Arrange your paperwork
First things first: if you are planning to move to Hong Kong, you should always start with getting your paperwork sorted out. The visa you’ll need depends on the length and purpose of your stay in Hong Kong, but if you are entitled to stay for 180 days, you should get an ID card within a month after arrival. This card is obligatory to have as a form of identification and it also makes you eligible for public healthcare. The rest of our Hong Kong guide explains more about all the paperwork you need to arrange, so your move to Hong Kong will go as smoothly as possible.
Where to live
While postcards of Hong Kong mostly show its impressive skyline, there’s more to discover than busy streets and tall buildings. Hong Kong can be divided into three major areas: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. These areas are all very different, so you should carefully consider where you want to live.
Kowloon is a busy area, with many street markets and museums. The New Territories (including the Outlying Islands) are quieter and offer much more nature. In both Kowloon and the New Territories, you will encounter fewer English speakers than in Hong Kong Island.
Hong Kong Island is the area you know from postcards. With loads of bars, restaurants and shops, it attracts many expats and locals alike. However, this popularity means a very high population density.
Higher rent, smaller house?
As a result of this high population density, it’s not easy to find a place to live. Rental costs and house prices are some of the least affordable in the world; for the same price of an apartment in Hong Kong Island, you can buy a whole castle in Italy! Apartments in this district are typically on the small side too and micro-apartments (studios even as small as 15 square meters) are becoming more and more commonplace.
However, if you don’t mind a longer commute, you can live outside Hong Kong Island, where you can find a spacious house with a pool at a more affordable price. You will have to consider if you prefer a central location or a more affordable price.
Get help from specialists
Once you've decided on a new home in an area that works for you, you can start planning your move. It is hard to arrange this yourself; besides having to get your valuables to your new home safely, you would have to find your way through the culture and bureaucracy of Hong Kong very quickly. An international moving company, such as AGS International Movers, knows the ins and outs of Hong Kong, making your move less stressful.
When you arrive in Hong Kong, don’t be surprised if you sometimes feel like you can’t seem to catch your breath; the climate is definitely something many will need to get used to. With humidity rates reaching 85 to 90% in the summer months (May to September), it will feel like a sauna when you walk out of the house.
Besides the humidity, Hong Kong’s air is also highly polluted. While this is partly due to the factories in neighbouring China, at least half of the pollution is caused by more local sources, such as the very high traffic density. It’s important to keep an eye on the pollution rating. If it is high, locals avoid going outside for too long and often wear a face mask.
Because of this pollution, the Hong Kong Government discourages private car ownership. Luckily, Hong Kong’s public transport system is clean, fast, efficient and punctual - so there’s usually no need to buy a car anyway. You can make the most out of the entire public transport system with an Octopus Card, which is a contactless smart card used by most people to pay for their daily commute. This handy little piece of plastic serves as a payment method to shop and dine as well.