A L L Y O U N E E D T O N A V I G A T E L I F E I N T H E 8 5 2

Editor’s Note

W elcome to Hong Kong! living in Hong Kong is a life-changing experience. It’s also pretty overwhelming – even for the seasoned expat pros among us. Your newhome is an ever-evolving city; just when you think you’ve got it all covered, your favourite restaurant will be replaced by another, or your go-to grocery store will cease to exist. It’s all part of the Hong Kong ride, so strap in and get ready for an adventure that’s going to keep you on your toes. At Expat Living, we love adventures and we love Hong Kong. We’ve spent a lot of time creating this guide to help make all those huge life admin tasks – like finding a neighbourhood and apartment you like, sorting out your banking and bills, deciding on a school – manageable. Once you’ve ticked all Whether you’ve just landed or have been settling in for a while,

those important boxes, it’s time to reward yourself with some iconic Hong Kong experiences, like Sunday brunch or sundowners in the centre of the world’s most epic skyline. And, don’t forget, you’re now in the heart of Asia – so it’s time to explore beyond Hong Kong and embrace the entire region. All that, and more, can be found in these pages.


If you find something useful or have advice for those who are new to the city, we’d love to hear from you – get in touch at!


Rebecca Bisset


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47 MOVING IN // Neighbourhood tips and design inspo Discover your favourite area of Hong Kong – and your perfect property; then, spruce it up and make it your own with our interior design tips and furniture recommendations

67 LEARNAND PLAY // A guide to schools, plus activities for all Explore a range of preschools, schools and other educational institutions so you can make the right choice; plus, go beyond the classroom with our fun ideas for things to do – for kids and grown-ups alike!

// Your basic survival guide Learn everything you need to know about your new home, from some of the challenges facing newcomers, to transport options, networking, finding friends, hiring a helper and looking for work




131 ESCAPINGTHE CITY // Awesome travel ideas, near and far From exploring hikes and Hong Kong’s wildlife to some of of the world’s best beach spots, we have a raft of tantalising travel ideas for planning your next escape

143 LET’S EAT! // The hottest cafés, restaurants and bars There is amazing food in HK, from dim sum to champagne brunches, so turn to this section for our restaurant recommendations, foodie tips and other advice for the curious or just plain hungry

// Stay well, inside and out Hong Kong not only offers state-of-the-art hospitals and health services, from dentists to fertility experts and psychologists, it’s also a great place for keeping fit and looking your best!

For the latest updates, find us on facebook or follow us on instagram @expatlivinghk



Ronnie Chua |

Hong Kong Hacks Your basic survival guide

Rebecca Bisset




is for Double. You are considered lucky if you have a daughter followed by a son in Hong Kong because their characters in Chinese symbols mean “double happiness.”

is for Alcohol. In 2010, someone in Hong Kong paid US$233,000 for a bottle of burgundy – a world record that stood until a recent auction at Sotheby’s New York.

is for Customs. For whatever reason, the number of individual cigarettes (not packets) each traveller is allowed to bring through Hong Kong Customs is 19.

is for Britain. Hong Kong was under British rule for 156 years (1842-1997).


is for Islands. Hong Kong is made up of 260 islands, more than 100 of which are uninhabited

is for Jockey. Don’t think about riding your horse when you’re drunk in Hong Kong. There’s a HK$250 fine for doing so.

is for Romer. The Romer’s tree frog is found only in Hong Kong and grows to just 2cm.

is for Ocean. 270 million cubic metres of seawater are supplied to flush Hong Kong toilets each year.

is for Skyscrapers. Last time we counted, there were 353 skyscrapers above 150m in Hong Kong,

is for Queen. After Hong Kong was ceded to the British in 1841, Queen Victoria wrote: “Albert is so amused at my having got the island of Hong Kong.”

is for Public Holidays. Hong Kong enjoys 17 official public holidays each year, the highest in the world.

more than any other city (New York is second, then Dubai and Shanghai).

