On Hong Kong Island, apartment dwelling is the norm and very few people live in houses. Typical Hong Kong apartments are one level with a combined living-dining room, kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms. Most apartments in Hong Kong come equipped with a maid’s rooms while the larger apartments which are typically bigger than 1500 sq.ft have balconies, outdoor terraces and utility rooms.
Apartments of all sizes are available in Hong Kong, from the very small studio rooms to duplex penthouse accommodation. While the bigger properties have one to three/four bedrooms, the majority of apartments in Hong Kong are very small and the bedrooms are barely big enough to accommodate a western sized double bed. Since land in Hong Kong is in short supply very often sky-scrapers are often erected on really small parcels of land, buildings are very angular with sharp edges and this is reflected in the shape of the dwellings which don’t have clean, straight lines but have oddly, shaped “wonky” rooms.
Managed properties are extremely popular in Hong Kong and many of the new apartment complexes have residents’ clubhouses, facilities and services like shuttle buses. These often include outdoor swimming pools and children’s playgrounds with some of the bigger complexes offering indoor pools, sports facilities, restaurants and even bowling alleys. Such buildings also offer security services and residents are often required to show authorized passes or input pin codes in order to enter the building. There is a management fee for all these services but this is usually included in the rental price. Needless to add these newer, fully outfitted developments are highly coveted by most expats due to the fact that unless you are very senior in your organization, you can’t avail of corporate membership to Hong Kong’s many colonial-era clubs.
Older-style apartments tend to be low-rise and more spacious than the contemporary apartment blocks, but generally lack the facilities and services that are available at the latter. Many of them, however, do have outdoor swimming pools. They also tend to have more dated interiors. These apartments also usually have security services but the provisions may not be as sophisticated as those in the newer developments.
Townhouses are usually small developments of about 20 to 30 houses. Due to land space restrictions, these are generally built over four or five levels, sometimes with a small private garden or a usable flat roof. They vary greatly in size from around 2,000 sqft to over 5,000 sqft. The larger ones usually have a separate dining or family room or study, with three or four bedrooms and bathrooms. A number of developments share communal pool facilities, and the larger or more expensive ones may also have tennis, squash courts or a clubhouse.
While the majority of townhouses in Hong Kong are on the older side, some of the new apartment developments also have a number of large townhouses with their own outdoor whirlpools, swimming pools and barbecue platforms.
Houses and Villas
A private detached home is a real luxury in Hong Kong and is unattainable for the majority of people here due to the high rental and purchase prices. On Hong Kong Island, these properties which are found on the Peak and on the South side of the Island are reserved for the very wealthy and high ranking executives. These homes often have their own grounds hidden behind high walls. Most of these homes have elaborate security systems in place but even they sometimes fall victim to burglaries and petty crimes.
Villas are more common on some of the outlying islands, such as Lamma, Discovery Bay and in the New Territories in areas such as Sai Kung. Houses in these locations are much more accessible and placed on the market at reasonable prices. The majorities of these are slightly dated and will not have all the modern conveniences of the apartment complexes, but they do offer outdoor space and more spacious living.
In recent years, new houses and villas have begun to appear in the New Territories close to the mainland border. These are usually of a high quality with new appliances and fixtures and though they are easily accessible from the Kowloon, getting into Hong Kong island can involve an hour long trek.