Hong Kong is infamous for its housing situation. Looking for a place to stay that can accommodate a smaller budget can be incredibly challenging for expats and people who are just recently migrating to the area. Before you commit, you need to make sure that you are comfortable with paying a considerable chunk of your income towards rent and utilities.
The price of rent depends on where you plan on staying. If you want a spot in the Peak area, which is known for its high-rise infrastructures, then you can expect to pay more than $100,000 HKD or $12,700 USD for a three-bedroom apartment.
Other areas like Discovery Bay or the Mid-Levels will go for $40,000 to $50,000 HKD, or $5,100 to $6,300 USD. They are a hit with expats and immigrants who have traveled to Hong Kong with their families. This is because these neighborhoods are close to expat schools and tight-knit expat communities.
For more information on how to look for the best accommodation options in Hong Kong, read on to find out more about programs that can help with the cost of housing and quick considerations to make throughout the process.
Programs to Help With the Cost of Housing
Throughout the years, Hong Kong has launched, paused, and relaunched several projects to help expatriates, immigrants, and citizens find good housing options. Make sure to get in touch with the relevant government authorities to ensure these programs are still open for application.
Public Rental Housing
This is Hong Kong’s chief housing program for citizens who are unable to afford private rental housing. It follows a quota and points system for applicants, and people aged between 18 and 57 years are welcome to test their eligibility. Applicants with more points are given higher priority.
Home Ownership Scheme
The Home Ownership Scheme is a subsidized-sale programme that was created in the late 1970s. The government policy that launched the program had two goals: to encourage more financially stable tenants of rental flats to vacate their flats, so that it could be reallocated to families who had a greater housing need; and also to give more families an opportunity own a home.
Tenants Purchase Scheme
This program allowed tenants in public housing estates to purchase their flats. The price was at a much lower rate than the market prices of private flats and properties under the Home Ownership Scheme. While the Tenants Purchase Scheme was terminated in 2006, existing tenants in TPS estates can still choose to purchase the flat they live in.
Flat for Sale Scheme
In the late 80s, the Hong Kong Government started developing housing units that they sold at concessionary prices to tenants in rental estates and eligible applicants of the Government’s Home Ownership Scheme (HOS). For more information on flats sold under this scheme, approach the Housing Society or the Home Ownership Center.
Sandwich Class Housing Scheme
In the early 1990s, the Sandwich Class Housing Scheme was developed by the Hong Kong Housing Society. It offered apartments to middle-class families, otherwise known as the “sandwich class,” at concessionary prices, and all purchases were subject to a five-year resale restriction.
The difference between the Sandwich Class Housing Scheme and the Home Ownership Scheme or the Flat for Sale Scheme is that owners under the former need to pay a land premium before they can put their properties up for sale in the second-hand property market.
Harmonious Families Priority Scheme/Transfer Exercise
The housing department launched the Harmonious Families Priority Scheme to encourage a family-based support network for the people of Hong Kong. This scheme gives Public Rental Housing tenants the opportunity to apply and transfer to the same estate where their elderly parents or offspring are in. This set-up allows them to live together and mutually care for each other.
What to Consider For Housing in Hong Kong
Due to the limited space, apartment towers are the most common form of housing. This is evident in the number of skyscrapers that grace the Hong Kong skyline. Rentals are payable monthly in advance and when you’ve just moved in, you will need to factor in an upfront deposit of two to three months’ rent.
Most rental accommodations will be handed over unfurnished. However, they will often include appliances. Make sure to clarify the set-up with your landlord beforehand. Appliances can be pricey and it may be worth shelling out a little extra for a place that comes with its own refrigerator, washing machine, and cooking range.
Aside from the cost of rent, you will also need to pay management fees and government taxes. This could easily add an additional 12 to 15 percent on top of rental costs.
Hong Kong is famous for having serious housing challenges—and yet, it remains a top destination for many foreigners, for both business and pleasure. The government is constantly at work to provide the best options for everyone in the area, so if moving to Hong Kong is something you’ve always wanted to do, don’t let the rumors stop you from making your dream a reality!