Hong Kong, China Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong, China 07/27/18

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I've lived in several other places.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

USA, tons of direct flights to LA, SF, Seattle, DFW, DC, NY and I believe a few others.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

Going on two years.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Consulate General.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Varied housing options throughout the city. All housing is currently on Hong Kong Island with major pockets in Central, Wan Chai, Shouson Hill, and I believe a few others.



As you might expect in Hong Kong, the housing varies in size. Some of the newer leased properties are very nice, but very small. There are some older leased properties that are much larger, and also still in districts with tons to do. Government-owned quarters in a few different locations as well, and these all tend to be on the larger side with properties offering probably the best views in the Foreign Service.



Since we are all on Hong Kong Island no commute is terrible. I live on the south side, and while relatively far from the consulate I generally can make it to work in 10-20 minutes. From the locations in Central and Wan Chai expect about a 10-15 minute walk. Most of the housing with large numbers of consulate staff are serviced by a shuttle. Your mileage may vary, but don't get hung up on location. Nothing is too far from work, and while some locations might not be walking distance to bars/restaurants/attractions Hong Kong is not a hard city to navigate.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Like most places very expensive if you are buying imported goods at a grocery store, but can be relatively reasonable. The chain grocery stores are good for most things, if not pricey. There is also a store that imports American goods if you can't do without your favorite Kirkland products or buffalo sauce.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

None. Anything you can't find here is just a DPO away.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Deliveroo, Food Panda, Honestbee, Uber Eats etc all deliver any kind of food/groceries you could want. Reasonably-priced delivery, even if the food/groceries themselves are relatively expensive. Given the large expat communities here any type of food you could ever want exists in Hong Kong. There are expensive sit down options, fast food, great Cantonese, Dim Sum, spicy northern Chinese, etc etc. IF you want it here you can find it. It might cost you, though.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Nope, not really.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO, yes and our mail room folks are amazing.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Minimum wage right now for full time live in domestic help is ~$550 USD/month. Domestic helpers are widely employed by expats and locals alike with the means to do so. Definitely look into the local labor laws before you come, and treat your help well.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Endless outdoor activities. Green space is probably Hong Kong's best asset typically missed by visitors. Live here and you will find your favorites. Limitless hiking opportunities, water sports, beaches, exploring the outlying islands, amusement parks, camping, etc. There is a small gym within the consulate, not great, but it works. There are limited shower facilities at work. Some of the housing will have pools. Gyms/sports/etc are available, but I can't speak to price.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes and yes. I use cash though much more frequently than in the U.S. Grab an Octopus card when you get here. Octopus pays for everything from transportation to 7-11.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Probably anything you could want.

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get by with nothing but English, but knowing some Cantonese phrases will go a long way with the locals. Mandarin is fine and increasingly spoken here.

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Probably, lots of hills and the ADA isn't a thing here.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

YES. MTR (subway) is amazing, clean, air conditioned, inexpensive, and reliable. Buses are great. Taxis are generally great and inexpensive if you can explain where you are going (get the Hong Kong Taxi translator app). The cheapest way to explore Hong Kong Island is by ding ding (tram). Rides cost about 30 US cents, and can take you completely across the island. Slower, unair-conditioned, but great views from the upper deck.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Unless you are on the south side of the island you generally won't need a car. That being said, having one is a great way to go to the beach, stores, exploring the country parks, etc. I wouldn't have found as many amazing places as I did without one. Gas is expensive here, the roads are generally ok to good, parking is not as hard to find as you'd think, and the smaller your car the easier time you'll have all around. People do have SUVs and vans though so really anything can work if you want to drive. Right-hand drive only.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Installation can be accomplished relatively quickly after arrival, and most have access to fiber.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Government-issued to employees, available local plans, Google Fi works great here.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Probably safest to go with an importer though to avoid delays. Vets here are great and make housecalls.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Available both inside the consulate and out. No personal experience.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots, check with the Community Liaison Office (CLO).

