Moving to Hong Kong
Expats moving to Hong Kong will find deep tradition at the foundations of its towering skyscrapers and neon lights, in a place where East truly does meet West.
Expats shouldn't be fooled by this statement, however. As much as there is to enjoy in Hong Kong, these cultures haven’t combined as much as they’ve found a way to exist alongside each other. Some things may feel fairly familiar to Westerners who are new to the Chinese special administrative region, while others will be entirely foreign.
On the whole, many expatriates find it relatively easy to live in Hong Kong, with its efficient infrastructure and amenities. The territory also has an advanced healthcare system, an elevated standard of schooling and an exemplary public transportation system that all serve to significantly decrease the burden of transition. Once some of the wrinkles of relocation have been ironed out, expats will also find themselves able to appreciate the city's high levels of safety and practically unlimited entertainment.
The bustle never stops in Hong Kong’s densely populated centre. The Pear of the Orient is a fitting description, as wealth radiates from the city like its 260 islands emanating from the Chinese mainland. The former British colony has one of the world's most successful capitalist economies and is known for being one of Asia's fiscal tigers, perched near the top of global economic rankings.
At the same time, however, only 25 percent of the Fragrant Harbour is developed, which allows expats who yearn for nature amidst the asphalt to escape and enjoy their natural surroundings. The territory consists of Hong Kong Island, separated from mainland China by the Sham Chun River, with the Kowloon Peninsula to the north and the New Territories further north still, as well as remote outlying islands.
While ostentatious luxury and a devotion to quality are still part of its richly woven fabric, expats moving to Hong Kong may find that what has been an established destination for those looking for high incomes and career advancement, doesn't necessarily offer the same lucrative employment packages it used to.
As the cost of living continues to climb, vast wealth is becoming less attainable for anyone other than the most senior employees. High living costs and limited prospects are also proving a deterrent for expats who don’t already have employment in the region secured.
Accommodation, in particular, is characterised by sky-high price tags for disproportionately small spaces. Expats are advised to negotiate a housing allowance or, at least, to carefully consider the cost of renting in Hong Kong before signing a contract.
Expats will also have to face other challenges in Hong Kong. Over seven million people are packed into the archipelago, and the preciousness of elbow room becomes fully appreciated as members of the population frenetically whizz past. Air pollution has also unceremoniously drifted down from the factories of Southern China, and has come to settle over and around the city's upward reaching skyline. As overwhelming and unattractive this may be to some, however, fresh air and open spaces can always be found outside the expat-friendly Central area.
Hong Kong has many layers and expats will find that just as they’ve finished pulling back one, more swiftly take shape. Whether they feel safer in the insular yet comfortable expat scene, or prefer to explore the indigenous culture of this age-old port city, an exciting and invigorating experience is guaranteed.