The trend for commercial real estate in Hong Kong in recent years has been decentralization beyond the traditional hub of Central.
This trend is driven by a confluence of factors, including:
- the efficiency and growing coverage of Hong Kong’s public transport system;
- large developments of grade-A office space in submarkets like Kowloon East and eastern Hong Kong Island; and
- the growth of remote work, collaborative workspaces, and other changes in how companies set up their offices and do business.
Keep in mind that finding a permanent office in Hong Kong may take some time. Using the services and offices of a business center or coworking space is a good temporary arrangement while you search for somewhere more permanent.
The central business district of Central has been a hub of trade and financial activity in Hong Kong since British colonial times. Most global financial institutions, as well as legal and consultancy firms, have an office here. Thanks to the district’s historic significance, in it you will find a scattering of heritage sites and buildings alongside modern shopping malls and luxury hotels.
The central business district of Central has been a hub of trade and financial activity in Hong Kong since British colonial times.
Central is a major transport hub with direct links to the airport, Kowloon and the outlying islands (via ferry). The Central Airport Express In-town Check-in is on the ground floor of the International Finance Centre (IFC), Hong Kong’s leading commercial and lifestyle complex.
Traditionally, the price of real estate in Hong Kong increased the closer you got to Central. Today, this still largely holds true, despite the growing number of upscale commercial developments being built in other parts of the territory. The districts of Sheung Wan and Admiralty, on Central’s periphery, boast similar conveniences and make more affordable alternatives.
Taikoo Place, in between Quarry Bay and Tai Koo on the eastern side of Hong Kong Island, is a large commercial complex encompassing ten office towers, the Cityplaza shopping center, a five-star hotel and an MTR link. The Central-Wan Chai Bypass, a 4-km tunnel that opened in 2019, slashed commuting times to the area.
Owned and managed by Swire Properties, Taikoo Place is a popular location for many global financial firms and other companies looking for a lower-priced alternative to Central. The tenant mix in this complex also includes many media, PR and tech-related companies. The complex is surrounded by the peaceful residential community of Tai Koo and is just minutes away from the Quarry Bay waterfront.
West Kowloon/Union Square
Union Square, a commercial and residential real estate project located in West Kowloon, has fast become a thriving hub for Hong Kong’s financial services industry since its establishment in 2011. The site encompasses several luxury residential complexes, two five-star hotels (W Hong Kong and Ritz-Carlton) and the ELEMENTS shopping mall. It is also home to Hong Kong’s tallest building, the International Commerce Centre (ICC).
Union Square sits atop Kowloon station and the Kowloon Airport Express In-town Check-in, and is just one stop away from Central on the MTR’s Tung Chung line. Thanks to the new West Kowloon high-speed rail station, it is a convenient base for frequent travelers to mainland China.
To increase the supply of business areas and commercial infrastructure in Hong Kong outside Central, the government commenced its development of Kowloon East, also known as CBD2, in 2012. With development to continue until 2030, Kowloon East — comprising the former industrial areas of Kwun Tong, Kai Tak and Kowloon Bay — is poised to become Hong Kong’s second premier centralized business district.
With development to continue until 2030, Kowloon East — comprising the former industrial areas of Kwun Tong, Kai Tak and Kowloon Bay — is poised to become Hong Kong’s second premier centralized business district.
A number of major multinational companies have relocated in recent years to Kowloon East, drawn by lower rents, ample square footage and modern facilities. Kowloon East is also designated as Hong Kong’s first “smart city,” piloting initiatives to improve the quality of life, use fewer resources and improve the delivery of government services.
Transport links to and from Kowloon East are set to improve with the new Tuen Ma line, connecting Kowloon East to northeast New Territories. A new MTR station opened at Kai Tak in 2020 and additional stations are scheduled to open in 2021. When complete, the Tuen Ma line will extend all the way to Hung Hom, the rail hub at the southern end of Kowloon peninsula.
Cyberport and Science Park
Cyberport, in Pok Fu Lam, and Science Park, in Tai Po District, New Territories, are Hong Kong’s two science and technology business parks, both wholly developed and owned by the government. Although relatively remote from traditional commercial centers, the campuses are popular with technology startups for the special funding opportunities and support they provide. (See Work > The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem > Tech-Driven Startups.)
Although relatively remote from traditional commercial centers, the campuses are popular with technology startups for the special funding opportunities and support they provide.
Business Centers and Serviced Offices
Business centers, also commonly known as “serviced offices,” provide short- and long-term office arrangements for individuals and companies.
