For Amanda Glover and her family, the move from city dwelling to rural living has brought about positive changes, including a more relaxed lifestyle.
After living in Mid-Levels and Happy Valley for almost three years, the Glovers decided to move to Sai Kung two years ago so that they would have more space and their newborn baby would have cleaner air to breathe.
'We decided to move to Sai Kung during the financial crisis. Our family was about to upsize with the birth of our daughter at the same time as the economy was experiencing a downsize, which affected my husband's work,' says Glover, a part-time property consultant.
She says rural areas offer extra space for less money. 'We have fantastic sea views, lots of outdoor space and there is something quite reassuring about going upstairs to bed at night.'
Sai Kung also meets the family's shopping and dining needs. 'There is an excellent choice of restaurants and shops that give a strong sense of community,' Glover says. 'The combination of location, amenities and lifestyle make living in Sai Kung feel more like home than simply a place to live.'
Sai Kung property agents say demand for rental and purchase is high. Clear Water Bay is popular with executives seeking a rural lifestyle with the added convenience of proximity to cross-harbour transport routes and convenient travelling times to Hong Kong Island.
'For those who want to live in a large house with three or four bedrooms, a garden and amazing views, and still be in comfortable commuting distance to business districts, the Sai Kung area offers a good selection of affordable choices,' says Megan Inglis, a consultant with Hong Kong Sotheby's International Realty.
Inglis says buyers are looking for properties with a sea view and/or gardens that incorporate a Western floor plan. This accounts for the popularity of low-lying coastal village houses. However, there is a shortage of properties in the HK$20 million to HK$80 million bracket.
'Clients looking to buy properties in Sai Kung and the New Territories have very high expectations. Steep prices on Hong Kong Island and a desire for a better family lifestyle have resulted in increased demand for New Territories properties, but the market is finite, which is driving prices up across the Sai Kung peninsula,' Inglis says.
She warns that potential buyers and renters should be aware of illegal structures and illegally installed swimming pools. Buyers should check that extensions and alterations to a property have been approved by the authorities. Buyers should also determine access and car parking arrangements with government departments and any short-term tenancy agreements that may relate to land surrounding a property.
Catherine Giblin, owner of The Property Shop, says town houses and waterfront properties in desirable areas are in short supply and command higher prices. 'Selected properties have seen a huge increase in price due to lack of supply, large demand and location,' she says.
She says typical sought-after properties include a 2,000 sqft detached villa with a walled lawn garden, terraces and sea views.
'The great thing about the Sai Kung area is being able to find unique properties in areas of outstanding natural beauty,' Giblin says. A good example is a four-bedroom, 2,100 sqft detached village house featuring a 3,000 sqft lawn and garden with mountain views. The house has been refurbished by a well-known architect.
Depending on location, 1,800 sqft and 2,100 sqft properties in the popular Clear Water Bay and Silverstrand areas range in monthly rentals from about HK$35,000 to HK$80,000.
Properties of a similar size inside the Sai Kung Country Park fetch between HK$18,000 and HK$40,000, depending on location and sea or mountain views. Purchase prices for properties inside the country park start at about HK$10 million, rising to HK$45 million.