Moving to Hong Kong
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A Comprehensive Guide on Relocating to Hong Kong
Though it may be tiny, Hong Kong packs an incredible amount of diversity and culture into a small space. The main step required to move there is securing a job offer before you apply for a visa. And while having a big budget is not a requirement for moving to Hong Kong, the prices might make you dip into your savings the first few months you are there.
When considering how hard it is to move to Hong Kong, be aware of your financial situation. According to many surveys, Hong Kong is one of the most expensive places to live in the world, which can make your transition there challenging.
However, that does not mean that moving to Hong Kong is hard. With its former links to the UK, pop culture influences from the US, and thriving expat population, Hong Kong is a truly international, welcoming region. The benefits of moving to Hong Kong include basic healthcare provided by the government, fairly low taxes, and high-quality education.
Another reason why you should consider moving to Hong Kong is the diverse atmosphere. The mix of high-end skyscrapers just a ferry ride from island beaches, and the ease of communicating in English makes Hong Kong a dream destination for many expats.
What else do you need to move to Hong Kong? Patience. The high density of inhabitants makes everything busy so you will not be able to avoid traffic jams or long queues at the doctor’s office. Another one of the things to know when moving to the territories is that, due to the same reason, finding housing can be a challenge as well.
Hong Kong is a highly international place, which makes the process of moving there somewhat easy. The procedures are well-defined, bureaucracy minimal, and English is widely spoken. However, a good knowledge of customs regulations will simplify the relocation process even more.
While shipping personal and household goods is free from any tariffs or duties, you will need to make sure you have the right paperwork with you to collect your items once they have been inspected by Customs. There is no limit on how much currency you can bring with you, but Hong Kong has a fairly extensive list of restricted items and is especially strict about bringing in food. However, the rules regarding alcohol import are rather lenient, so you might be able to take your whole vintage wine collection if you please. We also discuss the reasons why you might need to look into the possibilities of storing your household goods.
As well as the right paperwork, your health should be a top priority: all the usual vaccinations are required in order to move to Hong Kong so make sure you are up-to-date. Also, consider additional shots such as hepatitis A and B, Japanese encephalitis, and rabies if you plan to travel across the region.
If you are moving to Hong Kong with pets, be aware that both customs and health requirements for your furry friend are quite strict. You will need to apply for a special permit as well as presenting health, residence, vaccination, and airline certificates to the relevant authorities on arrival. Head to the section on moving pets to Hong Kong for links to the necessary forms as well as more information on everything from quarantine to microchipping.
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One of the main requirements to obtain a work visa in Hong Kong is to have a confirmed job offer when you submit you documents for processing. However, if your professional knowledge is in high-demand and you have enough experience, you might be able to move to Hong Kong under a special type of visa. Regardless of situation, filing your visa application documents will not cost you anything as it is free of charge.
After you have landed in Hong Kong, you will need to apply for a Hong Kong ID. This credit-card sized ID has a chip containing all your details, including your thumbprint for the biometric customs gates. Luckily this part of the process is a lot easier than getting the visa. It can be completed in English and your shiny new ID card will be ready within ten days.
Because the territory is so densely packed, getting accommodation in Hong Kong can be competitive. The lack of space is also the reason why there is limited choice between the types of houses and accommodation one can live in.
However, even renting a standard apartment in Hong Kong is expensive. The average rent for a place with one bedroom often goes over 20,000 HKD (2,550 USD) per month. That does not include utilities as in Hong Kong you usually have to take care of them yourself. However, if you want a place with utilities included, you can choose a fully serviced accommodation, but account for the fact that in most cases it comes at a higher price.
If you are thinking of how to rent a more spacious place – maybe even a house for you and your family – forget about the Hong Kong Island. New Territories region is further away from the center; however, searching for a place there might be the only affordable option for renting a house in Hong Kong. If you are planning on staying long-term, take a look at the section on how to buy a house in Hong Kong as a foreigner. Nevertheless, keep in mind that average house prices in Hong Kong are sky-high and will cost you at least a few million Hong Kong Dollars.
In addition to that, this relocation guide introduces you to the most widely-known utility and internet providers, the possibilities for short-term housing in Hong Kong, and the requirements you have to meet in order to get a mortgage.
The public healthcare system in Hong Kong is affordable and accessible, while private health insurance is always an option for those wanting more complete coverage. When it comes to Hong Kong’s public healthcare, the government provides the services at low-cost for all residents, including expats. All you need to be eligible is a valid visa and a Hong Kong ID card.
Multilingual staff is one of reason why some expats opt for private health insurance in Hong Kong. It also helps them cut waiting times and guarantee service-oriented attitude. Whether they are giving birth or going to a routine doctor’s appointment, those with private insurance will find themselves in some of Hong Kong’s best hospitals that feel a lot like five-star hotels.
The one area where you will need private insurance is dental care. Except in extreme emergency cases, only students and civil servants get free dental care. As well providing as an overview of the private and public healthcare sectors, our guide covers everything from how to find a doctor in Hong Kong to getting medication and how much to budget for healthcare charges.
As you would expect from one of the world’s major financial hubs, opening a bank account in Hong Kong is pretty straightforward. There are plenty of banks to choose from and many of their services are available in English. Your visa status does not affect your options either, so even as a non-resident you are able to choose the best suitable bank account for you. However, you do need to be present in Hong Kong when opening your account.
Hong Kong tax rates are fairly low and the system offers a number of allowances and deductions that you do not need to provide proof for unless specifically inquired. Nevertheless, keeping track of your finances is highly advised.
If you are moving to Hong Kong with children, sooner or later you will have to think about its education system and make the choice between public and international schools. Entering the public-school system in Hong Kong often means dealing with high expectations and constant competition that starts as early as kindergarten.
The pressure to excel combined with the language barrier forces many expats to choose international schooling. And while the curricula are often more appealing to Westerners, attending the best schoolsoften comes with a high price tag. The highly selective schools might ask the applicants to take entrance exams, show medical records, and pay annual fees that go up to hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong dollars.
International companies are usually the best way for expats to get a job in Hong Kong as they are more likely to hire foreign workers that do not speak Cantonese. Self-employment in Hong Kong is also a good option for foreigners. In fact, the ease of establishing a business and low tax rates make Hong Kong a great place to start your own venture.
The business culture in Hong Kong is quite demanding with six working days per week. Your dedication might land you an average salary of 20,000 HKD (2,550 USD) per month. The social security in the territories is rather comprehensible; however, whether you get it or not depends on how long you are staying in Hong Kong.
The international atmosphere and the variety of choice in Hong Kong comes at a price: the cost of living in Hong Kong is one of the highest in the world. Although public transportation and eating out is relatively affordable, almost everything else is expensive, especially rent.
Another commodity that comes with a hefty price tag in Hong Kong is driving. The region is known to be packed with people and the lack of space makes owning a car a real luxury.
While it is expensive to live in Hong Kong, getting bored with such a wide range of opportunities is almost impossible. Different forms of entertainment, a variety of neighborhoods, landscapes, and atmospheres, and even groceries – there is always something new to discover in this Asian expat hub.