22/05/2024

Backpacking Destination

Backpacking Tour and Travel

A Few Things To Know About Moving To Hong Kong

A Few Things To Know About Moving To Hong Kong

A few months ago, I decided to move to Hong Kong from my lifelong residence of Cincinnati, Ohio. I had recently reconnected (on Facebook) with a cute girl from my high school homeroom whom I hadn’t seen in person since 1985. Since I’ve never been married, have no kids and run my own internet company that allows me to work from anywhere in the world, I decided to make an initial visit to check it out. It only took me a few days to realize that I wanted to live in Hong Kong.

After extending my two week visit to four weeks, I returned back to the states to tie up a few loose ends. I sold or gave away most of my personal belongings and reduced my possessions to what would snugly fit into two suitcases. Being 43 years old and having your life reduced to what fits into two suitcases was a surreal and surprisingly liberating. A month later, I was off to Discovery Bay in Hong Kong for a new life experience. For anyone who is considering making such a move, I would like to share a few observations and recommendations.

Currency: The Hong Kong government uses “Honk Kong Dollars”. If you’re used to US currency, making the transition is actually quite easy. The current exchange rate is approximately 7.8%. In simple terms, this means that a pack of cigarettes that costs HK $39.00 translates to about $5.00 in the states. Since I’m not really sharp when it comes to math, I found an easy way to convert HK dollars to US dollars. Let’s say you see a pizza on a menu that is HK $100.00. How much is this in US dollars? What I find to be an easy way to convert is to first determine what 10% of the price is. In this case, 10% of $100.00 is $10.00. Then, I add about 25% of the $10.00, which is $2.50. So, the pizza that costs HK $100.00 is about $12.50 in US dollars. If want to buy flat screen television that is on sale for HK $8000.00, I take 10% of the 8k, which is $800.00. Then, I add 25%of the $800.00 which is $200.00. So, the HK $8000.00 flat screen television is about $1000.00 US dollars.

Another thing to remember about Hong Kong is that there is no sales tax. In addition, tipping in restaurants is rare. It seems strange at first not to tip or to just leave the change behind for the service, but servers and bartenders in Hong Kong are usually paid a nice salary or hourly wage – unlike in the states. Try leaving a $5.00 tip for a $200.00 dinner in a New York restaurant and see what happens!

Transportation: Many adults in Hong Kong have never driven a car. They simply don’t need to. Hong Kong is wonderful because it is such an orderly and organized city. Mass transportation is safe, clean, convenient and very affordable. It is very easy to get a taxi, take the subway (known as the “MTR”), take a ferry or hop on a bus. Even though Hong Kong is part of China, it is overflowing with English-speaking ex-pats from all over the world. As a result, 99% of the signs are in English, which makes it extremely easy to get around. The not-so-obvious advantage of Hong Kong’s mass transit system is that when you’re not driving, you are able to do other things such as read, check email, nap, etc. This is a huge stress-reducer that most people don’t consider. Imagine having an extra two hours to yourself each day!

Hiking: I currently live in Discovery Bay, which is a community on Lantau Island. I often compare DB to Hawaii and downtown Hong Kong to New York City. In other words, I get to experience the best of both worlds. The great thing about living here is that we can hike all over the island to different communities, many of which are very Chinese and relatively primitive. If you love the outdoors and love to be active, there are countless opportunities to get out of the city and experience Chinese culture on foot.

Proximity to other countries: I’m used to living in Ohio, which is pretty much land-locked. Hong Kong, on the other hand is very close to mainland China, Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. Many people that I have encountered in Hong Kong are very world-traveled. It’s not uncommon to meet people who have visited 10, 15 or 20 countries. In just a few months here, I’ve made friends from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, South Africa and Baltimore. It really is a melting pot here and there is never a dull moment.

Residency: When you enter Hong Kong, immigration stamps your passport which allows you to visit the region for 90 days. If you plan on staying longer, there are several ways to become a resident. If your company in the states sends you here for business, you’re good to go with a work visa. If you are here and are hired by a company, you will get a work visa as well. If you plan on starting a business, you will need to present your plan to immigration and obtain an “investment visa”. Don’t do this on your own. Contact or visit the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and they will introduce you to an accounting firm who specializes in presenting business plans for approval to immigration. If you meet a resident and you fall in love, then you can stay for good if you’re married!

Living in Hong Kong is awesome. My only regret is that I waited 43 years to venture out of my comfort zone in Ohio. It’s never too late to set off on a new life adventure. Life is short, so if you have always had the desire to explore this beautiful planet, consider checking out Hong Kong. It’s different, but not so different that the culture shock will be too much to handle.