Where to Live in Hong Kong (in 2020-21) – An Expat’s Guide

View from Ozone Bar

A Complete Guide for Hong Kong Newbies – Where to Live in Hong Kong?

This wasn’t exactly a post I expected to be writing but then, has anything gone the way we expected in 2020? Having apartment and hotel hopped throughout the year of 2020 I feel now is a great opportunity to share where to live in Hong Kong.

Then Hong Kong Skyline, from our Tin Hau Hotel
Then Hong Kong Skyline, from our Tin Hau Hotel

Having moved to Hong Kong in early 2020, we fully expected to grab a short-term serviced apartment, and then find a long-stay rent somewhere that appealed to us during our first three months.

Instead the reality is we’ve now lived in five different hotels/apartments, in four different locations. Well qualified to answer the questions where to live in Hong Kong I believe!

FIRST THINGS FIRST – Hong Kong is Asia’s most expensive city. The thing that comes out more expensive than anything. RENT. There is simply no hiding from it. Hong Kong rent, absolutely sucks and what’s worse, apartment sizes here are generally far smaller than what you may well be used to.

It’s quite simple, if you want the square meters, you have to pay for them. I hope you’ve got deep pockets!

There are hacks and ways around it, but it requires sacrifice simply put.

As with any big city – head towards the suburbs, and things get cheaper. House share and things get cheaper, and so on.

Also worth mentioned, of course this can vary completely depending on your situation. Are you a family of four, are you young and single, are you a working couple, are you retired. These factors will heavily influence your decision also.

For each location we’ll rate the location out of 5, but remember this is just our opinion ๐Ÿ™‚

So here’s our guide on the areas of Hong Kong and what comes with them.

WHERE TO LIVE IN HONG KONG – Sheung Wan

WHERE TO LIVE IN HONG KONG – Wan Chai

WHERE TO LIVE IN HONG KONG – Kennedy Town

WHERE TO LIVE IN HONG KONG – Tai Hang

WHERE TO LIVE IN HONG KONG – Happy Valley

WHERE TO LIVE IN HONG KONG – Stanley

SPOILER – These locations all have one thing in common. They are located on Hong Kong Island – Hong Kong’s most expensive area!

Why you may ask, would you pick the most expensive location?

Simply put – the lifestyle, for us, was just so much better there. Although we loved the Royal Plaza hotel in Mongkok (based on the main land part of Hong Kong, meaning busy corner in Cantonese, says it all, right), Hong Kong Island life is just superior.

You have to balance the costs and your lifestyle, because island life is far from cheap, but if your wages and budget allow it… live on the Island. It’s hugely diverse and there are some amazing spots to discover, some bustling with people, others hidden gems.

Four of the six locations are all based on the Hong Kong Island Line (the blue line) of the MTR.

Happy Valley has no MTR access (the big negative for this choice) and Stanley is located right down south, away from the bustle of the northern area of the island, more suited for families – but onto that later.

WHERE TO LIVE IN HONG KONG – Sheung Wan ไธŠ็’ฐ

Bianca’s favourite area of Hong Kong bar none!

To be honest, I can’t hide my liking for the area either. Sheung Wan is just incredibly cool, from top to bottom.

The great thing about Sheung Wan is that you are outside the busiest areas which are Central and Causeway Bay.

There are hidden gems tucked away in every corner, whether it be bars or restaurants.

It’s remarkably trending and boasts Hong Kong’s famous Hollywood Road, Bianca’s favourite road in Hong Kong (all the Art Galleries lie here).

You’ll certainly pay for every single square centimetre to live here but if you can snatch a bargain, or a room share, you could do much worse than setting up camp in Sheung Wan

Sheung Wan Ratings per Demographic

  • Young and Single – 5/5
  • Working Couple – 5/5
  • Family – 3/5
  • Retired – 2/5

WHERE TO LIVE IN HONG KONG – Wan Chai ็ฃไป”

Wan Chai will forever hold a spot in our hearts as it’s where we were first located in Hong Kong.

We stayed for 3 months at the Eaton Residences serviced apartments, which although compact, were located primely.

To this day we look back on our time at Wan Chai and realise we had it good there.

Wan Chai boasts endless little streets with all kinds of glorious cuisine from Japanese Ramen, to Vietnamese Banh Mi and local Hong Kong Dim Sum. It’s got it all.

Although it can get busy in the area, I never found it anywhere near as bad as the nearby Causeway Bay which was just too busy to deal with daily.

The beautiful Bowen Road is a mini-hike up from the ground level of Wan Chai. Bower Road is a 3 km track which is popular with runners, dog-walkers and the like. It boasts quite insane views of the city, and you can get there by foot in a matter of minutes, it’s just very steep!

The famous Lee Tung Avenue is also located in Wan Chai, a little road that is lit with Red Lanterns all the way from start to end. There are eateries, little souvenir shops and cafes dotted up and down the Avenue.

And just to top it off, there’s even a Fish and Chip shop there!

Prices will be similar to Sheung Wan, it won’t be cheap, but the area is truly charming.

Wan Chai Ratings per Demographic

  • Young and Single – 5/5
  • Working Couple – 5/5
  • Family – 3/5
  • Retired – 2/5

WHERE TO LIVE IN HONG KONG – Kennedy Town ๅ …ๅฐผๅœฐๅŸŽ

Heading to the final stop of the Island line as we go west to the popular little area known as Kennedy Town.

