CITY GUIDE 2018-2019
SETTING UP • DÉCOR • THINGS TO DO • SCHOOLS • HEALTHCARE • DINING
elcome to Hong Kong! Whether you’re here by choice or by circumstance, there’s no doubt that you will now be calling one
when it comes to finding a place to live, getting a job, choosing schools and making new friends. Our annual guide for new arrivals aims to give you some advice on the basics of getting settled. You’ll also find heaps of suggestions for things to do and places to go to dine, drink or dance – and trust us, this is a great city to do all that! The opportunity to be an expat in Hong Kong is one which will give you a unique perspective on this city and its culture and customs. We hope we can help you make the most of it.
of the world’s greatest cities “home”. As an expat, you’ll find that “the 852” is electric and ever- changing – you can walk down the same street every day and each time your senses will be assaulted by something new. But it does take some getting used to. I remember being completely overwhelmed by the small pocket of Sheung Wan where I stayed when my family first arrived. Trying to find something to eat, I managed to navigate a series of narrow, chaotic streets, only to find myself in a tiny supermarket which seemed to stock nothing but two-minute noodles! Here at Expat Living, we all know what it’s like to arrive in Hong Kong and start from scratch
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SETTINGUP • DÉCOR • THINGSTODO • SCHOOLS • HEALTHCARE • DINING
Cover: Red Tram by Lorette E. Roberts (loretteroberts.com)
13 HONG KONG HACKS 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 55 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
77 LEARN & PLAY
A guide to schools, plus activities for all Explore Hong Kong’s world-class 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 grownups alike!
127 HAPPY&HEALTHY Stay well, inside and out Hong Kong not only offers state-of-the-art hospitals and health services, from dentists to fertility experts to psychologists, it’s also a great place for keeping fit and looking your best! 155 GREAT ESCAPES Awesome ideas for your next getaway Hong Kong is brilliantly placed for exploring some of the world’s best destinations, and we have a raft of tantalising travel ideas for planning your next break
169 LET’S EAT! Hot cafés, restaurants and bars
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HONGKONG HACKS Your basic survival guide
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50 The percentage of the world’s population that lives within a five- hour flight of Hong Kong
2 The average length, in centimetres, of the Romer’s tree frog, which is found only in Hong Kong
The number featured on the auspicious car plate that was purchased for HK$18.1 million in 2016
17 The number of official public holidays each year in Hong Kong, the highest in the world
62 The number of years that 91-year-old Joe Sun Yung- tsu had worked as a corporate salesperson in Hong Kong as of July 2017, a Guinness World Record
Hong Kong by Numbers Quirky facts about the place we call home
19 The number of individual cigarettes (not packets) each traveller is allowed to bring through Hong Kong Customs
The number of countries with consulates in Hong Kong, more than any other city on the planet
The approximate number of films that HK actress Maggie Cheung starred in between her debut in 1983 and her “retirement” in 2010
118 156 The floor number of the world’s
250 The fine, in Hong Kong dollars, for riding a horse while inebriated in HK
highest swimming pool, located in The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong
The number of years that Hong Kong was under British rule (1842-1997)
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260 317 The number of skyscrapers above 150m in Hong Kong, more than any other The approximate number of islands that make up Hong Kong, more than 100 of which are uninhabited
city (New York is second with 257, then Dubai and Shanghai)
The height, in metres, of Hong Kong’s tallest peak, Tai Mo Shan or Big Hat Mountain
1958 The year in which local Hong Kong resident Bruce Lee – later of martial arts movie fame – won a city-wide cha-cha dance competition
2,238 80,000 230,000 46 million 270 million The cubic metres of seawater supplied to flush Hong Kong toilets each year The number of mainland tourists expected in Hong Kong this year; this is a tenfold increase since 2001 when 4.5 million mainlanders visited The approximate number of people who cross the checkpoint between Hong Kong and mainland China each day The approximate number of hotel rooms in Hong Kong as of June 2018 The number of crystal lotuses decorating Disneyland Hotel’s Chinese restaurant (chosen because it sounds like “easily generates wealth” in Cantonese)
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Who better to give advice on how to make Hong Kong work for you than other expats who have been there, done that?! Meet our seven readers who make up our City Guide Panel. They will share their tips, tricks and recommendations in the pages ahead.
