Expats follow firms away from overpriced central Hong Kong

Published:  4 Feb at 6 PM
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Expats living and renting in Hong Kong are expected to follow businesses deserting the expensive central district for more economical suburban office rentals and accommodation.

The move by foreign and locally-owned businesses away from the high-rental value central district has accelerated over the past year as corporations continue to feel the heat of the global recession combined with China’s economic slowdown. Results of the latest survey of world office location prices relegated Hong Kong to a lower rank under London, due to the number of firms moving away from the CBD.

Average rentals slipped by 12 per cent during 2012 as the move to cheaper accommodation gathered pace, with Kowloon East and Causeway Bay’s Hysan Place now bidding to be Hong Kong’s new Central Business District. The word on the street is that expat workers are following suit as regards accommodation as well as following their office space to its new location.

Hong Kong’s residential property is amongst the most expensive in the world, especially for high-end, three-bedroomed apartments, according to another survey by ECA International. Expat demand for such properties has fuelled the real estate boom and corresponding increase in rents, causing the government to slap a 15 per cent stamp duty on foreign property buyers.

Residential real estate agents in Hong Kong state that areas close to facilities such as international schools, gated communities and social focus points are the most favoured by expats and tend to be found in more prestigious city districts. However, it is believed that CBD office rents will not fall further during 2013, due to mainland Chinese companies’ preference for central CBD locations.
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