Being culturally attractive and safe, Hong Kong is one of the best destinations for expats worldwide. As an independent Special Administrative Region of China, it has fully integrated the Chinese culture and language as well as the UK culture, retaining some traits from its colonial days. What even makes moving to Hong Kong desirable is the fact that life is always exciting. With a high standard of living, delectable food, shopping malls, and a large expatriate community, this region is favorable to anyone who moves in.
Regardless of how awesome it might be, Hong Kong has its fair share of challenges. This doesn’t gainsay the fact that Hong Kong is adored for its quality educational system and bustling economic activities. In fact, with this bustling economic sphere comes unpredictable working hours; making work-life balance almost nonexistent. Also, the fact that this region has low taxes doesn’t guarantee better pay. But the job market, festivals, and scenery always erode the negative aspects of living in Hong Kong. Why forget the bliss associated with moving to one of the four Asian Tigers because of a few negative factors? It only takes patience. Continue reading to learn more about moving to Hong Kong from US.
Requirements for Moving to Hong Kong
While every US citizen is allowed to immigrate to Hong Kong, some requirements must be met. First off, you must have a valid passport that remains authentic six months after your planned return date. Other requirements include a visa (if you plan to stay longer than 90 days), proof of funds, past records to show that you are of good character, a minimum score of 6.0 in the IELTS test, and a birth or marriage certificate (if required).
Also, apart from these general requirements, there are other things needed to aid your move. These include an Octopus card, a Hong Kong ID card, a phone number, a bank account, a job offer, admission to a school in Hong Kong, and an apartment. While these are essential to have a comfortable life in Hong Kong, you shouldn’t limit yourself to getting them after landing in HK. You need a job offer to even get a work visa; so it’s essential to get all these ready before moving.
Visa for US Citizens
In Hong Kong, there are five major visa types available; dependent visa, student visa, training visa, employment visa, and quality migrant visa. For US citizens, these visas are only required if they intend to stay in HK for more than three months; hence US citizens don’t need a visa to Hk for short visits. So, if you were wondering how long you could stay in Hong Kong with a passport, there you have it! You can stay for just 90 days!
Truth be told, getting a Hong Kong visa might not be easy for you. This is why you must opt for the visa that states why you are moving. And while the processing time could be anywhere between six and eight weeks, you don’t have to worry as long you have all the requirements and pay the visa fee. The cost of an HK ordinary visa is HK$1,785 ($230). You can check the Hong Kong Immigration website for the cost of other visa types and extensions.
Cost of Moving to Hong Kong
When considering the cost of moving to Hong Kong from US, you will have to include a whole lot into your list. Firstly, you will have to consider the visa costs, while bearing in mind that an ordinary HK visa costs $230. You will also need to include the airfare, the costs of getting accommodation, as well as the cost of moving your belongings and pet to Hong Kong. If you intend to pay an agency to help you in finding a job or an apartment, you will have to save money for that, while considering that all these would amount to your overall cost of moving.
Cost of Living in Hong Kong vs USA
All the adventure and fun in Hong Kong don’t come for free. You have to pay for it with an increasingly high cost of living that surpasses that of the US. Being 40% more expensive than the US, the cost of food, clothes, transportation, entertainment, and most importantly, housing is unfathomably high. Most Hong Kongers don’t own a house because the price of property averages over HK$1,000,000. And even though foreigners are allowed to buy a property and rent them out, many find the real estate industry quite expensive.
The expensive nature of this city, which ranks as the 5th country for the high cost of living and the 14th most expensive country in the world according to the World Population Review 2021 rankings, only gives Hong Kongers and expats the option of sticking to a realistic budget. However, it all boils down to your lifestyle. If you have an extravagant lifestyle, then you would be lost in all the fun and adventure, making it difficult for you to pay your rent and make ends meet. If you also rent or purchase property in extremely expensive places like The Repulse Bay area, your overall cost of living could increase significantly.
Here is a more detailed comparison of the cost of living in Hong Kong vs US. (Source: Expatistan)
|Average Monthly Cost of Living||United States (HK$)||Hong Kong (HK$)|
|Family of four||35,167||60,250|
The Hong Kong healthcare system is a fine mixture of public and private medical care. Surprisingly enough, public healthcare offers free medical care to residents, citizens, and nonresidents who have valid visas and Hong Kong ID cards. However, the truth about public healthcare is that it doesn’t cover dental care. Also, public healthcare is not entirely free; you might have to pay a minimal fee for some medical services. Nonetheless, the government spends over $23,000 per capita on healthcare, making public healthcare quite effective.
