Living in Hong Kong – One Year Review and Expat Tips

Living in Hong Kong – One Year Review and Expat Tips

To work and be living in as an ex-pat, it is essential to obtain a work visa. This requires securing employment with an employer in Hong Kong before applying for the visa.

It is not necessary to secure employment before arriving in Hong Kong to obtain a work visa, unlike in many other countries where a visa application is required prior to arrival.

When applying for a position that requires an immediate start, it is quite common to arrive in Hong Kong on a three-month tourist visa waiver. As an example, as an Australian, I received a 3-month visa waiver stamp upon arrival.

To obtain a work visa in Hong Kong, it is essential to visit the Hong Kong Immigration website and review the specific requirements of the country you are from. Once you have found a suitable employment contract, your employer will assist you in obtaining the work visa. Additionally, a trip to is necessary to activate this visa.

Macau is a popular destination that can be reached by a convenient hour-long ferry ride from Hong Kong. It is an ideal choice for a day trip or even a weekend getaway. Macau boasts stunning architecture, with the Venetian being one of its remarkable landmarks.

Life in Hong Kong

Living in Hong Kong is a smooth transition for those who have spent time in neighbouring Asian cities like , , and . However, there are two significant differences when comparing Hong Kong to these cities: the immense crowds and long queues for various activities, and the distinct work culture. These disparities make living in Hong Kong a unique experience, especially for those accustomed to the lifestyle in .

It is common to see queues forming in metro stations due to the high demand for using escalators.

Living in Hong Kong can be an exciting experience, but it also means navigating through the bustling crowds that populate the city.

Work culture

The work culture in Hong Kong tends to prioritize work over personal life, with many people working six days a week. However, one way to have weekends free is to work for an international company or a company from your home country. This perspective is influenced by the author's Australian background.

Choosing to work for an international company in Hong Kong can greatly facilitate your transition into the local work environment, minimizing the risk of misunderstandings or miscommunications that may arise from unfamiliarity with the local work culture and norms.

During my time in Hong Kong, I had the opportunity to work for an Australian-owned company that subcontracts jobs for a Hong Kong Hospital Charity Organisation. As a result, I found myself working most Saturdays. This experience has taught me the importance of work-life balance and I will make sure to prioritize it in the future. Additionally, those working in the education field in Hong Kong may also have Saturdays included as part of their regular workweek.


If you are a parent and you are thinking about moving to Hong Kong, it may surprise you to see that many schoolchildren and high school students continue to wear their school uniforms as they make their way home at 5:30 pm on a Saturday evening.

In many countries, the school week for a majority of students extends from Monday to Saturday. Additionally, children in these countries typically spend more hours attending school compared to their peers in Australia.

In Hong Kong, school hours typically start at 8:30 am and end at 5:00 pm for children between the ages of 3 and 6. However, for primary and secondary school students, the school day is often extended until 5:30 pm.

In Hong Kong, schools at all levels, including Kindergarten, Primary, and Secondary, offer classes on Saturdays. This dedication to providing education on weekends may be one of the reasons why Hong Kong is consistently ranked among the top three countries for having the best schools.


Hong Kong is divided into three main areas: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories. Housing is a significant expense in this city. When deciding where to live, it often depends on your workplace location and whether or not the accommodation is provided. Additionally, the distance you are willing to commute is also a factor to consider.

While in Hong Kong, I resided in the New Territories specifically in Lohas Park. This apartment complex is located in a recently developed area, situated just across the bay from Hong Kong Island. Roughly estimated, the distance across the bay is about one kilometre.

This complex offers stunning views of Hong Kong Island from its bay and cycle tracks. On the other side, you can enjoy the lush mountainous jungle and beach. Additionally, the complex conveniently has its own MRT station for easy access.

The Hong Kong MRT map shows Lohas Park located on the far right side.

The newly developed area offers stunning views of the mountains, the bay, and a multitude of picturesque bike riding and walking trails.

Living in a centralized location on Hong Kong Island is more expensive compared to apartments in Kowloon and the New Territories. Additionally, houses are scarce and typically located along the beach, making them less convenient to access via the metro train system.

Apartment living offers numerous benefits, such as access to state-of-the-art gyms, both indoor and outdoor pools, and convenient amenities such as daycare facilities for children, playgrounds, patios, and small chain supermarkets that serve residents.

If you are planning to rent in Hong Kong but don't need an entire apartment, you have the option to find a room for rent. These rooms are often advertised in the classified sections of various online ex-pat websites.

GeoExpatHousing Classified is a platform worth exploring.

Introducing “FindYourRoomInHongKong,” a Facebook Group dedicated to advertisements for apartments and rooms for rent in Hong Kong.

Food and shopping

Living in hong kong - food

When it comes to enjoying fresh and high-quality fruit and vegetables, it's important to consider where you purchase them. Supermarkets may not always offer the best quality and freshness when it comes to produce.

When purchasing a bag of carrots, it's likely that at least one out of the five carrots in the bag will be completely rotten, resulting in a slimy and gooey mess. Similarly, when buying a bag of apples, there is a high chance that half of them will need to be discarded.

It is important to acknowledge that there are many individuals who are unable to afford fresh produce. However, it can be disheartening and wasteful to discard whole fruits or vegetables.

