Transport and Housing in Hong Kong
8th June, 2019
If you’re moving to Hong Kong, you need to know about where you’re going to live and how you’re going to get around. Here’s a quick guide to these two essentials of the expat experience.
Transport in Hong Kong
As the fourth most densely populated region in the world, it goes without saying that private transport isn’t really a good idea in Hong Kong. The benefit of all the population density in Hong Kong is that you don’t need a car—you can take advantage of the extensive and efficient public transport systems to move around the relatively small city space.
Here’s a rundown of Hong Kong’s transport options:
- MTR: The MTR is Hong Kong’s subway system, and it is one of the most extensive and efficient in the world. MTR stands for Mass Transit Railways systems, and it covers all the regions within Hong Kong and even has stops on the border with the mainland. It can even take you to the airport and Disneyland
- Buses and Minibuses: Buses offer a comfortable and air-conditioned ride around Hong Kong. Minibuses carry up to 19 people, with green buses operating along a fixed route at a fixed rate, with red minibuses allowing you to hop on and off at your chosen location
- Trams: These double-decker trams are both a tourist attraction and a cheap and easy way to get around. They’ve been serving Hongkongers for over 100 years, and if you get a seat on the top deck near a window, you’re in for a great ride
- Ferry: There are several ferry services that connect Hong Kong Island with Kowloon and the outlying islands
- Taxis: All taxis are metered and in abundance throughout the metropolitan area. They are also relatively cheap. You should visit this link for information on fares and the differences between red, blue and green taxis
The Octopus Card is a prepaid card that you can use to travel on public transport (similar to Melbourne’s Myki card or Sydney’s Opal card). You can also use it to make purchases in convenience stores, supermarkets, vending machines and even fast food restaurants.
Housing in Singapore
The Hong Kong housing market for both buying and renting is incredibly expensive. Australian expats will have to accept the fact that accommodation will be much smaller, and depending on where you have come from, you will be most likely paying more than at home.
Renting Property in Singapore
When it comes to renting property, the first thing you have to do is understand the types of properties that are available:
- Apartments: Most common type of housing, usually have a combined living and dining room, as well as bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and laundry facilities. Some may also include recreational facilities for tenants
- Townhouses: Only included in developments where zoning and height restrictions are in force. These are rare, but far more common than stand-alone houses
- Houses: Incredibly rare, but usually in excellent condition. However, not all of them include a kitchen
- Serviced apartments: Smaller apartments that usually carry minimum leases of three months. This type of housing includes studios, as well as one and two-bedroom options. These can often be compared to a hotel suite, with linen, crockery, cutlery and cooking utensils provided.
Here are some things to remember when choosing a rental property:
- Only move into a property that has an air conditioner, because the humidity makes them essential
- Make sure you choose a home that suits your income, or you’ll end up spending most of your salary on rent. For example, a three-bedroom apartment in the city could cost HK$44,000, while serviced apartments could cost between HK$18,000 and HK$20,000. Prices do drop significantly when you move outside the inner city, and with extensive public transport available throughout Hong Kong, this could be a good option
- Your rent will not be inclusive of a number of other fees, such as government rates, land rent, stamp duty and a management fee and these fees combined will usually add about 12% to 15% to your lease.
Buying Property in Singapore
Foreigners can purchase property in Singapore, but you need to understand the following:
- Real estate agents charge a commission of 1% to 2% of the sales price, and you will also need to hire a solicitor to make sure the purchase is conducted legally
- If you can prove that you are a long-time resident of Hong Kong, mortgages are available for up to 90% of the price of the property, depending on personal circumstances. However, to apply for a mortgage, you will need a Hong Kong identity card and proof of income
- There are several taxes and fees associated with buying a property that can increase the price:
- Agents and solicitor fees
- Stamp Duty (15% of purchase price)
- Ad Valorem Stamp Duty (between 1.5% and 8.5%, for non-permanent residents)
- Quarterly government rates
- Deed registration costs
- Property management fees.
If you are planning on moving with family read our guide on education & childcare and working in Hong Kong. Or if you are just an avid traveller exploring the nature and the concrete skyscrapers read our top 5 things to know when in Hong Kong.
If you’d like any further information about Hong Kong, or the relocation process, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly international removals team.