Accommodation in Hong Kong is expensive. In fact, real estate prices in Hong Kong are regularly ranked among the world's highest, so expats must budget carefully when it comes to finding their ideal home in the city.

Although there are various quality options, space is a limited commodity in Hong Kong, and apartments in the city-state tend to be small. Unless expats have large budgets to work with, they should be prepared to downsize. In particular, many expats struggle with tiny bedrooms at first.

Areas and suburbs in Hong Kong

Hong Kong by Annie Spratt from Unsplash

With 18 districts, Hong Kong offers its residents plenty of areas and suburbs from which to choose. Although homes in Hong Kong tend to be small, several areas and suburbs offer larger properties. However, this comes at a compromise, as most of these properties will be older builds. 

Kowloon Tong is one of the neighbourhoods offering larger properties in Hong Kong. Expats can find colonial-style houses, gated communities, and a wide range of good international schools here, making it the perfect district for families. Expat families will also love Jardine's Lookout and The Peak. 

Young professionals and single expats can explore neighbourhoods like Wan Chai, Mid-Levels, and West Kowloon. These neighbourhoods boast quick access to commercial centres or sought-after amenities such as shopping malls and restaurants. 

Read Areas and Suburbs in Hong Kong for more on the city-state's neighbourhoods. 

Types of accommodation in Hong Kong

Accommodation in Hong Kong can vary tremendously, but the rental market can largely be divided into ‘old’ and ‘new’.

Older accommodation is often a bit rough around the edges, but if tenants are willing to spend a bit of time making it feel like home, this could be a good, affordable option for people whose priority is space and a central location.

There are plenty of high-quality, modern apartments in the popular residential areas, but the luxurious lifestyle comes with a price tag and spaces are typically much smaller. Those on a budget who want to enjoy modern living should consider adding a few extra stops to their commute and look at some of the newer residential areas that are developing outside the Hong Kong city centre.

Furnished vs unfurnished

Most of the apartments in Hong Kong come unfurnished, with basic appliances and kitchen cabinets if they are fitted. Expats will usually find a stove, oven, washing machine, and sometimes a dishwasher. It's fairly simple for expats to find furniture, dishes, linen, and utensils at stores like IKEA. 

Those are looking for furnished apartments are better off searching in the serviced apartment and short-term rental market. These apartments will come with everything from beds, appliances to cutlery. 

Short lets

The short-term rental market in Hong Kong is booming. Expats who are in the country short-term or those who would like to explore different neighbourhoods before committing to a lease have the option to rent a serviced apartment or short-term rental on platforms like Airbnb. These apartments are often fully equipped with everything expats will need to enjoy their stay in Hong Kong. The cost will also typically include utilities like WiFi, electricity, and water at a lower cost than traditional hotels. 

Finding accommodation in Hong Kong

Due to the short-term nature of most expat assignments in Hong Kong, most new arrivals opt to rent rather than buy property.

For those who are not lucky enough to have their employer assist them in their search for a property in Hong Kong, the best option is to enlist the services of a reputable real-estate agent. These professionals have a comprehensive knowledge of the region’s property market and can help expats find something that meets their requirements in terms of size, quality, price, and location.

There are lots of online property portals and, while these are an excellent source of information, the fact is that desirable property in Hong Kong moves quickly. So often, by the time a prospective tenant enquires about a property listed on a portal, it has already been snapped up through an agent. Nevertheless, it's a good idea to use online resources to research the types, prices and availability of apartments in Hong Kong for an idea of what to expect before relocating.

Useful links

Renting accommodation in Hong Kong

Signing a lease

Making an application

Once expats have found a suitable home in Hong Kong, they will need to sign a provisional tenancy agreement and begin negotiations with their landlord. Those who are working with a real-estate will have their realtor facilitate discussions with the landlord. Expats will need to supply copies of their identity documents, employment letter and contract, and bank account information. Once negotiations are complete, expats and their landlords can then sign the official contract. 


Rental contracts in Hong Kong are generally for a two-year period, with a break clause after a year. Most landlords use a standard government lease in Hong Kong, which comes with a stamp duty tax. However, because they are allowed to add their own clauses, it is best to read through the contract carefully to ensure that there aren’t any hidden costs involved.


Two or three months’ rent is required as a security deposit, which will only be returned once the tenant vacates the property. Expats are encouraged to take a comprehensive inventory of the property, appliances, and furniture with their landlords at the beginning and end of their tenancy agreements to avoid being charged for possible damages beyond normal wear and tear. 


Utility bills are rarely included in the monthly rental fee, so expats will have to take these into account when planning a budget. Costs vary depending on usage and may differ from one service provider to the next. Most expats will need to set up their utilities unless they are staying in a serviced apartment. 

Moving checklist


Hong Kong Electric Holdings and China Light & Power supply the electricity in Hong Kong. Although these providers operate as two independent companies, their transmission networks are connected to ensure coverage in an emergency. To set up a new connection in their name, expats can complete an online form or download the form, fill it out and email it to Hong Kong Electric or China Light & Power's customer service team. Expats must do this at least a day before moving in to ensure they are connected.

They will also need to pay a deposit to get their connection started. Electricity bills are sent out monthly and are payable at ATMs and convenience stores or by mailing a cheque to the supplier. 


The process for connecting gas in Hong Kong is similar to the one for connecting electricity services. Towngas provides mains gas in the city-state, while residents in rural areas typically use bottled gas. Expats can fill out a form online or visit a Towngas customer service centre to transfer an account to their name. 

Newcomers to the city are encouraged to take meter readings when they move in and submit them to the utility provider to avoid being overcharged. They will then need to pay a security deposit which will cover their last bill when they deactivate their account. Gas bills are sent bimonthly and typically provide a breakdown of the monthly usage.


The drinking water in Hong Kong comes from China's Dongjiang River, and the supply is managed by the Water Supplies Department of the Water Authority. Expats can download an application form and submit to a local customer service office, along with their Hong Kong ID. Water bills are sent out quarterly. 

Bins and recycling

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department manages waste collection in Hong Kong. Private companies collect waste in commercial settings. Household waste in Hong Kong is collected daily at public waste collection points. Some residential housing units hire private companies to collect their waste and provide large bins for their residents. 

Residents are encouraged to sort their waste at the source and drop it off in separate bags at waste collection points. Green@Community operates 11 recycling stations, 77 recycling stores, and 210 recycling spots across Hong Kong. Individuals are encouraged to use these facilities to contribute to the city-state's sustainability efforts.

Useful links 

Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Health Insurance

Cigna Global Health Insurance.

Moving your family abroad can be intimidating, but learning about medical options such as family health insurance early on can help you settle successfully.

  • Comprehensive Family coverage, wherever you go
  • Paediatric coverage for well-child visits & immunizations
  • Access to dental and orthodontic care
  • 24/7 multilingual Customer Service

Get a quote from Cigna Global

Moving Internationally?

Sirelo logo

International Movers. Get Quotes. Compare Prices.

Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.

Get your free no-obligation quotes from select removal companies now!