Settling in Hong Kong, whether an expat or a local moving to a new neighborhood, can be a stressful thing to do. If the financial burden of paying for advanced rent and deposit as mandated by law is not enough, the amount of physical and mental strain a tenant has to undergo is easily understandable. From packing things, deciding to dispose items unfit for the new home to unpacking and arranging things that can sometimes cost a day or two off from work to properly get things in order.
Then comes the aesthetic appeal that a new home deserves to exude. Part of this is buying new appliances and furniture at home. Although it’s common to order online, having a first-hand look at pieces of furniture offers peace of mind, manage expectations better and minimize wrong impressions.
In Hong Kong, it sounds quite straightforward. Visit a shop, take a look, buy and arrange for delivery of a furniture. But there are other subtle things one has to consider.
- Do research types and price. It’s a given that besides looking for the right furniture type (color, design, dimensions and materials), we also research for price. While more fancy shops sell more expensive furniture, lesser known ones may offer similar-looking but at slightly reduced prices.
- Do measurements. When buying that large oak table that complements your rustic kitchen decor, it’s no-brainer to measure first the area you’ll be placing that new kitchen add-on. But it’s not only the floor area that you should scale. Also determine if the bulky furniture can be assembled. Otherwise, you have to check if it fits the door or the service lift — if you live in a high-rise building.
- Expect delivery delays. In many shops like Pricerite, what you see displayed are the only stocks available in store. This means if you loved that brown comfy sofa prominently displayed near the entrance, that’s the only one they get. Obviously, you’d like to get a fresh piece, untouched by a thousand other shop visitors. So the shop has to order from suppliers and deliveries can take a week or longer after you paid for it.
- Understand delivery arrangements. Some shops offer free delivery for items bought at certain price range. However, make sure that that besides this condition, there are no other restrictions in place. For instance, free delivery can sometimes be available only at certain districts. And since delivery involves lifting, there may be extra fees charged on places that exceed certain floors without available service elevators or apartments located at certain distance from delivery trucks.
- Prepare to bring it home yourself. Many expats don’t need to buy brand-new furniture sold at Ulferts or IKEA. They simply head to AsiaXpat’s classifieds section. Virtually all items posted are to be picked up from home or warehouse and are more likely sold by individuals who wish to dispose items rather than established furniture businesses. This means once you agree with the price, probably much lower than shelf price at stores, you will have to pick it up on location and provide your own vehicle — a taxi or van perhaps — for transportation.