Saturday, 16 June 2012

Woman on the Move

Let’s talk moving, as in housing and transit. Tomorrow, I will be moving into my new apartment in Causeway Bay, a district that seems to be undergoing gentrification.

I spent Friday visiting various studio “apartments” in my planned price range and found that they were all tiny. Space it at a premium here, especially on Hong Kong Island, and the prices reflect it. In fact, the studio apartments I viewed are more like college dorm rooms – it makes me feel young again!

My new apartment is 260 square feet and is furnished with a bed, night table, wardrobe and desk, plus a tiny bathroom and kitchenette. Like most “serviced” apartments, it comes with weekly maid service and linen change (!), cable TV, WiFi and utilities. I’ll be paying almost twice what I pay in Toronto for an apartment that only one-third as large, but with utilities, WiFi and cable thrown in, it’s a bit less pricey.

In a nod to NYC, the building is two blocks from Times Square, an upscale highrise mall with shops that I might find anywhere in the world: Burberry, Caswell & Massey, Dunhill, etc. (Shopping is everywhere, indeed!)

My building is a low-rise, only six or seven floors:  a treat in a region where 30-storey buildings are common. There’s a rooftop garden and laundry on site, too, which isn’t always the case. Many people send their laundry out for washing and laundries charge by the kilogram. I think I’d prefer to wash my own underwear, thank you!

As in New York, Times Square has a subway station, and it’s only a 10-minute ride to work, so my door-to-door commute should be no more than 30 minutes. Transit here is amazingly efficient. (Ah, Toronto, take lessons, please!) There is a comprehensive network of subway lines, complemented by buses and streetcars (called trams here). The subway is modern, and each platform has numerous entry points that align with the doors on the subway cars when they arrive. The track are behind glass, so I’m guessing that suicides by train aren’t easy to arrange (Hello, again, Toronto!), and it’s a great safety feature, too, especially since so many children ride the subway.

In fact, that’s something that really strikes me. Everyone uses the subway, no matter their age. It’s not simply working people, even on weekdays. There are elderly folks who creep towards the platforms, families with small children and youngsters travelling alone and in packs. It’s safe and convenient, and in a city where space is at a premium, it’s easier than driving. I’ve never had to wait more than three minutes for a train, time of day notwithstanding. And yes, Torontonians, the subway does go all the way to the airport – what a concept! :)


  1. Great to read about your Hong Kong time, Elaine; very descriptive! (Re: the subway train system: my youngest brother, a marathon runner, believes that Toronto didn't win its Olympic bid a few years ago because it refused to build a train system from the airport into the city, which every other "world-class city" has!)

  2. I'm just convinced that Toronto has been trapped in some sort of time warp when it comes to transit and urban planning. That has to be the answer! So exciting to read your blog and enjoy your adventure with you! What's the weather like right now? Will you be doing any running while you're there?