Expats moving to Hong Kong will discover deep tradition at the foundations of the city's towering skyscrapers and neon lights. East truly does meet West here, which results in a unique cultural mix. Some things may feel fairly familiar to Westerners who are new to Hong Kong, while others will be entirely foreign.
Living in Hong Kong as an expat
On the whole, many expats find it relatively easy to live in Hong Kong thanks to its efficient infrastructure and amenities. The former British colony has one of the world's most successful economies and is known for being one of Asia's fiscal tigers, perched near the top of global economic rankings.
The fast pace of working life and the packed city centre can be a challenge to new arrivals in Hong Kong. Over 7 million people are packed into the archipelago, and the luxury of elbow room becomes fully appreciated as members of the population frenetically whizz past.
Air pollution has also unceremoniously drifted down from the factories of southern China and has come to settle over and around the city's upward-reaching skyline. As overwhelming and unattractive as this may be to some, however, fresh air and open spaces can always be found outside the expat-friendly central area.
Cost of living in Hong Kong
While ostentatious luxury and a devotion to quality are still part of its richly woven fabric, Hong Kong doesn't necessarily offer the same lucrative employment packages it used to. As the cost of living continues to climb, vast wealth is becoming less attainable for anyone other than the most senior employees. High living costs and limited prospects are also proving a deterrent for expats who don’t already have employment secured in the city.
Accommodation, in particular, is characterised by sky-high price tags for disproportionately small spaces. Expats should attempt to negotiate a housing allowance or at least carefully consider the cost of renting in Hong Kong before signing a contract.
Expat families and children
The territory has an advanced healthcare system, an elevated standard of schooling and an exemplary public transport system that all serve to significantly decrease the burden of transition. Once some of the wrinkles of relocation have been ironed out, expats will also find themselves able to appreciate the city's high levels of safety and practically unlimited entertainment.
Climate in Hong Kong
The city-state has a subtropical climate, which brings hot, humid summer days and dry, cold winters. The rainy season is in spring and summer, from March to September. Typhoons are a concern from May to November, during which time expats should keep an eye on local forecasts for weather warnings. See our page on Climate in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has many layers and expats will find that just as they’ve finished pulling back one layer, more swiftly take shape. Whether they feel safer in the insular yet comfortable expat scene or prefer to explore the indigenous culture of this age-old port city, an exciting and invigorating experience is guaranteed.
Official name: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China
Population: 7.5 million
Capital city: Hong Kong
Neighbouring countries: Hong Kong is spread over a number of islands – most notably Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories. Part of Hong Kong also extends to Mainland China, north of Hong Kong Island. The west, east and south of Hong Kong are bordered by the South China Sea.
Geography: Most of Hong Kong is hilly and mountainous, and many areas of Hong Kong are undeveloped. Many of the city-state's developed areas are built on reclaimed land.
Political system: As a Special Administrative Region of China, Hong Kong is autonomous on most fronts, excluding defence and foreign affairs.
Major religions: About half of Hong Kong follows no religion, with Buddhism and Taoism being the most popular religions among the rest of the city-state.
Main languages: Chinese and English
Money: The Hong Kong dollar (HKD) is divided into 100 cents. Hong Kong's sophisticated and well-developed financial services sector makes it easy for expats to open a local bank account. ATMs are widely available.
Tipping: A service charge of 10 percent is sometimes added to restaurant bills, but no additional tip is necessary.
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz. Plugs are UK-style with three flat blades.
Internet domain: .hk
International dialling code: +852
Emergency contact: 999
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road. There is a comprehensive public transport system, including the MTR subway, buses and taxis.
"People in Hong Kong are very used to people coming and going. The population is very transient, so it is second nature to welcome newcomers in Hong Kong." Read more of Leslie's comments about life in Hong Kong.
"I adore my host city. It's been two and a half years, and the love affair has yet to wear off." Read Lisa's full interview about her experience as an expat in Hong Kong.
Are you an expat living in Hong Kong?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Hong Kong. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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