Congratulations! You’ve successfully landed the city of Hong Kong as your new home. For now, you have a hotel room to call home, a smartphone with no local contacts, and 7 eleven snacks to sustain you.
We understand that it’s a little intimidating to start anew in one of the liveliest cities in the world, but it won’t be long until you’re feeling right at home in Hong Kong. To help you get there faster, we’ve rounded up our best tips for living in this diverse hub.
Get out and explore
With no plans for the weekend, you know it’s time to start exploring the city. Discover the beautiful Victoria Peak, take a ferry ride across Victoria Harbour, and explore the food markets for delicious local snacks. Take time to wander around and explore the streets because you never know what exciting new places you’ll find.
While on foot, meet the locals to understand what the culture and lifestyle are like in Hong Kong. Locals love to share stories about their city, which can be a great way to learn more about the place. It’s also safe to list a few handy phrases in Cantonese and Mandarin so you can communicate with locals.
Start hunting for a place to live
If you’re here for the long term, start looking for a place to call home. You can choose between a studio apartment or a luxury flat, depending on your budget. Don’t forget to check out the building amenities too. Some buildings come with swimming pools, gyms, and even a playground. Since the rent can be high, consider sharing with a roomie or two to make renting more affordable. You can also move the extra furniture to a Hong Kong storage unit to create space inside your humble abode.
Central, Causeway Bay, and Tin Hau are the best areas to live in Hong Kong. These areas offer you easy access to public transportation and plenty of restaurants and entertainment venues.
Choose a commuting option
You can easily get around Hong Kong using public transportation. The MTR (Mass Transit Railway) connects almost every corner of the city, and buses are also available. However, if you want to get around faster and avoid crowds, you may want to consider getting a bicycle or an e-scooter. You can also take the ferry if you need to cross the harbor.
Whatever you choose, ensure you purchase an Octopus Card for your fares. This card makes it easier to use public transportation and can be used in most convenience stores, supermarkets, and eateries.
Develop a local network
Local friends can help you settle in Hong Kong much faster. If you’re new to the city, start by getting involved with local communities and signing up for group activities. It is a foolproof way to make friends while exploring the city. You can also use online platforms like Meetup and Facebook groups to meet locals with similar interests.
Since you’ll need an active support system, joining organizations or clubs related to your interests is a good idea. It can be anything from photography, book, and even martial arts clubs. An HK women’s choir and a ladies’ circle offer weekly activities, so check them out too.
Adopt the “work hard, play harder” attitude
Working in Hong Kong from 9-5 is like a half day’s work! And since international companies offer many opportunities, it’s not surprising that many people choose to work longer hours. However, most Hong Kong residents know there’s more to life than just working, so they take time off for leisure and recreation. Meeting for dinner at 9 pm or going for a weekend hike are some of the most popular activities.
If you’re looking for a way to unwind, take a stroll along the waterfront or grab a book and head to one of Hong Kong’s many outdoor cafes. There are also plenty of spas, movie theatres, and shopping malls that make for great leisure activities.
Sample the local food
Food is one of the best things about living in Hong Kong. From Cantonese dim sum to delicious street snacks, you can have your fill of the local cuisine. A lot of people come to Hong Kong just for food. Try popular dishes like peanut butter French toast, pork chop buns, and milk tea.
If you’re looking for a more upscale dining experience, there are plenty of world-class restaurants in the city. From Italian eateries to Michelin-starred sushi restaurants, you won’t be disappointed. But you can’t dine out every week, so you’ll also want to get familiar with the local grocery stores. The Great Food Hall at Pacific Place is a great place to start.
Look for schools and tutors
Most ex-pats come to Hong Kong with their families and kids. If you have a little one, it’s best to start looking for a good school or tutor as soon as possible. There are plenty of international schools in Hong Kong, so you should have no problem finding the right one for your child.
You may also want to consider enrolling them in a local language school if you feel they could benefit from learning Cantonese. Tutors are also available to help with schoolwork, so do your research and find the best one. Some reputed tutoring centers even offer classes and activities in the evening, so your child can make friends while learning.
Shop at the right places
Hong Kong has some of the best shopping malls in the world. But if you’re looking for bargains, it’s best to stick to the street markets. You can find almost anything from electronics to clothing and jewelry at a fraction of the price. Be sure to haggle and bargain when you can, as it’s common practice in Hong Kong markets. The Kowloon shopping street, Stanley Market, and Temple Street Night Market are some of the best places to snag a deal.
If you’re a brand-conscious shopper, check out the malls in Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui. You’ll find all the top designer labels and a few great local brands here.
Living in Hong Kong is an unmatchable experience, but as with any big city, it can take some getting used to. Since the cost of living is high and the competition for jobs is fierce, it pays to be prepared and flexible. But try to explore the city and take full advantage of the activities and opportunities. You’ll soon find that it’s one of the world’s most exciting places to live. So go ahead and make the most of Hong Kong!