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Best place to live in Hong Kong

Best place to live in Hong Kong

Old Aug 25th 2012, 3:41 pm
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Default Best place to live in Hong Kong

Anyone got suggestions for a couple moving to HK. Looking at a minimum 2 year stint, budget in local currency for apartment is 25k per month.

To complicate things, we plan to take over our pup, a mid sized beagle, and we might possibly expect a child so need a 2 bedroom or ideally 3 bedroom place.

Thanks for any help here!
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Old Aug 25th 2012, 4:04 pm
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Default Re: Best place to live in Hong Kong

Seriously doubt you will get a 3 bed place for 25k in any reasonable area - even for 2 bed you will have limited choice on that budget. HK property prices are still rising, slowly, but still on the up. If you want more space look in the New Territories. I think you can pretty much write off HK Island on that budget so you need to trade off space and price against travel time and cost. Just check out property websites like Square Foot, Ricacorp, Midland, Centaline, Hong Kong Expat, GoHome.
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Old Aug 25th 2012, 4:09 pm
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Default Re: Best place to live in Hong Kong

Pete we know prices are rising and hope to secure a place in a more affordable area. Have you heard of discovery bay and park island? How do they compare?
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Old Aug 25th 2012, 4:35 pm
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Default Re: Best place to live in Hong Kong

Originally Posted by Amanda2012 View Post
Pete we know prices are rising and hope to secure a place in a more affordable area. Have you heard of discovery bay and park island? How do they compare?
Discovery Bay (DB) is very popular with ex-pats as it has a kind of Euro-type environment - I've lived in HK for 30 years and have to confess to never having been there, ever!!! Cheaper housing for sure but keep in mind ferry charges are not that cheap. I think there are bus services too now but you need to check out a site like Hong Kong Expat which has a lot of info on DB. Park Island is a more conventional HK high-rise high density development - never been there either so can't give you much advice at all I'm afraid.
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Old Aug 25th 2012, 5:14 pm
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Default Re: Best place to live in Hong Kong

Thanks Pete. I've been veiwing some of the sites. For the requirements I have and budget park island and DB both seem feasible. Park island apparently is also connected via a bus route and bridge for taxi access so based on the photos at least it seems promising. Which makes me wonder is it good to be true?
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Old Aug 26th 2012, 1:48 am
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Default Re: Best place to live in Hong Kong

DB has a mix of low and high rise housing blocks and a variety of shops, schools and other services and has been under development for more than 20 years. As I said, Park Island is more densely developed with more high rises which suits some people but not others. I think it probably has a shopping mall too as most developments of this type do. You will probably find fewer non-Chinese residents there. I think to some extent it depends on how you plan to socialize and who with, and where. Initially at least most social contacts probably develop through work. If you enjoy cultural events most of these take place on HK Island or at the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui. But traveling around urban Hong Kong is relatively quick and easy and not too expensive - it's the going home afterwards that can be tedious if you don't live in the core part of the city - e.g., HK Island and Kowloon. I've always lived on Hong Kong Island so my own experience has been a little different. Now I live in Wanchai, on the edge of Causeway Bay, which is very accessible to just about everything.
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Old Aug 26th 2012, 4:13 am
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Default Re: Best place to live in Hong Kong

Amazing you have been there so long and we are just starting our journey.

We have looked at information about living in HK online and came across what seems to really appeal to us and meet our budget for living in HK http://www.parkislandhongkong.blogspot.com. Park island we know is not near where you are but if these photos are what it's like compared to the older places in HK which are on HK island it seems appealing. Do you know any expats living there and how do they like it?
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Old Aug 27th 2012, 2:36 am
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Default Re: Best place to live in Hong Kong

Before committing to either Discovery Bay or Park island I would make sure you get here first and view the place. Park Island whilst a nice place is "relatively" isolated. I have never been to DB either and have been in HK all my life !! I would suggest the new territories and that would also be ideal for your dog.
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Old Aug 27th 2012, 7:32 am
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Default Re: Best place to live in Hong Kong

I would not live in Discovery Bay if you are easily seasick.

