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What is Life in Hong Kong Like for Expats?

What is Life in Hong Kong Like for Expats?

With a vibrant mix of cultures, Hong Kong brings together both the East and the West. The city has attracted professionals and families from across the globe. Here you will experience life through many cultures and traditions. With cosmopolitan business districts and vibrant islands, life in Hong Kong is exciting, varied and eye-opening. It’s no wonder around 360,000 expats have settled there.

But what is it really like moving to Hong Kong? Is it as easy as some say? With many concerns surrounding accommodation, cost of living and schooling, it can seem daunting to make the move. We’ve compiled some of the most important information you need to know about what life in Hong Kong is like for expats.

What Are the Visa Requirements for Expats in Hong Kong?

Like many international destinations, before you enter the region it is necessary to secure a visa. For most expats looking to move to Hong Kong, a working visa is the most appropriate option.

To get a Hong Kong working visa, employers who are sponsoring the move tend to handle the majority of the paperwork. The visa is applied for under the General Employment Policy (GEP). Usually, this visa is granted for a certain period of time and requires a job offer to be applicable.

Once applied, the immigration department will assess the visa based on:

  • Salary and how it compares locally
  • Qualifications
  • Proof that the company couldn’t find a local person to fill the position
  • Contribution to the economy

What is the Job Market Like for Expats in Hong Kong?

It’s not an exaggeration that Hong Kong is a city of opportunities. The job market is consistently growing. Many companies base their headquarters in this region; this causes an influx of jobs. Even though the job market is booming, competition is also present with many local and global talents applying for high-salary positions. 

That being said, moving to a financial hub like Hong Kong for ambitious expats can help accelerate careers and grow salaries at a much faster rate than in the UK.

Red Peak Tram heading up a hill in Hong Kong with the view of skyscrapers behind

How Does the Cost of Living in Hong Kong Compare to Other Cities?

Not only is the job market competitive in Hong Kong, but with such a dense population, things like accommodation, food and transport prices can be inflated and drive a higher cost of living. Compared to other cities in Asia, Hong Kong is more expensive. 

But with higher salaries and accommodation packages offered by international employers in the city, it remains a desirable place to live. 

Like most cities, there are more expensive areas to live and shop, travelling a little further out of the business hub and trying local places, you can keep the cost of living a little lower.

What Languages Are Spoken in Hong Kong?

The official language in Hong Kong is Cantonese. However, English is widely spoken. Companies that operate in the city expect their employees to speak English fluently. Street signs across the city are written in both English and Cantonese, so getting around is easy.

It may feel as though the city is bilingual, but some locals and communities, outside the international job market, may only speak Cantonese. So, learning a little may help you get by while living here as an expat.

How to Find Accommodation in Hong Kong as an Expat? 

Accommodation in Hong Kong is competitive. With high prices for land, many options are compact, expensive, and in high demand. This can make finding accommodation, while still in the UK, challenging.

The overall standard of accommodation is high and luxurious compared to other cities. Due to the density of Hong Kong, the most popular option is apartments. Although villas and houses are available, these come at a considerable price and tend to be further out of the city.

Many apartments can look bigger in online listings, and it is strongly advised to visit properties in person. However, this is not always possible while house hunting outside of the region. For support in finding accommodation, explore our home search service. We take into account your budget and requirements to source and secure your new home in Hong Kong.

The famous skyscrapers of Hong Kong with a view from across a river

What Educational Opportunities Are Available for Expat Children in Hong Kong? 

The quality of education on offer in Hong Kong is outstanding. With teaching being highly respected and children being well-behaved, the standard of teaching and learning is high. Most families choose to live in the areas surrounding the city, which means many schools are located outside of the centre. With plenty of options for families to choose from, searching for a school before a home is common practice among expats.

Public Schools

Local and expat children have the opportunity to attend a government-funded public school. This option tends to be the cheapest. Even if you are only living in Hong Kong on a temporary visa, public schools are still on offer at a small cost. Similarly to the UK, public schools are assigned based on catchment area.

International Schools

One of the most popular and in-demand options for education in Hong Kong is international schools. Schools can follow the British, American, or Australian curricula and aim to make a smooth transition between the old school and the new. International schools can be in high demand as they are used by locals and expats.

Private Schools

Hong Kong’s private independent schools are also an option; however, most places are taken up by local children, and there are only a limited number of spaces available to expats. When researching schools, take into account the languages in which lessons are taught. Some schools offer both English and Cantonese lessons, which may or may not be appropriate for your child.

Moving to Hong Kong? Gerson Relocation can assist you every step of the way. Our comprehensive relocation package is designed to ease the burden of your move. We handle everything, from visa applications to securing temporary accommodation and even ensuring the safe transport of your beloved pets. Contact us today to start planning your smooth and stress-free removal to Hong Kong.

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