The Exotic Lamma Island
Hong Kong apartments are notoriously small and the cramped living spaces in the metropolitan areas can be particularly hard to adapt to for expats, so some have chosen to trade in urban conveniences for spacious homes, fresh air and beautiful natural surroundings. No wonder, then, that approximately a third of Lamma Island's residents are expats.
Lamma Island is Hong Kong's third largest island after Lantau and Hong Kong Island, and is divided into north and south sections in administration, with the northern Yung Shue Wan being its population centre. Contrary to what you might have imagined, living on outlying islands doesn't mean seclusion. Compared to most outlying islands, Lamma is rather close to Central, being a short 30- to 35-minute ferry ride away. Discovery Bay is slightly closer to Central Piers (25 to 30 minutes on ferry), but its ferry ticket and rent prices are higher than those of Lamma Island. The island has four piers, located at Yung Shue Wan, Sok Kwu Wan (Picnic Bay), Pak Kok Tsuen and Mo Tat Wan, respectively. It currently has three outbound ferry routes: Central to Lamma Island (Yung Shue Wan), Central to Sok Kwu Wan, and Aberdeen to Sok Kwu Wan, each operated by a different company.
Unlike Cheung Chau or Mui Wo, Lamma, with an estimated population of 6,000, has reserved much of its island lifestyle, with no chain stores or restaurants on the island. Most shops are set up on the ground floor of residential buildings, and you'll find a cluster of private restaurants along or near Yung Shue Wan Main Street. The only postal office, fire station and bank branch are also located in Yung Shue Wan. In addition, the island has one library in the north section, and one down south. Safety and police-community relations are good (there are only two police posts on the entire island), and the community is very friendly and welcoming.
Due to their popularity with expats, Lamma properties have continuously risen in price in recent years, with a few transacted sales approaching the price levels of urban areas. Properties close to the Yung Shue Wan Pier are most coveted. The island gets approximately 20 applications annually for building village houses, and it takes around 10 years for an application to be approved. On average, there are seven to eight new village houses built on Lamma every year.
Most available homes on Lamma Island are found in Tai Peng New Village, Ham Tin Kau Tsuen and Po Wah Yuen, with saleable areas starting at 350 square feet, and still a small number of properties selling at below HK$3 million. In terms of rentals, the monthly rent of a 700-square-foot village home typically sits between HK$15,000 and HK$30,000, depending on the location and interior. There are also quite a few village house-converted bed and breakfasts available for rent.
Some may think that apart from its wide variety of dining options, Lamma Island fades in comparison to the metropolitan area in respect of daily necessities and facilities, but let's not forget that convenience and well-developed facilities don't necessarily equate to quality of life. If hectic city living is taking a toll on you and you need an escape, then maybe a serene corner away from the concrete jungle, with lush greenery and fresh air, is just the thing you need. 有別於長洲或梅窩，常住人口約6,000人的南丫島，保留較原整的小島生活，島上至今仍未有連鎖店進駐。商舖大多採用前舖後居的住宅模式，餐廳則集中在榕樹灣大街一帶，而全島唯一一間郵政局、消防局和銀行分行亦在北面的榕樹灣。島上有兩間圖書館，南北段各有一間。當地警民關係融洽，治安良好（整個島只有兩個警崗），社區人情味濃厚。