In case you were not aware, it's a ferry ride into work (or a bus and then an MTR, which takes longer). Park Island also has a ferry as well. Both shut down in typhoon situations (once or twice a year).

It really depends what would like. Disco Bay is a bit quiet, kind of a suburban feel about it. Some townhouses with a place to eat outside nearby, a beach and some other facilities.

Still others would prefer a more 'urban' Hong Kong experience, with taxis and trams and Thai restaurants open until 3:00am next to a 24 hour grocery. It's all up to your personal preference.

The first thing you should probably sort is your commute threshold: where exactly will you be working and how long will it take to get there. You'll also want to see what type of building you prefer, a more recent expat place with marble kitchen countertops or something more local (but possibly even bigger). It will depend a bit on your preferences, and sites like gohome and squarefoot will help you out.

One other suggestion: why a second bedroom? I know, the dog, or the kid, or "our friends will all want to visit us" but honestly you can get by with the dog sleeping in the kitchen and I gather you are at least 9+ months from having a child. I've seen so many folks get an extra bedroom (which is often the size of a walk-in closet) thinking the family will grow or friends will come, only to end up using it basically as a storage room 95% of the time.

If you need a bigger place for a baby one day, get a bigger place. Leases are one year things and it's not that hard to move out to a different apartment once you are here and can use some local moving guys. You'll save much more money, and thus have a much larger pool of options for renting if you scale down your expectations on apartment size.

You could look at a few areas like Kennedy Town, North Point or even out in Chai Wan. These are somewhat 'local' areas but many have some nicer buildings in them that may cater more to the expat crowd. $25,000 does not go very far in the expat-centric areas of Hong Kong unfortunately.

Last edited by penguinsix; Aug 27th 2012 at 7:35 am.
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Old Aug 27th 2012, 8:42 am
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Default Re: Best place to live in Hong Kong

Hi Amanda, I've been living in Park Island for a while now so I can help you compare to DB as we briefly looked there before moving here.

I found DB much more expensive than Park Island, the ferry is double the cost and depending on the budget, you might have to get the internal bus as many of the flats are too far to walk to the ferry, in Park Island you can walk everywhere as it is a much more condensed.

The flats in PI are much newer and the clubhouses & facilities are amazing here (what won us over) and they are much cheaper than DBs BUT the accommodation style is high rise therefore they are not suited to everyone.
DB is much more spacious but also more isolated as there are only 2 buses and 1 ferry as far as I know (PI has 4 buses, 2 ferries, plus taxi access).
The few times I have used the bus from Tung chung (nearest town) to DB, I noticed they make parents fold up their prams which is obviously really inconvenient if you are on your own and the bus is busy, on PI parents just stroll on and park them.

We also have a dog and both are great places to have a dog, I'd say DB is better as it is more spacious with flatter, wider areas that I saw. Both have beaches, Park island has 2 small beach areas where dogs can swim and play as they are not government ran beaches, there is also a long people beach that runs in front of the beachside restaurants. I saw the beach in DB, but I am not sure if it is dog friendly.

DB has more western options for dining as DB is what HKers refer to as an 'Expat ghetto', you wouldn't know you were in HK standing in the DB plaza! But for some, that is why they live there (we actually didn't like this aspect but each to their own).

PI is much more local but there are quite a lot of foreigners living here, I'd say the split is like 15/85 with DB being 60/40 (from a basic eye count!) and increasingly due to it being discovered (lots of people don't ever wander off the island(s) they live and work on, crazy I know as HK is tiny).
But most residents whether local or foreign will be able to speak English, the staff generally however know very little English i.e. cleaners, concierge etc

I would say for kids, both are great, lots of kids in both places, there are 3 indoor playrooms in PI with numerous outdoor ones, as well as 2 indoor pools (1 particularly good for kids) with 2 outdoor resort style pools only open during the summer, the cost is free for the playrooms and swimming is like 1 pound per session for adults (14pounds pm unlimited usage) basically it is cheap!
DB we didn't even look at as we were told it was around 80-100 pounds pm just to use the clubhouse which I think is obscene compared to other places. I guess they wanted to be exclusive (again not my type of scene).

