Depending on your particular circumstances people approach this from different directions. Rather than go through an exhaustive list of scenarios consider the following.
Lease / Rental Contract
Most Hong Kong residential leases are for two years for which a standard contract is used. Subject to negotiation, there is an option to “break” the lease normally after a year and giving the landlord two months notice, fourteen months in total from when you occupy. A one or two-month deposit plus your first month's rent will be paid generally before you move in depending on your Landlord. If you use an agency, their commission is one month's rent, half paid by you and the other by the Landlord. There is also the issue of Government rates, Management charges and parking if it's available. These are all extra charges so make sure what is included in your rent as it could make a significant difference to what you pay. There will two copies of the lease signed by both parties. The lease can be either a personal lease or in the name of your employer if that's part of the terms of your employment in Hong Kong. After signing both copies are sent to the Inland Revenue to be registered and stamped. There is a nominal stamp duty to be paid and is shared equally by the parties, after that a copy is returned to both the tenant and the landlord. We would recommend that you negotiate a fully inclusive rental agreement. When your lease is due to expire it is at the landlords' sole discretion if they want to renew the agreement or not.
Facilities & Location
Historically The Peak, Mid-Levels and SOHO (South of Hollywood Road) has been the established area for expatriates and resident foreigners. Well appointed, generally older tower blocks with varying in-house facilities, a premium part of town with rents to match. Old blocks generally are bigger inside, lower number of floors, not very effective air conditioning, basic kitchen and may not have a lift/elevator. New blocks will have smaller units, but better equipped, higher number of floors with lifts/elevators and security. An increasing number of complexes have a clubhouse, swimming pool, gym and other facilities on offer, but this will be reflected in the management charges and overall rental. The majority of units are rented unfurnished, but may include appliances like a washing machine, range (hob), oven, refrigerator and possibly a microwave oven. Move further out from the more densely populated areas you will find town houses or bigger low rise apartments at a more affordable prices compared to those on Hong Kong Island. Kowloon is generally less expensive compared to Hong Kong Island, with an increasing range of apartments. But some areas are more expensive, normally because of school catchment areas. The downside is getting around, the amount of stations cover bigger areas, but generally more buses, so the possibility of needing a car becomes greater, especially if you have children. If you're considering bringing your pet with you, not all apartments allow them, so check with your landlord. Regarding insurance, your landlord will insure the unit, but you should consider contents insurance. So there are a number of considerations to take into account.
Rather than committing to a lease straight away, there are a growing number of serviced apartments available in a variety of different locations. These are complete and ready to go; all you need is your suitcase. Rentals are available from a month upwards, for long-term rentals discounts are generally available. A one month deposit will be required; any adjustments for things like IDD phone calls will be deducted when it's repaid. If you use an agent a fee will be charged, but a lot of developments market direct. Once in you can look around and decide on your area and get a feel for the place depending on what you're looking for.
Before you move in to your home establish if the supply has been disconnected or not. The gas, water and electricity company will need a few days to come and sort you out, also deal with any paperwork and deposits. Periodically you will get a card through the door from the gas company who will want to come and check the installations. Some older properties don't have mains gas, but bottles are readily available. Water if it is tuned off can be turned on at the property, but check with your landlord or agent. For the phone, contact the provider or visit one of the shops, choose a plan and arrange connection.