View All Answers


3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business to slacks with a nice shirt. Totally depends on the section and what you are doing that day. Hong Kongers are great dressers though.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Be smart, but this is hands down one of the safest cities I have ever lived in.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is excellent and no major health concerns. It can be hot/humid in the summer.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Generally good to fair. We have bad air quality days, but nothing as consistently bad as other places.

View All Answers


4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Pork is a seasoning, lots of seafood, and depending on where you eat not speaking Cantonese could hinder your ability to clarify an allergy.

View All Answers


5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Not that I'm aware of.

View All Answers


6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot, humid, and rainy summer with typhoons on occasion from April/May to October-ish. Amazing and perfect weather from late October through April/May.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No direct experience, but apply early if you have a preferred school. I've hear the schools are generally very good.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

I have no direct experience, but I would think most families with a need probably hire a helper.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large expat community from around the world. Morale is generally high. Don't get hung up on little things like where your housing is. Leave work at work if you can. Hong Kong is a great place, with tons to do locally and reasonably priced flights to the rest of Asia.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Make friends. If you are bored in Hong Kong don't blame the city.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes for all. Tons of expats of every age, friendly locals, great night life, great food, good schools, etc.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Sure. Same sex marriage isn't legal here but I haven't heard of anyone having any problems.

View All Answers


5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that I've seen.

View All Answers


6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

So many. Get out and explore. Get off at a random subway stop, drive somewhere, check out the parks, go to a beach. Hong Kong is a special place, and hopefully it can stay that way.

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Hidden gems....any country park. Find your own private beach on an outlying island. Peng Chau is great and not crowded with tourists, Shek-O has a cool vibe, Stanley can be fun if there aren't tons of people, charter a junk boat for a nice cruise around the coves and bays, or whatever tickles your fancy.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not really.

View All Answers


9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

See above. Living in a large city with tons to do while at the same time being surrounded by breathtaking views and green space.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I wish I had known more about the history.

View All Answers


2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely.

View All Answers


3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

TSP.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Appetite and comfortable shoes.

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Vox Borders Season 2 episodes 1 and 2 has a great summary of what is going on here politically.

View All Answers


Hong Kong, China 04/25/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, we have also lived in Europe and Eastern Europe

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Northern Virginia. Shortest flight is about 20 hours out of Washington Dulles with a layover in Newark.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

About a year and a half

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Consulate

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

All housing is currently in high rises. There are some government owned low rising on the south side that are currently being renovated and will be getting filled again next summer. That housing is very spacious and near HKIS. The rest of the housing is either near HKIS with a 30-60 min commute or in the canter of town near the consulate with a 5-25 minute commute.The housing in the city is not as spacious as what is near the school and the storage space can range from modest to nonexistent so if you come here, pack light!

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can find just about anything and they will deliver it to your door! Great convenience but super expensive here. I can buy a basket of groceries..not a push cart, but a basket you carry, and it'll cost me over US$100! Food also seems to go bad more quickly here...not sure if it is the air or lack of preservatives but you have to be careful not to buy too much fresh produce or it'll go bad. Nothing worse than having to through out a US$10 avocado!

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I would have brought a mini consumables of the staples we love that are cheap back home. I can still buy most things through Amazon or locally if I can't wait so I don't think you really need to stockpile unless you want to save some money.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Lots of fast food, McDonald's is everywhere and while I rarely eat it at home, I admit we go there 1-2 a week because it one of the few inexpensive meals in the city. We also hit up the Subway nearby for a good cheap meal. They have fantastic food in this city but it is really expensive. At a local casual burger place, it'll cost you about US$40 for a burger, fries, and a drink. When we go out for a bite, we never get out for less than US$100 for two, it stinks! Since there are so many places, we tend to go with places people confirm as good. Nothing worse than randomly picking a place to have a bad meal that you pay US$200 for. We try to eat at home as often as possible but groceries are also super expensive so while you save a bit eating at home, it's not a huge value. We find ourselves going to places like pret, Subway, McDonald's, other fresh food spots that cost about US$5-15 per person in an effort to save a little cash.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We have had none in our house but we are pretty high up in a high rise. I have seen very little sign of bugs when I have been out in the city.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have DPO and pouch. Things mostly get here pretty quickly, it's nice.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Yes, very plentiful and according to local government law, they need to be live in. There are all sorts of details about salary, food, and travel requirements online but since we didn't hire a helper, I am fuzzy on the details.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