I would say that blog is a good basis to go off, but I think their rental prices and sale prices are a bit 'positive' i.e. choosing the higher rentals. For example, my friend has a 3 bedroom apartment for under $20k pm, 1 bathroom, 1 ensuite and 1 storage room (maid's room) off the kitchen, sea view, I'd say it is like the size of a typical small terraced house but over 1 floor.

There is no shopping mall in PI but there are lots of shops, restaurants, a coffee shop and 1 large supermarket available. I would say DB has 'better/more western' shops due to the demographics of their residents, many PI expats moan about the lack of dining options as it is fairly chinese/local so if you are a foodie, you may cry living here

Another small difference is that the expats in DB from my limited exposure were older than the expats in PI, that may not matter but I thought I should mention it.

Let me know if you have any specific questions so I can try to answer them.
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Old Aug 27th 2012, 8:47 am
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Default Re: Best place to live in Hong Kong

PS: I would definitely get a 2 bed minimum as the rooms are small in HK, that 2nd bedroom is needed for storage, no attics, garages or sheds in HK I'm afraid !
My 2nd bedroom wouldn't even fit a double bed in it, it is so small...okay if it did you'd have to dive onto the bed and no room for wardrobe.
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Old Aug 28th 2012, 12:04 pm
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Default Re: Best place to live in Hong Kong

Super Noodles and others thanks for your reply.

I have also been on some other expats sites, and with regard to Park Island there seem to be 3 sorts of comments. Some people really like it so much, others compare it to DB but say it cheaper and newer and then finally there are people who have heard of it but never actually been there!

I have had some private emails with people who live there and I am thinking more and more it is the right place for us. My partner will be the one working and so its him who will travel. He also has flexible work hours to some extent, and we are not overly concerned about a typhoon affecting public transport. I understand that when a typhoon of a certain strength comes offices are usually closed anyhow.

I am actually going to visit Park Island and really see for myself the area and the beach and facilities but from what I have heard it seems the facilities are great for childern, and there are open spaces and nice well constructed condominiums with ocean views (something I have never had before!). The dog friendly aspect also really is a draw card, and we know not all Chinese land lords in other parts of the city will allow pets into the premises of a tenant.

Prices, again based on internet searches seem encouraging. We found photos of an apartment that seems to be more than the size we need need, and within our budget for renting an apartment http://parkislandhongkong.blogspot.c...rk-island.html

The price, as best as I can tell for something similar is around $28,000 per month in local currency. If anyone can confirm to me that this is basically correct that would be helpful. (I understand in Chinese culture one is expected to negotiate with a land lord, so if it listed as $30,000 I should offer $28,000 for example).

Thank you for all your help and see you in Hong Kong. We are very much looking forward to arriving, and are open minded, but do want to secure an apartment. We also know we should view it first personally and will do that.
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Old Aug 28th 2012, 12:11 pm
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Default Re: Best place to live in Hong Kong

Originally Posted by penguinsix View Post
I would not live in Discovery Bay if you are easily seasick.

In case you were not aware, it's a ferry ride into work (or a bus and then an MTR, which takes longer). Park Island also has a ferry as well. Both shut down in typhoon situations (once or twice a year).

It really depends what would like. Disco Bay is a bit quiet, kind of a suburban feel about it. Some townhouses with a place to eat outside nearby, a beach and some other facilities.

Still others would prefer a more 'urban' Hong Kong experience, with taxis and trams and Thai restaurants open until 3:00am next to a 24 hour grocery. It's all up to your personal preference.

The first thing you should probably sort is your commute threshold: where exactly will you be working and how long will it take to get there. You'll also want to see what type of building you prefer, a more recent expat place with marble kitchen countertops or something more local (but possibly even bigger). It will depend a bit on your preferences, and sites like gohome and squarefoot will help you out.

