Living in: Hong Kong
Those looking for sun and surfing head to Big Wave Bay on the south side of Hong Kong Island. Tai Long Wan on Sai Kung Peninsula, which can be reached by boat or by hiking trail, is a white sand beach close to the China border, framed by green peaks and fields with excellent seafood restaurants.
With so many countries within a two-hour flight from Hong Kong, going farther afield is a breeze. Vietnam is a popular weekend destination, with Hanoi only an hour's flight away, and the red-eye to Bali is a favourite for a four- or five-day getaway. Even better, you can check in to your flight from a mall in Central, drop your luggage off and spend the day unencumbered before hopping on the train for the 20-minute ride to the airport.
The real estate market in Hong Kong is extremely robust and prices are on the rise. In fact, it was one of the quickest to bounce back after the financial crisis in 2008. "Properties have increased in price around 40 percent, and some people are predicting a further increase of 10 percent this year," said Elms. The government has implemented measures to try and cool the market down and dissuade buyers who flip properties. "The result is less speculation, but prices are still rising," said Martina Ebert of estate agents Engel & Völkers.
Because space is at a premium, flats are the most common, with many buildings of 20 to 30 floors and four units per floor. Most do not come with Western-style amenities. "Many of my clients are expats from Europe and America and they expect the same standards," said Ebert. "But many units don't come with an oven or a dishwasher." Houses and villas can be found in the New Territories or on the south side of the island, but are very expensive, as is outdoor space, balconies and terraces.
Purchasing a property is relatively straightforward, but nearly all of the land is owned by the government, and buyers will have a lease-hold only. Before you buy, ask if structural alterations have been made, and if so, did the previous owners have consent from the building authorities. If not, you can be asked to put it back to its original state.