Melita Law After growing up in Hong Kong, Melita went to high school and college in the US. She always tells people her childhood was in Hong Kong but her adulthood was in America. A trained CPA, Melita moved back to HK with her husband 10 years ago to work in the family business. She is now a stay-at-home mum to their six-year-old daughter.
Brooke Spiller arrived in Hong Kong 18 years ago and, two children later, she considers herself very lucky to be living here, and loves her HK life. She runs two successful businesses: 13th Element, a company specialising in Hong Kong- related photographic gifts, and a fashion jewellery company, Fifth Avenue Jewellery.
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Lachie Fry After spending part of his childhood here, Lachie returned to Hong Kong 11 years ago to work as a pilot. When he first arrived, he lived in a remote village on Lantau where he became well-acquainted with the local wildlife and the local taxis. When he isn’t working he loves to travel and spend time with friends in the city. He currently lives in Mid-Levels.
Stephen Davison is managing director for a global financial services company. He’s an Australian, born and raised in Hong Kong, and has spent 24 years living here over two stints. Though he currently resides in Sai Kung with his young family, he has spent the majority of his time in on the Island.
Renu Malani knows Hong Kong like the back of her hand. Raised in the 852 and educated at ESF schools, Renu lived all over Hong Kong before settling in Discovery Bay 10 years ago. She set up her own business in 2009, AvonInDB, and is a go-to font of information for her friends and clients.
Luis Diez Restaurant manager at TokyoLima, Luis is part of the city’s buzzing F&B scene. He has been in Hong Kong for about 18 months, having lived in London previously, and his native Spain where he began his hospitality career.
Norbyah Nolasco High school English teacher Norbyah lives in Tai Tam and has been in HK for 12 years. The mother- of-three shares her passion for fashion and sustainability on her blog (imanorbyah.com) and Instagram page, and loves supporting local businesses and markets.
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Being an expat in Hong Kong can be fun, fast-paced and full of surprises. Here, our panellists share their thoughts and tips on living in the 852.
Hong Kong is small; everything is accessible and at your fingertips. Depending on where you live, you can be in the heart of the city in Central and within minutes be at the top of the Peak, hiking in the bush. – Lachie
For many people, Hong Kong creates a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get ahead financially due to the taxation situation. So, save, save and save while you’re here. – Stephen
Try to be in a complex with lots of expats and families, at least at the beginning. You’ll make your first and best friends in Hong Kong this way and find out lots of useful tips. – Brooke
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Come with an open mind. Hong Kong will assail all five of your senses! It can be smelly, visually it’s spectacular, and oh my word is it loud! There are over 65,000 restaurants, so don’t be shy about letting your taste buds do some experimenting! – Brooke Don’t forget your umbrella or a pashmina/cardigan in the summer for being in the air-conditioning. Buy dehumidifiers and run them while you’re travelling. – Norbyah Home should be your oasis: given the extreme hustle and bustle of life in HK, having a home where you can relax and escape from the pace of the city is important. – Stephen Public transportation is relatively inexpensive and super easy, which means you can multi-task and do lots of things in one day. – Melita Explore, explore, explore! It’s terribly difficult to get lost, and, if it all goes pear-shaped, just have your addresswritten in English and Cantonese tucked into your wallet. Taxis are cheap. – Brooke
It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, Hong Kong will be a shock at the beginning. – Luis You may find yourself getting frustrated with the cultural shock due to the language barrier and miscommunication; things get lost in translation often. – Melita HongKong is amazing; enjoy the opportunity to be in this beautiful, amazing and multicultural place. – Luis It’s a relatively safe place for your family, and there’s an incredibly international environment for your kids to grow up in surrounded by diversity. – Renu
Be prepared to have to go to several grocery stores to get what you need. – Norbyah
The negative aspect for me is the air quality. – Renu
People work and play very hard here, and the frenetic pace of life can take its toll; you can forget how to relax or unwind. – Stephen
Get an Octopus card! –Norbyah
You’ll have no shortage of social engagements on the calendar – to the point where, after a while, you’ll need to start saying no for your own health and wellbeing. – Lachie
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NAILING THE BASICS Cards, Cash & Services
ABOUT THE WORKING VISA Unless you have a Hong Kong “right of abode” or “right to land”, a visa is required to work in the Hong Kong 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: immd.gov.hk/eng/services/visas/ visit-transit/visit-visa-entry-permit.html #1 VISA
A s e x c i t i n g a s relocat ing can be, there are some admin basics that need to be taken care of before you enjoy the more glamorous aspects of your new home. If you’re new to Hong Kong or thinking of moving here, we have some advice on four key areas you’ll need to have sorted.
