Frequently Asked Questions about Hong Kong

While Hong Kong is no doubt an exciting destination, it's natural for expats to have a few queries and concerns about their soon-to-be home. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about life in Hong Kong.

What language do people speak in Hong Kong?

The official languages of Hong Kong are Chinese and English. While Mandarin is becoming popular for business purposes,  the majority of people in Hong Kong speak Cantonese.

Is it worth learning Cantonese?

Learning a few key phrases might be helpful, but unless wanting to learn it on a more fluent level for personal reasons, it's easy to get by without it as English is widely spoken in Hong Kong. On the other hand, expats looking for work in Hong Kong will find that speaking fluent Cantonese will put them above other applicants.

Can I find work in Hong Kong once I arrive?

Due to the visa system in Hong Kong, expats will need to secure a job before they arrive. Unless an applicant can speak Cantonese or Mandarin, jobs in Hong Kong are limited. Most expats are relocated from their position back home to middle- or upper-management positions in large international companies. Otherwise, English-speaking expats will likely be limited to teaching or low-paying hospitality positions. 

Can I hire domestic help? 

Domestic services are very common in Hong Kong, and many households hire a live-in domestic helper. It is quite commonplace to hire a domestic helper from a foreign country, but there are numerous labour laws to abide by when doing so. 

Do I need a car in Hong Kong?

Although many people own cars in Hong Kong, it is considered a luxury due to the price of petrol, storage and upkeep. Hong Kong has a reliable public transportation system with trains, buses and ferries that can get residents anywhere they need to go quickly. Taxis are metered and surprisingly affordable.

What's the best way to buy property or rent in Hong Kong?

With the region being so small and dense, property in Hong Kong is a hot commodity. Most expats will go through an agent to find a place, but do be aware that there are agency fees associated with doing so.

Do expats need to pay taxes in Hong Kong?

Yes, but taxes will generally be much lower than in their home country.

How good are doctors in Hong Kong? Is healthcare affordable?

Public hospitals and clinics are very affordable for those who possess a valid Hong Kong ID card. Many of the region's local doctors have studied overseas. Treatment is of a high quality, but expats should check to see the languages spoken before they book an appointment. Expats may prefer to use the private sector, not because the treatment is of a higher quality, but for its reduced waiting times.

Where can I meet other expats?

Hong Kong's allure as an international destination has cultivated a substantial expat population. Different sport and social clubs host all sorts of events, meetings and nights out. The best way to find these is through the consulate of one's home country, or on social media sites.

Beth Williams Our Expat Expert

Beth got her first taste of travel when she studied abroad in Japan during her final year of university. She ended up loving Asia so much, she found herself moving right back upon graduating. Armed with her camera and a passion for travel, she is currently on a mission to photograph the world -- proving that you can work the normal “9-5” and still find time to travel. Follow her adventures on Besudesu Abroad.