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What it’s like to live in Happy Valley

Have you always been curious about what life is like living in Hong Kong as an expat? What the neighbourhoods, shops, and surrounding areas are like? Expat Living spoke to Kate from Sydney about living in Happy Valley.

The Healy-Smith family

The Specifics

What street do you live on? Ventris Road.

What’s the name of your neighbourhood? Happy Valley.

Closest MTR station? Causeway Bay.

How long have you lived here? Four years.

Why here? Happy Valley has a great village atmosphere. Many of our friends live here and we love the sense of open space and the feeling of being a little removed from the craziness of Hong Kong.

The Scene

When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is: A school, a church and trees.

The closest store to your front door is: French bakery Maison Eric Kayser.

Your neighbours are great, but you wouldn’t mind a little less: Tooting of horns! When are drivers going to learn that it’s not appropriate to press down on the horn until traffic moves again?

The unofficial uniform of your street is: Active-wear!

If a celebrity moves in next door, it will most likely be: A Cantonese star that I wouldn’t recognise.

When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you: Head to a restaurant called Dim Sum The Art of Chinese Tit Bits; it has great ambience and traditional Chinese style.

If you’re missing home, you: Hong Kong is home for us. If we are missing family and friends from Australia, we jump on a plane and head down to Oz for an injection of clean air, open space, family fun and that laidback Aussie way of life.

A mandatory stop for taking out-of-town guests is: Tam Kung and Tin Hau Temple at the end of the street, and the Happy Valley races.

You’d swap houses in a second with: Richard Branson. He has quite the property portfolio, which would give us a lot of choice to explore the globe. First stop, Necker Island!

A common myth about your neighbourhood is: Many people think that Happy Valley is mainly for families and for people with dogs. It’s true that HV is great for families and dogs, but there is far more to the neighbourhood, including an active sport culture.

If you’re ever woken up at night, it’s almost always due to: Birds, trams, sirens or roaring Ferraris zooming by.

A massive late-night rager on your street is likely to involve: Crowds outside The Jockey and Happy Valley Bar & Grill trying to find their way home.

Happy Valley: Overlooking the racetrack at night.
Overlooking the race track at night

The superlatives

Your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joints are:

  • Happy Valley Bar & Grill (our local pub where we watch the world go by and invariably run into a mound of friends – a quick drink often turns into an “afternoon session”!)
  • The pool on the podium of our complex
  • St Germain (Parisian brasserie)

You won’t find better local food than at: Pang’s Kitchen (one Michelin star) or Dim Sum The Art of Chinese Tit Bits.

The strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street is: Being so close to Hong Kong stadium we have seen some very creative dress-up outfits during the 7s weekend.

The best bargains in your neighbourhood are: Fresh fruit and veggies from the Happy Valley wet market.

The guiltiest pleasure in your area is: Anything sweet from Eric Kayser.

One thing you’d never change is: The village feel and sense of community.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is: We could live with one or two fewer estate agents, over-priced furniture shops … and learner drivers!

The city gives you $5 million to soup up your street. You use it to: Widen the road to make it two official lanes so that school buses and “drivers” don’t block the traffic. Plant more trees.

Why should your neighbourhood be featured in a guidebook? Happy Valley is well known for the horse races but there is so much more to offer, including a chilled village atmosphere, hidden temples, great local food, pubs with alfresco seating, wide footpaths (for Hong Kong standards), parks and proximity to Causeway Bay. Nothing is inaccessible. It’s a hidden oasis on Hong Kong Island, well worth exploring.

Get more tips and advice in our Living in Hong Kong section!

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