I wanted to share my reply to this article: Hong Kong Housing vs the World, a Startup’s Real Real Estate Cost because It really hits me. I really agree a lot with this post and wanted to share my response to this article and others from the startup community who have questioned the sense or believes it is just a rant from a dissatisfied expat.
I would like to share my humble opinion on the article as someone who came here from SF Bay Area. I must say that I agree with the author of the article.
I came here for Paul’s Startup Bootcamp and AcceleratorHK and ultimately decided to stick it here some more. I feel that HK’s startup ecosystem will rather benefit from having outside entrepreneurs come here, as Hong Kong’s mentality is still somewhat traditional. The more entrepreneurs you have, especially from different background and experience, the better the community.
I too live in a little “shack” that I call Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs (my room is even smaller than the one in the article, 6 stairs to climb and no AC…summer I’m looking forward.) I rent a room in a shared flat partly because it is what I can afford and partly because I don’t know how long I will stay here. Every time that I come home, I’m reminded how my one room in US is 3 times the size of my current place and that’s a shocker from many American entrepreneurs trying to create something here. It’s not something you can get used to overnight. The conveniences here actually become inconveniences and you start missing things such as having a car, driving and able to do grocery shopping in one go.
The reason a lot of people choose to seek housing in Central (I don’t know any entrepreneur living in mid-levels), CWB, HK side compared to NT etc… (I live in Kowloon) is because as a non-Cantonese speaker, there are shared flats and even some landlords who will rent on short-term basis because they are used to foreigners. Startup founders do not have the means and knowledge of the future to sign a one-year contract, throw two months deposit and one month prepaid. Its absurd! NT is daunting to some of us because of two reasons. 1. Transportation time, not so much cost. Time is money. Spending 1.5 hours commuting to HK Island and back is wasted time doing something else. 2. Communication. There are likely fewer English-speaking people there, which make going to eat rather a challenge.
I think the author is trying to shed some light for people who may want to come to Hong Kong and give a fair warning. Thank you for that.