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Housing in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Rental Market: An Overview
When you first start looking for a place to rent in Hong Kong, you might get sweaty palms when seeing the monthly rents for high-end apartments – the Hong Kong rental market is one of the reasons the cost of living here is so high. Still, there are a number of less pricey options available.
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Types of Property
There are different kinds of property available on the Hong Kong rental market, which offer a range of luxuries and services. You have to decide for yourself which you would prefer (or can afford).
- Apartments usually offer a combined living-and-dining room as well as a laundry and utilities room, in addition to bedrooms, a bathroom and kitchen. This is the most common type of accommodation. Some apartments have balconies or access to a flat roof. Modern developments sometimes offer recreational facilities that all tenants are allowed to use. Appliances are sometimes, but not always, provided.
- Townhouses are usually only built in developments where height or zoning restrictions apply. Due to the lack of space available for development, townhouses are rare, but are more common than stand-alone houses.
- Houses for rentare quite rare in Hong Kong. They are usually in good condition but unfurnished. Not all of them are equipped with a kitchen.
- Serviced apartments are usually smaller apartments with a minimum lease of three months. There is a wide choice of serviced apartments available: studios as well as places with one or two bedrooms. The rent is often a good indicator of the apartment’s condition. The standards of living can be those of an international hotel suite, with linen, cutlery, crockery and cooking utensils provided.
Which type of property suits you best depends on your expectations, family situation and the duration of your stay. Your income will also be a factor – some of the apartments on the Hong Kong rental market are only affordable for a very small group of people.
Remember that air conditioning is essential in Hong Kong. Most places you will find when searching for a place to rent will have air conditioning, but in some cases your landlord will expect you to take care of the installation. Make sure to ask about air conditioning when looking at an apartment and before signing the tenancy agreement.
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Rental Costs and Fees
One of the downsides of living in the city is that the cost of rent is among the highest in the world. Due to the high demand for high-class developments and lack of space, rent in Hong Kong is constantly going up. In 2014, Hong Kong was one of the top ten most expensive cities in the world, with an average monthly rent of HKD 44,000 for a three-bedroom apartment in the city center. Serviced apartments cost between HKD 18,000 and HKD 200,000 per month, depending on the size and standard. Housing prices drop significantly outside of the city center, and as public transportation is good, this may be a good option for some expats.
Rental agreements usually exclude a number of other fees you have to take care of. You should expect additional costs of 12-15% of your rent in taxes and fees.
- Government rates are a form of property tax on leased property. They amount to 5.5% of the approximate annual rental value.
- Government land rent: In some districts, properties are subject to the government land rent, which is 3% of the rateable value.
- Government stamp duty is a kind of tax to be paid for all tenancy agreements by the landlord and the tenant in equal parts.
- Management fee: This fee varies depending on where you live and the services provided by the facility management. Generally speaking, the management fee covers the cost of different communal services such as cleaning, maintenance, and security.