When I arrived in Hong Kong I was heavily pregnant and relocating from the Solomon Islands. We had, for the previous three years enjoyed the benefits of a tropical paradise – full coral beachfront, wide palm fringed garden and unobstructed views of the ocean. And we had a gardener!! My home finding at the hands of a local agent had left me in tatters. How could I survive in a 30th floor apartment with no balcony, and planes whizzing past the windows near Kai Tak Airport? I knew people lived in places like Clearwater Bay and the Southside, but we had a budget that wasn’t going there. I was excited when an expat agent suggested I visit Discovery Bay. At last someone who understood. I didn’t even view the rooms of the house when I walked into my first Hong Kong low-rise, and glimpsed a long strip of green grass with a white sand beach beyond. I had found HOME. I had no idea how my husband would get to work but we had a BEACH and a GARDEN! Almost 24 years later, as an agent now myself, I recently leased the same home (with no improvements) for double our budget of 1993 and wondered to myself if the eager tenants really understood what owning a garden in Hong Kong means – I certainly didn’t and I wonder now if I would reconsider if I had.
As a keen member of the HK Gardening Society I moved on – to the New Territories and 4000 sf of unkempt scrub which we stoically built up with composting and cuttings to a sizeable oasis of fruit trees, ponds and contemplation corners. Along the way I made friends with people who did the same. Gardening people tend to hang together, even in the face of growing doubts that they are sane. Mosquito breeds and snake species came to be part of my vernacular and we fought on, chopping our way out after typhoons and euthanising chickens in a birdflu epidemic, to retain the country lifestyle. Our kids grew up rock climbing and stream hopping and we entertained in the garden and had annual bonfires and luau’s – until we got a divorce.
I had never lived in a high rise – and I had no idea what that meant. It certainly meant less room and certainly didn’t involve garden furniture, but it did involve free time, clean floors and a strange sensation of not quite ever being alone. I’d never even had curtains! The first night I didn’t sleep a wink as I listened to lift bells dinging and chairs scraping on all four sides of my flat. And so for the last three years I have lived without a garden. Let me tell you how that feels.
I miss it.
I miss the smell of plants and fresh cut grass and I miss the sound of plopping turtles. I miss the cool evenings having a glass of wine under the trees and admiring the days effort. I miss the fun of kids running amok and chasing puppies, but I don’t miss all that comes with it – hours and hours of pulling weeds, repositioning hoses, clearing drains and smacking bugs.
Leasing a home with a garden is a bigger noose around your neck than adopting a dog. You will enjoy a garden for about three months a year – in between the rain and the cold. If you are here in October, November and March it will be wonderful. The rest of the year you will either be watering or baling. Now don’t get me wrong – as a Real Estate Agent with some knowledge of HK’s greener sides, I still lease homes with gardens, and some are magnificent, but seldom to people who are seasoned expats. Nowadays, we have so many options to enjoy gardens – public gardens – that owning one yourself is hardly necessary. A few herbs in pots and you are done. A palm in the living room and you are positively transported. Honestly – having a garden is for the birds but this is just my opinion. Now I don’t have a garden! I am happily enjoying running, and exploring areas of Hong Kong I’ve never really appreciated – Hong Kong IS a garden. A wonderful garden of Eden in all seasons and I love it!
Get your running shoes on to catch our fun loving Agent- Sarah. Her personal logo includes her Saikung Magazine as she covers the area, and our HIGH ENERGY Sarah needs fuel so she brings it along with her in varied snacks. Her British roots are pasted over the McVities digestives she shares with colleagues. Sarah has a buzz of energy that caught our designers imagination – you will soon see Sarah buzzing around Saikung on the side of a mini bus!! Trust US – Its our TRUTH.
Superb attention to detail, a flair for precision, a feather in a cap for starting a new career, a cup full of enthusiasm and a blade for cutting right to client needs. Who knew our Agent Stuart was such an insightful human? He did…. We agree.
