For decades Hong Kong has lured expats from around the world, drawn by vibrant way of life and the east meets west culture. Of course, for those looking to set up home in the city, one of the first things they want to know is about the quality of life and what to expect once they arrive. Hong Kong is bustling, and the fast speed of life attracts many, but it should never be overlooked that there is perhaps a lot more greenery and places to relax than some may think.
There are some excellent international schools in Hong Kong, meaning that you can be confident that your children will get a world-class education. The cost of living is undoubtedly high, but the high salaries available and the favourable tax conditions more than make up for this. Most jobs for expats are in the finance and legal sectors, and thanks to its reputation, it is known to attract the best individuals in the industry.
Low levels of crime
Crime levels in Hong Kong are considered to be low, and the country is generally classed as peaceful. However, some large demonstrations around 18 months ago have mainly subsided, and normality has returned. The country follows the British legal system, and it is widely accepted that there are low levels of corruption and people will face a “fair trial”. It is safe to go out a night, although, as with anywhere, it is recommended that you remain vigilant.
High incomes and low tax rates
Financial packages for most mid-level expats management in Hong Kong are usually made up of three elements. The first is the cash element which is around £60,000 per year, along with benefits which include accommodation, cars and education for children. Taxes are often paid by the company rather than the employer, meaning that the overall package is around £200,000 per year, considerably more than in most countries worldwide. For those who do pay taxes, the rates are amongst the lowest in the world, which means that expats can generally afford an excellent quality of life.
High levels of job security and satisfaction
Although no one can be confident about their jobs in the current economic climate, Hong Kong has generally been renowned for offering expats high levels of job security, with most reporting high levels of satisfaction despite long working hours. Naturally, job security and satisfaction play a significant role in people’s quality of life and is a factor that should never be overlooked.
Large expat community
Hong Kong is renowned for having a large expat community which makes it relatively easy to settle in. In some areas, most people are indeed expats, with remnants of the connection to Britain still very much apparent. You will find an abundance of western restaurants and bars with numerous activities to take part in, so making new friends is relatively easy. Some expats have commented that they have found it hard to make friends with locals, although this can usually be attributed to their reserved nature, and once they become used to you, it becomes a lot easier.
Plenty of things to do
The high salaries afforded to expats mean that they can enjoy some of the finer things that Hong Kong offers. Activities such as golf, water sports, hiking and the stunning beaches are all popular with foreigners and locals alike. Thanks to the large numbers of expats, finding like-minded people who share similar interests is relatively straightforward, and boredom and lack of things to do are rarely a problem. You will find a wide selection of clubs and societies that you can join to join when you first arrive, which can make it easier to make new friends.
Hong Kong has excellent public transportation links, especially on Hong Kong Island, which makes commuting to and from work far easier. It is also straightforward to get to surrounding areas such as mainland China and Macau, both popular weekend haunts for expats. The international airport is a regional hub that means that travelling overseas for business or pleasure is again relatively simple – again something that can impact your quality of life.
Education and healthcare
Although some locals find that quality education and childcare provision are beyond their means, this is not generally the case for expats. Education and health insurance and usually included in expat packages meaning that the costs are largely irrelevant. There are some excellent international schools in Hong such as our own, Harrow International School, and the country is known for having a superb private healthcare system. However, for those looking to self-fund, the costs are high and should be factored into your decision to move to Hong Kong.
Weather in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is known for having four seasons which are heavily influenced by the two monsoon seasons. The spring and autumn are both enjoy temperatures in the mid-twenties, although spring can be very humid. The summer months are hot, with temperatures often into their 30s, again with high humidity levels. Temperatures in winter can fall as low as 10 degrees in the evenings, so warm clothing is certainly advisable.
Congestion on Hong Kong Island can be a problem, especially at rush hour, so it is advisable, where possible, to use public transport rather than your own vehicles. Unfortunately, the congestion can add significant time to your working day and is sadly unavoidable. Many expats find the style of driving in Hong Kong quite aggressive, especially at first, so it may be wise to try and find your way around before you take to roads on the main island!
Pollution can be a concern on Hong Kong Island in particular, but due to the hilly terrain, it frequently causes problems elsewhere. Asthma and other bronchial disease are a problem, although efforts are continually being made to improve the situation. The summer months tend to be the worse, with the problem compounded by high levels of humidity.