Despite only being there a few times, Bianca and I could instantly see the appeal of an area like this.

Kennedy Town is a charming little area boasting everything you need to get by daily life. Your supermarkets, bars, restaurants etc are all here in abundance, and the prices you’ll find are cheaper than the two aforementioned entries.

The Island Line MTR station of Kennedy Town is still fairly new given the fact it only opened in 2014, but that has opened this area up to many potential new residents, and it’s popularity has seemingly grown hugely in recent years.

Kennedy Town is a great compromise if you want to live on Hong Kong Island, but cannot justify the big prices of the likes of Central, coupled with a slightly slower pace of life.

Something that fits many expat criteria, to a tee!

Kennedy Town Ratings per Demographic

  • Young and Single – 4/5
  • Working Couple – 4/5
  • Family – 4/5
  • Retired – 4/5

WHERE TO LIVE IN HONG KONG – Tai Hang ๅคงๅ‘

Tai Hang is an utterly delightful little neighbourhood which would undoubtedly be a great place to call for, for most demographics.

Classified Tai Hang
Classified – One of the many great spots to relax in Tai Hang

Tai Hang isn’t the hustle and bustle of Causeway Bay, Central or Mong Kok, but you are still within touching distance of the former if your heart so desires.

Tai Hang is small, but the charm of the area hits you immediately.

Little restaurants fill every road corner, whether it be cute, new little cafes or trendy, well presented bars.

This neighbourhood can get busy in the evenings when the crowd disperse the office.

Tai Hang is the area near Tin Hau MTR station, just one stop east of Causeway Bay. We spent a good month there but it took all of a day for us to fall for this place.

A small walk around and you’re sold.

On the cusp of the fantastic Victoria Park, and a Marketplace for all your foreign produce are just two further drawers to get yourself set up here.

Prices aren’t particularly cheap (Island life demands it), but you will find some better prices than the likes of Central and Causeway Bay.

Tai Hang Ratings per Demographic

  • Young and Single – 3/5
  • Working Couple – 4/5
  • Family – 4/5
  • Retired – 3/5

WHERE TO LIVE IN HONG KONG – Happy Valley ่ท‘้ฆฌๅœฐ

Tucked away from the north of the island we move to the wonderfully named Happy Valley!

Our first entry that doesn’t lie on the Island MTR line – and there inlies why Happy Valley probably isn’t as in demand as some of the other locations.

I’ve no doubt if this area was MTR connected Happy Valley would quickly double in residents!

Happy Valley is famously known for it’s racecourse – hosting top class racing every Wednesday night during the season (hugely popular with expats and locals alike by the way), but it’s also home to a lovely little neighbourhood with lots of greenery.

Despite the lack of MTR, there are still plenty of buses to get area and of course if you own. a car, or are happy to take a taxi, then you’ll barely be impacted.

You are still not all that far from Causeway Bay, the heart of Hong Kong island so if you like walks – again it won’t really be an issue.

Happy Valley hosts some great housing options and a number of international schools also for families.

A very solid option, if your budget can stretch because it isn’t cheap to rent or live in Happy Valley!

Happy Valley Ratings per Demographic

  • Young and Single – 3/5
  • Working Couple – 3/5
  • Family – 4/5
  • Retired – 4/5

WHERE TO LIVE IN HONG KONG – Stanley ่ตคๆŸฑ

We head to the very south of Hong Kong Island to the wonderful little gem known as Stanley

We should probably merge a couple of locations into this choice because they all boast similar positives and negatives.

So alongside Stanley we’ll also add in Discovery Bay and Repulse Bay also.

All boast beach life, but all require a car. There are bus connections but in reality you need a car to live in these locations if you need to be travelling towards to MTR line every day.

Of course if you work remotely and don’t often need to travel, ignore the above comment, perhaps you can get away with no car.

It is also worth noting the prices can vary between these 3 areas quite vastly.

Repulse Bay would be the most expensive (Hong Kong’s most popular beachy area), followed by Stanley and then Discovery Bay the cheapest.

There’s no doubt these areas would appeal more to families and retirees wanting a slower pace of life, safety and good schools.

If you’re young, free and single, or want to experience the busy life of Hong Kong, this probably isn’t for you given the travel you’d be making.

Stanley Ratings per Demographic

  • Young and Single – 2/5
  • Working Couple – 2/5
  • Family – 5/5
  • Retired – 5/5

Where to Live in Hong Kong – FAQ’s

Where is the most expensive place to live in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong Island is the priciest area of Hong Kong. Central, Mid Levels and Causeway Bay in particular are extortionate for rental prices.

How would you rate Happy Valley to live per demographic?

Young and Single – 3/5
Working Couple – 3/5
Family – 4/5
Retired – 4/5

Is Kennedy Town suitable for expats?

Kennedy Town is a charming little area boasting everything you need to get by daily life. Your supermarkets, bars, restaurants etc are all here in abundance, and the prices you’ll find are cheaper than the two aforementioned entries.

Where is cheap to live in Hong Kong?

Cheap and Hong Kong don’t really go in the same sentence when rent is involved but if you want cheaper living costs living somewhere like Lamma Island or the New Territories, away from the financial hub of the city is best.

Where is a good place for families to live in Hong Kong?

Stanley, Discovery Bay and Repulse Bay are great areas for families given the fact they are quieter, near the beach and more spacious.

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