.
  • Apartments in Hong Kong – Your standard Hong Kong apartment will be inside a high rise block with just a bedroom and lounge/kitchen to spread your stuff over. Small spaces are a fact of life here.

Luxury apartment complexes are popular with the financial set and those with a heavy bank account. Built-in flashy new skyscrapers, almost all feature a dedicated in-building clubhouse with gyms, swimming pools, and various other added extras. Most complexes have their own name—from Bel Air to the less inviting Belchers—and you can rent either directly from the developer or through estate agents.

Types of Short Let Rentals

  • Serviced apartments – These are popular with expats relocating to Hong Kong and offer slimmed down hotel services—such as a weekly turn down—with apartment essentials—hot plates to cook on. Stays here are usually priced in months with a minimum stay of at least a week, sometimes more. You can see our top 5 serviced apartments in Hong Kong list for some suggestions on where to stay.
  • Private lets – Becoming increasingly popular in Hong Kong, most of the major private let companies—from those that offer a couch in a hallway to those that offer first class, palatial stays are now active in Hong Kong. Wimdu is particularly big in Hong Kong with Air BnB also offering a good number of options. These stays can offer fantastic savings and chance to meet locals, but remember, as ever, be careful, only use approved companies and don’t offer to send money on privately in advance.
  • Holiday Lets – Holiday lets are not particularly popular in Hong Kong—at least in the European or American sense of the idea. Serviced apartments are effectively holiday lets, they are just marketed at traveling businessmen rather than tourists.

Essential Tips

  • Because of the size of apartments, sharing isn’t popular outside of families. You don’t get groups of professionals living together.
  • If you want an actual house—not an apartment—you’ll need to live on an island or in the New Territories and the prices are extortionate.
  • With such a transient population, there is ample potential to rent short. See our top 5 serviced apartments for some of the best locations. Holiday rentals are also becoming more popular, especially through Wimdu.
  • Most expats live on Hong Kong Island. Popular expat areas include Happy Valley, Mid-Levels, and Discovery Bay—all of which are expensive.
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