Could I Live in Yuen Long?

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Rents are skyrocketing in most of Hong Kong.  My current lease is coming up soon and I’m seeing that the asking price for places the same size as mine in Sai Kung is about 50% higher than what I’m currently paying.  Plus, well, I’ve been out of work more than 5 months and I can barely afford the rent I’m paying now.

So where are the relative bargains in Hong Kong?  The “outlying islands” like Lamma and Cheung Chau, cheaper because these islands are reachable only by boat.  I don’t really want to do a ferry commute daily and my girlfriend definitely doesn’t like the idea.

Sheung Shui and Fanling.  Almost as far north as you can get and still be in Hong Kong.  Not too horrible.

And then there’s Yuen Long.  The good things about Yuen Long include the fact that Open Rice lists more than 1,500 restaurants in the district.  There’s a ton of shopping there.  And it’s a major transportation hub, with express buses that reach Hong Kong island in 30-45 minutes.

Yesterday I went up and met two friends who live there.  We went for yum cha and they introduced me to one real estate agent.  This guy showed me several places, the last of which was 2 floors in a brand new, never-been-lived-in, village house going for about 40% less than I’m currently paying.  It was the sort of thing where you’d have to walk 5-10 minutes to get out to the main road and then wait for a mini-bus to take you to the town center, probably a 10 or a 15 minute ride.

I wasn’t certain how my gf would react to all of this so I brought her to Yuen Long today.  We walked around the town and her verdict was, “I’m not just okay with it, I love it.”

The other upside is that my mother hates the second bedroom in our current place and says she could never live here with us.  This particular house we saw, the second bedroom also had its own en suite bathroom and was significantly larger.

What’s the down side?  We know a lot of people in Sai Kung.  We know practically no one in Yuen Long.  In some ways moving there would seem to make a lot of sense.  But I’m reticent to pull the trigger on the move just yet.

Anyone out there have any thoughts on this?

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10 thoughts on “Could I Live in Yuen Long?

  1. Tang Lap Yan

    Go for it. What do you have to lose? You and your girlfriend like it, and everything—except its proximity to Sai Kung, which these days is overrated as an escape/haven/refuge from le tout Hong Kong—seems to be in its favour. If you are at all outgoing, you’ll soon get to know people in Yuen Long, and anyway, as you noted, the transport links are good so it wouldn’t take you too long to go to Sai Kung almost whenever the mood takes you.

  2. YTSL

    How’s your Cantonese, Spike? Yuen Long strikes me as a very local Hong Kong kind of place — more so than Sai Kung. And yes, I know that area has ethnic minorities too — but they don’t tend to be Caucasian, do they?

    1. Spike Post author

      YTSL, my Cantonese is not good, or even in the neighborhood of good, but I get by okay for shopping and restaurants and I get along nicely with my current neighbors, many of whom don’t speak a word of English. I think a few weeks really concentrating on it instead of making excuses would probably take me a lot farther. Or maybe I’ll bite the bullet and sign up for one of China Droll’s lessons.

  3. Rog

    Spike,
    I gave up the TST herds 4 years ago for the NT, in Tuen Mun, and never regretted it. Rents are 30 – 40% cheaper, restaurants are great, and transportation: Tuen Mun Town Center to Shenzhen Bay – 18 minutes on B3X, TST – 37 minutes on West Rail, and Central on 962 direct – 35 minutes. Go for it.

  4. henry

    The Ferry rides to and from Lamma are the nicest parts of my day. You need to sit outside. Rent is very cheap there for generously sized flats.

  5. Mandarin Student

    Spike – You will adapt quickly given you have lived in different continents, worked in different industries, have wide variety of interests and you are very open to local culture. You will be able to use mandarin to get by as I know from your Shenzhen trip blogs you have more than a smattering of the language. Finally, given your gf loves the place and financially it makes sense given your current situation you should go for it. 

  6. smog

    I’ve been considering Yuen Long as well. I have a friend who lives there in a village house about 8-10 minutes walk from the MTR. She has the top floor, exclusive use of the roof, it’s a brand new build (2 beds, 1 bath, open plan living/kitchen, roof equipped with lighting, water/sink etc for BBQs) and she pays $8,000 per month.

    I’d say go for it.

  7. THE VISA MAN

    Did you check Ting Kau ? Close to Sham Tseng. It is more convenient that Yuen Long in means of transport etc.

  8. Kleeas

    How about Tai Po? Am noticing more and more westerners there these days especially in the local villages (usually about 15 mins from the MTR). You could get a 700 sqf for around $8000 in some of these places, if that’s big enough for you.

    Personally, I would rather choose Tai Po over Fanling and Sheung Shui any day. Tai Po is far less condense and feels less packed than the other two. Apart from local eateries, there is a very good wet market, shops selling imported foods, and a few friendly bars.

    1. Spike Post author

      I like Tai Po and would definitely consider it. Though it does appear to me that Yuen Long offers more transport options and gets one to HK island faster. I definitely wouldn’t consider Sheung Shui, not familiar enough with Fanling.

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