A bunch! Big gyms, boutique gyms, cross fit, you name it. The consulate has a small gym and the apartments often have their own, as well. The local gyms are super expensive but if that is your thing, then it's probably worth it.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Safe and easy. Not all places take credit so we try to keep cash handy as well.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Just about any I can think of are here and available.

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None.

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes! The whole city seems to be uphill. The sidewalks are uneven and the are lots of stairs everywhere. I am able bodied and I struggle walking the streets here in some areas.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes! Safe, affordable and super easy. Most taxi drivers speak enough English to get by but just in case, I keep my destination on my phone through google maps so I can show the driver which has come in handy a few times!

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

They drive British style here so that has to be weighed when deciding about a car. Honestly with the cheap and easy public transport I have no idea why anyone would want to bring a car here. I absolutely love the freedom of not having to deal with the added expense of a car while we are here. A side from traffic and crazy drivers, there isn't much issue with having a car if you absolutely must have one.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes! We got the fastest option which the local company makes you bundle with a cable package and it comes to about US$100 a month. Internet is very fast and reliable and the cable packages comes with HBO so I can't complain.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

The consulate issues a phone but the family has a T-Mobile international family plan so we get unlimited data and texting in most countries. If we have to make a call, we do it through wifi of data on FaceTime.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Vets here do house calls and this seams to be a city of dog lovers. Importing and exporting pets seems to be a really long process that has most people opting to hire an expediter.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

If you speak the language, it is possible. There are also a good amount of effort jobs at the consulate, surprising considering its size.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Tons. Can volunteer to help the homeless, the elderly, animals, trash clean up. If you have a passion to help, there are places to do so here.

View All Answers


3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Same as DC for work. In public, people are overly bundled in the winter, like it's Siberia. In the summer, you gotta dress to be cool and comfortable, so I've seen business to very casual on the streets.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No, just normal common sense. A huge plus for living here is how safe this city is, it's great!

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Pollution is bad much of the time. If you have sensitivities or pre-existing issues, factor that in.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

On its best day, and there aren't many of those, it is decent. I find most days I've lived here the pollution is pretty bad. Our family is very healthy and we have been negatively impacted by it on a regular basis. I can only imagine it could be a nightmare for anyone with health or respiratory issues. If I had known it was this bad before coming here, it would not have made the list.

View All Answers


4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

See comments about the pollution. Food allergies would apply too just about anywhere else I'd imagine.

View All Answers


5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

From mid-April to November it is hot, humid, and wet. During that time it rains daily so you have to keep an umbrella on you at all times. Hong Kong has a typhoon season but fortunately we haven't had anything too severe while we've lived here. November to April it rains much less and the air gets pretty cool, much cooler than I expected. This past winter it was unseasonably cold to the point that there were flurries up in the peak and the closed school! I have been told this isn't the norm but it can get pretty chilly, as low as the 40's F at night and high 50s during the day. Coming from a much colder climate, it never felt that cold to me and I never needed to use the portable heaters that were provided. Humidity stinks though! We have four big dehumidifiers in the house and we have to empty them twice a day.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

