Living and working in Hong Kong
Ambitious expats are often drawn to the bright city lights of Hong Kong, a global financial centre with excellent opportunities for career progression. The popularity of The Pearl of the Orient continues to grow thanks to its high incomes, opulent lifestyle, sub-tropical climate and buzzing blend of cultures.
While Hong Kong is part of China, it is very distinct in so many ways. It’s a special administrative region of China, with its own political system and laws. Hong Kong tends to have a greater English-speaking population than mainland China, due to its historic period of British rule, which makes it easier to settle straight into both business and personal relationships.
As Hong Kong is such a large global business hub, many companies base their Eastern operations in the city. This means that there are plenty of opportunities for international postings, though getting a visa is not always straightforward. For those planning on being in the region for more than 180 days with confirmed, regular employment, a working visa will be required. Potential employers are required to show that a vacancy can’t be filled by a local worker as part of the visa application, even for inter-company transfers.
Quality of life
Life is fast-paced in Hong Kong, and high incomes encourage affluent lifestyles. There is plenty of luxury to be found, but everything comes at a cost. Hong Kong is one of the most expensive locations for expats in the world.
Accommodation, for example, is incredibly costly and often comes up small in square meterage. It’s a densely populated city and real estate is at a premium, which pushes up the prices, particularly close to the business centre. Many expats reside in small apartments with no outside space in order to be close to everything that the metropolitan city has to offer. For those moving with families, however, it may be worth considering housing a little further afield. Accommodation tends to be a little cheaper, larger and more spacious, though there will be a potentially long commute to get to and from work, particularly off the main Hong Kong Island if ferries need to be relied upon for travelling.
It’s fairly easy to build up a good social life, with such an array of restaurants, bars, clubs, galleries, museums and other attractions. Dedicated online networks, such as InterNations, are full of fellow UK expats who can share advice and events for an easy transition to the region. It’s also worth browsing websites like Expat Living Hong Kong, which is packed full of articles about making the jump into city life.
For expats moving with family, schooling and childcare are key concerns. Childcare is highly rated in Hong Kong, and among the best in the world with myriad options to choose from. Education is a very serious affair and public schools are of the highest quality, although many teach in Cantonese. There are international schools available that follow the British curriculum, but places are competitive and fess are high. Getting a school place should be a priority before relocation, as this may determine which area of the region housing needs to be found.
Healthcare is also an important thing to consider when moving with family. Again, the quality is exceptional in Hong Kong with high costs to match. Both public and private hospitals are of a good standard, but the charges for them are very similar. It’s worth investing in a comprehensive medical insurance policy for the whole family and using the private system, as this will give faster access to treatment if the need arises. There are plenty of English-speaking doctors and dentists available, and they are trained to world-class standards.
Information correct at the time of publication.
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