Take a look at any real estate agency’s noticeboard and you’ll soon realise that figuring out where to live in Hong Kong isn’t as straightforward as choosing between a house or apartment. Most expats sign up for a two-year lease, so it’s worth taking the time to figure out what kind of home suits you best. We asked the Residential Leasing and Relocation Services team at JLL Hong Kong to break down the housing options for us.
These complexes can have it all. They can be very modern, with high-specification kitchens and bathrooms as well as a wide range of amenities – concierge services, pools, gyms, retail and restaurants. Then there are older blocks, which may be more spacious, with more storage and bigger balconies but fewer facilities. Large complexes are often owned by reputable corporate landlords, which means reliable, hassle-free maintenance. They’re also generally convenient for commuters, situated close to MTR stations or providing private school buses and shuttles.
Snapshot of a typical high-rise
Size: 900 square feet, 3 bedrooms
Areas: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories, Lantau
Price range: From HK$40,000+ per calendar month*
If you don’t fancy living 20 floors up, or in the same tower as hundreds of other people, all is not lost when it comes to housing options. Units in low-rise or mid-rise apartment buildings are typically on the 12th floor or below and are often more space-efficient. Although these buildings have fewer facilities than their larger counterparts, what you lose in amenities, you may make up for in the sense of community that is fostered in many lower-rise properties and neighbourhoods.
Snapshot of a typical low- or mid-rise
Size: 1,000 square feet, 3 bedrooms
Areas: Upper Happy Valley, Jardine’s Lookout, Sai Ying Pun, Kowloon Tong, Ho Man Tin, Discovery Bay
Price: $60,000 per calendar month
Duplexes are typically spread across two floors in an apartment block, so all the advantages of living in a high-rise complex apply but with the added bonus of more space! They enjoy rare high ceilings and their multi-floor layout can satisfy those looking for a real separation of living and sleeping spaces. Duplexes are ideal for young professionals, couples and small families who are looking for housing options with space that they can grow into.
Snapshot of a typical duplex
Size: 3,000 square feet, 4-5 bedrooms
Areas: Mid-Levels, Repulse Bay, Wan Chai
Price: From $100,000+ per calendar month
Offering only one apartment per floor, it’s easy to see how needle towers got their name! These homes offer high-rise living with the potential for 360-degree views, but without the on-site amenities you might find in larger complexes. Needle towers range from older buildings to more modern, boutique housing options.
Snapshot of a typical needle tower
Size: 300 square feet (studio) / 1,000 square feet (3 bedrooms)
Area: Mid-Levels, Kennedy Town, Sai Ying Pun, Wan Chai
Price: From $30,000+ per calendar month
Many of Hong Kong’s older street-side residential buildings, or tong lau, were built without elevators, earning them the nickname “walk-ups”. While the thought of tackling flights of stairs in the heat and humidity of Hong Kong’s summer may not be appealing, these properties have the advantage of larger rooms than those found in many newer developments. A tong lau might lack on-site amenities, but it’s often conveniently close to public transport, making it well suited to young professionals or appealing housing options for more seasoned Hong Kong expats.
Snapshot of a typical tong lau
Size: 300 square feet (studio) / 500 square feet (2 bedrooms)
Area: Central, Sheung Wan, Sai Ying Pun, Kennedy Town, Wan Chai, Tin Hau, Tai Hang, North Point
Price: From $15,000+ per calendar month
Townhouses come in different shapes and sizes, but all of them offer more space than your standard apartments, making them ideal for families. Most have a private outdoor space – a rare thing in Hong Kong – and those in larger developments offer access to club facilities, pools and shuttle buses to nearby transport hubs. These types of houses can be found in Hong Kong’s suburbs and “satellite towns”, so having a car or driver may make your commute more convenient.
Snapshot of a typical townhouse
Size: 2,000 square feet, 3-4 bedrooms
Areas: Tuen Mun, Repulse Bay, Sai Kung, Tai Po, Hong Lok Yuen
Price: From $60,000+ per calendar month
These are an excellent option for those families craving space and relative serenity from Hong Kong’s hustle and bustle. They are located in smaller villages, often close to the coast, Hong Kong’s country parks, or both! These homes are great for those who love the outdoors life – particularly those with pets – but as they are less accessible many residents own private cars to make sure they can get further afield when they want to. Despite that, more and more expats are exploring village housing as you can definitely get more space for your money.
Snapshot of a typical village house
Size: 2,100 square feet, 3-4 bedrooms
Areas: Sai Kung, Tai Po, Yuen Long, Outlying Islands
Price: $50,000 to $100,000 per calendar month
For expats with a bigger budget, or with a corporate expat package, Hong Kong can offer luxurious housing options in prestigious neighbourhoods. The Peak and the south side of Hong Kong Island are both home to beautifully appointed stand-alone houses, while those craving a home with some character should consider the colonial properties that line Kadoorie Avenue in Kowloon. At the top end of the city’s residential market, these exclusive homes offer the seclusion of private gardens and pools.
Snapshot of a typical luxury home
Size: 3,000 square feet, 4 bedrooms
Areas: The Peak, Repulse Bay, Deepwater Bay, Kowloon Tong, Ho Man Tin
Price: From $150,000 per calendar month
If you’re only in Hong Kong for a short time, or you need a place to stay until you find somewhere permanent to live, serviced apartments are for you. There are numerous operators across Hong Kong – from budget options to boutique apartments and luxury suites – all offering flexible lease terms in convenient locations close to commercial hubs and transport links. Serviced apartments extend a hotel-like experience, with professional housekeeping and clubhouse facilities, as well as the kind of space and cooking facilities that you will not find in a standard hotel room.
Snapshot of a typical serviced apartment
Size: 350 square feet (studio) to 1,110 square feet (3 bedrooms)
Areas: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories, Lantau
Prices: $25,000 (studio) to $70,000 (3 bedrooms)
* Prices are approximate rental rates per calendar month
For more information about your potential home in Hong Kong, visit jllresidential.com/hk.
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This article first appeared in the 2017 edition of Expat Living’s annual CityGuide.