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APPLYING FOR A HONG KONG ID CARD #2 ID CARD
Anyone residing in Hong Kong 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 are 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 Note: Photos are taken during the application, and no fee is required. HKID applications are usually processed and ready for collection within 10 days. More: immd.gov.hk/eng/ services/hkid/general_info.html 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.
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. More: immd.gov.hk/eng/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, as a 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: • Citibank • HSBC • Standard Chartered Also worth considering: • Hang Seng Bank • Bank of China (Hong Kong) • 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 frequently requested forms 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. • Hong Kong ID or temporary ID: If you plan to open a joint account, you must both hold ID. • Proof of address inHong 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 a relative’s who is still resident there. • Social security number: Required for American citizens opening accounts with American banks. 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.
One of Hong Kong’s great innovations is the Octopus card and you should get one if you plan on spending any length of time in the city. The card is micro-chipped, allowing you to make cashless payments on public transport – but it has many other uses, from buying 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 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. octopus.com.hk Tap and go! must have an Octopus card
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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: wsd.gov.hk/en/public_forms/index.html 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) GAS Supplier: Towngas, unless you are living in remote areas that use bottled gas Signing up: eservice.towngas.com/eService/eng/ VCCFormOpenTGAccount.aspx Documents: For homes with a previous gas supply you should make note of the meter reading when you move in. A HK$600 deposit 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 new build) you will also need a copy of your lease. Bills: Sent every two months, with a breakdown of monthly use. Enquiries: 2880 6988 ELECTRICITY Supplier: Hong Kong Electric (For Hong Kong Island and Lamma Island) Signing up: hkelectric.com/en/customer-services/ service-connections Transferring your account from a previous address takes one working day, 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: clp.com.hk/en Documents: Hong Kong ID or passport, and a deposit (equal to 60 days estimated consumption) Bills: Every two months Enquiries: 2678 2678 PAYMENTS Making payments is fast and efficient and may be done via a number of channels. Bills can be paid through your bank’s ATM machines, 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.
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Planes, Trains &Automobiles
With a world-class airport and a publ i c t ranspor t network that includes ferries, trams and even outdoor escalators, Hong Kong is great for those on the go!
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). The airport, voted the world’s fourth best in 2018 (one position up from last year’s fifth) in the annual Skytrax awards, saw passenger traffic climb more than four percent in 2017 to almost 73 million – a record. As many as 13 new airlines began operating out of HKIA in the same year.
Future projects A third runway is planned for HKIA, with expansion work set to be completed by 2024, at a cost of HK$140 billion.
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Train 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 New Territories and you can also take a train to the mainland, crossing the border at Lok Ma Chau and Lo Wu.
Did you know? In 2017, the MTR carried more than 1.7 billion passengers on well over 2 million train trips, with a punctuality rate of 99.9 per cent.
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. Trams operate between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei Wan from about 5.30am to midnight.
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Taxi Hong Kong’s taxis are cheap compared to many other major cities. They’re also generally reliable, though keep Google Maps and a Cantonese translation on hand. Lantau’s blue taxis are only permitted to travel on the island – similar to green taxis that don’t leave the New Territories. Red taxis operate on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, but be aware that if Kowloon cabbies drop someone off onHong 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 morning and evening rush hours, rain, and a daily shift change between 4 and 4.30pm are difficult times to get a cab. 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. Bus A strong bus network makes getting from A to B and anywhere in between fairly 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.
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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 andWan 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.
