The Hong Kong Unofficial Guide

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Living in Hong Kong

Above: condos in west New Territories, Hong Kong viewed from highway to the HK airport.

If you've just started living in Hong Kong as an expatriate, here're a few tips for you. If you're thinking about moving to this city, then check out our moving to Hong Kong page as well.

  • Coping with the weather

    - it's humid during the summer. So plan on buying a dehumidifier or two plus a high electric bill if you like to keep your home nice and cool.
  • Coping with the lack of space

    - with flats in HK generally much smaller than most places in the world, you'll likely not have enough room to keep all your worldly possessions. Fear not! There're plenty of self-storage facilities that will gladly rise to the challenge of becoming your attic, basement, and garage! But of course their fees also rise to the level of challenge you require. The axiom 'location, location, location' applies. The closer it is, the higher the price. But many of them have air-conditioning and allow you 24-hr access using a access-code or access-card. The cost is about $1500 to $3700 for 100 sq. ft. (2012.10)
  • Entertainment

    - American TV drama DVDs are available at music stores but the prices are much higher, so stock up and bring them with you.
  • Driving in Hong Kong

    - if your driver's license cannot be automatically converted to a HK one, then you can take driving lessons from licensed driving instructors. Unlike some other countries (e.g. U.S.), you can't just get someone with a license to teach you. If you have an international license, you could drive for a period of time before needing to get a HK one.
  • Making friends

    - if your spouse works at the office and you're home with the kids, expand your social circle by being a volunteer. You can start at your children's school, and then there're a number of NGO's that welcome English-speaking expats. (e.g. Mother's Choice, The Samaritans, etc.)
  • Taking breaks

    - go for hikes at country parks, island get aways (Lamma Island, Cheung Chau, etc), trips to nearby cities (Taipei, Singapore,...), hit some golf, or just enjoy some meals at quieter restaurants.
  • Getting around

    - other than the info in our transportation section, you can find out about transportation to places you frequent by asking the doorman. But taxis are already available.
  • Phone talk

    - all cell phones in HK are 'unlocked' i.e. you can switch companies any time you want especially if you just get a stored-value card. But then of course with the monthly plans you get more talk time for your buck, but then there's usually a contract of 1 year or more.
  • Getting help

    • The Samaritans - a non-profit organization for helping people depressed or those with thoughts of suicide. Hotline: 2896-0000
    • Alcoholics Anonymous - a non-profit for helping people deal with alcoholism.
  • Learning Cantonese

    - you can either take lessons at language centers, hire a private tutor, or do language exchange. Some companies would pay for them.
  • Finding a domestic helper

    - there're plenty of agencies that even do the training for you, but then don't expect much. The helper may still not know much. So it may be better to hire someone who has been here working already so that he/she already knows Cantonese (mainly to deal with the shop keepers) and his/her way around.
  • Moving to Hong Kong

    - check out our moving to Hong Kong page for more info.
  • Becoming a permanent resident

    - 7 years is what it'll take (unless you work as a 'domestic helper'). Keep documentation like electric bills as proof of your residing in HK.
  • Starting a business in Hong Kong

    - easy. There're lots of business centers in HK that will help you register a company, become the registered address to take your mail and answer your phone calls, rent you a small room to call it your office, and even handle your bookkeeping. You pay, they deliver.
  • Transporting things

    - call a van, but you may need to speak some Cantonese. Getting a Cantonese speaker to book it for you may save you some money as well.

Anything else you want to know? Drop us a line. Questions accompanied with good feedback always get first priority!

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