HKIS seams to be the top choice but it is very competitive and there is no guarantee of entrance so people are encouraged to apply to more than one school. Another popular choice is HKA but there are also some others including Montessori, British international, French international, Canadian international, etc. The CLO office here does a great job in staying on top of these schools to advise on the best choices. My kids go to HKIS and it is a pretty impressive school but it has mostly expat and local kids of means, the consulate kids seem to be looked down on by other students as temporary "poor" kids just passing through. That mentality is rough on my kids who came from schools made up primarily of embassy kids. Having said that, they have managed to make a few good friends and they are getting a very challenging, top notch education. Also to add, the "add ons" required for the school that parents have to pay out of pocket is ridiculous. Between requiring a certain type of Mac laptop for each kid, compulsory week long trips out of country each year, and for fee after school activities it is really expensive to have kids in school here. This was a big factor for us not extending.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Not many. There are some schools out there with accommodations but research will need to be done to find the school that meets your needs.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

They are around but most people opt for a live-in helper who takes care of the house and non-school-aged kids. Some people have one helper per kid, or one helper per kid and one to take care if the house....definitely a different lifestyle. It is very unusual to not have a live-in helper but there are some Consulate families, couples, and singles who go without.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, the schools have activities for a fee and there are also some local sports teams for kids. They are also pretty pricey and require some traveling for games. They have Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts too.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Morale is mixed. While is is a safe, beautiful city, the expense and pollution is enough to get some people down. It is also very far from home and without an R&R it is too expensive for many families to return home during their tour.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Eating and drinking and shopping. Some people love hiking the mountains and trails around the islands too. There are lots of great movie theaters and they have great entertainers who tour through this area.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is good for everyone. All come with their own set of pros and cons.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes, there doesn't seem to be any hostilities that I've seen and i know a few openly gay people here. They've had no complaints.

View All Answers


5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not really.

View All Answers


6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

There is always some sort of festival or event happening, as well as fun happy hours and dining pop ups. I don't think I will ever get over the sticker shock but I am doing my best to enjoy it in moderation. The Disneyland is small but very cool, getting an annual pass has been well worth it to have a fun day out of the city. The biggest bonus here is how cheap and efficient public transport is. The MTR, buses, and taxis are safe, clean and very affordable. In fact, the city itself is the safest I've ever encountered.

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Disneyland, Victoria Peak, big Buddha, ferry to the smaller islands for a day trip, Macau is just a 45-minute ferry away for some fun. LOTs of brunches and meet ups for just about any hobby. Lots of dragon boat teams for the dragon boat season. Losts of festivals to check out and Chonese New Year was really neat to experience.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Still looking...haven't really found anything that is worth it and screams Hong Kong yet,

View All Answers


9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It is a vibrant, fast-paced city. It is close to many other locations in Asia and reasonably close to the South Pacific and Middle East. There are lots of options for eating, shopping, and outdoor activities. This is one of the most expensive places in the world to live and I don't think it would be possible to save money living here.

View All Answers


10. Can you save money?

No..you can only slow the bleed if you online shop for deals whenever possible

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

The pollution and the extra school expenses.

View All Answers


2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Probably not.

View All Answers


3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Savings plan and subzero clothes.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Money...all of it. If you want to experience this city, you're going to be spending it up.

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Travel channel shows on Hong Kong...such as the layover, booze traveler, I'll have what Phil's having. They give a pretty great glimpse of Hong Kong's highlights. In reality, this is a pretty tiny place. It does not take long to see everything there is to see.

View All Answers


Hong Kong, China 02/23/15

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

California - direct connections to L.A. and San Francisco.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

over 2 years.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Short commutes (15-20 minutes); U.S. government-leased housing is much larger than average.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can get everything here, but it may cost ten times what it does in the U.S.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

More maple syrup (too expensive here). Otherwise, generally should have brought less (little storage) and you can order most things through the DPO.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything, at a cost.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Some mosquitoes, but not too bad.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very good, cheap, easy to get (under Hong Kong law you must be the sole employer, house your household help, and pay him/her HK$5500 per month for full-time work).

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, but quite costly.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

No problem at all.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None.

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes, it's a hilly city without a lot of access for folks with disabilities.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, very safe, extremely cheap (best deal in Hong Kong).

