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Choosing a Furnished Apartment


Above: harbor front serviced apartments in Tsim Sha Tsui area with a view of the Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong Island skyline.

If you are looking for a furnished apartment in Hong Kong, most likely you're not planning on staying in Hong Kong long-term. In that case a serviced apartment is a good option (in addition to being furnished, cleaning service is provided in the package or as an option).

Here are some factors to consider when choosing one other than the price: location, view, and amenities.

Location

Proximity to work is probably one big consideration especially in Hong Kong since you'll probably be working long hours.

If your office is in Central district on Hong Kong Island, the most convenient would be living in Central, Admiralty, or Sheung Wan, the latter two being areas adjacent to Central. Since Central is the central business district of Hong Kong, it is the most expensive. East of Central, Admiralty is just one MTR stop away (or a few bus stops or tram stops away). With the Pacific Place mall and some nice hotels in the area, it is a nice modern and convenient area. Sheung Wan, located one MTR stop west of Central, has a different flavor. It is much more residential and local, complete with the shark's fin and bird's nest shops which have been there for decades. Typically housing prices are lower as well. But as time passes, there're more and more new buildings and apartments in the area. From either Admiralty or Sheung Wan, even a taxi ride is but HK$20 or so (~US$2.60). (Above left: an old buiding in Sheung Wan with a herbal tea shop on the ground floor.)

If you're working in an area other than Central, living close to an MTR station is a big plus. Besides, it gives you easier access to other parts of Hong Kong. However, in some cases you can catch a bus between home and work, without needing to fight the subway crowds.

Of course if you have a family with school-age children, that's a big factor to consider. (Check out our comments on choosing a school for your kids.)

Hong Kong Serviced Apartments map

serviced apartment hot spots
(updated 2011.3.24)

View

Unless you are independently wealthy or have a housing budget of HK$80,000 or more (~US$10,000), or unless you want to stay in a village house far away from the city, you will be staying in a condo or apartment rather than a stand-alone house - like just about everybody in Hong Kong. That means you get the "city view", sea view, hill view, or harbor view. With city view, it can mean that when you look out, you are staring at another apartment's living room. The other views are preferable, especially harborview. The price usually varies with the view and hence also the floor level.

Amenities

In furnished apartments, you'll probably get appliances like a stove (but not necessarily an oven), a water-heater (in the bathroom, maybe one more for ktichen), air-conditioners (but not necessarily heaters), refrigerator, and some furniture. For serviced apartments, you may not get a stove at all nor a ktichen - but mostly likely you will have a bathroom! Internet access is sometimes included, one of which with good access speed can cost you HK$200 a month on a 12-month contract if you get it on your own.

By definition cleaning is included for serviced apartments, but some makes it an option. So read the fine print! Furnished apartments probably don't include any such service.

If you work out at the gym regularly, then it would be good to check and see if the building or complex has a clubhouse, or if not just a gym. But beware that even though many newer condo complexes have a clubhouse, they may not have a pool. And the monthly fee may not be included in the rent. But then there're plenty of health and fitness centers you can join for a fee, a few chains in fact.

If you enjoy jogging outdoors, you can do that in Hong Kong as well, but then you might want to think twice after you see the pollution here. Nevertheless, other than the outlying islands and areas farther away from the city center, the Mid-Levels is probably a good choice for staying in since there are more trees and less crowds to run through.

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