These centers provide rentable space from hot desks to private offices, with shared resources and amenities like conference rooms, support staff and telecommunications services. The following checklist outlines what to look out for when viewing potential centers.
- Experience of reception and support staff
- Meeting room and video conferencing facilities
- Speed of internet connection and Wi-Fi capabilities
- IT support
- Noise reduction fittings
- Proper lighting
- Quality of office equipment and furnishings
- Fire escape routes and emergency exits
- CCTV monitoring systems
- Kitchen facilities and social breakout areas
- Location, location, location
Good to Know
Be wary of hidden and “add-on” costs. The rental price of some centers may include use of electricity and meeting rooms; others may charge extra for this. Most centers provide complimentary drinking water, tea and coffee.
Most established business centers are housed inside grade-A commercial buildings in busy urban areas, close to major hotels, convention centers and other conveniences. Many business centers now also offer coworking-style spaces (see below).
Coworking Spaces and Hot Desks
Startups and small businesses that value flexibility may find coworking spaces to be a preferable alternative to traditional business centers.
Emphasizing open, shared workspaces over private offices, coworking spaces tend to have a lower entry price point than business centers.
They are also designed to facilitate collaboration between tenants, with comfortable lounge areas and inviting food and beverage stations. Many coworking spaces curate regular social, networking and educational events for their members and for the wider community. For this reason, coworking spaces tend to be popular with collaborative and creative industries like technology, publishing and design, as well as social enterprises.
Coworking spaces in Hong Kong often offer startup-friendly services, like acceleration consulting, helping companies to apply for government funding, or advice on branding, marketing and social media.
Here are several popular coworking spaces around Hong Kong. More options can be found on InvestHK’s StartmeupHK website.
Campfire has dog-friendly locations in two rapidly changing parts of Hong Kong Island: Wong Chuk Hang and Kennedy Town. Campfire also offers consulting advice for startups, enterprises and corporates intending to apply to the HKSAR government’s many funding schemes.
With locations in Sai Wan, Sheung Wan, Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Hung Hom, TheDesk is open to businesses across all industries. Add-on services include a members-only network with workshops on innovation and leadership development.
Garage Society is located in Central, Sheung Wan, Sai Ying Pun and Wan Chai. Some locations include pet-friendly spaces and terraces. Their learning arm, Garage Academy frequently hosts events and workshops about tech and innovation.
Hive members can use any of their locations in Hong Kong, including Central, Sheung Wan, Wan Chai, Wong Chuk Hang, Sai Kung and Kennedy Town (where two specialized spaces cater to creatives, designers and makers). They offer special rates for entrepreneurs under the age of 23 and for startup and early-stage companies, especially those new to Hong Kong. The Hive also has an investment fund for early-stage companies.
VSpace has two locations, in Kowloon Bay (in the new Kowloon East central business district) and Kwai Chung, New Territories. The Kwai Chung location has specialized tools for designers and clothing manufacturers.
US-based coworking giant WeWork has eight locations in Hong Kong: Sai Ying Pun, Sheung Wan, Central, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, Quarry Bay and Kwun Tong (Kowloon East). An all-access membership lets members work at locations in more than 100 cities around the world.
Located in upper Central, close to Lan Kwai Fong and the Mid-Levels escalator, Wynd is open to workers in all industries. Their secretarial service can help with office operations and market research, and they have a partnership with a CPA firm to provide company registration services within Hong Kong. They also run an internship program to connect companies with talent from top Hong Kong universities.
This coworking space is for digital tech companies only. Tenancy comes with some special Cyberport perks, like eligibility to apply for Cyberport’s HK$200 million co-investment fund, Cyberport Macro Fund.
Three Commas, in Wong Chuk Hang, offers private offices, hot desks, dedicated desks and virtual offices. They also offer marketing and branding advice to small businesses and startups.
The Hong Kong Productivity Council runs this makerspace and coworking office in Kowloon Tong. Members have access to specialized technology like a VR room, 3D scanners and printers, motion capture equipment, and industrial and laser machinery.
The Wave’s coworking locations in Mong Kok and Kwun Tong offer bootcamps on business strategy and prototyping products and services. The Wave also highlights their sense of social responsibility, arranging events around themes of inclusivity and sustainability.
Cyberport Smart-Space 8
Cyberport recently opened a new coworking space for digital tech companies in Tsuen Wan, New Territories. Like the original Cyberport Smart-Space, it offers a variety of support services for startups, but it is specifically designed for young entrepreneurs aged 18 to 35.