Farewell Beijing, hello Hong Kong

September 16, 2015 / By  

In July I joined the Asia Pacific research team and relocated from Beijing, my home for the previous three years, to Hong Kong. I have enjoyed exploring this bustling, crowded city and here are some of my observations so far.

My expenditure on transportation is far higher than in Beijing. Taxi and metro fares are both more expensive here. Minimum fares on the metro are not much different but the price escalates quicker in Hong Kong, especially if you ride more than one line on the same trip. The price for a long journey maxes out at about HKD 50 (USD 6.45) compared to RMB 9 (USD 1.40) on the Beijing subway.

Gone are the cycle rickshaws ubiquitous in Beijing. I enjoyed the friendly haggling over a trip through Beijing’s narrow hutongs, often late at night as I made my way back home after dining out. Instead I now have the equally slow and anachronistic Hong Kong tram to ride. If you have the time, you can travel the length of the tram lines for a paltry HKD 2.3 (USD 0.30). No sensible rickshaw driver would agree to such a low fare!

Amenities in Hong Kong are far more convenient and there are several restaurants, banks and grocery stores only a short walk away from my new apartment. And while there were plenty of wet and vegetable markets near my old courtyard apartment in Beijing, the nearest grocery store was a ten minute bicycle ride away. I enjoyed the quieter pace of hutong life after a busy day at work but I welcome the convenience of my new neighbourhood.

Despite a much lower population, Hong Kong feels more crowded and people live much closer to one another. In fact Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. The few apartments I have visited so far are much smaller, and apartment buildings taller, than I’m used to. People seem to work closer to one another too. Based on a limited set of observations so far, office occupant density appears to be much higher here. I was surprised by this as Hong Kong Grade A stock is 4.6 million sqm higher than in Beijing. Office rents are also higher and Grade A space in Central is nearly USD 600 per sqm more on an annualised basis.

Exploring Hong Kong has been exciting and I look forward to learning more about the commercial property markets here as well those in the other Asia Pacific cities we cover. If you would like to read more on these markets, check out the JLL Research Portal where you can find the Asia Pacific Property Digest.

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