Living in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong: Housing, Health, Education
Renting in Hong Kong does not come cheap, unfortunately, as the general shortage of land is reflected in excessive property prices. It is not unusual for expatriates to spend about half of their monthly budget on accommodation. The rent for a two-bed apartment, for example, varies greatly, depending on the area and layout you’re looking for. Expats can expect to pay anything from 8,000 HKD right up to 310,000 HKD per month, depending on just how luxurious you want your apartment to be. Since the financial crisis, some multinational corporations offer housing allowances, so look into this before you start looking at houses. The economic crisis has also proved problematic for the housing market and experts have predicted that residential rent prices will fall by 15% in 2016 alone.
Tenancy agreements are usually limited to two to three years and can be renewed if both sides want to continue the tenancy. Unless you have rented a serviced apartment, as a tenant it is your responsibility to get in touch with utility companies.
Serviced apartments are a common phenomenon in Hong Kong. Not only utilities, but also furniture, linen and crockery are provided for. Serviced apartments can be a good temporary solution when you have arrived in Hong Kong and are still looking for a permanent home.
Convenience v. Cost
Most foreign nationals prefer to live anywhere on Hong Kong Island, where the central business district is located. This makes commuting to work a lot more convenient. In addition, traditional expat areas on Hong Kong Island, such as the so-called Mid-Levels or the island’s south side, offer a good infrastructure for expats, such as a large number of international schools.
Nevertheless, rent becomes cheaper and apartments roomier once you move off of Hong Kong Island. It’s precisely for this reason, that there are now quite a number of expatriates who live in the New Territories for instance.
Find more details on housing and accommodation in Hong Kong in our InterNations Hong Kong Expat Guide!
Low Cost, Long Wait
The good news for expats planning to move to Hong Kong is that healthcare is up to Western medical standards, and doctors generally have excellent qualifications. Generally, all Hong Kong residents, including non-permanent residents such as expats, have access to government-subsidized public healthcare. The city boasts many outpatient clinics, specialist clinics, maternal and child healthcare centers. All in all, residents can receive treatment in over 40 public hospitals at virtually no costs.
The bad news, however, is that visiting a public clinic in Hong Kong usually involves long waiting times and you should not expect too much of a service oriented mindset. Furthermore, staff at public hospitals and clinics is not necessarily fluent in English. This is why many expats choose to go private, although unfortunately the extra comfort provided by private health care does not come cheap.
Too Pricey To Go Private?
For these reasons, many foreign nationals decide to rely on private healthcare instead. There is a well-established private healthcare system in Hong Kong, consisting of general doctors, specialists and 11 private hospitals. While as a private patient, you get all the comforts you could ask for, prices in the private medical sector are exceptionally high.
If your employer does not cover your healthcare expenses, it is absolutely essential to get a good health insurance for your time in Hong Kong.
Our Hong Kong Extended Guide also contains comprehensive articles on health and insurance in Hong Kong.
One of the first tasks for expat parents is finding their way through Hong Kong’s jungle of international schools. Currently, Hong Kong has more than 50 international schools offering various affiliations and curricula.
Ranging from 67,000 HKD to 180,000 HKD or more per year, tuition costs cut the biggest hole into the budget of any expat family. Nevertheless, places at the most prestigious schools are closely contested. You can only come by some of them if your employer holds a debenture for the school in question. Therefore, expats with kids should start looking into possible schools at an early stage of the relocation process.
Cut The Costs, Up The Pressure
Some expats also decide to send their children to local schools, especially if they are familiar with the language and have attended a local kindergarten. While local schools offer free tuition, they usually have more rigid teaching methods and children face a big workload, even at a young age.
It is popular among Hong Kong expatriates to employ a nanny or domestic helper for younger children. There is also a great choice of international kindergartens, which are either bilingual or use English as their main language. These kindergartens usually offer opportunities for kids to learn Mandarin or Cantonese, as do most international schools.
Would you like to learn more about Hong Kongs education system or your child care option? Read up on everything connected with family, children, and education in our Extended Guide.
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