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. Ferry news In March 2018, the iconic Star Ferry was granted franchise rights for cross-harbour transportation for an additional 15 years, up to 2033. Upgrades will be made to all boats, including new propulsion systems that aim to cut emissions by 75 percent.
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Despite the excellent public transport options in the 852, having your own car can make life easier. Here are some tips on buying. Behind e Wh l
Do your homework 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, MOTs, tolls and parking fees around town (which can be exorbitant!). Choose your ride For a tiny island, Hong Kong has lots of cars – and lots of options when buying. Decide 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.
Useful websites Transport Department: td.gov.hk Hong Kong Automobile Association: hkaa.com.hk/en HK Car Trader: hkcartrader.com DCH Quality Used Car Company: dchucc.com The Automall: automall.com.hk 328car: 328car.com To own a car in Hong Kong you must take out insurance. Theminimumrequired coverage is third-party, but this only covers damage to other people’s property if you’re involved in an accident. A more comprehensive plan, while more expensive, will cover damage to your own vehicle. 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). Ready to go?
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Try to learn enough Cantonese to be able to explain where you are going and basic directions – it makes a difference. Always wear a seat belt, and always tip. More recently, I’ve become a big fan of Uber. – Stephen Be aware that if you put a bag in the trunk of the taxi they add HK$6 to the fee. Note, too, that taxis change shift at around 4pm every day, and from experience it can be almost impossible to find one around that time. – Lachie Always check all your belongings before getting out. I pay attention to the driver’s card too, as well as the licence. – Melita If you have a car parking space that comes with your apartment, it’s a nice luxury to have a car in HK. It’s not essential but it does make life easier. – Renu I don’t think it’s worth getting a car initially. It’s easier to get to know the city via public transport, taxi, and on foot. – Brooke Definitely.We bought ourswhen our child was born. I forced myself to drive in HK as our baby was my motivation to get out of my comfort zone of Kowloon and explore the New Territories. – Melita It all depends on where you live. If you’re in town like I am, a car is a huge hassle. Unless your flat comes with a car space, you’ll have to rent one from someone else. My suggestion is to get taxis everywhere. – Lachie IS IT WORTH HAVING A CAR HERE?
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FindingWork Where to Look
If you’re accompanying your spouse or partner on a posting, one of the biggest decisions you will make is whether or not to work here. Fortunately, if you’re on a dependant visa you’re automatically allowed to apply for work – no extra visa required. 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 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!
Going it Alone Many expats come to Hong Kong with a host of fresh business ideas; others discover an entrepreneurial streak once they’ve settled in. In fact, small businesses, also known as small to medium enterprises (SMEs), make up about 46 percent of the private sector workforce in Hong Kong. So, if you do have a great business idea, how do you turn it into a real-life proposition? Firstly, 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. Then 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. 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.
Useful websites indeed.hk jobable.com monster.com.hk hk.jobsdb.com.hk hongkong.recruit.net
Useful websites ird.gov.hk startitup.hk investhk.gov.hk
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From CVs to Cantonese 10 tips for nailing a job
#1 Make sure your 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 If you are not on a dependant visa you will need to find an employer to sponsor you to work here legally.
#4 Find out which recruiters are specialists in your field and go straight to them. See which company is posting jobs you’re interested in and call them. You’ll have a much better chance of breaking through the noise if they’ve met you and identified you as suitable talent. #5 G e t o u t a n d s t a r t networking. Many expats find jobs through their networks rather than applying for jobs blindly. #6 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! #7 Spend time searching for a job every day until you get one. Searching can be a full-time job in itself. Stay determined and active. #8 Attend interviews, even if you’re not 100 percent sure you want the position. Many companies can create roles for the right person, but they have to meet you first. #9 Don’t be surprised if you’re asked personal questions, including your religion and whether you have children, at interviews. #10 Don’t be put off by jobs that require the ability to speak Cantonese. Many companies are flexible on this.
This can be challenging, but not impossible, and needs to be renewed each year until you are eligible for permanent residency. #3 Make sure you have all your official documents including birth certificates, personal identification and university transcripts at the ready. Locally-based employers will likely ask for these and you may need to provide original copies.
