Flat rents on the East Rail Line are soaring but it’s not due to speculation or end-users snapping up property.
Hint: some of Hong Kong’s top universities, such as Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Institute of Education, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University and Hong Kong Polytechnic University, are nearby.
More hint: mainland students have been flocking across the border.
The combination of convenience and proximity to these schools has made flats on the East Rail Line highly desirable to Chinese students.
And with an increasing number taking up residence in rental flats there, accommodation is in short supply. Landlords can dictate their price.
Realty agency Centaline says rents have gone up 40 percent in the past three years in the most coveted residential districts such as Shatin, Tai Po, Fo Tan, Tai Wai and Hung Hom.
A 27 square-meter shoe-box flat at Grandeur Garden, a private housing estate built in the 1980s by Sun Hung Kai Properties (00016.HK) near the Tai Wai rail station, was leased for HK$9,000 (US$1,161) a month to a mainland student last year. The rent has risen to HK$13,000 this year.
Now the tiny flat houses four students. Each has three square meters of private space, excluding the bathroom and kitchen.
An increasing number of mainland graduates opt to stay in Hong Kong to work, but with a monthly salary of HK$10,000 (US$1,290) to HK$13,000, they cannot afford the rent on a flat.
The situation has given rise to some imaginative living arrangements in which three people share a two-bedroom flat, one of whom sleeps in the living room.
They find this sort of accommodation better than anything a subdivided flat or bed space has to offer.
Others choose to live in village houses where rent could be as low as HK$3,000 a month, if they can live with transport hassles.
These include a steep walk up a muddy mountain road to access public transport.
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