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is for Films. Hong Kong

actress Maggie Cheung starred in a

is for Escalator. Hong Kong’s half-mile Mid- Levels Escalator is the world’s longest covered escalator.

is for Guinness. Joe Sun Yung-tsu worked as a corporate salesperson in Hong Kong for over 70 years, a Guinness World Record. Go, Joe!

whopping 85 films between her debut in 1983 and her “retirement” in 2010.

is for Hotels. As of March 2019, there were approximately 95,800 hotel rooms in Hong Kong.

is for Money. Disneyland Hotel’s Chinese

is for Kowloon. You probably know that Hong Kong means “fragrant harbour” in Chinese, but did you know that every time you utter the word “Kowloon” you are saying “nine dragons”?

restaurant has 2,238 crystal lotuses. The number was chosen because it sounds like “easily generates wealth” in Cantonese.

is for Lee. In 1958, a Mr Lee won a city-wide cha-cha dance competition. Mr Bruce Lee. Yep, that Bruce Lee.

is for Number Plate. Someone paid HK$18.1 million for a car plate with the auspicious number “28” in 2016.

is for Ukulele. The world’s

largest ukulele

ensemble consisted of 8,065 people, who gathered at Hong Kong’s Church of God on 13 August 2017 to strum a tune. The opposite of “easy listening”, one would imagine...

is for Tall. Hong Kong’s tallest peak is the not-overly-tall Tai Mo Shan or Big Hat Mountain, which is 957m high.

is for Vertigo. The world’s highest swimming pool is located on the 118th floor of the Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong.

is for World. Half the world’s population lives within a five- hour flight of Hong Kong.

Z is for Zimbabwe. And Cyprus, and Uruguay,

is for Crossing. Almost a quarter of a million people cross the checkpoint between Hong Kong and mainland China each day.

is for Yum. Egg tarts and pineapple buns – the latter

and another 112 countries that have consulates in Hong Kong – that’s more than any other city on the planet.

named not because they contain the fruit but for their pineapple-like crust – are must-try local specials at the bakery.





To make your new Hong Kong life a success, you’ll need some insider knowledge. These friendly expats have been there, done that! They are generously sharing their tips, tricks and recommendations in the pages ahead.

Claire Yates // You might have noticed people carrying the now cult “No Plastic

Nico Guiridlian // Hong Kong has a thriving French expat community – in fact, our city is home to the world’s largest French expat population. Nico Guiridlian is one of those many French expats. He’s a design professional at one of the city’s biggest banks, a dad, and a man who has great advice for newbies after navigating Hong Kong’s start-up scene while starting a family.

Mm Goi” (that’s Cantonese for “thank you”) range of bottles and reusable cups around town. They’re Claire’s! This influential eco- woman grew up between two cultures and draws on these influences daily running her company, The Lion Rock Press.

Jacinta Reddan // As the Chief Executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, Jacinta leads the largest and most active foreign Chamber in the city. That makes her one of the most connected expats in Hong Kong.

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Murray Lang // Having grown up in Japan and lived in Asia for over 16 years, Murray is a fluent Mandarin speaker and part of the Hong Kong furniture. As APAC Export Manager for Nyetimber, England’s finest sparkling wine, he is working to challenge people’s misconceptions of English wine and enjoy a few glasses along the way.

Neelam Daswani // Neelam has been based in Boston, Japan and now Hong Kong. Luckily, she speaks three languages. Neelam was born in Japan while her father was on assignment there and spent most of her childhood as an expat. Today, she runs her own business representing some of the city’s hottest restaurants. This girl knows where to dine.

Emelie Holm // Emelie is a Swedish author and holistic health coach who relocated to Hong Kong from Bangkok not long ago. Emelie has written two useful cookbooks: Sweet without Sugar and Vegan Dairy . Look out for her tips on where to buy health supplements and how to deal with pollution.

AnneWingfield // If there was such a term as a professional expat, it would apply to Anne Wingfield! Her childhood was spent sprinkled across Asia, and she remembers fondly living South Side in Hong Kong as a young girl, before her family moved on to the Philippines and eventually back to Australia. As an adult, Anne’s career has seen her work in Australia, the UK and Singapore. Today, she’s settled back “home” in Hong Kong but spends most weeks travelling for work.

Maria Brusuelas // Are you serious about fitness and

wellness? If so, keep an eye out for Maria’s recommendations. She’s part of the team at Hybrid, one of the city’s premier training centres. Being a mother of three sons and a huge wellness advocate, Maria strongly believes in the benefits of martial arts and fitness.



/ 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

Being an expat in

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

Hong Kong can be fun, fast paced and full of surprises. Here, our panellists share their thoughts and tips on living in the 852.