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Gotabusiness ideaandwant tobe your own boss? Take advantage of the ease of establishing your own company in Hong Kong, as well as the support infrastructure. Co-workingspaces provide entrepreneurs and small enterprises with the benefits of a flexible office, without the crippling costs. Here, the team from TheDesk details some typical users. IS A CO-WORKING SPACE RIGHT FOR YOU?
1 Mamapreneur/Papapreneur This type of co-working member has a business or side project that is gaining momentum; they have a casual membership and usually live quite close by. 2 The adventurous CEO This member is on-trend when it comes to work-life balance, invests heavily in a team and breathes new life into traditional businesses. 3 Skill merchants Teachers, designers, counsellors and creatives often base themselves in the space while organising repeat workshops, projects and events. 4 Experienced seeking new This type of individual has worked in a big business for many years and has decided to go it alone and start something new. 5 Next-gen start-up Amaturing start-up with a solid base may use the spacewhile looking to expand their professional network. 6 Satellite office staff The owner/founder may be based elsewhere and want his or her staff to feel part of a wider community. 7 Too close, too far Co-working spaces close to home can suit people who don’t want to do a big commute every day. 8 Company in flux Expanding, contracting or even closing down? Flexible plans can grow (and contract) with your requirements.
TheDesk has locations in Causeway Bay and Sai Wan. thedesk.com.hk
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Many of the city’s small businesses are started by an entrepreneur looking for flexibility – as such, most don’t have the resources or the need to rent business premises. Co-working spaces offer the perfect compromise. Most offer options from a simple hot desk to a dedicated office space, with access to Wi-Fi, printers, meeting rooms, lockers, mail and package handling, as well as regular events and workshops. Many also have on- site cafés or coffee lounges. Here’s a selection of some of the co-working spaces inHong Kong. Campfire Locations: Causeway Bay, Taikoo, Quarry Bay, Kennedy Town, Wong Chuk Hang campfire.work Withoneof theworld’s most vibrant start-up and small business scenes, it’s no surprise that Hong Kong has some fantastic co- working spaces.
The Hive Locations: Central, Wan Chai, Sai Kung, Sheung Wan Creative spaces: The Hive Studios, The Hive Spring, The MakerHive Agritech : The Hive CoFarm thehive.com.hk WeWork Locations: Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, Central, Quarry Bay wework.com
The Garage Society Locations: Sai Ying Pun, Central, Wan Chai, Sheung Wan thegaragesociety.com
Ooosh Locations: Lai Chi Kok, Kwun Tong ooosh.hk The Coffee House Location: Aberdeen thecoffeehouse.hk The Loft Location: San Po Kong theloft.com.hk
Papercliphk Location: Sheung Wan papercliphk.com TheDesk Locations: Causeway Bay, Sai Wan ( see opposite ) thedesk.com.hk
Everest Serviced Offices Location: Central everestspaces.com
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To find out everything about hiring domestic help in Hong Kong, we turned to LAURENCE FAUCHON,co-founderandCEOof HelperChoice.com, a social impact start-up eradicating illegal agency placement fees by connecting employers and domestic helpers directly. Laurence started her entrepreneurial adventure while pregnant with her first daughter, andshebelievesthat theemployer- helper dynamic benefits from an ethical and open hiring process. WHEN HIRING A HELPER FOR YOUR HOME M any expats moving to Hong Kong are pleasantly surprised by the readily available and affordable domestic help. 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. Key Questions
“What’s the difference between a local and foreign helper?” In Hong Kong, there is a distinction between local and foreign domestic helpers. Local helpers can be hired at any moment for either part-time or full-time duties, but their English is limited. Foreign helpers can legally only be employed on two-year, full-time, live-in contracts. “How much does home help cost?” Part-time local helpers are available between HK$65 and $120 an hour, and can be hired independently or through the Smart Living government programme. Foreign part-time
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“Are there certain requirements I need to meet before hiring a helper?” Only residents who hold a Hong Kong Identity Card are able to hire a foreign domestic helper, and you must have a household income of more than HK$15,000 per month. When hiring a helper, the Standard Employment Contract (ID407) is the only legally binding document. Note that the helper must work and live at the contractual address and that she may only perform domestic duties – special permission needs to be obtained for driving duties. In Hong Kong, employers must give their helper a rest day, at least 24 hours continuously, every week. In case you need your helper to work on her rest day, you must give her a substitute day as this cannot be settled by payment. Like every employee in Hong Kong, helpers are entitled to enjoy 12 statutory holidays as well as annual leave (seven days in their first two years of contract). But most expat employers grant their helper all general public holidays – six extra days on top of the statutory holidays. “How do I go about finding a helper?” In Hong Kong, there are various ways to find a helper. 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, which has many benefits. 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. “How many days off should I give my helper?”