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Do NOT bring a car, buy one here. They have left-hand drive and importing a car is quite difficult. Also, it can be hard to get parts if your car is not common here (I have had to wait weeks to months to get car parts a couple of times).

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, though mine often conks out in the early evening (I hear other complexes have better connectivity).

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Tons of options - if you want a cheap deal, go to an area like Shamshuipo and talk to the touts.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine from some countries (like the U.S.) if your pet meets certain requirements, but 6 months from other countries. All dogs have to be brought in by cargo, so it's expensive. Good vets are available.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty (for refugees/NGOs especially).

View All Answers


3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Pretty formal.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None - one of the safest cities anywhere.

View All Answers


2. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Very unhealthy, and unlikely to improve any time soon. There are portable air filters for our housing but I don't know how much good they do.

View All Answers


3. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

The pollution is bad. Foodwise, higher class restaurants will be careful but cheap places it may be hard to know what's going into a dish.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Very hot and humid summers (though thankfully air is less polluted when the winds blow from the south); cool winters (but smoggy).

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Great schools, though places are limited -- apply early and to several! I have 2 kids at HKIS, though in retrospect might have preferred the Canadian International School (due to their Mandarin program and great music facilities). HKIS has done a stellar job helping my eldest apply to colleges in the U.S.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, quite a few (again, at a cost). My kids have a great horseback riding instructor. Our friend's child did a lot of competitive swimming including plenty of international competitions.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge, many lawyers and bankers, but also academics. Generally quite happy other than the pollution complaints.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Anything you'd do int he U.S.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

yes, all of the above, though single women may find it harder than single men (there are a lot of single women prowling every bar...).

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

OK, though locals are very conservative (and anti-gay). That said, the laws in the books against gays/lesbians are no longer in force, and there appear to be a lot of activities (and nightlife). Hong Kong is NOT recommended for someone bringing a gay spouse who wants to work: they will not receive a work permit as a spouse of someone allowed to work here (the marriage will not be recognized).

View All Answers


5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

View All Answers


6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Boat trips to outer islands; touring Southeast Asia.

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Outer islands and hiking in the "country parks" (protected areas). Also, some of the bird reserves near the border.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Clothing made to order.

View All Answers


9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Great base for touring Southeast Asia - local flights aren't cheap but there are deals to be had. The city is one of the world's great metropolises, with fabulous food, and also has outer islands and lovely hiking areas.

View All Answers


10. Can you save money?

No!! Most expensive place I've ever lived (and my COLA was higher elsewhere...)

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Didn't appreciate the level of pollution. Also - for anyone with motion sickness: the roads are windy and bus and taxi drivers like to jerk around the curves.

View All Answers


2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely. Just not sure I want my kids breathing this air (though the schools are great, and they've gotten a lot out of our time here).

View All Answers


3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Wish to get anything bureaucratic done quickly -- everything takes 10 times more paperwork than you expect.

View All Answers


Hong Kong, China 02/16/15

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Chicago. 16 hours nonstop flight to O'hare from Hong Kong.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

The U.S. government has housing in a handful of high-rise apartment buildings either near the Consulate or on the South Side of the island closer to HKIS. Most of the buildings have amenities of some sort (pool, playroom, tennis courts, outdoor space, etc).

We live in a building in which several of the apartments are USG owned. The apartments in our building are very dated: outdated air-conditioning units which let in street noise and polluted air, very outdated and unsafe single-pane windows that lack any soundproofing, no dishwasher, very few outlets (which are overtaken by the air-purifiers and dehumidifiers that must be kept running at all times), and no dishwasher. Our building is also the only building with no amenities which makes it difficult for those of us with small children (particularly on days when it is not safe to take children outdoors because of air quality).

The apartments are large by Hong Kong standards.