/ Comewith an openmind and a sense of adventure. – Claire

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

/ This move is a great opportunity to expose the kids to Mandarin , so go for it ! – Neelam

/ 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

/ Stop trying to convert prices into your home currency the moment you land. It will only end in tears! – Jacinta be aware that you are joining a new culture and new ways of living. Have patience. – Maria / Sample all the local food. / If you haven’t lived abroad before, then my best advice is to

– Murray

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

/ 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

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

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

/ 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

GETTING SOME BACKGROUND / 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 ChinaMorning 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




About the Working Visa Unless youhave aHongKong “right of abode” or “right to land”, a visa is required towork in theHongKong Special Administrative Region (SAR). Having your company sponsor and issue your visa (and any dependant visas for your family) before you arrive is the most efficient way of entering Hong Kong. Most companies hiring foreign staff are familiar with the process and should get the ball rolling before you travel. That said, arriving as a visitor allows stays of between 14 to 180 days, depending on what passport you hold. You’re not legally entitled to work without a visa but you can land and then set about getting your documents if necessary. Expect the visa process to take up to four weeks. More: visa-entry-permit.html Working on a Dependant Visa If one of you has obtained a working visa, then dependant visas can be issued (and are necessary) for your spouse and children under the age of 18. Holding a dependant visa gives a wide berth for spousal work opportunities since no additional working visa is needed, and the dependant is not tied to one company. Minors all need valid visas for school and to access public facilities, like healthcare. More: When it comes to life admin in Hong Kong, we have it pretty easy. Here are four of the key areas you need to get sorted as a priority when you land (or even before, if you can). VISA CARDS, CASH, CONNECTIONS... LIFE ADMIN ESSENTIALS!


Applying for a Hong Kong ID Card Anyone residing in Hong Kong and aged 11 or over is required to hold a Hong Kong ID card, and an application must be made within 30 days of landing if you’re planning to stay longer than six months. Details of the process are found on the HK SAR Government Immigration Department website. It’s possible to make online bookings for an appointment, but be prepared to spend some time in person at the Immigration office when making your application. There are five locations where applications can be processed; Immigration Tower in Wan Chai is the busiest but most frequented by expats. On the day, you’ll need:

• Passport • Valid visa

• Completed application form • Child’s original birth certificate

Photos are taken during the application, and no fee is required. HKID applications are usually processed and ready for collection within 10 days. More: services/hkid/general_ info.html

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Opening a local bank account in Hong Kong can seem slow and old-fashioned for many expats. A physical visit to a branch is usually required. Which Bank Should I Choose? Hong Kong has a mix of international and local players. If you need to shift funds between countries, choosing a bank that also operates in your home country can reduce costs associated with transfers and exchange rates. Popular banks among expats include Citibank, HSBC and Standard Chartered, and it’s also worth considering Hang Seng Bank, Bank of China (Hong Kong) and DBS. What Account? Most common personal banking accounts in Hong Kong include checking, savings and multi- currency accounts. Credit cards can be linked to an account, as can an EPS card, which acts like a debit card. View the charges on credit cards, which can be high, and do not neglect to order a chequebook, since these are still a frequently requested form of payment in Hong Kong. What Should I Bring? Check with the particular bank, as each has slightly different requirements, but it’s likely you will need: • Passport: Both are needed for joint accounts. • Letter of employment, issued by your employer: If you’re in Hong Kong on a spousal visa, you should apply at the same time as your partner. • HongKong IDor temporary ID: If you plan to open a joint account, you must both hold ID. • Proof of address in Hong Kong: A copy of your rental agreement or a utility bill. • Copy of a permanent address in your home country: Use your last address, or that of a relative who is still a resident there. • Social security number: Required for American citizens opening accounts with American banks.

Upgrading your Current HKID If you’re returning to Hong Kong and already have a HKID from your last stint, you might need to update it. HKIDs are being upgraded to newer cards, and replacements are being managed by year of birth. Check the government website ( to see if your card needs replacing.

Using Your Card You should keep your ID card on you at all times, and it’s a good idea to have the number memorised, since it’s routinely used as an identifier when calling banks or arranging services. Cards are fitted with a smart chip and as such can be used in place of a library card, as well as ensuring a swift exit through automatic gates at Hong Kong Airport and in Macau.




The Process At the branch, take a ticket and wait to be called. This can take 30 minutes or more in busy locations. A bank representative will check your documents and guide you through the set-up. Double check that you’ve brought all requested documentation or your application will probably be rejected and you’ll need to return at another time to begin the process again. Funds You need a nominal amount to open the account, around HK$1,000 in most cases. Check bank charges on minimal monthly balances and consider having your wage paid into the account to avoid additional costs. If you bank with the same bank as your company, you may be paid quicker.

