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Expat’s guide to where to live in Hong Kong

Are you moving to Hong Kong and trying to work out which part of the city to call home? Or perhaps you are already living in Hong Kong and need to move to be closer to work, international schools or just to try a different neighbourhood? The Fragrant Harbour is a vibrant city and you may wish to be close to the action in one of the urban districts on Hong Kong Island or Kowloon. Alternatively, the space and pace of some of the New Territories neighbourhoods or outlying islands may suit your lifestyle. Here’s an overview of the best places to live and the different areas to consider. You’ll also find first person accounts of some of the top spots for expats to live in Hong Kong in our Neighbourhood Guides on our website and our Street Talk column in Expat Living magazine.

Mid-Levels

Living in the buzzy Mid-Levels is all about ease and convenience.  It’s a stone’s throw from a mindboggling array of restaurants, bars, supermarkets, boutiques and massage/beauty salons, yet committed urbanites can reach hiking trails winding up to the Peak in as little as ten minutes.

  • Walking distance to excellent public transport links, including the MTR and Airport Express
  • A good mix of characterful colonial apartments, and newer developments with facilities and harbor views
  • Neighborhood coffee shops and boutiques lend a quirky, individual feel to the area

image of Mid-Levels, Where to live for expats in Hong Kong

The Peak

Rents are among the highest in the city, but on clear days, Peak residents are rewarded by spectacular views, a leafy and peaceful outlook, and dozens of hiking trails.

  • The Peak Galleria shopping complex is often crowded with tourists, but has coffee shops, restaurants and a supermarket
  • Victoria Peak Gardens, near the summit of the Peak, is a tropical oasis
  • Convenient for the German Swiss International School and the Peak School
  • The Peak Tram is the most exciting way up, but buses to Central are frequent and fast

WHere to live in Hong Kong - The peak

Sheung Wan

This district has character in bucket loads, but it’s tricky finding anything other than studio or one bedroom walk-ups: the apartments, however, are beautiful old Hong Kong-style, and Chinese medicine shops and Dai Pai Dongs make living here a truly authentic experience.

  • A short walk from bustling Queen’s Road, and all of Central’s convenience and transport links (Sheung Wan also has a MTR station)
  • Trendy new boutiques and bars rub shoulders with ‘mom and pop’ stores, old-established businesses like printing presses, and antique or curio shops

Sheung Wan Living in Hong Kong

Sai Ying Pun

Sai Ying Pun is the current fashionable choice for expatriates looking for cheaper accommodation in an authentic, up and coming area, although steep hills and stairs mean it’s not always pushchair-friendly!

  • A favourite on the island for destination dining, there is a wide variety of cuisines and themed restaurants, and some original, funky bars
  • Sandwiched between Kennedy Town and Sheung Wan, it’s easy to get to Central and the Western Harbour Tunnel, and also to the open space of Sun Yat Sen Park

Sai Ying Pun In Hong kong

Tai Hang

Just a short walk from Causeway Bay but a world away from the district’s frenzied activity, Tai Hang has a laid-back and slower-paced vibe.

  • Vintage stores, indie boutiques, artisanal coffee shops and craft beer bars lend this neighborhood a unique and charming character
  • The three-day Mid-Autumn Festival Fire Dragon Dance is held here, but ancient culture and traditions happily rub shoulders with new boutique residential developments – often renovated from old buildings.  There are brand new developments too, and old luxury houses.

Tai Hang in Hong Kong

Wan Chai

Urban and convenient, hectic Wan Chai is right at the centre of all the action.  It packs a colourful local punch, and is chock full of lively restaurants, bars, markets, outlets and the city’s most exciting – and controversial – nightlife.

  • Local wet markets are a feast for the eyes, and the produce is fresh and tasty
  • Living here has traditionally been a cheaper option, but the ongoing transformation of Wan Chai into a chic and modern upscale district, has escalated both rental costs and complaints about noise pollution

Wan Chai where to live in Hong Kong

Pok Fu Lam

A long-established favourite with expatriate families, Pokfulam offers easy access to Central (it’s a fifteen-minute taxi drive), plenty of outdoor space and beautiful views of the South China Sea.

  • Cyberport provides a cinema complex, shops, restaurants, a hotel and a Dog Park
  • For equine enthusiasts, there’s a stable (although the waiting list for lessons is long), and a leafy reservoir with trails leading up to The Peak
  • There’s a good mix of accommodation, from older colonial apartments and houses, to ultra-modern high-rises
  • Convenient for West Island School (ESF) and Kellett’s Pokfulam Campus

Pok Fu Lam neighbourhood

Tseung Kwan O

There’s a lot of large-scale residential developments going up in the new town of Tseung Kwan O, which means the area is still evolving, but rents are considerably cheaper.  It lacks the charm of old Hong Kong, but the current amenities are good, and getting better all the time.

  • It’s quiet, organized, has green open spaces (especially at LOHAS Park) and some lovely water views.  
  • The French International School and Shrewsbury International School open new campuses here in August 2018

Tseung Kwan O

Ho Man Tin

Originally a settlement for Portuguese colonialists, Ho Man Tin has always had a strong expatriate flavor, while remaining loyal to its local roots.  Both convenient and accessible, it’s tipped for Hong Kong’s highest residential rent increases this year.

