Demand rises for serviced apartments

THE demand for serviced apartments has dramatically increased during the past year as more and more expatriates arrive in Hongkong on extended business ventures.

Richard Ellis residential manager Ms Jan McNally said the trend towards serviced flats continued to rise.

''There is a big demand at the moment because it gives people an option to move into an apartment straight away, rather than having to stay in a hotel. If you have a family this is certainly the best way to do it,'' Ms McNally said.

''We have some clients who are put on waiting lists for serviced flats.

''This would have been quite unusual about a year ago but now it's quite common for people to go into a fully furnished flat for a few months after initially arriving in Hongkong. Now people are taking the flats for up to two years.

''We mainly deal with expats but we have a lot of overseas Chinese coming back to Hongkong who would prefer to go into a small, fully furnished apartment.'' Ms McNally said the cost of a serviced apartment depended on the location, size and facilities provided.

''You could probably get a nice serviced studio apartment in places like Eaton House or International House,'' she said.

''You can get that from about $15,000 a month for about 615 square feet. A 400 sq ft flat will cost about $8,000, depending on the location.

''There's no limit on the rental. One of the most expensive apartments is in Convention Plaza which can go up to $70,000 a month. You can get a flat in the Atrium in Pacific Place for as much as $105,000, which is the penthouse apartment.'' The average serviced apartment is equipped with everything from bed linen to cutlery.

''Basically you just walk into your serviced flat with your suitcase - that's usually all you will need.

''The more expensive flats will be fitted with washing machines and dryers. But if you want anything additional, almost everything in Hongkong is negotiable.'' Al - an architect - moved into a serviced apartment in Wan Chai when he arrived in Hongkong.

''It's very small, only 400 sq ft and it costs $8,503 a month. It has a very modest kitchenette which has a small fridge and two burners, a small dining table with two chairs, two very small beds, a night table, a television and a stand,'' he said.

''It came with two sets of dishes and silverware, a small pot and a kettle.

''I'd recommend a serviced flat to people coming here on business. It's great for people new to Hongkong, particularly in my case because I needed to get to work right away.'' John - a banker - lives in a serviced apartment in Convention Plaza, which costs $34,000 a month.

''It came fully furnished with a lounge suite, dining table, a nice-sized kitchen with cutlery but no dinner set,'' he said.

''There is a maid service which is optional - I opted not to have it because I wanted my privacy.

''It's a very convenient location and it's very well maintained. I also have use of the swimming pool and gym.''