In major cities, there will be at least one website in English where you can find apartments for rent in hong kong. If you cannot speak Chinese and have nobody that can help you, then websites in English are your only option. The same applies if you’re only looking for a room in a shared flat (and not for a whole apartment), as agencies will only rent you whole apartments.
Difficult To Find A ‘Room’ in Hong Kong
However, even on the internet, it’s extremely difficult to find a room in a shared flat because the demand is much higher than the supply. Just to give you an idea, when I left my room in Hong Kong, I posted a message on the net and within four hours, I had five people knocking at my door. A girl was willing to pay the deposit right away, so I gave the room to her. As you can see, good rooms disappear in a matter of hours. If you just want a room, my suggestion is to team up with two to three other people (you can find them on Couchsurfing or expat forums) and rent a whole apartment, as it’s much easier and you’ll get a better deal.
This is what I did: I found two other guys on Couchsurfing – they were both looking for a room in Wan Chai, – we teamed up and rent a wan chai apartment.
Rental Price Maybe Higher For Foreigners
Another downside of the websites in English is that they target foreigners, so the prices are usually higher. If you speak Chinese, you may also try to look for a room/apartment on a Chinese website. Even though you should get a better price, be careful because many of the apartments listed here are handled by an agency and you’ll have to pay an extra. It’s the agency’s commission and you only pay it the first month. This may also happen on English language websites but it’s less common.
How To Find An Apartment In Hong Kong
If you can speak Chinese or know somebody willing to help you, then you can use an agency. Just start to walk around the neighbourhoods where you wish to live. You’ll soon stumble upon an agency as there are plenty. Then, walk in and ask for an apartment with the amenities you want (remember to specify your budget).
Stick To Your Budget And Expectation
The agent will probably start by showing you an apartment that doesn’t respect your budget. The reason is that they work on a commission. So, if they can convince you to get an apartment that’s a bit more expensive, they will earn a slightly higher commission. Don’t freak out. Remember that you are in Hong Kong. Be polite but inflexible. Tell them what your budget is again and that you won’t accept anything more expensive than that. However, remember to be realistic.
Don’t forget to bargain the price. This is widely accepted in Hong Kong and usually you’ll get some small discount (between 1% and 10%, according to your bargaining skills).
Another commonly-used tactic of agents is to start by bringing you to a very shitty apartment. They know you won’t take it. They are just trying to scare you so that after seeing two or three flats that look disgusting, you’ll be happy to rent an apartment that’s just so-so. This is an old trick used by sellers of any kind and nationality. Don’t fall for it. If an agent brings you to a very bad apartment, tell him that you want something better. If the second flat is like the first, just leave him away.
There are plenty of honest agencies, so there’s no reason to deal with someone that’s trying to rip you off.
Expenses Besides Monthly Rent
In Hong Kong, you should pay the rent every month. In general, each city has its own rules, but I won’t agree to pay more than three months’ rent at once. Also, you will have to pay a security deposit. Be aware that the landlord may ask you for a two or three months’ rent deposit. However, you shouldn’t accept to pay an amount of money higher than one month’s rent as a deposit. Personally, I would walk away if someone insists on more than one month’s rent as a deposit, as this is the standard.
The following day, we came back to the apartment and, after we checked that everything was working (Air conditioner, hot water, washing machine and so on), we signed the contract and paid two months’ rent plus one month’s rent as a deposit.
You also need to pay a commission to the agent. Usually, you will have to pay the electricity, water, gas and internet bills by yourself.
If you live in a big building, there will be some maintenance fees. Our landlord paid them by himself, but some landlords will ask you to pay these fees as well. Again, it’s up to you to bargain.