A diary for organisational skills, and a phone to take your calls. An apple for energy, pens for highlighting client needs and her own territory of the SOUTH SIDE with a smiling electrical cable – now that could say anything or nothing at all about our electric, vibrant neon smiling Southside paddling, mum of two Realtor Nikki Green. It said it all to us. Continue reading “Nikki’s Story”→
Megan’s Story…..It started with a small team building exercise with our team of Agents at Locations.
A five minute task to find items around the office that meaningfully symbolise who we are as individuals. I myself am a fixer ( pliers) a visionary ( glasses) with clear sight ( some wipes) to bring our company to a profitable place where all agents earn good income (coins – the old adage “Take care of the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”) and a battery to signify positive energy that is always required to power a business forward….
When I started my Blog I said I would try not to bore the pants off my readers if I had any… well seems I do and seems I can. There is a cockroach in my dishwasher is a catch cry not to be ignored when heard above the mediocrity of Bloggospherical banality. Its a real and important issue brought to the attention of every real estate agent, willing or unwilling in Hong Kong on a regular basis.
Let me be perfectly CLEAR – There’s a cockroach in EVERY dishwasher if its been left in a vacant flat, unwashed and with any food remnants in it. There’s a cockroach in every flat left with a dishwasher or without a dishwasher and there’s a willing and trained cockroach-buster in every one of us real estate agents depending on the commission, the complexity and the compassion we feel for the cockroach ridden tenant.
HOWEVER the cry of ‘There’s a cockroach in my dishwasher’ comes in a variety of pitches. The soft, clear – can I ask your advice pitch. The medium octave, heard in the room but not in the lobby range. The ‘I’m not going to touch it and I hope it goes away range. The I’M NOT GOING IN THE ROOM and you need to come sort it out now range. And then there is the range I experienced via vibration the other day – from my office, when screeched from the New Territiories in the manner of THERE IS A COCKROACH IN MY DISHWASHER AND YOU BETTER GET HERE NOW OR I’LL SUE THE PANTS OFF YOUR WHOLE INDUSTRY range.
I know most people think I listen and I truly do but ….but this is the range I can’t hear – Dogs I have reason to believe can hear it because they have micro sensitive ears. Cats tend to compete with it, and old men just turn off the hearing aids. Me? I just can’t seem to hear it.
Here is my advice for anyone who can’t hear this range – slip a coin to the doorman and ask him call http://www.asiapest.com.hk – Cockroach busters while you go out for wine.
There are so many of these companies that the poor realtor just can’t keep up but GOOGLE fortunately has all of them. Happy Hunting !
As a Real Estate Agent and a resident of HK, I have a long term relationship with Saikung. I started The Flame Tree and Flame Tree Rugs there, held a few exhibitions and became known for The Christmas Carols By Candlelight event. I specialised in Saikung and Clearwater Bay real estate and I’ve done some time at Steamers Bar as a local – (before it was taken over as Starbucks) I’ve watched Saikung not change significantly over 20+ years.
Of course I have witnessed bad village house policy, degradation of the Country Parks, traffic build up and a proliferation of new Real Estate Agents ( a whole street of them in fact) but what I see surviving in Saikung is a SOUL. Its still possible to wander the town and see the personalities that have made Saikung a thriving small business community. Service with a soul is rare in Hong Kong, and knowing Saikung as well as I do, I see it less and less in Real Estate. The old days of your friendly neighbourhood Real Estate may be gone but I count a few real estate agents in Saikung not as competition but as co-operating friends. We meet, we greet with a kiss on the cheek, we swap notes on housing and we serve our clients with integrity. A few of us really do know how to work with our clients to find the perfect home. I’m so glad to be able to work in Saikung.
Spending a day photographing Saikung property is always terrifically inspiring. The houses of Saikung have personalities as different as people looking to live in them.
Do look at our site http://www.locations.com.hk for our latest Saikung Listings
There is so much to offer families in the area – beaches, rugby, art lessons, boating, restaurants, bars, kids play areas, bookshops, country park walks, cows, markets and the rare opportunity to iive in a village of Tanka people and understand some of the wonderfully colourful culture that abounds….and then there is always just a chance to lease a great piece of real estate, make a HOME and LIVE a life that is natural and normal – just like HOME.