Wet Markets are bustling complexes located at the base of large shopping malls, where a wide variety of fresh stall vendors are conveniently grouped together.

Based on my personal experience, I have found it very convenient to locate wet markets in various locations I have visited. These markets are easily accessible, as they are located within walking distance of a metro station on both Hong Kong Island and the mainland.

Purchasing fresh produce from wet markets offers both cost savings and the assurance of freshness. Unlike packaged foods, the produce at wet markets is not wrapped or contained in bags, allowing you to visually inspect and select the items you want.

In general, the fruit available in Hong Kong is of high quality, while the vegetables tend to be slightly below average. It is worth noting that the majority of the produce in Hong Kong is imported. Additionally, fresh produce in Hong Kong is relatively more affordable compared to Australia.

In Hong Kong, market stall owners stand out for their fair pricing practices. Unlike in other Asian cities, they do not take advantage of customers who are unfamiliar with the prices. In the wet markets, prices are clearly marked, ensuring transparency. While haggling is not commonly practised in Hong Kong, it is worth noting that the lady's market in , a popular tourist spot, allows for some negotiation.

In Hong Kong, you can typically find the same popular products that you use in your home country at supermarkets. There are international supermarkets, like Jasons, that carry a wide selection of imported popular brands.

For UK residents, there are several Marks and Spencer stores in Hong Kong that offer a food section. Here, you can find a variety of packaged foods, cereals, and snack options. However, if you follow a vegan diet, it's important to note that there may not be a specific section for vegan products or any products labelled as such. Dairy and meat products are more commonly available in Hong Kong.


When preparing for my trip to Hong Kong, I made sure to pack a variety of clothing options for both work and casual outings. However, I soon realized that I couldn't wear most of my work clothes to the office due to the tattoo policy in place.

If you have tattoos, it's important to consider this when applying for a job. It's advisable to discuss your tattoos with your potential employer before signing any contracts to ensure that they are acceptable. Additionally, it's worth noting that facial piercings are generally not approved by employers.

In addition to the workplace, people in the local community also adhere to conservative dress codes. It is uncommon to find local women wearing low-cut tops, and the majority prefer modest hemlines.

For fitness and sports enthusiasts, it's worth noting that Hong Kong offers more affordable options for sporting clothing and footwear compared to Australia. Additionally, there are numerous sporting brand outlet stores scattered throughout the city, providing added convenience for shoppers.

Tung Chung, located just outside the Tung Chung Metro station on , is a convenient spot to find a variety of outlets. Notably, it is also situated near the starting point of the Big Buddha gondola. For sports enthusiasts, Kwan Tong on the green metro line in Kowloon offers a small collection of sports brand outlets. Additionally, Mong Kok is another area in Hong Kong where a range of outlets can be found. If you're looking for a comprehensive list of outlets in Hong Kong, you may find this website helpful.


Living in Hong Kong - Smog

Moving to Hong Kong introduced me to an unprecedented level of smog. Frequently, I encountered numerous days where my visibility was limited to just my balcony.

For a brief period, Hong Kong experienced higher levels of pollution and poorer air quality than Beijing and any other location worldwide. However, on most days, the skies in Hong Kong appear hazy and lacklustre.

Hong Kong is a stunning destination that offers a unique blend of urban and natural environments. Contrary to popular belief, the city is not just a concrete jungle but also features expansive mountain ranges, lush jungles, and picturesque bays and beaches. As you explore the city, you will be amazed by the seamless integration of these natural elements, with tracks and scenic routes weaving through and around the bustling urban landscape.

The boardwalk and pier area offer stunning views of Kowloon across the bay, making it a beautiful destination to visit.

Hong Kong is taking steps towards becoming more environmentally conscious. Similar to other cities around the world, they have implemented a policy of not providing free plastic bags at supermarkets. It is expected that individuals will bring their own reusable shopping bags when they go grocery shopping.

During the seasons of spring and summer, weekend beach trips are highly recommended. With numerous easily accessible beaches, these day trips require little effort and can be enjoyed from any location within the city.

In Hong Kong, the humidity can reach high levels, prompting locals to carry small electric portable fans to keep cool while walking outdoors. This is a common sight in the city, which I had not encountered before relocating here.

During the winter season, temperatures drop significantly, resulting in cold and dry weather conditions. To stay warm and comfortable, it is essential to wear multiple layers of clothing, including thick winter jackets, scarves, and beanies. This is particularly important during the Christmas period.

In summary

Hong Kong is a vibrant and highly livable city, although it does face some issues with smog. It is often referred to as the place where the East meets the West, a title that is well-deserved.

The Big Buddha on Lantau Island is a popular attraction for those living in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is a city where traditional Eastern culture coexists with Western and international influences, including lifestyles, food, and stores. This vibrant city is home to a substantial expatriate community, with a significant portion of ex-pats hailing from the UK.

Hong Kong is known for its diverse international dining options, although the vegetarian and vegan scene is somewhat limited. In addition, the city boasts a vibrant shopping scene for those who enjoy it, as well as some of the top schools in the world. Residents also have access to a wide range of sports and recreation clubs, making Hong Kong a highly livable city for singles, couples, and families.

Further Information

If you're looking for more information, it's recommended to visit the official Hong Kong Government Tourism website. Additionally, ex-pat websites and forums like asiaXpat and GeoExpat can also provide helpful insights.

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