12 Mar 2019 | Veronica
Hong Kong’s real estate is famous for being some of the most expensive globally.
So how do English teachers make it work?
Read on for ESLTeachers’ recommended steps for finding your home in the city, as well as answers to the most common questions for finding accommodation in Hong Kong!
Step 1. PRE-ARRIVAL: Book short term accommodation (2 weeks to 1 month).
Use this time to adjust to the jetlag, get to know the city and different areas, and most importantly – to meet people! Take note: rooms in Hong Kong will always be smaller than what the pictures showed. Don’t lock yourself into anything for too long without seeing it!
Step 2. POST-ARRIVAL: Find longer term accommodation for your stay.
If you are planning to stay in Hong Kong only until the end of your teaching contract, continuing in short term accommodation will be the most convenient with fewer costs up front.
If you are planning to stay in Hong Kong for at least a full year, look into longer term options such as signing a lease. Plan for the start up costs and read your contract carefully!
1) When should I start looking for a flat in Hong Kong?
If you’re in Hong Kong already, it’s a great idea to browse a few flats in the areas you want to live as early as possible. This will help give you an idea of market prices.
However, like everything in Hong Kong, housing works at an extremely fast pace so you don’t need to start looking seriously more than 2 weeks-1 month in advance. If a flat is empty, agents want it filled immediately. When you do see a great flat you’ll have to be ready to say yes within a few short hours, if not on the spot!
2) How do I find a flat in Hong Kong?
Don’t underestimate the power of networks in Hong Kong! The city is transient and people are used to friends coming and going. To find the true gems, start by asking people you’ve met if anyone knows of a room opening up!
Short Term (1-6 months)
Facebook: search for any combination of the words flat share/ housing/flats/accommodation in Hong Kong on Facebook. There are 5-10 different groups that post a range of short to medium term rentals. Hong Kong is a very transient city for expats so you will find posts for lease transfers, empty rooms in well established flat shares, ‘no-agent fee’ rentals, etc.
Wing Kong: Great as a no-frills starting place. The quality of roommates and flat vary.
Apple Dorm: Not recommended for longer than absolutely necessary, but cheap to start off in a pinch. Single rooms just barely fit the size of a bed.
Weave Co-Living: Part of a growing trend in Hong Kong. Small rooms with added benefits of a rooftop, communal areas, and social events.
Tane Residences (for couples): Serviced flat, some with basic kitchenette and private or shared bathroom. Good for a short term start for couples. On the higher end of the market if you are one person.
Room Go: Previously called EasyRoommate. This site is a hit or a miss, and has small fees for but worth checking.
Medium Term (1-2 year lease)
Standard leases in Hong Kong last for 2 years. The first year is generally fixed (you cannot break lease) and the second year is flexible (both landlord and tenant may end the lease with 1 months notice).
When you are looking to sign a lease, there are two main places to start:
1) Use a Housing Agent.
Housing Agents in Hong Kong will typically work within two or three neighborhoods each. Ask any friends or connections if they have an agent they would recommend. Alternatively, use a website like 28Hse to get in touch with an agent (not all flats will be posted online), or walk into any housing agency in the neighborhood. If the neighborhood is more local, bring along a Cantonese-speaking friend to help.
2) Facebook. Search for any combination of the words flat share/ housing/flats/accommodation in Hong Kong on Facebook. There are 5-10 different groups that post a range of short to medium term rentals. In particular, there are some groups that only allow “no agent fee” posts.
3) How expensive is rent in Hong Kong?
Flats in Hong Kong range drastically, from HK5000/month to more than HK150 000+ monthly.
Generally, teachers pay in the range of HK 5000- HK 8000 monthly for rooms in shared accommodation.
Joining a flat share has added benefits of larger communal areas (including a kitchen), and lower start up costs (often include furniture already, and the deposit amount may be negotiable).
HK 7000-8500 can be expected for a small studio flat, depending on the area. Having complete privacy comes at the cost of less space for this price – and may not have a kitchen or kitchenette.
NOTE: You should always look at a flat in person, or have someone you trust go to look, before signing anything longer than a month or two.
4) How much money do I need to pay up front for a flat in Hong Kong?
Joining a flatshare or short term accommodation usually requires 1-2 month’s rent up front.
1 month – first month’s rent
1 month – deposit (sometimes negotiable)
Signing a lease usually requires 3.5 month’s rent up front.
2 months = first and last month
1 month = security deposit
.5 month = agent fees
*Don’t forget; if your room comes unfurnished you will also need to plan for furniture costs. Check facebook groups before you hit Ikea – often someone is leaving and selling all of their furniture!
5) What area should I live in?
The Top 4 Areas for Teachers:
Yau Tsim Mong (Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan, Yau Ma Tei, Mongkok, Prince Edward). Place of choice for most teachers on a budget. It’s the geographical center of Hong Kong, so you can easily get anywhere in the city. But be ready for chaos – the sidewalks are very crowded and there’s less English spoken here. Restaurants are open late, and flats are never too far from an MTR station.
New Territories (Tai Po, Tseung Kwan O, Tuen Mun) If you know your school location and want a more peaceful location near nature, flats in the new territories tend to be larger and cheaper. This is a good option if you are looking for a local neighbourhood feel and don’t mind commuting in for events in the city proper (most areas can land you in the city center within 45 minutes).
Hong Kong Island (Sheung Wan, Sai Ying Pun, Kennedy Town). If you’re looking for a more westernized area, this is the place of choice. Things are more expensive on this side (flats are smaller and more expensive, and restaurants charge more) but these areas are quieter and truly embody East meets West; you’ll find cute cafés next to Chinese medicine shops.
Lamma Island Lamma is a 30 minute ferry ride from Central. Your life will revolve around the ferry schedule, but flats here are bigger and cheaper. The car-free island has a more relaxed, hippy vibe to it. Those who live there tend to love it, but not recommended as your first place – move there after you know what your lifestyle will be like in the city before adding the ferry commute in.