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the Hong Kong market
Neighbourhood guide

Long regarded as the islands most prestigious address, Victoria Peak is also the tallest at 1,810 feet. It was the building of footpaths wide enough to accommodate sedan chairs in the late 1800’s that opened the area up to Hong Kong’s wealthier residents. Back then $1,500 bought you incredible views and a small but valuable reduction in temperature; remember this was well before the invention of modern air conditioning.

Nowadays property on The Peak comprises a number of mid rise apartment buildings, many townhouse style gated communities and a significant number of standalone family homes. Prices are at a premium and consequently the community is heavily populated with local and international senior executives and business owners who are a 15 minute chauffeur driven trip from Central.

Lying below The Peak and above Central lies the ample waistband of Mid-levels. Dominated by luxury high rise residential developments Mid-levels is home to a large number of expatriates and Hong Kongers alike. For incoming expats this is often their home during the middle years of their stay before moving with young families to the South Side or The Peak.

The world’s longest outdoor escalator connects Mid-levels with Central, however no matter where you live in Mid-levels you are within a short taxi ride or stroll of a wide selection of restaurants, bars and shops.

Mid-levels, particularly in its western end is a high density living environment, but a lot of the residential towers offer great views of the harbour and extensive residents facilities such as pools and gyms. In contrast its eastern end, around MacDonnell and Kennedy Roads, you can still find some older large colonial style apartment buildings.

Early inhabitants of the Wong Nai Chung Valley clearly had a sense of humour. After marshy conditions led to the British military occupiers falling ill with malaria here in the mid 1800’s the locals took to naming the area Happy Valley, a common euphemism for a cemetery.  However things have changed a lot since then, particularly since the area became the home to the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s world famous racecourse.

This primarily residential area that sits adjacent to the major shopping district of Causeway Bay is as popular with locals as expatriates who are drawn to it
for its convenient location, reasonable property prices and its faint whiff of a European style
urban community.

The Elgin Street restaurateur Thomas Goetz is attributed with coining the term Soho in 1996 for the area uphill of Hollywood Road that straddles the world famous escalator. Known best for its bars and restaurants this is also a popular neighbourhood in which to live, particularly for singleton ex-pats.

There are a number of serviced apartment complexes in this area as well as plenty of mid to high-rise, walk up and modern blocks in which you can find studio to two bedroom apartments to rent or buy. And no matter where you choose to live you’re a quick walk (or escalator ride) to pretty much everywhere in Central.

The word bohemian is almost appropriate for the area that is sandwiched between Central and Causeway Bay. Take a walk around the Star Street area in particular and you will notice that it’s collecting a growing quantity of niche retailers, small eclectic restaurants and galleries.

Possibly being more (in)famous as the modern day home to
The World Of Suzie Wong, the “Wanch” is also where you can find the world’s highest church (technically speaking “…in a skyscraper"). Sitting on the 75th floor of Central Plaza this popular and progressive place of worship is quite literally closer to God.

Okay, so we’re lying about the beach part, but sitting at the western end of the island and with fantastic views over the attractively named Sulphur Channel you really can sit at a pavement bar in Davis Street and watch the sun go down.

We’re noticing that this predominantly local neighbourhood is getting increasingly popular amongst the more creative buyer looking for spaces to convert and transform into cool living spots. And with a number of large high rise luxury residential complexes there’s a growing number of bars and restaurants, and a smattering of quality delicatessens and coffee shops; a trend that’s bound to continue as Kennedy Town is also going to be a stop on the MTR extension that is slated to open in 2014.

Sundowners are the order of the day in Pok Fu Lam sitting as it does facing the western horizon and the mountainous profile of Lantau Island. It might have been the site of Hong Kong’s first dairy farm, but it’s now the location of the government’s Cyberport development designed as an incubator for
creative enterprise.

Remarkably close to Central (a 10 minute off peak drive away), Pok Fu Lam is now well placed for those commuting by car through the Western Tunnel to the new International Commerce Centre (ICC) in West Kowloon.  And there are still some well priced properties within the predominantly low to mid-rise apartment and townhouse developments here.

Used previously as a lookout post to monitor goings on in the waters of the south side, Shouson Hill’s steep hillsides offer great views of Deep Water Bay and Aberdeen. Close to the mouth of the Aberdeen tunnel this is a great spot to take advantage of the south side whilst being a short commute from Central or Kowloon.