TAP AND GO! One of Hong Kong’s great innovations is the Octopus card and you should get one for each member of the family. The card is micro-chipped, allowing you to make cashless payments on public transport – but it hasmany other uses, frombuying groceries or things from vending machines to paying for parking or even for services at public hospitals. A standard card comes with a refundable HK$50 deposit. Children must have an Octopus card from the age of three, and cards can’t be shared or used multiple times at one stop. Pick up a card at a range of authorised distribution outlets including almost all MTR stations, plus various light rail and ferry customer service centres. More:


Gas Supplier: Towngas, unless you are living in remote areas that use bottled gas or in Discovery Bay where it is a private contractor. Signing up: OpenCloseAccount/OpenGasAccount aspx Documents: For homes with a previous gas supply you should make note of the meter readingwhen youmove in. Adeposit (about HK$600) is taken for registration, which is used against any outstanding balance when you close the account. If a gas meter is installed but has not been connected previously (as with a newbuild) you will also need a copy of your lease. Bills: Sent every two months, with a breakdown of monthly use. Tip: If you get your gas bill and it seems very large, check the meter reading is correct, sometimes instead of a factual reading, the company just estimates. If you can call with the correct reading, the bill will be revised. Enquiries: 2880 6988

Unless you’re staying in a serviced apartment, as a tenant it’s your responsibility to sign up for water, gas and electricity. Do ask your agent about any existing supply when you sign the lease, and then use this nifty resource to make connections. Water Supplier: Water Supplies Department of the Water Authority Signing up: Documents: Applications should be sent with a copy of your Hong Kong ID; they take about a week to process. Bills: Sent quarterly Enquiries: 2824 5000 (Press 3 for English)

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APPY HELPERS We asked our panel members to list the apps they find most useful in Hong Kong. So, grab your phone and download these must-haves!

PayMe: Send money to friends instantly with this peer-to-peer payment app

from HSBC

Deliveroo (and Foodpanda): For restaurant food delivery HKTaxi: Pre-book a taxi with this popular red app Plume Air Report : Keep track of pollution levels HK Observatory: You’ll need this, especially in typhoon season Tap: Find the closest place to refill your water bottle WeChat: Not just messenger, it’s a form of payment and a whole lot more Open Rice: Bookmark your favourite and recommended HK restaurants Klook : Ideas on what to do around the region, with

Electricity Supplier: Hong Kong Electric (For Hong Kong Island and Lamma Island) Signing up: Transferring your account from a previous address takes one working day, and new connections can take up to two weeks. Documents: Hong Kong ID or passport, and deposit (equal to 60 days estimated consumption) Bills: Monthly Enquiries: 2887 3411, 9am-6pm, Monday-Sunday Supplier: CLP Power (For Kowloon and the New Territories, including Lantau, Cheung Chau and most other outlying islands aside from Lamma) Signing up: Documents: Hong Kong ID or passport, and a deposit (equal to 60 days estimated consumption) Bills: Every two months Enquiries: 2678 2678 Bill Payments Making payments is fast and efficient and may be done via a number of channels. Bills can be paid through your bank’s ATMmachines, as well as by phone and online and at most convenience stores, including 7Eleven and Circle K, if you have the bill present. Direct debits are often called “Autopay” in Hong Kong and require a trip to your bank to set up.

discounted tickets

Eatigo: For restaurant reservations

MTR: Helps plan your MTR journey Gogovan: Hire a man in a van to

move items

BloomMe: Beauty salon deals and bookings

Toilet Rush:

Locates the closest bathroom




Despite the city’s size and population, getting from A to B is relatively easy in Hong Kong, even without a car. We have world-class public transport, an amazingly efficient airport, and a few other fun ways to travel! RAILS, ROADS & RUNWAYS Whether you’re arriving in Hong Kong for the first time, or you’re an old hand who comes and goes frequently, it’s likely you’ve been impressed at the facilities and operations at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). Almost 75 million passengers were handled by HKIA last year, and there’s rarely a bad word spoken about the facility by anyone who travels regularly. That includes the food: the airport was voted the World’s Best Airport for Dining by Skytrax in March 2019! GETTING AROUND IN HONG KONG PLANES


MTR The MTR network consists of 11 lines, including the South Island line, which opened in December 2016. It also includes a service to Disneyland and the Airport Express. A light rail system runs between Yuen Long and TuenMun in the NewTerritories and you can also take a train to the mainland, crossing the border at Lok Ma Chau and Lo Wu. HIGH-SPEED RAIL If you fancy a trip up to mainland China, the brand- new high-speed rail system is the perfect way to do it. The service was opened in 2018 and connects Hong Kong to 44 cities around China. Remember, all foreign travellers require passports and China visas, even for the shortest journeys. TRAM Hong Kong trams, known affectionately as “ding dings”, may not be the fastest way to travel, but sitting on the top deck provides a great view. You board at the back and pay at the front as you exit at the end of your journey (usingOctopus card or the correct small change). Trams operate between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei Wan from about 5.30am to midnight.