helpers charge between HK$60 and $110 an hour, but be aware that this is illegal. For full-time, live-in maids you need to budget at least the minimum wage of HK$4,410 per month (as of September 2016), but many expats pay HK$5,000 or more, depending on the years of duty and the level of experience, plus a Christmas and/or Chinese New Year bonus. Employers must also provide free food or a food allowance of not less than HK$1,053 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 bi-annual home leave.
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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. Approximate fees and timeframe: Same as for finished contract • “Terminated for other reasons or break contract”: Employer has dismissed the helper or the helper has quit before the end of the two-year contract. The helper will have to leave Hong Kong before starting a new contract. Approximate fees and timeframe: HK$3,500-$9,000 and 8-12 weeks • “First timer or overseas hire”: Helper is not currently in Hong Kong and has either never worked abroad or has worked in places other than HK. Approximate fees and timeframe: HK$4,000-$10,000 and 10-12 weeks
“Can you explain some of the lingo used in helper contracts?” There are various costs and timeframes involved when you hire a helper, depending on her employment history. Sometimes the processing will need to be done by an agency (and their fees are highly variable), while other times the helper can do the paperwork herself. The timeframe also varies depending on whether she will need to return to her home country before starting with you. • “Finished contract”: Helper has completed her two-year contract and can start as soon as she receives her new visa. App rox ima t e f e e s and t ime f r ame : HK$1,800-$3,000 and 4-6 weeks with agency; less than HK$800 and 2-4 weeks without agency • “Terminated for relocation/financial reasons or death of employer”: Employer
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There are options for occasional training in Hong Kong. HelperChoice has begun offering classes in subjects like languages, baking and finance management through its Academy. For more information, email email@example.com or visit helperchoice.com. • Let your helper know that she should come to you if she needs money or is in financial trouble. Many helpers are taken to loan sharks by agencies so let her know you are there for her – together you can work out a plan. “What are some tips for successfully managing a helper?” • Don’t expect your helper to know everything immediately, but train and guide her patiently in the first months – every employer is different and she will have to learn your way of doing things. • Be considerate and give your helper time to adjust, especially if she comes straight from her home country. She will have left her children and family behind and may experience homesickness. Support her as much as you can. • Lay down your detailed house rules. They can change, but it is good to state them clearly from the start. Also provide your helper with a clear monthly or weekly schedule of tasks. • Give straightforward instructions that are easy to understand. Your helper is not a native English speaker and you may not be either. Avoid vague words and be precise with tasks, timing and expectations. It can help to write things down or make lists. • Set up monthly review meetings where both you and the helper can voice your opinions and discuss what can be improved. Be open- minded and non-confrontational so that the helper feels comfortable sharing, and mutual trust is built. • Treat your helper with respect – nobody is perfect. Accept your helper’s flaws and work on improving her skills if necessary.
“What’s the best approach as far as an interview goes?” • Plan enough time for the interview, as both you and the helper need to get to know each other in order to decide whether or not you’re the right fit. • Introduce your family to the helper so they can get to know her as well. Your helper will live with you 24/7 so it’s important that you and your family feel comfortable with her. • Explain your expectations and requirements in detail so that your helper is aware of what you’re looking for. Let her know what you’d like her to do from the outset and be specific. Childcare can include anything from handling the baby during the night to supervising homework and play dates, and cooking meals for the children. • Good questions include scenarios and real- life “what would you do if this happened?”- type questions so that you can evaluate the experience, response and capability of your potential helper.
