Finding your feet in Hong Kong
Living in Hong Kong can be one of the best experiences you will have in your life time. The city is abuzz with energy and opportunity. Whether you have come here with a work contract or are setting up a business here, there are a thousand exciting experiences awaiting you.
As with any major city, Hong Kong has its best and less best. As an expatriate, you will find some things work better than others. It’s all about finding your feet.
If you have been lucky enough to have visited this fair city before moving here, you will already have an inkling as to the friendliness and easy access you have to most things.
You have a variety of choices of where to live. If you are a single or couple starting a new job, the best places to live are on Hong Kong Island, just follow the line of the MTR and work out how many stops you want to take from Central or the famous Mid levels escalator. Most younger couples or singles choose to live in the Mid Levels, Wanchai, or Central Soho areas or a couple of quick stops away on the MTR. These areas are teaming with restaurants and bars, have close access to fantastic hiking and boating activities, and contain all the conveniences of shopping, fitness, massage and other recreational pursuits. Easy commuting to and from work is definitely a good consideration.
For families, there are a number of popular areas to live which are very appropriate if you have younger to school age children. Hong Kong families balance the need for a reasonable commute for working parents and close accessibility to the international schools. There are families that are very happy living within the Central Mid Levels areas and there are families who prefer to live at one of the many beaches, Hong Kong Islands or new territories. These neighbourhoods offer a brilliant family lifestyle, with a lot more space, larger homes or apartments, the ability to have pets and be amongst other ex pat families. Discovery Bay is well set up for families, with schools, beaches and regular ferry or train services. Repulse Bay, Stanley, Pok Fu Lam, Aberdeen, Shouson Hill and some of the outer areas on Hong Kong Island all have easy access to the best schools such as the Swiss German International School. Clearwater Bay and Sai Kung are extremely popular with ex pat families in the New Territories where you can have a beach lifestyles with unlimited parklands and yet be a convenient commute to the Australian and other sought after International schools.
Owning a car in Hong Kong is not as difficult as it may look at first sight when you first experience the busy roads and traffic. If you have a current driving license from another country, you can apply for a Hong Kong licence with little difficulty. Parking can be at a premium price, so you are best off to lease/buy a property that comes with its own car parking. There are public car parks scattered around Hong Kong, so it’s a very good idea to identify these before making your journey, as Hong Kong has many one way streets and this can be confusing if you don’t know the area. The public transport options however are many and very reliable. When you are choosing your new neighbourhood, ask about the transport options to help you make your decision.
Hong Kong has a number of private clubs which you can join and they offer fantastic recreational facilities especially for families such as swimming pools, restaurants and bars, games, tennis, cricket and so on. Joining a club has always been the thing to do for expats moving to Hong Kong, and they are a great place to socially meet new people. They also provide an excellent platform to network with a variety of regular events. The Hong Kong cricket club is a great example of a fun place that everyone can enjoy. You have the American Club in either Central or Stanley, the Foreign Correspondence Club in Central and the famous The Hong Kong Club although the Hong Kong Club does have the longest waiting list. With a bit of luck you will meet someone who is a member who will invite you to come as their guest.
If you are keen to enjoy the wonderful sailing around the 263 islands that make up Hong Kong, consider joining the Hong Kong Yacht club or one of the smaller clubs like the Hebe Haven Yacht Club in Sai Kung. Being out on the water is one of the best things you can do here and you will have a whole new appreciation for your new home when you see the many exciting places to explore, hike or camp from the water. You may want to sign up for a team or lessons, or if being in a club is not your thing, just go exploring on the many ferries to the outer islands like Chueng Chau of Lamma. With predominantly warm weather, you will appreciate the cooler breezes out on the water, and enjoy the many months you get to do this.
Hong Kong is world famous for food. The city and suburbs are heaving with restaurants from the local noodle shop to 3 hatted and Michelin starred restaurants. The late Anthony Bordain was a regular visitor in his time, with his tv show, exploring the off the path fair in local joints. At the other end of the scales exquisite plates are being served up to the rich and famous with a representation of any food style or nationality you desire. Hong Kong is a place to be adventurous, so be it at your local neighbourhood, or the top famous eateries, this is a great way to feel part of Hong Kong, with dim sum on Sundays, and definitely the favoured weekend brunch.
It has been said that living in Hong Kong you make friends for life. Most expats would agree. The openness of people both local and expat with advice on best doctor, dentist, hair dresser, vet, and so on, will give you plenty of opportunities to find your feet and make great friends amongst the variety of people who live here. Just ask, it will never be too much because as expats, we’ve all gone through the same “newness” and been helped along by friendly residents.