I’ve never been a Country & Western fan – although I did have a few Patsy Cline albums once upon a time. Yet today I hear the words of Kenny Rogers floating in my head. “You Picked A Fine Time to Leave Me Lucille” is about a newly single father adjusting to life alone. Well – maybe not alone as there are kids and cows and crops and other country collateral.
But it’s not Lucille I hum. I’m thinking “I Picked a Fine Time to Move to Hong Kong.” Yesterday this was ranked the world’s most expensive city for expatriate housing. That means I could move to London or Manhattan or Paris and save money.
ECA International grabbed the front page of The South China Morning Post with the news. In the last year rents have risen 15% for this type of accommodation. That’s one factor that led to a 6.1% rise in inflation rates reported in January. It’s becoming an increasingly expensive city for everyone.
One of the reasons expatriate housing prices have skyrocketed is the shortage of supply. The price of units for sale has increased forcing potential buyers to rent instead. And it appears mist expatriates flock together, preferring to rent in a limited number of locations. In Hong Kong that means Mid-Levels, the Peak and Island South. Some with families escape to the New Territories in Clear Water Bay or Sai Kung.
The typical expat apartment has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and separate maid’s quarters. For HKD$80,000 per month (or US$10,000) you can rent a 2,000 square foot flat in Mid-Levels. If your complex has a pool or your flat has a view it might be closer to HK$100,000 (US$12,500).
But there is one ray of sunshine. With banks decreasing headcount and cutting bonuses the ultra-luxury segment is facing a slump. If you have HK$250,000 (US$30,000) per month or more for rent you can get an even better place – and maybe negotiate an extra parking spot for your Porsche 911.
Thanks, Kenny Rogers. I did pick a fine time.