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Moving to Hong Kong

Your guide to expat life in Hong Kong. Where expats reach 'The Peak' of their careers

Want to move to Hong Kong?

A truly international city, Hong Kong's skyscrapers are filled with professionals from across the world. Thanks to its extensive international community and modern business environment, most expats find it easy to adapt to the fast pace of life in Hong Kong.

An economically thriving metropolis, Hong Kong is home to many major financial and professional services firms, each keen to attract talent. As well as the higher salaries and high quality of life, expats are also impressed with their career progression in Hong Kong, which is often cited as a reason why they stay longer than originally planned.

For many new arrivals, the culture shock isn’t that severe. The region’s strong Western and Eastern influences coexist comfortably, and its population is a colourful mix of people from all over the world. With a constant flow of people in and out of Hong Kong, making friends is one of the keys to career success in the Pearl of the Orient, and the working day often blurs into social gatherings at street level.

Hong Kong is also the perfect base from which to explore the rest of Asia. Expats regularly find themselves visiting mainland China and Taiwan, using weekends and holidays to tick more countries off their bucket list. A ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality is a helpful attribute for those who want to take advantage of the best Hong Kong has to offer.

Basic info about Hong Kong

  • Population: About 7.5 million

  • Political system: Special Administrative Region of China operating on a ‘one country, two systems’ principle. Hong Kong manages its affairs except for national defence and diplomatic relations

  • Main languages: Cantonese, English and Mandarin

  • Major religion: Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity are the most common religions

  • Time: GMT+8

  • Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz. Three-pin rectangular blade plugs are most common

  • Currency: Hong Kong dollar (HKD)

  • International dialling code: +852

  • Internet domain: .hk

  • Emergency numbers: 999

  • Road Traffic: Drives on the left

Weather in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate. Summers are hot and humid, with temperatures reaching around 32°C (90°F). Autumn is the best time of year – a more comfortable 19°C to 28°C (66°F to 82°F). Winters are cloudy and cold, with temperatures falling below 10°C (50°F).

Key phrases

  • Hello néih hóu - 你好
  • Good Evening máahnseuhng hóu - 晚上好
  • Goodbye joigin - 再見
  • How are you? néih hóu ma - 你好嗎
  • Thank you dòjeh - 多謝
  • Yes haih - 係
  • No mh’haih - 唔係
  • Do you speak English? éih sīk-m̀h-sīk góng Yīngmán a? - 你識唔識講英文呀?
  • Can you help me? m̀h’gōi bōng ngóh - 唔該幫我
  • Sorry deui-m̀h-jyuh - 對唔住

Shipping to Hong Kong

While you can buy all your furniture and other household items in Hong Kong, shipping services are efficient and relatively cheap. There’s no duty or tax levied on imported personal household items, and no limit on how much you can bring in.

Hiring professionals

If you hire an international removal company, make sure it has reliable ground services. Get quotes that include delivery and unpacking – apartments are usually high up and you’ll be glad to have help.

Food

Most food items can’t be brought into Hong Kong without a permit, so it’s much easier to stock up when you arrive.

Pets

You can take your pets to Hong Kong, but apartments are small, outdoor space is limited and not many parks allow dogs. Pets may be quarantined for a minimum of four months, which is costly and stressful. You’ll find information about bringing pets into Hong Kong on the Agriculture Department’s website.

Top tips for Hong Kong

See what people responding to our Expat Explorer Survey think about living in Hong Kong.

Come with an open mind, embrace local life, try to learn a few Cantonese phrases and explore the outlying islands.
Make sure you have sufficient available cash for the large deposit required to rent a property - around 3.5 months required up front to include the deposit, a months rent in advance and the agent’s fee.
Enjoy the wide variety of food available in Hong Kong and go trekking in some beautiful island and mountains.
English-speaking schools are extremely difficult to get into. You need to discuss this with your employees/organise it well in advance of arriving.
Don’t underestimate the cost of living in a lower tax jurisdiction! Accommodation, healthcare, education and transport can cost significantly more than you think!

All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by expatarrivals.com, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in September 2021. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information is purely for orientation and to inspire further research, it does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you're aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.

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