Moving to Hong Kong

As one of the world’s most visited cities, the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ is a global hot spot seamlessly blending Chinese and Western influences. The result, a progressive city with a strong cultural heritage. When you add the year-round mild weather, one of the lowest crime rates in the world and the high standard of living, it’s no wonder so many people are looking to pack up their bags and relocate.

But where to start your new life in Asia’s most liveable city? The answer is Hong Kong Island. It’s the expat area of Hong Kong where you can find the largest number of English speakers, be close to the global financial centre, easy access to schools, fantastic shopping, a huge variety of restaurants catering to Eastern and Western tastes, numerous bars, a lot of green spaces and stunning bays.

Hong Kong employment visa

When you apply, the Immigration Department will consider your:

+ Education
+ Experience
+ Benefit to the economy, trade and industry

The documents you need to provide include:

+ Company sponsorship and contract
+ Academic certificates
+ Marriage and birth certificates
+ Passport copy

Processing time is around 4-8 weeks and it’s expected that it will be used within 3 months of being issued.

Dependant visas

If you have a legal spouse and/or children (up to the age of 18), you will be issued with Dependent Visas once you have been approved for your Employment one. Dependents can work, both paid and un-paid, with no need to apply for a separate visa and they don’t require permission from the Director of Immigration to study in Hong Kong.

What’s the Hong Kong identity card and do you need one?

Every resident aged 11 and above needs to have a Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID) and your application for the HKID must be completed at the Immigration Department within 30 days of obtaining the entry visa.

There are two types:

  • Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card, which gives the right of abode in Hong Kong and is usually obtained after seven years of residence
  • Hong Kong Identity Card, which does not grant the right of abode

Remember to carry your HKID with you always.

Once you’ve received you HKID you will no longer need to complete entry or departure cards –  instead you show it to Immigration authorities when leaving or entering.

Where to live in Hong Kong

+ Mid Levels: an affluent and much desired district with plenty of parks and transport links, ideal for families
+ Southern and Western District Bays: beaches and breath-taking views
+ North Point: increasing in popularity as the housing prices are a little lower than the other districts
+ Central: preferred location for couples and singles because of the nightlife – such as the Soho and Lan Kwai Fong neighbourhoods known for the fantastic dining and cool hangouts – and the business district

Renting in Hong Kong

Rents in Hong Kong, both homes and office space, are amongst the highest in the world, so having a great property agent will make all the difference to you.

Most of the properties are in high-rises and things that will drive up the rental costs include:

+ Close proximity to the city centre
+ Being higher up in the building
+ Having access to amenities, such as fitness centres and pools
+ Ocean views

Working in Hong Kong

With a highly-developed free market economy, Hong Kong enjoys low tax rates and a pro-business approach. The main industries on the island are financial services, tourism, and trading. It’s also become a centre for world-class medical research and has one of the most sophisticated telecommunications networks globally.

Education for expats in Hong Kong

There are three types of schools in Hong Kong:

+ Government schools
+ Aided schools that can be run by charities or religious organisations
+ Paid for private schools where admission is usually on merit rather than fees

There are over 40 International schools, but they can be expensive and competitive so apply well in advance of moving.

Most follow an English-based curriculum, normally in the language of their country’s sponsor, and various qualifications are available, including the International Baccalaureate.

Public holidays

All schools, banks, Civil Service departments and courts are closed on Sundays and public holidays.

The twelve statutory holidays you will be entitled to as an employee are:

+ First weekday in January
+ Lunar New Year’s Day
+ The second day of the Lunar New Year
+ The third day of the Lunar New Year
+ Ching Ming Festival
+ Good Friday
+ Easter Saturday
+ Easter Monday
+ Labour Day (1st May)
+ Buddha’s Birthday
+ Dragon Boat Festival
+ HK SAR Establishment Day
+ Day following Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival
+ National Day (1st October)
+ Chung Yeung Festival
+ Christmas Day
+ First Weekday following Christmas Day

It’s important to remember that for the Lunar New Year, known in Western cultures as the Chinese New Year, most shops and businesses are closed.

What languages are spoken in Hong Kong

Both Cantonese and English are considered official languages. Cantonese is the most widely spoken, but road signs and shop fronts tend to be written in both languages. Mandarin is not as common but gaining popularity. Government run general enquiry lines are provided in all three languages.

Is tap water safe to drink in Hong Kong?

Whilst tap water complies with World Health Organisation standards, most expats prefer using filtered, boiled or bottled water.

What’s Hong Kong like?

Whilst it may be the fourth most densely populated country in the world, this tiny territory has beautiful outdoor spaces, glorious mountains, golden beaches and peaceful gardens.

Nearly 70% of Hong Kong is green so activities like hiking, boating and tennis are popular with residents.

What’s the weather in Hong Kong like?

Whilst it enjoys four distinct seasons, the weather is usually warm all year long making this collection of sub-tropical islands and peninsulas an ideal place to enjoy the great outdoors. However, typhoons and heavy rainstorms can strike between May and September.

How easy is it to travel around Hong Kong?

Getting around Hong Kong for work and leisure is easy and cheap with taxis, the MTR subway system, ferries, buses, minibuses, trains, and the recognisable double-decker tram (or ‘Ding Ding’) on Hong Kong Island side.

  • What are the biggest industries in Hong Kong?
    Hong Kong main industries include financial services, tourism, and trading. Hong Kong has become a centre for world-class medical research and has one of the most sophisticated telecommunications networks in the world.
  • What is the size of Hong Kong island?
    Hong Kong Island is the second-largest island of the territory, the largest being Lantau Island. Its area is 78.59 km2 (30.34 sq mi)
  • What is the geography of Hong Kong?
    Hong Kong is made up of Hong Kong Island, Lantau Island, Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories which borders Southern Mainland China. Much of the population is located in Hong Kong Island however the Kowloon Peninsula is also heavily populated, as are part of the New Territories. Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula are separated by the Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong sits in the South China Sea making it an ideal base for trips to Japan, Singapore, Thailand, China, Australia or one of the many beautiful, local islands.
  • What are the entry requirements for Hong Kong?
    A passport is essential for visiting Hong Kong, and it needs to be valid for at least one month after the period of your stay. Carry your passport at all times as this is the only form of acceptable ID. Visas are not required for: British passport holders for stays up to 180 days, or 90 days for citizens of British Dependent Territories and British Overseas citizens.
  • Do I need an ID card in Hong Kong?
    Once you have your valid visa you need to register for a Hong Kong ID card. This ID is mandatory for all residents aged 11 or older. Your ID card comes with an embedded microchip and can also be used for public services including public libraries.
  • What is Hong Kong's climate like?
    Hong Kong has a monsoon-influenced subtropical climate. It is mild for more than half the year. During November and December there is breeze, sunshine and comfortable temperatures. July is the hottest month, and the coldest is January. It is not uncommon for temperatures to drop below 10 Degree C in urban areas.
  • What does Hong Kong translate to in English?
    Hong Kong translates as ‘Fragrant Harbour’ because of the small stream running through it which used to transport agarwood, its oil, and resin from Guang Dong province to northern Chinese provinces.
  • What is the crime rate like in Hong Kong?
    Hong Kong has one of the lowest crime rates in the world despite the dense population. 999 is the Emergency Number for Hong Kong: Police, Fire Service and Ambulance.

For more information, see our Hong Kong Island relocation check list

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