  • Close to the Kowloon Cricket Club with its wide range of sports facilities, and the King’s Park Sports Ground.
  • King George V School (ESF), the Australian International School and Kowloon Junior School are nearby

Tai Tam

Laid-back Tai Tam has some of the most beautiful ocean views on the Southside, but the advantage of being close to Stanley, with its bustling market and dining scene, and to the HKIS senior campus.

  • Accommodation is roughly divided between large high-rises like The Manhattan or Pacific View, and spacious townhouses with gardens, such as the luxury developments in Redhill
  • It’s a long drive around the winding coastal road, but there’s an alternative, faster route to the city, past Shek O and Chai Wan.

Tai Tam Hong Kong

Shouson Hill

Shouson Hill has the look and feel of the Island’s Southside, but an enviable proximity to the city, beaches, golf club, and green trails.  Rents are rising fast, as a result of the new MTR South Island line.

  • Within easy reach of several international schools, including South Island (ESF), Kellett’s Pokfulam campus and HKIS
  • Larger, colonial-style apartments are fast disappearing in favour of new-build housing complexes and apartment blocks.
  • There is one supermarket on Shouson Hill, but shops and amenities are close by in Repulse Bay or Wan Chai

Kowloon Tong

The grandiose colonial houses in leafy Kadoorie Avenue are the stuff of legend, but there are good value low-rise apartments here too, and an eclectic mix of expatriate and local residents.  The problem is finding property – new listings get snapped up fast.

  • A peaceful neighborhood, with proximity both to international schools and excellent transport links.
  • Cinemas, supermarkets, shops and amenities are close by in luxury shopping malls including Festival Walk, Elements and Olympic Station

West Kowloon

Hong Kong’s fastest developing district, spearheaded by skyscraper International Commerce Center (ICC) has been designed to mirror the high-end shopping and residential complexes across the water, on Hong Kong Island.

  • Some of the most luxurious apartment buildings in the city are here, but there’s a good mix of new and old high-rise apartment complexes
  • Once the long-slated West Kowloon Cultural District is completed, the area will become the city’s prime arts and culture hub

West Kowloon

North Point

The old district of North Point is not a traditional expatriate destination, but there’s no denying its unique local character and its convenience: businesses continue to relocate here, and it’s close to Central.

  • There are quieter streets with good value rentals, behind the bustle of busy King’s Road
  • Convenient for the Chinese International School in Braemar Hill
  • Excellent transport links with buses, trams and MTR servicing the area, easy access to Kowloon, and right next to the shopping mecca of Causeway Bay

South Lantau

South Lantau used to be a sleepy backwater, but all that is changing with the arrival of some sleek contemporary housing developments, and the opening of the new bridge to Macau.

  • Only residents are allowed to drive, but regular buses go to Tung Chung (MTR) and the ferry piers at Mui Wo, with frequent services to Central.
  • The island is an athlete’s paradise, with beautiful swimming beaches, miles of cycle and running trails, and a couple of spectacular hikes (Sunset Peak and Lantau Peak)

South Lantau

Discovery Bay

Self-contained expatriate enclave Discovery Bay, attracts devotees and naysayers in equal numbers.  But everyone agrees it’s a safe and clean place to bring up kids, with lots of open space and a big community feel.

  • Property prices are still competitive, and everything you need is on-site, from schools (Discovery Bay International School is here) to shops, services, restaurants and bars
  • Some complain about feeling isolated, but the ferry to Central takes 30 minutes, and runs 24 hours.  No cars are allowed, and residents use golf carts, bicycles and buses.

Tuen Mun

This coastal neighborhood mushroomed in popularity after Harrow International School opened in 2013.  Today, the scenic Gold Coast has a lively expatriate community, new housing developments, and a thriving restaurant/bar scene.

  • Shopping malls like V City have a variety of retail outlets, including Gap, Zara and upscale grocery store Marketplace
  • Green outdoor space in abundance, including mountain bike trails, artificial lakes and reptile parks
  • It’s 50 minutes by MTR to Tuen Mun, or a 25-minute beautiful coastal drive from Central

Tuen Mun

Sai Kung

Sai Kung has morphed from sleepy fishing village into a lively, bustling town.  The authentic seafood restaurants are still there, but sleek new organic shops, boutiques, bars and eating places are sprouting up rapidly.

  • Limited transport links have traditionally made Sai Kung a cheaper option for expatriates, but rents are rising, and commuter traffic into the village is very busy
  • Properties are generally village houses (many renovated) and apartment complexes
  • Green open spaces and the enormous country park are a big draw for families with children

Where to live in Hong Kong Sai Kung

Clearwater Bay

There’s no shopping complex in Clearwater Bay, but residents say the breathtaking vistas and leafy green spaces more than make up for it – and point out it’s only 20 minutes drive to Sai Kung, or 30 minutes to Central.

  • An outdoor paradise for families, with beaches, stables, hiking trails and the picturesque Clearwater Bay Country Club within easy reach
  • Transport links are limited and most residents have cars, although the MTR serves Hang Hau – and then a taxi/bus
  • Properties are generally village houses and older apartment complexes

Where to live in HkClearwater Bay

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