Areas and Suburbs in Hong Kong
There are a number of popular residential areas for expat accommodation in Hong Kong, each catering to distinct lifestyle preferences. Families with young children tend to favour the southern part of Hong Kong Island, while single expats and young couples prefer the Mid-Levels area. More affluent expats often rent an expensive apartment or a townhouse in the Peak.
Areas and suburbs in Hong Kong Island
Wan Chai is a cross between a major commercial district and a trendy residential area. It boasts a great selection of hotels, shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, as well as a full range of accommodation types. Rental options in Wan Chai range from budget digs to luxurious serviced apartments. There are many cheap clothing stores to browse in Wan Chai, and tasty bargains to be found at the outdoor food market.
Single expats and young couples in Hong Kong enjoy living in the Mid-Levels, an area just above Central and Wan Chai, and just below The Peak. This area is popular among young expats due to its close proximity to the city centre and the nightlife of Soho and Lan Kwai Fong. The Mid-Levels is also a good area for expat families as there are good private schools nearby, as well as outdoor attractions such as the Zoological and Botanical Gardens. The extraordinary Central-Mid-Levels Escalator, the world's longest outdoor escalator, runs from here to the city centre.
Expats looking for more reasonably priced accommodation and a sense of integration with the local population should consider renting in the residential area running from Tin Hau to North Point. Although this neighbourhood doesn’t have any large-scale shopping malls, it does have supermarkets, traditional wet markets and a few good restaurants for expats to enjoy. The well-priced apartments in this area are also generally in good condition.
Contrary to its name, Repulse Bay is certainly an attractive area, although some may be put off by the high rental prices. The neighbourhood is inhabited by a number of wealthy Hong Kong businessmen and their families. This is an idyllic location for expat families who are attracted to its pleasant, palm-fringed beach and the close proximity to international schools. Those who live in Repulse Bay will need a car, as there is no MTR stop.
Situated just down the coastline from Repulse Bay, Stanley is a slightly more affordable, but no less popular, option for expats. The area has a charming village appeal, but can get busy during tourist season. Western-style restaurants and cafés are common, and a Western-style supermarket and church are also present. As in Repulse Bay, expats living here will need a car.
Not only is the Peak the highest locale on Hong Kong Island, it is also the most affluent residential area. Height restrictions have ensured that the low-rise buildings don’t detract from the beautiful views, nor do they block any of the cool evening breezes that caress the neighbourhood. Many housing complexes on the Peak offer communal swimming pools, tennis courts and gymnasiums, and there are also lovely walks to be had in the area. In contrast to Mid-Levels, where high-rise apartment living is the norm, the Peak claims townhouses and single family homes.
Happy Valley is an upmarket Hong Kong neighbourhood favoured by many expats, and is most renowned for the famous Happy Valley Racecourse, as well as its close proximity to the shopping and nightlife hub of Causeway Bay. Happy Valley offers a range of accommodation for expats, from classic low-rise complexes to tall, modern apartment buildings. There are also a number of short-term serviced apartments available for expats to rent in Happy Valley. Those who prefer a little quieter and green space, but who’d also like to be close to the energy of the city centre, would do well to find accommodation in this area.
Jardine’s Lookout is an exclusive residential area located on the mountain above Happy Valley. This area is home to an elite community living in large detached houses and luxurious apartment complexes. Jardine’s Lookout has plenty of useful amenities for expats to use, as well as a beautiful landscape of wooded hills and great views over Victoria Harbour. There are also international schools nearby for the children of expat families to attend.
Areas and suburbs in Kowloon
The Kowloon peninsula, on the tip of mainland China, is the area just north of Hong Kong Island and just south of the New Territories.
Though expats previously regarded the Kowloon peninsula as an inconvenient and less developed place to live, perceptions have changed, and these days many expats are making one of the many high-rise apartments of West Kowloon home. Most of the newer complexes have superb facilities and fantastic communal amenities, but the older apartment blocks will not come so well serviced. Shopping centres abound, including Dragon Centre and Elements, which stocks imported food. The MTR connects to the area, and provides a quick commute into town.
Many expat families have also begun to settle in Kowloon Tong, as it plays host to a handful of well-respected international schools. Furthermore, accommodation featuring a rarity in Hong Kong, space, is also more readily available amid its quiet neighbourhoods. Colonial-style houses, low-rise apartments and a smattering of gated communities make up this high-end residential area. Kowloon Tong is serviced by Festival Walk, a ritzy shopping centre, and is connected to the city centre by the MTR.
Areas and suburbs in The New Territories
The New Territories of Hong Kong includes the area from the north of Kowloon to the south of mainland China, as well as over 200 islands. Historically, the area was seen as the antidote to Hong Kong Island’s busy city life, though rapid development in the New Territories means that, in some areas, this is no longer the case.
Sai Kung Town
Sai Kung, a small fishing village, is a popular place for expats and locals alike, and it’s easy to see why people love it. Seafood restaurants line the streets, and the area's many park benches allow viewers to gaze out over the ocean and admire the mountains while watching fishermen sell the day’s catch. On weekends, expats often hire boats to one of the many surrounding islands to enjoy the clean beaches, swimming and diving.
Much of the quaint town centre is closed to all but pedestrian traffic, and it can be a fantastic place to stroll with one's children. Included in Sai Kung is the Sai Kung East Country Park, which is a haven for backpackers, parasailers, hikers, cyclists and campers.
The primary drawback to living in Sai Kung is trying to commute to Hong Kong Island. Sai Kung is not on the MTR line, thus those expats making the daily mission for work will find themselves embroiled in a lengthy process.
Apart from that fact though, many expats choose to live in Sai Kung for its close proximity to good schools. Additionally, expats often find that the hassle of travelling to work is offset by the cheaper accommodation and greener scenery.
Lantau Island, an enormous chunk of land, is more than twice the size of Hong Kong Island and is home to Disneyland, the Hong Kong International Airport and the Lantau South Country Park, the largest country park in Hong Kong. There are also many residential spots on Lantau, including Discovery Bay, a popular place for expats to live.
Lantau Island is significantly greener than Hong Kong Island, and strict ordinances help curb development and maintain the aesthetic appeal. Even though more commercial ventures and housing projects are present nowadays, the island is still relatively sparsely populated. Many expats find life in Discovery Bay to be quite pleasant, though others find it has a bit of a contrived feel to it, and prefer to live in a place that feels more “authentic.”
Most people living on Lantau Island have to travel off the island for work. Thankfully, it is well-connected to the mainland via the MTR line and by frequent ferry services.