A building is being constructed directly across the street from us. Consulate staff acknowledge that the windows and air-conditioning units in our building are deficient, yet nothing will be done in the near future to correct the problem. The residents of our building are bombarded with constant jackhammering and construction noises six days a week, 12 hours a day. This has been going on for over a year. The windows do nothing to keep the noise out. It is disruptive to the sleep of our children and has made it impossible for me to work (from home). It is excruciating. They are still working on the foundation of the building so construction noise will continue to be a problem in the foreseeable future. A home should be a place a respite from the chaos and noise of the city. My youngest can't even take a nap without being jarred awake from the jackhammering. I cannot emphasize enough the demoralizing effect of the constant construction noise on our community. I wish we knew of this problem when completing our housing questionnaire.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Just about anything can be found in Hong Kong. One thing I was not prepared for is the very high cost of groceries, particularly meat, dairy, and produce (things you can't get through the DPO). Be prepared to spend more on groceries than on your mortgage back home. Both the consulate doctor and the community liaison officer advise against shopping "local" due to all the food scares in China. That leaves imports, which are very expensive. We are not provided with an adequate cost of living allowance here in Hong Kong, this is widely recognized and accepted. The low COLA versus the high cost of living in Hong Kong is a prevalent topic of conservation among the Consulate community. Living in Hong Kong has become a financial hardship for families.

View All Answers


3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, etc are all here and cheap.

View All Answers


4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Yes, cockroaches can be a problem.

Mosquitoes are also bad, but no worse than the summer months in the U.S.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

A domestic helper costs around 5,000 HKD per month and are a way of life here. If you have more than one young child, a domestic helper is a necessity. The whole society relies on the domestic helper system and there is an expectation that someone is always available to watch your children. I have two in school on opposite sides of the island and an infant who naps and I would be lost without our helper. Hong Kong is an incredibly inconvenient city to live in with young children--for example, even picking up a child from a play date is an ordeal. I spent over two hours last week picking up my son from a play date after school (long taxi ride plus traffic). Thank goodness I had a helper to get my daughter off her school bus and be with my infant while he napped.

Having a full-time helper sounds more glamorous than it is . I was much more productive with three kids on my own in the U.S. than with three kids and a helper in Hong Kong. I would leave my full-time help in a nanosecond and move back home if I could .

View All Answers


3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards are widely accepted.

View All Answers


4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There is a wide-variety of religious services available.

View All Answers


5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None.

View All Answers


6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. I have enough trouble navigating the city with a stroller. I could not imagine having to do it via wheelchair.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

All are safe and affordable. Public transportation is hard to navigate with three young children so I find myself using taxis more. Taxis can get expensive when going to the South Side of the island. Taxi drivers also like to ride on the brake and smoke in their cars so my family often gets car sick. I look forward to the day when I never have to ride in a Hong Kong taxi.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes and we pay about US$80 per month. Our internet tends to freeze at night.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No, Hong Kong is very safe.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Yes. Pollution is a major health concern. The pollution makes it much harder to recover from respiratory illness. Both my husband and myself developed reactive airway disease which required nearly a month of steroid treatment. This is a common occurrence among our friends as well. My children are always coughing and have runny noses and my youngest has developed ear infections which I find interesting as we've never had an ear infection in our family. Ear infections may be caused by high pollution (several medical studies have been done on this) so I believe this is yet another adverse result of pollution on my family. I know of a few children hospitalized with asthma when pollution levels peaked a few weeks ago.

Over the course of three months last spring, each of my children had Hand Foot Mouth disease, strep throat, and Scarlet fever. Someone is always home sick. I hear this is common in Hong Kong as all of the strains childhood illnesses are much worse here. Hand Foot Mouth disease occurs year round.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air quality in Hong Kong is very unhealthy and comparable to other major Chinese cities. Recently, a columnist for the South China Morning Post wrote: "In the last two months, according to the smartphone app, Airpocalypse, the AQI at the Central [Hong Kong] roadside meter has exceeded that of Beijing (measured at the U.S. Embassy) a third of the time."

