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Accommodation in Hong Kong is expensive. In fact, real estate prices in Hong Kong are regularly ranked among the highest in the world, so expats will need to budget carefully when it comes to finding their ideal home in the city.
Although there are a variety of quality options, space is a limited commodity in Hong Kong, and apartments in the city tend to be small. Unless expats have large budgets to work with, they should be prepared to downsize. Tiny bedrooms, in particular, are something many expats struggle with at first.
Types of accommodation in Hong Kong
Accommodation in Hong Kong can vary tremendously, but the rental market can largely be divided into ‘old’ and ‘new’.
Older accommodation is often a bit rough around the edges, but if tenants are willing to spend a bit of time making it feel like home this could be a good, affordable option for people whose priority is space and a central location.
There are plenty of high-quality, modern apartments in the popular residential areas, but the luxurious lifestyle comes with a price tag and spaces are typically much smaller. Those on a budget wanting to enjoy modern living should consider adding a few extra stops to their commute and looking at some of the newer residential areas that are developing outside the Hong Kong city centre.
Finding accommodation in Hong Kong
Due to the short-term nature of most expat assignments in Hong Kong, most new arrivals opt to rent rather than buy property.
For those who are not lucky enough to have their employer assist them in their search for a property in Hong Kong, the best option is to enlist the services of a reputable real-estate agent. These professionals have a comprehensive knowledge of the region’s property market and can help expats find something that meets their requirements in terms of size, quality, price and location.
There are lots of online property portals and, while these are an excellent source of information, the fact is that desirable property in Hong Kong moves quickly. So often by the time a prospective tenant enquires about a property listed on a portal it has already been snapped up through an agent. Nevertheless, it's a good idea to use online resources to research the types, prices and availability of apartments in Hong Kong for an idea of what to expect before relocating.
Renting accommodation in Hong Kong
Most landlords use a standard government lease in Hong Kong. However, because they are allowed to add their own clauses, it is best to read through the contract carefully to ensure that there aren’t any hidden costs involved.
Rental contracts in Hong Kong are generally for a two-year period, with a break clause after a year.
Two or three months’ rent is required as a security deposit, which will only be returned once the tenant vacates the property.
Utility bills are rarely included in the monthly rental fee, so expats will have to take these into account when planning a budget. Costs vary depending on usage and may differ from one service provider to the next.
Buying property in Hong Kong
Property prices in Hong Kong are expensive. Expats generally only buy property if they intend to stay for the long term. Without having permanent residence, buying property in Hong Kong can be difficult. Local banks are often unwilling to offer loans to those without a long-term financial track record within Hong Kong.
Those that want to buy property in Hong Kong will need to take some time to familiarise themselves with the pros and cons of buying new versus old apartments, the areas and suburbs of Hong Kong, as well as the legalities, mortgage plans and other government formalities.
►Find out more about the best residential areas in our guide to the Areas and Suburbs of Hong Kong
"If you have a significant budget you can get some very high-quality housing comparable to the likes of any international city in the Western world. The old adage is certainly true though; in Hong Kong, you do get what you pay for!" Read more of Gillian's insights into life in Hong Kong in her expat interview.
"If you are used to living in huge houses with lawns and garages, the sizes and the prices of Hong Kong flats might be a nasty shock. With such a dense population, you can expect everybody to have a very small share of space." American expat Leslie shares her experiences in her expat interview about living in Hong Kong.
Are you an expat living in Hong Kong?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Hong Kong. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
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