Conversely, private healthcare requires medical insurance, which isn’t needed for public healthcare. Also, this medical care is quite expensive but offers a lot more than public medical care. Overall, with forty-three public hospitals and twelve private hospitals, your health is not at stake in this city.
What Jobs are in Demand in Hong Kong?
Getting a job as a foreigner in Hong Kong is not as easy as it may seem because most employers feel reluctant to sponsor visas and most companies require prospective employees to be able to speak Cantonese or Mandarin. However, if you decide to be brave and take the leap, you can consider moving to Hong Kong from the US without a job. Then you can utilize the visa-free 90-day visit to go job hunting. Even with this option, you won’t be able to work without obtaining a visa. So the best option is to apply for the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme; this way, you would have enough time in finding the right job.
The job market is booming and Hong Kong’s free-market economy hugely relies on international trade. With an average monthly pay of HK$36,500 and low taxes, you can live comfortably in the city. However, the pay truly depends on your job. If your profession is in high demand, you could expect to be paid higher. So, here is a table showing the highly demanded jobs and their average monthly salaries.
|Job||Salary (HK$)||Salary ($)|
The educational system is quite different from that of the US. First off, Hong Kong’s education system is free for children between 6 years of age and 15. This means that primary (six years) and secondary education (three years in junior secondary and the other three years in senior secondary) are compulsory for every child. However, private schools and international schools aren’t free and can be quite expensive.
The international schools are mainly targeted at expats’ children but most Hong Kongers decide to put their kids in such schools because, unlike the public schools, English is used in teaching the students. But it is also essential to note that there are several international schools scattered in the city and they tend to be more expensive than the private schools.
Conversely, international students can apply for Hong Kong’s colleges since the University of Hong Kong ranks the 22nd best university in the world. This region offers the best education to students, which is why it has about four universities in the top 50 universities in the world. However, college education, unlike primary and secondary education, is not free. Students would have to pay over HK$80,000 for their tuition.
Best Place to Live in Hong Kong
Relocating to Hong Kong gives you access to all the adventures and mysteries of this wonderful administrative region of China. But it’s apparent that when you move to Hong Kong without planning or thinking of where you would stay, you would not even notice how spectacularly amazing this city is. So, with that in mind, here are the top six places to live in Hong Kong as an American.
- Happy Valley
Owing to its bigger apartments and space, this residential district is best for families or pet owners. Who wouldn’t want to live in this renowned racecourse?
- The Repulse Bay
This is one of the expensive places to reside in Hong Kong (if not the most expensive). You would certainly enjoy its beaches and clean environment.
- Kowloon Tong
Feel like having a taste of the remnants of colonial days? This area might just be right for you.
- Sai Kung
This place would leave you hypnotized with all its dining spots and comforting beaches.
- Ho Man Tin
Adorned with private boutiques, swimming pools, and an ever-attractive outdoor lifestyle, this residential district is best for anyone who loves outdoor adventure.
- Wan Chai
This is the best place to live if you want to grasp all the boisterous activities of HK. Also, the wet market and nightlife of the people make it even more alluring.
The climate of Hong Kong
The subtropical climate of Hong Kong makes its summers humid, hot, and sometimes rainy. This is why the weather is said to be very unpredictable; sometimes you could get all four seasons in a day. However, the winters are normally mild but cold, thus the temperature can drop to 5℃. With this, the best time to visit Hong Kong is usually between October to November or March to April. But anytime you decide to come, ensure to prepare for the unpredictable weather. Also, remember that Hong Kongers don’t love cold so don’t be surprised when everyone starts putting on a coat or sweater when it’s barely below 15℃.
Pros and Cons of Living in Hong Kong
Living in Hong Kong can be exceptionally glorious. Being an expat community, HK promises to be all fun and loving; bustling with numerous activities and multiculturalism. However, this isn’t always the case. This autonomous administrative region of China is not always enjoyable. There are times when you would be on public transportation and regret ever moving to Hong Kong due to the overcrowdedness of this city. There are so many other things you might not like about the city and it is only important to know the pros and cons before moving. So, below is a table showing the advantages and disadvantages of relocating to Hong Kong from US.
|Hong Kong is a safe territory.||Air pollution is seen as a normal phenomenon.|
|There are so many economic activities; hence a great job market.||No regard for work-life balance.|
|Great outdoor lifestyle.||It is a noisy place.|
|Good public transport system.||It is overcrowded and overly busy.|
|The Octopus card does wonders.||Rent and property are extremely expensive.|
|English is spoken and taken as an official language.||There is always a trace of a language barrier as most people don’t understand English at all.|
Now, do you need to ask yourself if it’s worth moving to Hong Kong? Hong Kong probably has the key to all unlocked opportunities in your life. So, what are you waiting for? Good luck with your move!
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