Expatriates seek cheaper and bigger flats in Hong Kong's Tseung Kwan O
People fed up with high rents in central areas are moving to Tseung Kwan O and enjoying larger apartments and much lower prices
A year ago an Australian expatriate worker in Hong Kong called Peter moved to Lohas Park in Tseung Kwan O, attracted by a bigger living space at an affordable rental.
"Before I moved I was renting a 500-square-foot unit in Sai Wan Ho. Now I have a 700 sq ft home in Lohas Park but pay 30 per cent less than what I was paying in Sai Wan Ho," he said.
Since the estate in which he was renting the larger unit is located close to Lohas MTR station, commuting time to his office in Taikoo Shing was only around 30 minutes.
Peter declined to disclose the exact rent for his new apartment, but recent leasing transactions show that a 700 sq ft flat, based on saleable area, was rented out for HK$14,000 a month, according to data from Centaline Property Agency.
Crystal Tam, sales director at Centaline's Tseung Kwan O branch, said she had noticed a growing number of expatriates from Britain and Switzerland, as well as some overseas Chinese, renting homes in the town.
"Some expatriates we helped are working at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology," she said. They were targeting three-bedroom flats at a monthly rental ranging from HK$15,000 to HK$30,000, she added.
The Wings, an upscale residential project above Tseung Kwan O MTR station, and Ocean Shores, near Tiu Keng Leng station, were proving to be popular among buyers and renters, Tam said. Average rents per month in the estates ranged from HK$21 to HK$30 per sq ft.
Tseung Kwan O district is served by the five MTR stations of Tiu Keng Leng, Tseung Kwan O, Hang Hau, Po Lam, and Lohas Park.
Andy Tong, district sales manager for estate agency Hong Kong Property, said mainlanders were showing a keen interest in renting units in Ocean Shores. "Most are students who come from the mainland and are studying at HKUST, and they usually share the flats," he said.
Also in demand from students were two-bedroom flats at Metro City near Po Lam MTR station, he said, where the rental for a 377 sq ft flat is about HK$13,000 per month.
"There are about 400 units being offered for lease in Tseung Kwan O. But only half are presently vacant and ready for viewing. The remaining flats are either occupied by their owners or tenants and it will take about one or two months for them to be vacated," he said.
Tong expects rents in Lohas Park to come under downward pressure when flats in a new project, The Beaumount, become available for rent as early as next month.
"Then Lohas Park will have more units offered for lease and due to its remote location, owners will have no choice but to offer them at attractive rentals to lure tenants," he said.
A total of nine residential sites have been sold in Tseung Kwan O since 2012. Among the developers who have bought sites in the area are Wheelock Properties, Sun Hung Kai Properties, K Wah International and the Chinachem group. Analysts say a new supply of more than 3,000 flats could come onto the market near Tseung Kwan O MTR station in the next few years.