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Krabi recs and a few HK questions

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I am going to Krabi tomorrow last minute from HK (I'm a soon to be expat there) and wanted to know if anyone has recommendations for restaurants, non beach activities, etc. We are staying at the Tubkaak Resort.

Regarding HK, I am on day 3 here and probably moving for a while (my husband's job will relocate us) next spring. I should post this on an expat forum, but just wanted to get an idea if anyone (cicerone?) might have recommendations on areas to live in. We looked at apartments in mid-levels, they are very small - and this is coming from someone living in Manhattan! We were told to check out DB which we did and hated it - totally not for us (early 30s couple, no kids). Any thoughts on Happy Valley or Kowloon? As a New Yorker, I always want to be near a subway (MTR) stop, but it doesn't seem so essential here. Any thoughts are appreciated....

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    For Hong Kong flats, without knowing your price range, it’s hard to say where to look. Many flats here are very small, and entire families, including grandparents, live in them all together.

    I can’t tell from your message if your relocation is only short term, and if so does that mean you looking for a furnished flat? In that case, your choices may be fewer. And smaller. But the Hollywood Road area seems to have a lot of charming, small furnished flats in older buildings. This might be a fun area for a young couple. Don’t know if you have considered serviced apartments, but you might look at those as well. Another thing to consider is taking an unfurnished flat and buying furniture here, there are excellent buys on Asian furniture (even more so over the border in the PRC and Macau too, and they ship for free from Macau). You would have to ship it home at some point, but the savings you have in buying it may make that attractive. And IKEA for lamps and everything else, and then you don’t have to bother moving that stuff back.

    Yes, I agree that DB is not really ideal; it’s only advantage is that it has some great hiking literally out the door. (It reminds me of a college campus or retirement community.) And having to make those ferries is a pain.

    I would not suggest the TST area of Kowloon unless if your office(s) are on the Kowloon side. Even then, its very congested; I would not find it relaxing or pleasant. Also the apartments in places like the Gateway tend to be on the small side as well. I woud not want to commute from TST to Hong Kong Island every day.

    If you were looking in mid-levels around Robinson Road or Conduit Road, I agree flats tend to be small. You may have a little better luck on Bowen Road or Kennedy Road, many of those are older, larger flats. Those are both greener areas than the Robinson Road area, esp. Bowen Road which is great if you are a runner. Going further west toward Pok Fulam is also something you might want to consider, many flats there have very nice sea views.

    I really like Happy Valley, it would certainly be someplace I would consider moving if my landlord hikes my rent too far next year. It has a real neighborhood feel, and is green and quiet. Again, many flats are older and larger, and many have balconies. (I am in love with Green Lane, there are some charming older flats there, but few offer views. And it is on a steep hill.) HV is not near an MTR, but I live on the Peak myself and so don’t think that is a disadvantage at all. There is good bus service, and taxis are always available and are quite reasonable. Depending on where in HV you live, and how much you like to walk, you may be able to walk to Wan Chai and Causeway Bay very easily, and to Central if you like longer (but flat) walks. You can also take the tram to get around, fun and scenic, abliet slow. Just east of HV is the Tai Hang Road/Tai Hang Drive area, this may be an area worth considering. And above HV is Jardine’s Lookout, another place to consider.

    The one question I would have is with regard to where you or your husband’s offices would be; as HV could be a longish commute (this of course is relative compared to most other places in the world).

    There are many new flats coming up in Wan Chai, esp. the area between Queen’s Road and Johnston Road near the MTR stop; however from what I have seen these flats are very small. I don’t think I would consider them. (That being said, there is an art deco building on Moon Street in Wan Chai which has just been redone to a fantastic standard; but IMO you would want 2 flats there: one to live in and one to hold your clothes and other stuff. But charming, charming.)

    Stanley is a nice area, I tend to think that is better for people with kids, and you definitely will want a car. Shek-O might be fun, beach living, again you would want a car. (Used cars here, by the way, are quite inexpensive, as no one wants to be seen with last year’s model. If your flat comes with parking, it really is not expensive to keep a car.)

    I love the Sai Kung and Clearwater Bay area in the New Territories; however for people new to Hong Kong this may not be the best choice, as it is rather isolated. Having a car there would really help; otherwise you are looking at long commutes to get to TST or Hong Kong Island.

