Friday, April 14, 2006

House Hunting in Hong Kong

Jason has a strange fascination with apartments and houses. Back when we were in Tokyo and looking for a property to buy, he would sit at the computer and sift through hundreds of web pages, looking for something to catch his eye. When it became pretty clear that we were moving to Hong Kong, his attention turned to Hong Kong rental properties. He found about half a dozen property web sites and systematically searched the major neighborhoods that we were interested.

Me? I have no patience to do the sifting. I just want to find a place quick. I am also entirely practical when it comes to a place we don’t own. All I need is a nice and spacious kitchen with an oven that’s big enough to fit my baking sheets, and a fridge that has a spacious freezer compartment; plus a balcony or terrace so Libby can get some fresh air and where I can start a little herb garden. Very reasonable, won’t you say?

Combined with Jason’s requests, here’s the “LIST”:
- fully equipped gym
- easy access to Central, where Jason’s office is
- nice and spacious kitchen
- balcony or terrace
- unobstructed view i.e. not looking into someone else’s living room
- white walls and wooden or marble floor with simple finishing
- closet/built-in wardrobe in the bedrooms
- a maid’s room that’s not the size of a shoe closet

Is that too much to ask? Maybe it is. There must be some kind of unknown gold and green/brown marble quota to be used up by the contractor, because it is damn hard to find a place with just plain white walls and nothing gaudy such as ugly-assed chandelier-type light fixtures and gilded faucets everywhere you look.

Hard enough as it is to find a place that doesn’t make you go “ewwww”, there’s also the husband who doesn’t know how discouraging it is to see apartment after apartment that’s nothing but crap, and the elation of finally finding one that doesn’t have as much gold or green marble that you could actually see yourself dealing with it. After I showed him one place that I thought was not half bad, he turns up his nose and goes, “You actually LIKED this?” as if I’m the one with such unforgivingly poor taste that he can’t believe I’m wasting his precious time like this.

Then I finally found one as close to being a dream home as you can get for a rented place: spacious regularly shaped living/dining space with floor to ceiling windows, on top of Victoria Peak with an open view, a nice kitchen with a DOUBLE fridge, plus a fully equipped gym, swimming pool, and tennis court. What does Jason do (before even seeing it)? He decides the landlord’s asking price is way too much after hearing his buddies’ advice. Yes, I do think the rent is a little ridiculous but what can you do about it? Hong Kong rental price went up by almost 40% over the past two years after SARS, but is it our responsibility to take on the landlords and make a statement by depriving ourselves the place we really want to live in? Isn’t our happiness and peace of mind so much more important than the vindictive satisfaction in knowing that we didn’t yield to the landlord’s squeezing? What are we going to accomplish except getting stuck in a tiny serviced apartment for months on end under the illusion that one day a perfect place will come up on the market for us to grab for a reasonable price? Why does Jason always have to become a man with principles at the most inopportune time? I only hope that he will like the place as much as I do after seeing it and put things into perspectives. Fingers crossed.


Hsin said...

Girlfriend, I so know your pain. I was almost in tears by the time we reached the 3rd week of hunting...

Frank said...

Once you got past your house-hunting nightmare in HK, Lynn, everything else should be smooth sailing (DAMN those tacky golden marbled facades too!)

Chubby Hubby said...

I know what you're going through. I was there for 2 years and lived in 1 service flat and then 2 different apartments. Congrats on finding something you like.

Lynn said...

Hsin, but your perseverance paid off! if it weren't for the annoying sea-sickness, I'd visit your house and cook in your kitchen everyday!

Frank, I'm already starting to like Hong Kong. Finding an apartment is easy compared to locating the right pastry ingredients. Seems like women in HK are not too much into getting their hands dirty in the kitchen =o(

Aun, it's not perfect but we have to compromise. I just hope the landlord accepts our offer so this whole ordeal can be over soon.

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