THIRD RUNWAY You’ll likely hear a bit of buzz around town about HKIA’s new third runway. The expansion work is set to be completed by 2024, at a cost of HK$140 billion.

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TAXIS Hong Kong’s taxis are cheap compared to many other major cities. They’re also generally reliable, though do keep Google Maps open on your phone and a Cantonese translation of your destination on hand. There are three different coloured taxis: • Blue taxis are only permitted to travel on Lantau island. • Green taxis don’t leave the NewTerritories. • Red taxis operate on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, but be aware that if Kowloon cabbies drop someone off on Hong Kong Island, they can only pick up customers heading back to Kowloon and vice versa.

You can work out if a taxi can take you by doing a wave-like gesture with your hand to let the driver know you want to cross the harbour. Also note that it can be difficult to get a cab during morning and evening rush hours, when it’s raining, or when many drivers are making their daily shift change between 4 and 4.30pm.

APPY DAYS! HKTaxi is a basic ride-hailing app where you enter your pickup location and contact number and wait for a driver to contact you. Uber is available in Hong Kong but it will normally cost more than a taxi.

/ Aside from HKTaxi ( see right ), there’s another must- get taxi app called TakeTaxi that will translate any road name or landmark for you so you just have to show your phone to the driver. It can be a lifesaver! – Claire





BOAT Ferries remain an active and necessary form of transport in Hong Kong. Aside from Hong Kong’s famous Star Ferry, which still shuttles commuters and tourists from Central and Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui’s Clock Tower, other vessels provide regular services for residents of the outlying islands. Lamma, Cheung Chau, Discovery Bay, Ma Wan’s Park Island, Mui Wo and Peng Chau have dedicated daily services leaving from the Central Ferry Piers. Other ferries shunt from Aberdeen, Wan Chai, Hung Hom and North Point.

BUSES A strong network makes bus travel in Hong Kong reasonably easy – although buses can get crowded. In addition, more than 4,350 minibuses are in service across the city, carrying up to 19 passengers. Green minibuses have set stops, but red minibuses will stop anywhere along their route. Once the bus is full, the driver will not accept new passengers. You need to pay when you get on the bus with either cash or an Octopus card. Shouting “ yau lok ” tells your driver in Cantonese that you want to get off if you can’t see a bell.

FERRY TO MACAU Ferries are available from multiple places in Hong Kong to Macau – from the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal in SheungWan, from the China Ferry Terminal in Kowloon and (only for those transferring through Hong Kong, not people originating in Hong Kong) from the SkyPier at Hong Kong International Airport. ESCALATORS The outdoor escalator in Mid-Levels is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. And while it may be a tourist destination in its own right, it’s also a functional method of traversing a very hilly part of Central. While this particular escalator gets all the glory, there are others in Hong Kong, such as on Centre Street in Sai Ying Pun. The escalators are free to use.

HONG KONG – MACAU BRIDGE At 55 kilometres long, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge (opened in 2018) is the fastest and most convenient way to get to nearby Macau. Various bus companies run shuttles across the bridge and back – prices vary, depending on the company running the service, and a trip one way should take about 45 minutes, excluding immigration.

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ON THE ROAD To drive or not to drive? It’s a big Hong Kong question. Here are our tips on buying a car. DO YOUR HOMEWORK

CHOOSE YOUR RIDE For a tiny island, Hong Kong has lots of cars – and lots of options when buying. You’ll need to decide first of all whether you want brand new or second- hand; new cars are appealing for the excellent condition and the manufacturer’s warranty, but they can be expensive thanks to high import taxes. Most big- name brands have car dealerships in HK, so just choose what you want, pop in for a test drive, and make the purchase. Second-hand cars are often quite affordable, but unless you buy from a reputable dealer or someone you know, there’s no way of knowing the car’s history. Look at dealer websites and keep your eye on expat forums for deals. Insist on a test drive, and always ask for a vehicle history report (via the Transport Department) and get a pre-purchase check (the Hong Kong Automobile Association can help, or ask your own mechanic).

First, make sure you’re legally able to own a car and drive on Hong Kong roads. You’ll need a valid HKID card, a local address for car registration, and a valid HK driver’s licence. Transferring your home country’s driving licence to a local one is usually straightforward; just visit the Transport Department at Admiralty and apply. Registration varies in price depending on the type of vehicle and where you’ll be driving. Licencing fees are based on engine size; a private car with a 1,500cc or lower petrol engine can pay around HK$4,000 a year; bigger 4,500cc engines are nearly three times that. Also consider the cost of fuel, annual vehicle examinations, tolls and parking fees around town (which can be exorbitant!).