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WHAT ARE SOME USEFUL THINGS TO ASK A HELPER DURING AN INTERVIEW? It’s vital to ask specific questions about how they would react in an emergency situation. I had a client once ask a helper in an interview, ‘What would you do if my child was choking?’ The response was, ‘I would start to pray for her.’ It’s important to ask what environment your helper is looking for and see if it matches what you have inmind. – Renu Ask about their experience with children, particularly with discipline. Perhaps offer a scenario and ask how they would handle it. Find out what the helper’s long-termplans are for employment (for example, will she be looking to leave HK soon)? I would also recommend you ask about their family situation. – Norbyah ‘Do you have any debts in HK or at home?’ ‘How many dependants do you support?’ ‘What do you like to do in your time off?’ – Stephen
I do think you should ask if they are on a finished contract or were dismissed, andwhy. The most important thing, I think, is to knowyour own expectations. Write a list of your priorities and what you expect the primary responsibilities to be – the chores you want done and on what day, and any extra tasks
you can think of. We also gave our helper a recipe book and lessons to cook food the way we like it prepared. – Brooke ‘Are you comf o r t ab l e shopping at a wet market?’ ‘How would you manage your time between the cleaning and taking care of kids?’ – Melita
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Why should I adopt? Adopting a dog helps to save two lives! When one dog finds a forever home, it opens up a space for a new dog to be taken into our care. At HKDR, we work hard to save as many lives as we possibly can, and we are proud to be a No Kill Organisation. Adopting a dog is a major responsibility that requires careful thought; the entire family has to be on board. Some questions to keep in mind before adopting: Does your apartment have enough space and does it allow dogs? Do you have time to give the Considering adding a four-legged friend to the family? Hong Kong DogRescue answersourquestions on the adoption process. What’s involved in the adoption process?
dog the amount of attention it needs every day? Are you prepared for the cost and the long-term commitment of having a dog? If you can provide a dog with a loving and permanent home please fill out our Adoption Questionnaire on our website. Where can I go to adopt a dog? We have two homing centres that are open every single day of the year, no matter what! Our Ap Lei Chau Centre houses our small- sized dogs and our Tai Po Centre is home to our medium- to large-sized dogs. Plus, every Sunday afternoon at Whiskers N Paws we have our puppy adoption day. How can I support HKDR if I’m not quite ready to adopt? You can find out more about our different ways of volunteering and donation on our website.
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Happy Pets Moving to a new country involves a great deal of organisation, packing, unpacking and settling in – and that applies to the animals in the family too! But there are ways you can minimise the stress on your pets.
At Home Healthcare
On the Move
If you have a pet that finds vet visits stressful, why not have the vet come to you? Homevet provides veterinary home visits for pets all over Hong Kong, including
With over 20 years’ experience in shipping thousands of pets to and from locations all over the world, Ferndale Kennels and Cattery aims to ease the stress of relocating your pets. The dedicated pet travel consultants are based on- site at kennels on the edge of Sai Kung Country Park, enabling personal contact with the pets they help to move. They provide a door-to-door import and export service that takes care of everything from pet collection, permits and vet appointments to flights and delivery on arrival. Worried about who will look after your pets when you go away? Ferndale is also a fully equipped boarding facility for dogs and cats, with a pick-up service. With around 30 kennels for all sizes of dogs – some newly refurbished with air conditioning – and a fully air-
consultation room services and more. Dr MatthewMurdoch says, “With every patient we see, we always perform a thorough examination and discuss the animal’s health history with you to ensure the best possible care. Home visits ensure that both pet and owner are comfortable and can stay relaxed during the examination.” Appointments can be booked at a time that suits you, and the house-call can include such services as vaccinations, routine or urgent medical check-ups, advice and travel health certification. Dr Matthew adds, “Hong Kong is a unique and challenging environment for pets, with risks of exposure to tropical diseases like tick fever, and we assume responsibility for letting busy families and professionals know what’s important for their pets.”
conditioned cattery, plenty of space to play and lots of TLC, your pets will feel like they’re on holidays too!
9860 5522 | homevet.com.hk
2791 9330 | ferndalekennels.com
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