Generally low rise and set into lush green slopes it is popular with families and is a hop skip and a jump from the Hong Kong Country Club and the Hong Kong Golf Club.

Once home to pirates and brigands you are now more likely to run into hoards of mothers, helpers, children and dogs in these neighbourhoods today. With beautiful sunset views over the East Lamma Channel there is an emphasis on families and leisure around these parts. However if you’re building sandcastles on Deep Water Bay beach don’t dig too far, below your bare feet lies the Hong Kong spur of the world’s longest undersea cable that runs for 24,000 miles from the UK to Australia connecting 33 countries to the world wide web along the way.

The bays have a combination of low, mid and high-rise apartment buildings, townhouse developments and a number of standalone homes, and you’re only 20 minutes from Central outside peak hours. These areas are in high demand with the expat community and prices are subsequently high, however living here will provide you with a lifestyle that those who have never ventured to the south side would never believe exists in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s very own Riviera town housed almost half of the islands' residents back in the mid 1800’s when the British made Stanley its first administrative centre, naming it after Lord Stanley the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. It’s now more famous for its tourist choked street market, popular beaches and annual Dragon Boat Championships. But it’s the closest thing you’ll get to living in a European seaside resort; there’s a sense of community and a number of popular bars
and restaurants.

A 30 minute drive from Central, Stanley has a large variety of low-rise townhouse and apartment developments, many within just a few minutes’ walk of the two main beaches.

Chung Hom Kok sits on Chung Hom Shan hill and is Stanley’s western and quieter neighbour. Lacking the same community feel of Stanley it’s elevation does however offer great views over the East Lamma Channel and there’s a number of developments that feature properties with great outdoor entertaining spaces.

Crowned by the extensive Tai Tam Country Park with its four 400 metre peaks and covering one fifth of Hong Kong Island,
Tai Tam has a ribbon of developments strung along the coastline of Tai Tam Bay. Ranging from large high-rise luxury apartment towers to smaller gated complexes of townhouses, all have in common great vistas over the bay to the Shek O Country Park.

Home to the popular Country Club of the American Club this area tends to attract families and those wishing to get away from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, which lies 30 to 40 minutes drive away.

The green hills and blue waters of Clearwater Bay make this headland community an attractive and more affordable option to the south side of Hong Kong Island (Central is only 25 minutes drive away). Dominated by the Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club at its southern tip, the peninsula on which the community lies has terrific views over the islands of Port Shelter. The housing is generally a mixture of townhouse developments and renovated village houses, many properties having private gardens and pools.

The original home to Hong Kong’s Hollywood, Clearwater Bay’s movie heritage is centre stage again as the famous studios of legendary Kung Fu film maker Run Run Shaw open their doors again to film production.

Hong Kong’s back garden contains the magnificent Sai Kung Country Parks, over 70 islands and four of the territories best beaches; Sai Wan, Ham Tin, Tai Long and Tung Wan. It’s this easy access to nature, Mediterranean scenery and quiet communities that attract people away from the intensity of the Island. Individual homes with gardens can be found and those with green fingers or thumbs will find space to express themselves. The boating community is well represented and catered for with a number of marinas and some of the region’s most beautiful hideaways only a short junk trip away.

The challenging ten stage 100 kilometre long MacLehose Trail lies in Sai Kung, and since 1986 a long string of blistered walkers have tramped its length for the charity Oxfam raising more than HK$290,000,000 in the process.

Shek O in the south eastern corner of Hong Kong Island is a popular weekend destination, so much so that leave it too late and you may not find a space to park your car. There’s a rustic village to be discovered and of course a couple of very popular beaches. Although not quite Le Club 55, bars overlook both beaches and in keeping with the St Tropez theme there are deckchairs and sunloungers available for rent.

Surrounding the village is the super exclusive community of the Shek O Golf and Country Club, possibly the only place in Hong Kong where simply having sufficient funds does not guarantee you the ability to buy the perfect home. If you are in the market for one of the 20 or so homes that surround the Club’s 18 hole course you have to be approved by the company that owns (or technically leases) this patch of Pebble Beach quality real estate. But be warned, should you be planning to make soap, become a scavenger, or melt tallow you’re chances of joining this exclusive enclave are zero; the rules specifically prevent particular career activities.

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