Hong Kong Apartment: Hunting + Planning

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.

We spent some time on the weekend exploring Victoria Peak. I was jetlagged and didn't want any photos take - but Braden looks happy! Note: still long sleeve weather
We spent some time on the weekend exploring Victoria Peak. I was jetlagged and didn’t want any photos take – but Braden looks happy! Note: still long sleeve weather

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.

The initial plan, plus notes, dimensions and coordination. The designer in me was 5% freaking out and 95% geeking out planning this little space!
The initial plan, plus notes, dimensions and coordination. The designer in me was 5% freaking out and 95% geeking out planning this little space!

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.  

Early March I got a Whatsapp message from Braden,
Early March I got a Whatsapp message from Braden, “Guess where I am?” First pic in our new apartment!
The entry door is on the right side of this photo. From there you walk right in to the kitchen / living area.
The entry door is on the right side of this photo. From there you walk right in to the kitchen / living area.  On the left is the kitchen.  Closest to the wall you can see the microwave; below that is the fridge-freezer combo.
View of the living area on to the balcony. The entrance to the bedroom is on the right.
View of the living area on to the balcony. The entrance to the bedroom is on the right.
View from the balcony end of the living area back toward the kitchen.
View from the balcony end of the living area back toward the kitchen.  The kitchen is so small!
The bathroom is tough to photograph - it's also small (of course). There's a nice walk-i shower. On the right you can see the storage shelves behind the sliding mirror.
The bathroom is tough to photograph – it’s also small (of course). There’s a nice walk-in shower. On the right you can see the storage shelves behind the sliding mirror.
View of the mountains from our balcony.
View of the mountains from our balcony.

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!

Thank goodness from Ikea. We have a bed (it lifts up to access storage below).
Thank goodness from Ikea. We have a bed (it lifts up to access storage below).
We also got Ikea closets to create much-needed storage space. We also had to change the orientation of the bed to allow us to walk around it.
We also got Ikea closets to create much-needed storage space. We needed to change the orientation of the bed to allow us to walk around it.

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!


5 thoughts on “Hong Kong Apartment: Hunting + Planning

  1. Alison, you are doing a wonderful job of documenting things. I’m glad you selected a nice new building to live in. It truly sounds like you are excited and making the very best of your new experiences. Congratulations!

  2. Hi Alison

    Sure enjoy reading your blogs. Wish I was with you to try all the restaurants and bakeries. I loved you’re rating of the apt and all the precise measurements. I just think you were so lucky to do all that camping with your folks … Good experience for living in a small space. I think your apt looks very nice and it is really all you need for now while you are working – less to clean. Look forward to more postings. Hi to Braden. Love sandra

  3. Alison your accounts of your HK adventures are great reading!I can’t wait to visit and experience some of the places you and Braden have explored. Keep them coming!😀

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