If the OP is working for Natixis ( working on assumption here), why not live in areas like Lai King, Lai Chi Kok, Ho Man Tin? A mix of expats live in these area, good transport links, local to supermarkets, noisy but not as noisy and close but not too close to the office. Rents ok. within budget.
i do think that many locals share your prejudice, FWIW.
i will give one word of warning about SSP though: there's an old woman who picks through the market trash there around 5-6 in the morning. her dog is mean and barks at runners. you can make of that what you will.
Agreed. I just moved out of my apartment of 4 years and was paying $10,500 in Central for a 300 sq ft studio. Was very comfortable for one persona and never felt cramped for space.