What You Should Know Before Relocating to Hong Kong

August 17 2018

Before moving to Hong Kong to begin a new and adventurous expat life abroad, there are certain things you’ll need to know. This compact Hong Kong expat guide contains information about the language in Hong Kong & living and working in Hong Kong, as well as Hong Kong travel, lifestyle, and weather tips!

Language in Hong Kong

First things first, it may sound obvious, but remember that relocating to Hong Kong isn’t the same as relocating to China… We’d hate for you to study Mandarin and turn up with a joyful ‘Ni hao’ only to find that you’ve been learning the wrong language! Most of Hong Kong speaks Cantonese, which is a very difficult language for English people to learn due to its six different tones. Though you’ll likely never become a master of the Cantonese language, learning as much as you can is definitely a good idea for settling in and communicating with locals or potential business partners. Even learning some simple Cantonese phrases can go a long way with Hong Kong people. Don’t worry though, English is widely spoken across the island, so you shouldn’t have too many problems – but if ever in doubt remember to speak with your hands and smile a lot!

Living in Hong Kong – Rented Accommodation

When living and working in Hong Kong, where you decide to live can have a massive impact on your general quality of life. The first thing that’s important to know about accommodation when moving to Hong Kong is that, unfortunately, Hong Kong rent prices are very high! It’s the high price range of Hong Kong apartments that causes the biggest difference when comparing the cost of living in Hong Kong with the UK. Though prices are expensive for small spaces, when choosing where to live in Hong Kong you will get what you pay for in terms of proximity to amenities. Accommodation prices are highest on the island, but you’ll be closer to the centre, bars, restaurants, and entertainment. Prices are lower living of the island, which is great as long as you don’t mind travelling a little further to the centre. Our top tips to remember when it comes to renting in Hong Kong are:

  • Be very firm with your Hong Kong estate agent when it comes to telling them exactly what you want – if you’re not specific with your requirements you’ll end up viewing endless properties!
  • Keep in mind there can be a tendency to show ‘less desirable’ flats first so you will hopefully snap one up – be patient and you will find what you’re looking for eventually.
  • It’s the norm to be required to pay six weeks rent in advance and to pay high fees for the estate agent’s services, so expect your first payment to be high.
  • Plug sockets in Hong Kong (as well as voltage) are the same as in the UK, so at least you don’t have to worry about buying adapter plugs for your home appliances!

Working in Hong Kong – Employment & Business Etiquette

Fortunately, there are plenty of jobs in Hong Kong for expats. Hong Kong’s employment market is stable and their economy is growing steadily. There is particular growth in technology and banking recruitment, so if you’re a specialist within these areas you’re in luck! The majority of Hong Kong expats move after already accepting a job offer, but if you have yet to find work don’t worry. Just take care to look into visa and ID requirements properly and bring all of the necessary paper work. There will be a lot of bureaucracy hoops to jump through but you will eventually find the role for you.

Once settled in Hong Kong, have some business cards made and always carry a bunch with you – it’s considered polite to have a business card to hand at all times, as networking in Hong Kong is extremely important and an opportunity could present itself at any time! Regarding taxes, you should know that tax isn’t automatically taken from your Hong Kong salary like in the UK. You’ll also be required to pay your taxes in large lump sums rather than on a monthly basis, with your first payment including a provisional sum for the following year. So, save up, because you should expect your first tax bill to be pretty high!

Working in Hong Kong – Employment & Business Etiquette

Fortunately, there are plenty of jobs in Hong Kong for expats. Hong Kong’s employment market is stable and their economy is growing steadily. There is particular growth in technology and banking recruitment, so if you’re a specialist within these areas you’re in luck! The majority of Hong Kong expats move after already accepting a job offer, but if you have yet to find work don’t worry. Just take care to look into visa and ID requirements properly and bring all of the necessary paper work. There will be a lot of bureaucracy hoops to jump through but you will eventually find the role for you.

Once settled in Hong Kong, have some business cards made and always carry a bunch with you – it’s considered polite to have a business card to hand at all times, as networking in Hong Kong is extremely important and an opportunity could present itself at any time! Regarding taxes, you should know that tax isn’t automatically taken from your Hong Kong salary like in the UK. You’ll also be required to pay your taxes in large lump sums rather than on a monthly basis, with your first payment including a provisional sum for the following year. So, save up, because you should expect your first tax bill to be pretty high!

Hong Kong Lifestyle

So far we’ve prepared you with accommodation and business tips, but let’s look at the main question: what’s it like living in Hong Kong? The truth is, though life in Hong Kong as a foreigner can seem expensive, it’s worth it in terms of just how much adventure you will have! Hong Kong may be known as a ‘concrete-jungle’ but to many HK expats’ surprise, there are endless green spaces to discover! Enjoying expat life in Hong Kong means hiking on mountains and through forests, taking part in water sports, and generally being active outdoors. Spectacular hills can be found to the north, and beautiful beaches to the south – so there’s something for everyone.

Hong Kong Cuisine, Eating Etiquette & Food Culture

Living in Hong Kong, you’ll also find yourself less than an hour from China by train, and Macau by boat. For more information on Hong Kong travel and transport, see below…

Public Transport in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s public transport system is fantastic, and very easy for expats to navigate! You’ll need to get yourself an ‘Octopus Card’, which is not unlike an Oyster card in London. With your Octopus Card you’ll be able to pay for journeys with preloaded cash by tapping in and out. Octopus Cards also have a great number of other added perks, including using them for payments in supermarkets, for parking, at vending machines, and even at public hospitals! So, don’t go anywhere without your handy Hong Kong Octopus Card. Don’t worry if you do find yourself in need of a taxi though, most taxi fares in Hong Kong are very cheap and already include a tip – unless you happen to be travelling at the 4:30pm cross over time which can be very busy, expensive, and should be avoided if possible. If you decide to drive, you must have a Hong Kong driving license. You can’t drive with your license from home, but if you bring it a long you can obtain a HK driving license without taking another test.

Hong Kong Weather

It’s also worth noting for British expats in Hong Kong that the weather can be very intense and extreme at times. Though we British are generally used to unpredictable weather patterns, you may not be prepared for the humidity or typhoons that a Hong Kong summer can bring. It may sound scary, but just know you’ll be in great hands, as Hong Kong is unbelievably well-equipped to handle extreme weather conditions!

With all this information to prepare with, we know you’re going to enjoy such a fantastic life in your new home country. Just make sure to enlist the best Hong Kong moving company for the job when it comes to making your UK to Hong Kong move as smooth as possible. Here at Anglo City movers Hong Kong, we have accumulated decades of experience to help you transition with ease. We’ve even built up a reputation as one of the leading HK movers! Contact us today to see how we can help you.

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