    I used Habitat Property to find my flat, they have more unusual properties and may be worth a look, see http://www.habitat-property.com. What I would say when looking on Hong Kong Island is to indicate to the realtor that older apartments are fine. Many realtors assume you want a brand new place or a recently redone place. (This assumes you are OK with possibly an older kitchen and bathroom.) With an older flat you get more space, esp. closet space and higher ceilings. In this market, landlords are probably unwilling to redo bathrooms and kitchens, but it is worth asking. Horrible tile in a bathroom can at least be painted white. Redoing floors is usually not an issue. Make sure you have new(ish) air con units, and that they are split units and not window units. The standard of finishing here is very good, so if you see an old flat, but the landlord promises to redo it, I would not really have any worries that he will do so to a good standard.

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    Thanks for all the help. This is a semi long term relocation we think. My husband is currently in a servced apartment in Sheung Wan, which I like since it is next to the mtr but at night it is TOTALLY dead. Not for us. We want to spend 30-40K, so we can probably do ok in HV. My husband currently works in a Pacific Place office building, so the commute to there is easy from here or Wan Chai or anything on the MTR.

    I will check out Habitat Property - Thanks. We do prefer something newer only because the apartments that are not redone seem old and dirty and I just want something a bit more familiar....We have a large dining table back in NY that I would want to ship, but what constitutes a living/dining room here is very small! We have been looking at "3 bedrooms" that are about the same size as our large 1 bedroom back in Manhattan. We want something with a maid's room, only because we think it would be suitable as storage, not living quarters for someone.

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    Thanks that info is helpful. You might want to make sure whether your budget and the flats you are looking at include maintenance and taxes in the quoted rent, as that can easily add HK$10,000 or more to the monthly rent. This is esp. the case if your husband’s employer has set the budget, as if you are expected to include maintenance and taxes in the overall rent budget, then you may be looking more in the HK$25,000 range for flats.

    I think with that budget, you are still going to be in the smaller size range, somewhere between 700-1,000 square feet. Property prices are really insane these days. As you have seen, there really is no such thing as a 1 bedroom. That is because families live together here. You can occasionally find studios and 2-bedrooms (I have a 2-bedroom), but a 1 bedroom is very rare. Or course you may have visitors, so will want a guest room. You can also use the third bedroom for storage or as a closet.

    I would not bother to bring a large dining table, unless it has removable leaves to make it smaller for a table for 4. Good news is that there are tons of great restaurants, so you may not be having as many dinner parties at home as you think! Going out is far easier.

    You may find HV to be very quiet at night too. There are not a lot of restaurants or bars. You may want to be in the area of Wang Nai Chung Road or the lower end of Blue Pool and Sing Woo Roads, as there are restaurants and a few pubs in that area. You may want to avoid “Upper” Happy Valley and Jardine’s Lookout if a quiet neighborhood is not what you want.

    If you want to be able to walk to more restaurants and nightlife, you may be better off in the SOHO/Hollywood Road area, IMO. Or possibly the Wan Chai area (do look at Moon Street if your realtor can get in, #11. Your husband could walk to work.) There are nice furnished flats in both areas, as well as unfurnished. But with your budget you may want to look at furnished flats as they may be better value.

    I still would say to give more thought to older apartments, as long as the landlord says he will redo. Apartments here are totally redone on a very regular basis, and you rarely have to take a flat “as is”. You may find some good bargains there in terms of size and closet space.

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    Thanks for the recommendations. We do not have budget set by my husband's employer- we are on our own sadly. I have been working with a broker and the maintenence etc is included in the apts we are looking at. I am going to see HV and Kowloon today, looking forward to it. We are considering a 2-3 "bedroom" - what they consider a bedroom here is insane to me. Even worse are the 'maid's rooms'. I could never ever make someone reside in one of those!
    I have been told that the landlords will redo apartments - we will look into the older ones. 1,000 sq feet here (really around 800) would probably be suitable. We have abou 850 sq ft in Manhattan, where htey do not include the lobby, elevator, etc into the calculation....property prices here are really insane, but otherwise cost of living except for clothing/accessories seems lower than in NY.

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