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/ If you live on HK Island, then no. Taxis are cheap and everywhere, and the MTR is very practical and reliable. Buses and minibus are good for areas that are less well served by MTR. If you live in New Territories, then it’s a different story. – Nico / Given the cost and inconvenience of parking locations, I would regard it as a luxury having a car. I have lived here for more than 20 years and have owned a car for only a year – it was more trouble than it’s worth. – Jacinta / For the first four years of family life here, we didn’t have a car and we didn’t feel we were missing out. Then we got one and it has changed our lives! It’s given us freedom and the flexibility to be more daring with our day trips. Still, for the first year or so, depending where you live, I would say discover Hong Kong using public transport! – Claire UBER OR HONG KONG TAXI? / Uber, if you want to guarantee a ride at an exact time and you don’t care about the price, but I use HK taxis almost exclusively; they’re iconic! – Claire people. – Murray / Depends on the situation, but I mostly use Uber due to my job; I can’t always find a taxi at peak hour when I need to travel. – Maria / Almost always a taxi, unless we need a seven-seater car for larger groups of

READY TO GO? To own a car in Hong Kong, you must take out insurance. The minimum required coverage is third-party, but this only covers damage to other people’s property if you’re involved in an accident. Amore comprehensive plan, whilemore expensive, will cover damage to your own vehicle. GOING ELECTRIC If you choose electric, suppliers like PCCW can fit your parking space with a charger. Or, use the free super charging stations at shopping centres, you just pay for parking. Useful websites Transport Department: Hong Kong Automobile Association : HK Car Trader: DCH Quality Used Car Company: The Automall: 328car:





Ready for work? Moving to Hong Kong opens somany professional opportunities – it could be a great time to advance your career or even start a new one! PERMISSION TO WORK

it’s worth doing some research before you start applying Recruitment agencies, online sources, classifieds and expat associations can all be helpful when it comes to finding work, although many jobs are found through networking – even Facebook groups can be very useful for this!

FINDING WORK You might decide to further your present career or perhaps to explore something new. English teachers, for example, are in perennial demand, and a short course in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) can start you on that path. Depending on the industry you work in, you may have trouble having your qualifications recognised, so

The first thing to check is that you have permission to work. Fortunately, if you’re on a dependant visa, you’re automatically allowed to apply for work, with no extra visa required. Ifyou’renotonadependantvisa, you’ll need to find an employer to sponsor you to work here legally. This can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.

Useful websites

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STARTING YOU OWN BUSINESS Many expats come to Hong Kong with a host of fresh business ideas; others discover an entrepreneurial streak once they’ve settled in. So, if you do have a great business idea, how do you turn it into a real-life proposition? STEP 1 Depending on the nature of your business, you will need to establish whether or not you require special licences or permits to conduct your business. The Department of Trade and Industry can help with this through their Business Licence Information Service. STEP 2 Next, decide whether you want to be a sole proprietor, a partnership or a limited company. To register as a sole proprietor is surprisingly easy:

visit the Business Registration office at the Inland Revenue Department building, fill in the forms and pay the fee. You will receive a business registration certificate, which needs to be displayed in your place of business. Business registration costs HK$2,250 a year, and you do need to renew it annually. STEP 3 It’s also a good idea to hire an accountant who understands small businesses and tax, and ensure you notify the IRD of any changes to your contact details.

You’re now ready to succeed!

Useful websites


businesses, also known as small to medium enterprises (SMEs), make up about 46 percent of the private sector workforce in Hong Kong.




CV SUCCESS 5 tips to nail that job! #1 Make sure your LinkedIn and resume is up-to-date, and tailor your references to suit the job you’re going for. These should reassure the hiring manager that you truly have the right skills for the role. It’s common to be asked to submit a photograph with your resume. #2 Get out and start networking. Many expats find jobs through their networks rather than applying for jobs blindly.

#3 Be realistic about your salary. Remember that Hong Kong’s low tax rate will often offset a lower base salary. And be prepared to suggest a figure at the interview! #4 Don’t be surprised if you’re asked personal questions, including your religion and whether you have children, at interviews. #5 Don’t be put off by jobs that require the ability to speak Cantonese. Many companies are flexible on this.

