Monday, 10 May 2010

Boom Boom Home

4 brokers, 2 con-women and 22 taxis later, we found a home! We are now the proud renters of Boom Boom. Boom Boom is perfect in every way, with the one tiny drawback being that they're blowing up the neighbourhood around it. We can't really see the construction work happening, but we can feel it. The place vibrates every weekday from 7 to 7 (although broker #4 aka conwoman #1 would swear it only vibrates and goes boom! 1 hour a day.. from noon until 1pm..). But we love it enough to optimistically think that I'll eventually get a real job and not have to spend all day holding onto handlebars as I move from one room to another doing my wifely duties. It's also a little thin on the storage front. For example, the washing machine was in the fire escape when we first viewed it. I asked the broker whether it was kosher to use the fire escape for storage. Her reply was, "it's your escape, so you choose." Can't beat Chinese common sense.

So, I thought I'd share my newly acquired Hong Kong flat hunting skills with you. Here are the top ten* things you need to be mindful of when looking for apts in HK:

  1. Get lots of brokers as they all have different databases. Brokers who helped me: Colliers, Engel and Volkers, Habitat property, L.J. Hooker. Very useful website: Hong Kong Asiaexpat
  2. Ask for the net size of the apt, not the gross. Net refers to where you'll actually be living, while gross includes the entrance all, stairs, lift etc
  3. Take brokers' advice with a pinch of salt (this is a gross understatement)
  4. Resign yourself to paying double the rent you paid in NYC, and triple what you paid in Europe
  5. If you see construction work - go to the site and phone the supervisor (there's a little papelito outside the site with a list of names and numbers). The two I phoned sounded Oxford educated and were very helpful in clarifying just how long they'll be demolishing the neighbourhood for. Don't waste your breath asking the broker (see point 3)
  6. Accept that buildings with pools/gyms have pokey and cramped apts that would put most Spanish architects to shame. However, derelict Chinese buildings that are over 20 years old and have toothless porters and cabbage odors in the entrance hall, will have nicely renovated apartments and open plan layouts
  7. Choose a place that's less than 15 minutes away from work, and that has ready access to cabs. In trying to prevent T from having to carry two shirts around with him all day, we only looked for places that were on a direct bus/tram line and wouldn't be cabless in the morning
  8. Say no to apts that look up the neighbour's bum. Unless neighbour-spotting is your hobby
  9. Measure the bedrooms to make sure you can fit a double bed in them. Often the rooms are designed for a 5ft dwarf, sorry, 'vertically challenged' person
  10. Always negotiate the price down. But be careful not to 'hurt the landlord's feelings', which really means that you have to always allow a little room for the landlord to feel comfortable that he's ripping you off ever so slightly
*Top Tens are a new thing I learnt from the French this week

Off to find custom furniture makers to build strangely sized wardrobes!


  1. About half the points apply for the London property market, too. We saw a house the other day with an empty office building adjoining the back garden. The estate agent said they applied for building permit to renovate the house and rent out the offices. Hahaha. When I called the council they told me they applied to knock down the house. Grrr...

  2. What's wrong with these people?! Thanks again for tagging me on your side!