| Apr 20, 2015
Moving to Hong Kong isn’t a life change to take lightly. This bustling city is considered the third most expensive in Asia (after Tokyo and Seoul), and is known for its towering skyscrapers and glittering lifestyle. Hong Kong serves primarily as a financial powerhouse and global trade hub between China and the rest of the world, making it a place with high incomes, powerful people, and the backdrop to match it.
Of course, all this economic and business success means Hong Kong is a likely place to find expats. Many of the companies here employ professionals from around the world to help boost their global position and trade. This is especially true for those who work in finance, and many a family finds themselves relocated to Hong Kong for a few years.
Living and Working in Hong Kong
The first order of business when relocating to Hong Kong is finding a place to live. Because it is such a geographically small place (426 square miles) with a population of over 7 million residents, people tend to live vertically. High-rises, towering skyscrapers, and other buildings expand upward, meaning most homes are condos and apartments—and have price tags to compete with the businesses that exist here. If you can include a living space in your relocation package, do it! Otherwise, you can expect housing to be your largest monthly cost.
Food and education are the next two highest-priced items for living in Hong Kong. Dining out is easy to do with so many incredible restaurants to choose from (and such small kitchens at home), but the costs tend to add up. And if you do want to cook at home, most ingredients have to be imported, as there’s little local agriculture. For kids—especially expats—schooling is offered primarily through private international schools with high tuition ($10,000 to $20,000 per year) and difficult application processes. In fact, there aren’t nearly enough schools to accommodate all the expat families, which means homeschooling is becoming more common for international residents.
The healthcare and public transportation systems in Hong Kong are also strong because of how successful and booming the city is. Many residents find they have no need of a car and that they can access equal medical services to what they have back home.
The Hong Kong Lifestyle
Of course, not everything about moving to a new country is about finding and accessing services. Hong Kong is also a place where people go to be entertained and to experience a culture unlike any other in the world. The strong Chinese influence is evident in everything from the language and food to the arts, but the expat communities and business sectors add a touch of the Western to the scene.
Expect there to be heavy traffic and lots of pedestrians on the street. Shops are expensive and plentiful, but parks and outdoor spaces that aren’t choked by smog aren’t quite so easy to find. However, if you’re willing to take a short cab ride outside of the major city center, you’ll find beaches, greenery, and stunning views in every direction.
Hong Kong isn’t a place for everyone. Most expats have work lined up ahead of time (or have good prospects), as the cost of living is high and housing is difficult to come by. Families can struggle if they’re used to spacious homes and outdoor spaces. However, in return for a little less space, you can enjoy a great culture, fantastic food, and a fast-paced and successful lifestyle not found anywhere else in the world.