/ Hong Kong may be a big city but in many ways it remains a small town – never underestimate the importance of networking as soon as you hit the ground. Join a business chamber or an association – you’ll be surprised at how willing people here are to help newbies settle in. – Jacinta

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CO-WORKING SPACES Withoneof theworld’smostvibrant start-upand small business scenes, it’s no surprise that Hong Kong has some fantastic coworking spaces. WeWork

Where: Kowloon, Quarry Bay, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, Kwun Tong, Lan Kwai Fong, Sai Ying Pun, SheungWan, Hysan Avenue Web: Campfire Where: Causeway Bay, Taikoo, Quarry Bay, Kennedy Town, Wong Chuk Hang, Whampoa Web: TheDesk Where: Admiralty, Causeway Bay, Hysan Avenue, Sai Wan Web: The Garage Society Where: Central, Sheung Wan, Sai Ying Pun, Wan Chai Web: Ooosh Where: Causeway Bay, Kowloon Web:

Our city is teeming with places where you can find office space or a desk for your working needs. The combination of Hong Kong’s sky-high rents and a thriving entrepreneurial scene means there’s a huge demand for this kind of corporate service. That’s not to say coworking spaces have a corporate vibe! If you’re looking for flexibility, a cool community and great resources, you’re going to love the following listed spots. Most offer options from a simple hot desk to a dedicated office space, with access toWi-Fi, printers, meeting rooms, lockers, mail and package handling, as well as regular events and workshops. Many also have onsite cafés or coffee lounges.

The HQ CoWork Where: Kennedy Town Web: Paperclip HK Where: Sheung Wan Web:

The Hive Where: Central, Wan Chai, Sai Kung, Sheung Wan, Kennedy Town, Wong Chuk Hang and more, including multiple venues in some locations Web:

The Coffee House Where: Aberdeen Web: The Loft Where: San Po Kong Web:

Everest Serviced Offices Where: Central, Queen’s Road, Causeway Bay, TST Web:

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HOME To find out everything about hiring domestic help in Hong Kong, we turned to LAURENCE FAUCHON, co-founder and CEO of, a social impact start-up eradicating illegal agency placement fees by connecting employers and domestic helpers directly. Life in Hong Kong is fast-paced and busy, leaving little time for household tasks, and while some expats prefer to hire a part-time helper who comes once or twice per week, for others (especially those families with young children), a full-time helper to cook, clean and handle childcare can be a blessing. Most of these helpers in Hong Kong are from the Philippines or Indonesia and are assiduous, earnest women who are working abroad to provide for their families back home. LOCAL VERSUS FOREIGN HELPERS Local helpers can be hired for either part-time or full-time duties, but their English is often limited. Foreign helpers can legally only be employed on two-year, full-time, live-in contracts. THE COSTS Part-time local helpers are available between HK$65 and $120 an hour (try the Smart Living government programme). For full-time, live-in

maids you need to budget at least the minimum wage of HK$4,520 per month (as of September 2018), but many expats pay more. Employers must also provide free food or a food allowance of not less than HK$1,075 per month. You must also offer suitable accommodation, insurance and free medical care, as well as pay all hiring- related costs and airfares for the biannual home leave. You may also need to budget for agency The traditional way is through employment agencies, but in recent years many of these have been heavily criticised for unethical practices and overcharging of helpers. A better solution is to find a helper yourself through ethical online platforms or by personal recommendation. Be aware that the hiring procedures of a helper and the agency prices depend on her country of origin and current visa status. An employment agency must be used for paperwork, except for finished-contract Filipino helpers. and processing fees. FINDING A HELPER

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HELPER HIRING LINGO There are various costs and timeframes involved when you hire a helper, depending on her employment history and nationality. Understanding the below terms will help.





Helper has completed her two- year contract. Employer has dismissed the helper before the end of the two-year contract for the listed reasons. If these reasons are declared to immigration, it will be handled as a finished contract.

Can start as soon as she receives her new visa.

Finished contract


Terminated for relocation/financial reasons or death of employer

See above


The helper must leave Hong Kong before starting a new contract. It will take up to 12 weeks to process this helper’s visa. It will take up to 12 weeks to process this helper’s visa.

Employer has dismissed the helper or the helper has quit before the end of the two-year contract.

Terminated for other reasons or “break contract”


Helper is not currently in Hong Kong and has either never worked abroad or in HK.

