Saturday, May 31, 2014

Moving in Hong Kong

As I mentioned a couple months ago, soon I will be moving from the Tai Wai area, my home of 2.5 years. This has to do with changing jobs as well as moving in with Sharman! It's all very exciting, but the endless amount of important factors in making this choice can get a bit overwhelming. You'd think that moving from one high-rise apartment to another in the same city wouldn't be a huge deal, but it is. I like to think of writing as a way to help organize a muddled brain, so here it goes. Humor me.

Convenience of Location: With my new job on Hong Kong Island and Sharman's in Kowloon Tong, obviously it is ideal for us to reside somewhere in the middle. The distance between the two schools is about six miles, which may seem laughably small, but in Hong Kong, that's a lot. Especially considering that over two million people live in the 18-square mile peninsula that is Kowloon. We've been looking at places that lie along bus/train routes to our respective jobs. And it wouldn't hurt to be able to travel to my university in a direct fashion either. 

Cost: But with convenience comes extra cost, of course. Here's a handy link I found about living costs in Hong Kong. Scroll down to the bottom and you'll find that an average one bedroom apartment in the city center costs over $2000 USD a month. I find it truly staggering that the rent I paid during my final year of university was less than 20% of that, and my roommates and I were paying one of the highest prices in the area. Sure Washington apples and Mandarin oranges, but still, rental costs in Hong Kong are frighteningly high. When I ask around about certain areas, local friends always say, "Oh that area is quite expensive." I want to say, "Well, duh! Stop being so discouraging." Unless you live off in the boonies where you'd have to commute for hours every day, it's going to be pricey. That being said, I'd love to move to the boonies some day. But for now, I've decided to commit to paying for time saved. My future apartment won't be where that website describes as the city center, but close to it.

Comfort of Location: One of the hardest things about leaving Tai Wai, is knowing that I probably won't have the same sort of quiet, natural vibe that I have here. Sure I live in a 25-story cement high rise, but I can still see lots of trees from my window and even hear birds chirping if I wake up at the right time. And to go with that, walking along the Shing Mun River, man-made as it is, is a relaxing, beautiful thing to do on a weekend, with all the mountains and local parks in full display. On the Kowloon side, there are parks and nature but it's limited. There, the priority is on housing an huge amount of people, and keeping them fed and clothed. One of Hong Kong's saving graces is that you're never far from a country trail or a mountain top, but still, my new locale will likely be much more...concrete in style. At the same time, that may mean more interesting cultural discoveries. Shops, music, restaurants, etc. We'll see how those pros and cons balance out.

The Apartment Itself: There are many old, old places in Hong Kong and people who look for a bargain by renting out these flats that look like they have hardly been touched since World War II. We're all about saving money, but there's a fine line between a bit older and decrepit. Today, Sharman and I are going to look at some places as there's only so much you can learn from photos on the internet. We don't want to pay a deposit only to find out that the air conditioner is broken and can't be fixed for a week.

Again, I'm quite excited about moving but one must carefully navigate the labyrinth of it all. In a month, I expect to be settling in to a new place, and though the physical distance from my current home may be short, the personality of the area will be quite different. Hoping for the best!