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Choosing A Serviced Apartment: Hong Kong Neighbourhood Guide

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You’ve just been notified by your company head office that your application for the job at the Hong Kong office has been approved and you are excited about the move to Asia.

If you have never visited Hong Kong, you are no doubt spending hours online searching for information on your soon to be new hometown. You are probably looking for the lowdown on nightlife and restaurants, or if you are fitness buff you are investigating the gym scene as well as hiking opportunities.

You have probably heard that rents in Hong Kong are the highest in the world and, as expected, your initial apartment searches have yielded very small properties with very big monthly rents.

On the positive side, Hong Kong is a very busy city and expats work very long hours. They also tend to spend a great deal of time socializing after work hours, so the accommodation issue need not be a huge drama because you’ll mostly only ever be in your apartment to sleep.

A smaller apartment means fewer and smaller rooms to clean! (assuming you don’t have a domestic helper).

And the best thing about living in a small Hong Kong apartment for a few years is that no matter where you live after you depart Hong Kong, any apartment or house will feel massive!
The one thing Hong Kong property agents will not tell you!

Many expats charge into Hong Kong, seek out a property agent, prance around town looking at apartments, and excitedly sign a two-year lease, move in their belongings and shortly afterwards conclude that they have chosen to live in the wrong part of town.

Perhaps the location is not convenient for getting to work, or it may be a hassle getting back home after a big night on the town. At this point, home sweet home doesn’t feel so sweet; it feels like a prison cell and the sentence is two years with no chance of early parole.

But fortunately, you have hooked a very useful document as you troll the internet for information and tips about moving to Hong Kong and you are now aware of the pitfalls of committing to an apartment before you know your way around the city.

The secret to finding an outstanding apartment in Hong Kong is to rent a serviced apartment or a long-stay hotel suite for a month or two when you arrive in the city.

Make use of your time in short-term accommodation to meet people and work colleagues who will provide you with insights about where to live in Hong Kong based on their experience.

For instance, many new expats arriving in Hong Kong are captivated by living on one of the outlying islands. Rents are cheaper, the air is usually cleaner and there are plenty of green spaces. For most expats, particularly those without children, the bloom goes off the romance of island living after about 6 months of being a slave to the ferry schedule.

There is nothing more soul-sapping that having a few drinks late in the evening and not being able to jump in a cab and be delivered to your doorstep. Nope, when you live on an outlying island you get delivered to the ferry terminal, and you need to be there on schedule, or you get to sit and wait for up to an hour for the next boat. And then you are looking at up to 45 minutes on the boat, depending on which island you live on, and possibly a bus ride, before you reach your doorstep.

But if you live in a serviced apartment or long-stay hotel, and you ask people for their opinions on where to live, you might have been alerted to the downside of island living.

By not rushing into a long-term lease you also get the chance to explore the many unique Hong Kong neighbourhoods and get a feel for each of them.

We’ve compiled a guide to the most popular Hong Kong neighbourhoods in Hong Kong and Kowloon along with the serviced apartment and long-stay hotel options.
Midlevels/Central
You are either going to love this area or hate it. The haters generally point to the billions of tonnes of concrete, hundreds of kilometres of pavement and nearly complete lack of anything green. Those who love this area will regale you with tales of how convenient it is being within walking distance of their offices in the central business district. Or how you can just hop on the mid-levels escalator after a long day at the office and make a pit stop at one of the dozens of awesome Soho restaurants before jumping back on and being transported to your front step.

Midlevels/Central serviced apartment options include The Harmonium, Studio Plus, Urban Cube, City Loft, The Nest, Oootopia, The Harmonium and Dash.
Causeway Bay
If you like crowds, this is the district of Hong Kong for you. Causeway Bay is one of the most densely populated places on the planet and it is also one of Hong Kong’s premier shopping districts. And because shopping is Hong Kong’s favourite past time, this district swarms with masses of people during business hours. However, once the shops close for the day, Causeway Bay is one of the more tranquil places in Hong Kong.

Causeway Bay serviced apartment options include Apple Studio, Studiostudio, Urban Cube, Studio Plus, Dash Suites, Como Como, Apartment O, The Mercury, The Elgin, Atria, Hanlun Habitats, The Bauhinia, The Platinum, The Staunton, ACTS House, Four Seasons Place and Mori Mori.
Happy Valley
This district of Hong Kong has neighbourhood pubs, hidden coffee shops, and some excellent restaurants giving it a real community feel. It is not difficult to understand why Happy Valley is one of the areas that expats prefer to settle in Hong Kong.

Happy Valley serviced apartment options include Eaton Residences, Happy Valley 88 and The Ellipsis.
Jardine’s Lookout
This leafy upscale district is situated on the hillside above Happy Valley and has superb views of the Hong Kong Harbour. Jardine’s Lookout is a quiet residential area comprising houses and both high-rise and low-rise apartment buildings.

Jardine’s Lookout serviced apartment options include Kailash Apartments and Presidential Apartments.
Sheung Wan
This Hong Kong neighbourhood is adjacent to the Central Business district making it a very convenient location if you work in Central. Sheung Wan has maintained much of its character including the traditional Western Market and Dried Seafood Street where you can still see wholesale shops bursting with dried scallops, abalone and other products from the ocean. In recent years, some excellent restaurants have set up shop in Sheung Wan along with upscale art galleries.

Sheung Wan serviced apartments include Studiostudio, City Loft, B5 Serviced Apartments, and Metro Place.
Kennedy Town
Located to the west of the Sheung Wan, since the MTR subway line extended to this district a few years ago, Kennedy Town has slowly gentrified and is home to a wide choice of solid restaurants, coffee shops, galleries and independent shops. Yet it still has a feel of ‘old Hong Kong’.

Kennedy Town serviced apartments include Skyla and T-Residences.
North Point
Considered off-the-beaten-path in terms of expat neighbourhoods on Hong Kong island, North Point is only 3 stops past Causeway Bay, so not really that out of the way. This district is worth considering as rents will be lower than in more popular areas.

North Point serviced apartments include Victoria Harbour Residence and Studio Studio.
Pokfulam
This is another district of Hong Kong that has recently been connected to the MTR subway line making it a very convenient accommodation option. Pokfulam is a relatively quiet, very leafy neighbourhood and many of the apartments have spectacular harbour views.

Pokfulam serviced apartments include Rose Villas.
Quarry Bay
This district of Hong Kong is now considered a secondary business district with many tech firms and ad agencies having their offices here. As expected, a wide range of restaurants and bars have popped up to service the employees of these companies making Quarry Bay a great place to live.

Quarry Bay serviced apartments include The Harmonium.
Kowloon
Back in the day, expats shunned the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, cracking jokes about making sure to bring your passport if you ventured across the harbour. No longer. In recent years, Kowloon, particularly the Tsim Tsa Tsui district has evolved into another financial hub and a wide range of serviced accommodation options have emerged to cater to the finance professionals who want to live close to their offices.

Kowloon-side Serviced apartment and long-stay hotel options include City Loft, The Nest, Rosewood Residences, Dash, Oootopia, Hotel Cozi, The Nate, One Dundas, Madera Residences, The Humphreys, The Camphora, Gateway Apartments, The Harbour View Place, and K11 Artus.
Ask an Expat

If you have any questions about serviced apartments in HK, or about living and working in the city, please visit our Ask an Expat forum where thousands of expats are standing by to offer advice and answers.