First timer or overseas hire


For more information, email or visit

/ Useful questions include: “Have you got any outstanding loans?” “What are your favourite dishes to cook?” “What are your favourite games to play with the children when it’s raining outside?” One is more serious; the others are to get a more engaging answer and a feel for who she is. – Claire / To be honest, we didn’t have to ask too many questions. More often than not, it’s down to the personality of the prospective helper and their willingness to support your family. – Murray

HELPER INTERVIEWS: WHAT TO ASK? / Things you could ask a potential helper include how long they’ve worked in the job, whether they’ve worked with children before, and what they would do in an emergency. – Maria / Be sure to ask her to provide references, and then call them to

check their thoughts. – Neelam





Animal Emergency Centre is a fully- equipped after-hours hospital with veterinarians and nurses on duty all night. It’s a place that’s saved many of Hong Kong’s beloved pets. DR ALEX LAM has been practicing as a vet for more than five years, and she recalls a Golden Retriever who presented at the Centre around midnight recently with splenic bleeding, caused by splenic cancer. Dr Lam performed emergency surgery overnight, with the team administering intravenous (IV) fluids, a blood transfusion, oxygen therapy and an abdominal wrap. The beloved pet was kept in the hospital for several days, under 24-hour observation while he recovered from surgery – just one example of how Animal Emergency Centre can helpwhen our beloved pets fall ill. For after-hours care (9pm-8am), call 2915 7979, and for more information, visit Where tofind24-hour urgent pet care in Hong Kong.

A one-stop online shop for pet supplies.

Looking for quality pet supplies? Everything listed at the Vetopia online shop is handpicked or approved by a vet team, so you know it’s good quality. You’ll find a huge range of products, including pet supplements recommended by vets, flea and tick products, grooming tools and even options for prescription dietary needs. Vetopia offers a free delivery service with a $300 minimum spend for most areas of Hong Kong. Plus, you’ll never run out of fur-baby food with the handy recurring order service, perfect for ongoing food and flea/tick needs – just note the “R” on the website while shopping. We also recommend enrolling in the Reward Dollars Program, which rewards you for every order placed with rewards of around three to five percent for members.

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You can rest assured that you’ll find the specialist care you need for your beloved pet in Hong Kong. Did you bring your fur baby with you to Hong Kong? Or perhaps you’ve adopted a new four-legged member of the family? Either way, it’s important to knowwhere to take them for specialist care, if the need arises. We caught up with the team from Veterinary Specialist Hospital (VSH) to hear about ways they’re helping treat Hong Kong pets. What exactly is a veterinary specialist? Your pet is part of your family, so you want to give them the best care. But why would you need a specialist? Pets are similar to human patients in that they sometimes require expertise, advanced facilities and diagnostic equipment to treat complicated conditions. A veterinary specialist is a doctor who has undergone extra years of formal residency training in one aspect of veterinary medicine to become an expert in that specific area. The veterinary specialists at VSH do not replace your family veterinarian. We collaborate with them, providing expertise, service and, importantly, the most current and specialised medicine available to treat your pet. Is it a high-tech hospital? We have designed our large facilities (20,000 square feet) to provide advanced diagnostic and patient care in a spacious, stress-free environment. We now have a new 1.5 Tesla Siemens MRI offering uncompromised imaging capability for the most advanced and demanding scans – we can treat patients ranging in size from the tiniest poodle to a gigantic Great Dane! BEST FOR PETS

A word from a pet-parent... Little Piggy was completely paralysed from disc disease in her neck. The MRI at VSH allowed for a rapid diagnosis, and spinal surgery occurred immediately after the scan. Surgery was performed in time and now she can walk, wag and run again. We’re so grateful to the VSH team!


1/F, Lucky Centre, 165-171 Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai 2408 2588 |




Once your life admin is sorted, it’s time to get social! There are loads of clubs and associations in Hong Kong, run by groups with national identities, charitable endeavours or social activities in common. Joining can be a great way to meet like-minded people, and develop some new hobbies and interests. SOCIAL Making new friends and forming a new social circle can feel overwhelming. But, don’t worry, Hong Kong’s clubs are made for making friends. Getting

JOIN AN ASSOCIATION A number of social associations are run by members of the expat community to reflect the culture of their home countries. They’re not exclusive and they welcome membership from all, regardless of citizenship. These associations can be a good low-cost starting point and they often host great events, field teams for dragon- boat racing or share experiences for others to better understand Hong Kong culture. Here are some popular ones. • American Women’s Association ( • Australian Association of Hong Kong ( • Alliance Française of Hong Kong ( • Canadian Club ( • India Association ( • Italian Women’s Association ( • New Zealand Society of Hong Kong ( • South African Association of Hong Kong ( • Spanish Speaking Women’s Association

of Hong Kong ( • St Andrew’s Society (Scottish) ( • St David’s Society (Welsh) (

• St George’s Society (English) ( • St Patrick’s Society (Irish) (

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