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Moving to Hong Kong? Expat tips

Being an expat in the 852 can be fun, fast-paced and full of surprises. Here, our expat experts share their thoughts and tips on moving to Hong Kong.

Do’s and Don’ts

“If you can, open a bank account from your home country before landing in Hong Kong.” – Nico

“Buy an Octopus card for the whole family at the airport. This card allows you access to all transport and can be used as a debit-like card for small purchases at 7-Eleven and Circle K.” – Maria

“Moving to Hong Kong is a great opportunity to expose the kids to Mandarin, so go for it!” – Neelam

“Stop trying to convert prices into your home currency the moment you land. It will only end in tears!” – Jacinta

Financial planning: Hong Kong Money

“Find a small group of friends; it’s important to build your little community.” – Emelie

“Sample all the local food.” – Murray

“Come with an open mind and a sense of adventure.” – Claire

“Maintain a balance between life and work. I’ve noticed a lot people will go to one extreme or the other, whether it’s partying or staying in shape. But a little bit of everything is the best way.”– Emelie

“If you haven’t lived abroad before, then my best advice is to be aware that you are joining a new culture and new ways of living. Have patience.” – Maria

“If you haven’t before, then it is time to pick up hiking; it’s a must when you’re living here.” – Emelie

“Network, network, network! Whatever your interest is – gym, sports club, chamber of commerce – you’ll find some likeminded people who will usually be very happy to offer great advice.” – Jacinta

“Explore! Go to the outer parts of Hong Kong to enjoy the scenery and all the beautiful nature on offer.”– Maria

Dragons Back Hong Kong
Dragons Back

“Invest in air purifiers; the air quality can cause asthma and headaches in both kids and adults.” – Neelam

“Take up any offers to meet new people – attend events, join various activities or groups. Hong Kong is an incredibly friendly place and building connections is a great way to help you get to know your new home.” – Anne

“Take advantage of being in Asia, and travel to as many countries as possible.” – Murray

“Your first household purchase should really be a dehumidifier – right away. Otherwise, the mould will take over and attach to everything.” – Maria

“Don’t bother bringing your big furniture over as it’s unlikely to fit into your smaller Hong Kong accommodation.” – Nico

“Come with an open mind; Hong Kong will be nothing like home – and isn’t that why you’re here? It really depends on your attitude how things work out for you, so be prepared to be flexible… and patient.” – Jacinta

“Remember, you are in Hong Kong, and you are the tourist. Whatever cultural differences there are (which may annoy you), it is you who needs to adjust.” – Murray

“Do some reading and research before arriving. While it might be a cliché, do take the time to read some of the classic historical novels, such as James Clavell’s Nobel House, set in the British colony of the 1960s, or even watch the 1955 movie Love is Many Splendored Thing. While few remnants remain of this nostalgic view of Hong Kong, it will give you some important historical context to the extraordinary place it is today. And definitely start reading the South China Morning Post online each day. It’s free, and Jason Wordie (who happens to be Australian) writes a brilliant column each Sunday that offers fascinating morsels of Hong Kong’s history. You are witnessing history in the making, so take some time to get to understand the past.” – Jacinta

See more helpful tips on moving to Hong Kong in our Living in Hong Kong section

26 ways to enjoy Hong Kong’s waters
Expat guide to international schools in Hong Kong

This article first appeared in the City Guide 2019 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.