Today, for example, the air is 467 percent over what the World Health Organization deems "healthy." Currently, the USA has rated the air in Hong Kong (RSP/PM10) at 333 or "hazardous" and warns of "emergency conditions" and that the "entire population is likely to be affected." Last week, we saw conditions at over 600 percent of what the WHO deems healthy.

Hong Kong enjoys fewer than 60 "healthy" air days per year.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It is hot and humid in most of the year with a cool winter (light jackets and sweaters are needed).

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Hong Kong has a great selection of international schools. I have one child at HKIS. We like it although in retrospect, we should have explored options closer to our home as he has to get on the bus at 6:50 am. I have another child at Island Christian Academy, which is closer, and we like it so far.

Start applying at schools as soon as you know you are moving to Hong Kong as it is very competitive.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I hear the Harbor School is good for accommodating special-needs although I do not have any personal experience.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes. Preschool is available and very expensive (part-time programs range between US$700 and $1500 per month).

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes. Hong Kong has a wide variety of activities available to kids. Expats and locals alike feel the need to schedule their children from 7 am to 7 pm at night. Activities here are very expensive (we pay about three times as much we did in our high cost of living area in the U.S.) and we only allow our children to participate in one or two activities at any given time due to financial constraints.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

The expat community is very large and the morale of long-term expats in banking and finance is quite high, although all express concern over the air pollution.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Anything you can do in any international city (New York, Paris, etc) you can do here.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This is a good city for singles, couples, and families with older children.

View All Answers


4. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Exploring away from the expat neighborhoods.

Cheap massages.

View All Answers


5. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

As with any large, cosmopolitan, first world city, there are many advantages (but it will cost you): fine dining, nightlife, travel to SE Asia. Exploring the back alleys and "off the beaten path" is also very interesting.

View All Answers


6. Can you save money?

No. If you are a single-income family on a U.S. government salary, living in Hong Kong is a financial hardship.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I wish I had known that the U.S. government was getting rid of the R&R allowance for Hong Kong as this is a huge added expense for families. It is very expensive for our family of five to travel from Hong Kong to the U.S. (or anywhere really) and I am unwilling to remain trapped on this island, exposing my children to constant air and noise pollution, for two to three years. So an R&R of some sort is an expensive necessity that I did not truly grasp until moving here.

I wish we were informed of the construction across the street/deficiencies in our building as we would have completed our housing questionnaire differently.

View All Answers


2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No, absolutely not.

View All Answers


3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Any notion that you will save money.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Bring an Ergo or other infant carrier if you have a baby or toddler as using a stroller here is just about impossible.

View All Answers


Hong Kong, China 03/19/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Second overseas posting, Amman Jordan.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Central Florida. We flew from Dulles to San Francisco and then straight to Hong Kong.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

We have been in Hong Kong for a year, with another year to go.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Spouse of State Department employee working at U.S. Consulate.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

There are a lot of housing options. The consulate has many people in several buildings all over HK. SoHo, the Mid-Levels, Shouson Hill, Repulse Bay, Tai Tam, the list is long. Most singles prefer to live in Central near all the bars, restaurants, etc. A lot of families love the convenience of being in the center as well. We did not want to be grouped in with all the other Americans and chose to live 30 minutes out. We have an unbelievable flat near Stanley market facing the South China Sea with full amenities.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can find just about anything here. There are so many options: U.S. brands, French, Italian, Japanese, etc. I think the prices are fair, but some would argue that. We are not in America so don't expect Walmart prices.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Toys, larger sized clothes and shoes, but you can find it here. Toys are way overpriced. I just plan ahead and order before the holidays or birthdays.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, Burger King, Starbucks, KFC, Subway, are here, but there is so much better to be found. Food is a little pricey, but a lot of things cost more here.

