Why You Should Live on The Kowloon Side
Hong Kong is thought of as one big island, but actually, it is divided into three main areas. You have Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. For most people who move here, they end up on Hong Kong island, surrounded by their favourite hallmarks like Starbucks, Pret, Marks & Spencer, etc. The New Territories is an unknown wilderness to most, but it offers peaceful living, even if it might be far from work. Then we get to what sits between the two. Kowloon. Sometimes known as the “dark side”.
I have lived on the “dark side” for as long as I have been in Hong Kong. There are many reasons it’s known as the “dark side”, but in my experience, there isn’t very much that’s “dark” about it both literally or metaphorically. Living in Kowloon is great and here’s why I love the “dark side” so much
It’s Great for Language Immersion
One of the things I wanted to do right away was to learn Cantonese. Little did I know how well I’d positioned myself for that journey. Living in Kowloon gives you so much more exposure to learning Cantonese because English is much more limited. I’ve made a list of Cantonese resources here, and Kowloon is as good a place as any to put them to good use.
It has a Great Sense of Community
As you begin to speak the language of the locals, you begin to be accepted by your community. You get to know people in the area and form friendships. Even if you don’t speak much Cantonese, you will be welcomed for trying. Where I live, people don’t just know me by my white face but also by my black dog. I’m the white guy from Wong Tai Sin that has a black dog that he walks twice a day, interacting with the locals and they take notice. Some people stop to chat. Minibus drivers honk at me while passers-by comment: “Oh, the dog has put on weight! Looks much better for it.” “That’s that dog from Wong Tai Sin! It’s such a good dog!”You get to know the local people better, as they do you.
It has Awesome Parks
Hong Kong looks like a concrete jungle, but once you set about exploring its wonders, you begin to realise how green it is. Looking at my area in Kowloon, all the way from Lok Fu to Diamond Hill there are tons of parks, and they aren’t small ones either. Dotted in between the parks are temples and places of interest to visit. Chi Lin Nunery in Diamond Hill is a must see.
Rent is cheaper
Rent is cheaper on this side, but not by much. It’s something you want to take as much control over as possible because rent will likely be your most significant expense in Hong Kong. For a general overlook, this article gives a pretty good insight into the different areas of Hong Kong and what renting there might cost.
You have More Local Food Options
I have a friend who loves eating at the most bougie restaurants in town. To be fair, he knows some excellent restaurants, and they all share one thing in common. They exist on Hong Kong Island. He very rarely ventures over to Kowloon and I asked him one day if he’d tried Tsui Wah. (This is practically an institution in Hong Kong!) He’d never heard of it. Or Tai Hing for that matter. I eat at these places often with my wife and her family. Kowloon, for me, has much better local food than on the Island.
It has Cool Markets and Malls
We have some of the most exciting markets and malls. In Mong Kok, we have the famous pet street affectionately known as “Goldfish Street” for obvious reasons. There’s an entire street dedicated to sneakers! The Ladies market and the Temple Street markets are great places for knickknacks. We have the “Golden Computer Centre” in Sham Shui Po stacked to the brim with new and old computers, current and Retro games and games consoles and it even consists of a shop selling manuals for how to use the latest software. In the same area, we have places that sell leather goods for making shoes and bags as well as a street for picking up all types of electronics. Kowloon really has it all! Consider living in this great slice of Hong Kong, and if it’s too much of a stretch, at least visit us. We’ll welcome you with open arms.