Back in February I flew to Hong Kong for three days – what a whirlwind trip! My primary goals were to attend interviews and hopefully narrow down my employment options, and also hunt for an apartment with Braden. Both objectives were necessary for me to be there in person, but I didn’t have much time. Who flies from Vancouver to Hong Kong for a long weekend…?!? The trip was a blur, but definitely successful.
On the recommendation of one of Braden’s coworkers, we worked with an agency, Executive Homes, to help us find a place to live. There is, course, a cost associated with this service and was certainly worth every dollar in our opinion. There is no way we could have found something on our own. Sonia, who was great, compiled a list of places that met our requirements (accessible to the MTR, in-suite laundry, no parking required, space for a second bed / hide-a-bed, storage, etc.) and were within budget, then toured us around. If you have ever watched an episode of House Hunters International then you can imagine our experience. A driver took us to about 10 different flats in various neighbourhoods on Hong Kong island. We got briefed on the neighbourhood, walked through each unit, then moved on to the next one. Two and a half hours later we had seen all of the possibilities, then the two of us went for lunch and we made our decision. In the end we were attracted to a unit in Wan Chai that is in a fairly new building, has a pool, gym, rooftop patio and clubhouse in the building, and is quite close to Braden’s office. As luck would have it, it is incredibly close to my office as well. Braden’s commute is a 5 minute walk to the MTR, three stops on the MTR, then another 5 minute walk. My commute is a fifteen minute walk. It’s perfect!
It is also very VERY small by North America standards. Hong Kong living is expensive and the spaces are small. We learned that the square footage of units is expressed in two ways. One is gross square footage, which includes a portion of common space in the building (i.e. common corridors), while the net square footage is the actual living space. I think our space is listed around 630 sq ft but in actuality we are living in 440 sq ft. We are living in half the space we had in Vancouver, at several times the cost – it’s the way it is. We are also paying a premium to live in the middle of their downtown and in a modern building, but these were decisions we made to optimize our Hong Kong experience. Especially without a vehicle and reliance on public transit, we wanted to be in the heart of things.
While there we many downsides to Braden moving to Hong Kong before me, it allowed us to be very strategic about what we packed and moved to Hong Kong. After selecting where we would live I returned to Vancouver and packed up our belonging. Prior to possession, and before I needed to pack, we were lucky to get a floorplan of our space. I marked it up and sent it to Braden, and he was able to measure the entire space.
After receiving Braden’s measurement I created a layout and planned every square foot of the Hong Kong apartment. I was able to determine what would fit, what we already had that would work, and what we needed but would have to purchase. It was a fun exercise for me and definitely a reality check about how we will be living in Hong Kong. We are still waiting to receive our shipping container of belongings, but here is the plan we based our strategy on.
I have been obsessively tracking our containers’ progress after learning the name of the ship that our belonging are on. You, too, can track the Hyundai Courage on the website Marine Traffic. Currently it is leaving Korea, bound for Hong Kong; not too much longer now! You can, of course, expect an update on our living quarters once our boxes are delivered. Until then, here are some “before” photos of our sweet little Hong Kong flat.
For his first six weeks in Hong Kong Braden lived in a serviced apartment, the Como Como, but we are now together in our little Wan Chai flat without much of anything. We have purchased Ikea closets for clothing storage and a bed. The rest is en route. For now, that means lots of time spent at coffee shops or in our building’s lounge so we have a place to sit!
I have to say, small space living is a challenge I am excited about. When I think about how we live in North America and the space we occupy it is, in many respects, excessive. Braden and I will clearly have fewer belongings and possessions with us in Hong Kong, but we will also have many of the same essentials just with less circulation space. I am very curious to observe adjustments in the way we live and occupy space, and how this experience will affect our attitude toward living space long in to the future. For now my attitude is that the Hyundai Courage cannot arrive in Hong Kong’s port soon enough!