One other suggestion: why a second bedroom? I know, the dog, or the kid, or "our friends will all want to visit us" but honestly you can get by with the dog sleeping in the kitchen and I gather you are at least 9+ months from having a child. I've seen so many folks get an extra bedroom (which is often the size of a walk-in closet) thinking the family will grow or friends will come, only to end up using it basically as a storage room 95% of the time.

If you need a bigger place for a baby one day, get a bigger place. Leases are one year things and it's not that hard to move out to a different apartment once you are here and can use some local moving guys. You'll save much more money, and thus have a much larger pool of options for renting if you scale down your expectations on apartment size.

You could look at a few areas like Kennedy Town, North Point or even out in Chai Wan. These are somewhat 'local' areas but many have some nicer buildings in them that may cater more to the expat crowd. $25,000 does not go very far in the expat-centric areas of Hong Kong unfortunately.
Penguin thank you for this helpful posting. We will test out the transport services in advance. As for the extra room, we do want that for a home office which we like seperate from our bedroom. And yes, ideally even a 3rd room for guests which it seems we can now afford on Park Island at least. We will take a look at Kennedy Town which is a location others have favourably reccomended. There is apparently a new train station opening up there which sounds like it will be very accessible then. Others have suggested Caine Road or Bonham road, but these are very unaffordable due to their close proximity to the Central area.

Are you living in HK now?
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Old Aug 28th 2012, 1:49 pm
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Default Re: Best place to live in Hong Kong

You have the right idea, just visit and you will see for yourself where is best for your family, if everyone liked the same thing then life would be pretty predictable and boring anyway!

That flat that you've highlighted is a combined unit so there won't be many flats like that or of that size, in fact I think it is only the top few floors of each building that have flats much larger than 1000sft (3 bedrooms) although I'm not 100% on that.

Typhoons - you are correct in thinking that offices and all transport closes when it is a T8 but it isn't like it is suddenly a T8, there is usually a lot of warning beforehand and when T8 is announced, you will have an hour or so to get home via your normal route and once it is no longer T8, transport resumes after a while too so basically we've not even had a full day's worth of T8 this year so far so this worry of no transport is a bit far fetched.

Regarding negotiating, you can try as there isn't really a rule, most of the time it will just be you and the estate agent so there is no embarrassment of asking for less and being rejected. At the end of the day it is better for an agent to close a deal than to hold back for slightly more rent and risk not closing the deal and they usually have an idea of what range the LL will accept (I can recommend you the agent I used btw, he was great and not pushy and didn't feel manipulative etc with pretty decent English, PM me if you want his mobile).

Be warned that it is normal to sign an agreement with an agency saying that if you end up renting any of the flats they show you that you will owe them commission, so you have to remember which flats you've seen to avoid any risks of viewing a flat twice and then having to pay commission twice.
Also that it is normal to pay 2 months deposit, 1 month in advance and half a months commission.

Lastly, don't rely on the online prices too much btw as agencies deliberately put up tempting ads to attract renters/buyers, but you will find that when you ring them regarding that specific flat it is 'no longer available' or the classic 'price has gone up', they are just basically just 'examples' and not actually ever available, they are often also priced slightly lower as bait.
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Old Aug 29th 2012, 3:47 am
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Default Re: Best place to live in Hong Kong

Yes, I am in Hong Kong now, in the Midlevels Central on May Road. We may move toward Stubbs Road / Happy Valley or over to the South Side in the next year though given our children will start attending school in Repulse Bay.

Caine and Bonham are more Centrally located, but you will pay quite a bit and the dog may be an issue.

Are you going to be hiring a domestic helper if you get pregnant? If so you'll need a 'amah' room for her. Many places have them (frightfully small) but there are a few buildings that do not, so you might want to judge accordingly.

As for the home office, I'd turn that into the guest room. Depends of course on how frequently you expect guests (everyone says they will visit until they realize it is a 14 hour flight).
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