There is little doubt that there is a lot on offer when faced with the thought of moving to Hong Kong
. Between the dazzling sights, the endless sense of adventure and the incredible level of entertainment that the Pearl of the Orient is famous for, it's no surprise that Hong Kong has become home to around half a million expat workers; according to GovHK, the foreign population of Hong Kong accounted for 8 percent of the 7.24 million population in 2014.
One of the first steps to any life-changing move overseas is, of course, finding a new home. Finding expat housing in Hong Kong is a relatively simple process, provided that you can manage your expectations - remember that the type of housing you’re used to in your home country may not be immediately available at an affordable budget in Hong Kong. The first step lies in answering the most obvious question – do you want to live on Hong Kong Island or do you want to live further afield?
Hong Kong is made up of more than 260 islands, with the largest and best known, being Hong Kong Island. While not all 260 are inhabitable, there are several islands you can choose from such as Lamma Island. Living on Hong Kong Island or on the Kowloon side (to the north) of course means you have the quickest and easiest access to all of the city’s amenities – the bars, restaurants and other forms of entertainment.
You’ll also have more access to newer, better-renovated properties that may be more in-line with your expectations. However, this of course, means that you'll be paying much higher rates when it comes to rent – in many cases the prices of rent on Hong Kong Island may simply be out of people's budgets. The flip side to Hong Kong’s high rent prices is the low level of tax that some pay on their income; while the rent is exorbitant, the two may balance themselves out in the long run.
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If however you're looking for a cheaper way of living in Hong Kong and don't mind adding a ferry to your morning commute, living on one of Hong Kong's smaller islands can help you get the most for your money. The older buildings on the smaller islands can often come with larger rooms at a lower price, though they may not be as immediately convenient when compared to life on Hong Kong Island.
Not only are they further away from the action, but in some cases the properties haven't had as many recent renovations as you may expect; some things which you may take for granted today, such as a modern kitchen with all your favourite utilities, may not come as standard on Hong Kong’s most outlying islands. Those who do choose to live on one of the outer islands, find their quieter lifestyle to be enjoyable.
The last thing to bear in mind when looking for a flat in Hong Kong is that many estate agents you talk to will be more than happy to show you everything they have, which could lead to you viewing multiple apartments you have zero interest in. This will often be a case of seeing a number of the least appealing apartments in the hopes that someone will eventually take them. Be firm but polite in your request to see a specific style of flat and your perseverance will eventually pay off.
When moving abroad, one of the things which people often wonder about is the notion of buying property. When moving to Hong Kong the cash downpayment needed to purchase a property is so incredibly high that it is simply not an option for most. Expats moving to Hong Kong need to live in the area for seven consecutive years before they gain 'Permanent Resident' status. Without PR status, expats are liable for an extra Buyer Stamp Duty (BSD) of 15% on the transaction price.
This is on top of the cash down payment on your mortgage which will be between 30-50%, on a purchase price upwards of $25,000HKD/square foot. If you're looking to move to the area permanently, this may be an option to keep in mind for the future – however, while waiting for your PR status, renting is without a doubt the most cash-flow friendly way of finding expat housing in Hong Kong.