This guide runs through what you need to know about Hong Kong permanent residence
If you’re new in Hong Kong or planning a move there, you’ll probably need a place to stay. Finding a great place to rent in a new location can be a daunting task- but this guide has you covered with all the essentials.
We’ll cover where to start your search, which districts are popular and may suit people coming to Hong Kong to live, work or study, and how much on average you’ll need to pay.
Hong Kong is not a cheap place - so we’ll also touch on how you can save money on cross-border transfers with Wise international payments. If you need to send money overseas while you settle in Hong Kong, you could save with Wise.
Finding an apartment in Hong Kong will usually mean going via an agent, or looking for places to rent direct from the owner through classified ads and online listings. With a competitive rental market - and notoriously small and expensive properties on offer - it may be worth forking out the fees for an agent. You’ll probably pay up to a month’s rent for the service you’ll get, but you may ultimately decide it’s worthwhile if you save time, money and hassle later, by securing a better lease agreement.
For agent-listed properties, you’ll be best to start with an online search. Umbrella websites are a good resource as you can search, filter and browse to get a sense for the market. You can then either register with agents directly through their own websites, via the umbrella site, or by visiting their local offices. We’ll run through a few estate agent options in a moment - there are both specialist local companies which offer properties in specific areas, larger Hong Kong firms with a broad reach across more locations, and big international brand names you may already recognise.
It’s worth noting that estate agents in Hong Kong must be appropriately licensed. This is managed via the Estate Agents Authority (EAA) - and you can double check any agent you’re considering is properly licensed on the EAA website.¹ You can also get helpful advice on your legal protections and smart steps to take when appointing an agent, on the EAA consumer website.² Let’s take a look at some agent options and resources to get your search off the ground:
Umbrella sites to view multiple properties from different agents:
Large international real estate agents:
Local real estate agents:
If you’d rather avoid using an agent - and the fees that come with that - you can also find apartments for rent in Hong Kong direct from owner, through websites like Craigslist and Asia Xpat. Sites like these include owner listings and also people who are planning to break their existing lease looking for new tenants for a property.
You may also find rentals direct from owner through word of mouth or through using your Hong Kong network of friends and colleagues. However, it’s important to remember that if you skip using an agent, you’ll need to feel confident in negotiating and checking over any lease agreement you sign. Make sure you read the small print carefully, and don’t assume typical rental agreements will work the same in Hong Kong as they do in your home country.
Choosing the general location you want to live in is an important step. This may be a simple choice if you need to be close to your workplace or an international school for your family, for example. Or you might decide to narrow your search based on amenities and local attractions, costs or ability to integrate with local life. If you’re not planning on driving, you’ll also want to take into account locations which are well serviced by public transport.
Here are some popular Hong Kong areas to consider:
- Mid-levels - popular with expats who want to be close to nightlife, and also families looking for easy access to outdoor attractions. Good mix of accommodation types, and home to the famous mid-levels escalator
- The Peak - super exclusive accommodation, luxury price points, great views and home to some international schools
- Sai Kung - popular fishing village perfect for outdoors types, not a simple commute into the office though. Driving is pretty much essential
- Kowloon Tong - getting more popular with expats thanks to spacious properties and proximity to international schools
The average rent in Hong Kong per month can vary enormously based on where you choose to live and the type of property you go for. The best way to get a sense of the range of options out there is to start on a property umbrella website - like those listed above - where you can filter and search based on your requirements.
To give a broad picture, let’s look at the average rent in Hong Kong per month according to Numbeo users. Numbeo is a crowd sourced data platform which shows real time data about cost of living:³
|Accommodation type||Cost per month (HKD)|
|1 bedroom, city centre||17,589|
|1 bedroom, outside of city centre||12,103|
|3 bedroom, city centre||36,092|
|3 bedroom, outside of city centre||23,441|
Data correct at time of writing, 2nd November 2021
When you secure your perfect property in Hong Kong, the first thing you’ll usually need to do is pay a deposit, which is likely to be the equivalent of a month or two of rent, plus a month’s rent in advance. You’ll then pay rent on an ongoing basis, in advance, according to your agreement with your new landlord. For convenience this is likely to be through recurring bank transfers.
If you’re sending payments to Hong Kong before you move there - or need to pay your rent or deposit from a different currency, check out Wise international payments. Wise transfers use the real exchange rate with no markups and no hidden costs. You just pay a low transparent fee which can work out far cheaper than using your regular bank.
If you’re in Hong Kong to work, you may be receiving a housing allowance from your employer, or living in company accommodation. It’s worth noting that this can impact your tax, so you’ll need to look carefully at how the rules apply in your case.
What tax you pay on your rent will depend on several factors including the type of accommodation you’re in, and whether your employer pays a housing allowance or reimbursement. In the case of a reimbursement you may pay your rent to the landlord which can reduce your taxable income. However, as with all things tax, the system is complex, so you’ll need to seek professional advice to figure out how to set up your rental arrangements most efficiently. There are some helpful calculations and examples on the Hong Kong government website, as well as rules describing how rent may be taxed in different situations.⁴
Moving to a new place is an exciting experience - but there’s a lot to do to make sure your move goes well. Finding a place to live in Hong Kong can feel like quite a job. Prices can be high, average apartment size is fairly small and the market moves so fast it’s common to see properties snapped up as soon as they become available. However, with persistence and the right help in your corner, you’ll be able to find the perfect apartment in Hong Kong to suit your needs.
Use this guide to start your search, and don’t forget to check out Wise international payments if you need to transfer money to or from Hong Kong as part of your move, or as you’re settling in. Good luck!
|Handy guide for new arrivals: Applying HKID Card, MPF in Hong Kong|
Sources used in this article:
1 Estate Agents Authority
2 Estate Agents Authority: Protection to Consumers
3 Numbeo: Cost of living in hong Kong
4 Hong Kong Government: How the Provision of a Place of Residence to an Employee is Taxed
Sources last checked on 5-Nov-2021
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