View All Answers


5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

The organic trend is booming in HK right now. There are organic farms in HK that will deliver to your door. They have plenty of markets with organic choices. Even supermarkets like 360 have a ton of organic options. They sell grass-fed beef here and free range everything. You can even take classes on raw foods and there are some organic restaurants. Gluten-free can be found in many places as well. This is the healthiest I have ever eaten since moving here.

View All Answers


6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

We live in a well maintained high rise very close to a reservoir so there are lots of critters, but we have only seen little ants in the kitchen during the summertime. On the streets you will encounter the occassional roach and my biggest nemesis are the mosquitoes.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO, pouch, you can send packages off at the Navy's Fenwick pier and purchase stamps there as well.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

I think it's cheap. We have a live-in housekeeper, who used to be a nurse. She is fantastic and we pay around $515 base, not including bonuses, food, vacation, insurance, etc. We are a single-income family as well.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, first class everywhere, but for a price. Some other gyms are more specific like for Muay Thai, yoga, dance, etc.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

I use a lot of cash, but I use my credit card more. We usually cash a check at the Consulate.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are many options that I know of, but we do not attend any.

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, there are English newspapers and cable programs. The prices on cable depend on what channels you select. We sling our shows from the states.

View All Answers


7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Usually none, but Cantonese is nice to know. Some speak Mandarin as well.

View All Answers


8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It can be difficult to get around because of sidewalks and all the hills. I have seen some many ramps.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. Minibuses, MTR, double decker buses, even the ferries take the Octopus card.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

We do not own a car, but some do. Taxis can add up fast, but the public transportation here is cheap and clean. Gas is expensive.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

High-speed internet is awesome here and it is affordable.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I have an i-Phone. I moved here with already broken, so we went with PCCW, but there are options here.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Sometimes it depends on your paperwork. We had to get the vet approval and USDA stamp.

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

We have one cat. We had to get a pet permit. We had to keep our cat in the States for 6 months, with a sitter, in a rabies-free zone so he would not be quarantined. It was pricey and a headache, but worth it. People love dogs here and there are many vets and shops.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes, there are many options.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

You will see it all, but most business people in Central choose black and conservative wear. Most consulate people wear business casual or a suit and tie. Others wear anything and everything.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Crime does occur in HK, but it is rare to involve a Westerner. I often see children in Central walking around by themselves. I have never had any problems even in some shady prostitute ridden areas like Wan Chai.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Great medical and dental care. I have had stays in two hospitals and seen many doctors and I am impressed.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

We live out in the Tai Tam area, which is 30 minutes outside of Central and the air is lovely. In Central itself, you can often see the pollution, but it does not bother my family. My son and I have asthma and we have had no problems.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Typically the summer months are hot and very humid, but around October the temperature cools and the humidity drops. You will wear a jacket it does get cold.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Many people have their children at HKIS, but they are very mainstream and closed minded in my opinion. My son attends The Harbour School which has usually a 2:15 teacher/student ratio and they are very hands on and forward-thinking. There are many options here and it is best to apply early and be prepared to put some money down for debentures.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

The Harbour School may assist with special needs. They claim to not be a special needs school, but I know they have several students and do a wonderful job. There are others, but I would not look at HKIS.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Preschool prices are outrageous in most places. They want around US$12K for 15 hour weeks. I have a nanny/cook/maid that lives in for a base pay of $515.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Tons of options are available through schools, YMCA, and other clubs. Tennis, rugby, football, swimming, martial arts, are just a start.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

If you are not happy here, than you will be happy nowhere.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

This city is full of entertainment and there is not enough time in our posting to see and do everything.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's fantastic for families. There are all kinds of fun museums, parks, zoos, Ocean Park, Disneyland, dolphin sightseeing tours, ice skating rinks, rock climbing, etc. Singles here have a ball.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Definitely there are a lot of gays and lesbians and they have clubs here too. I see PDA all over the place and have never seen anyone react poorly.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There may be, but I don't see it ever. Some ethnic classes think they are better than others. I have seen all religions here and all colors. You may be called a gweilo, "white devil," just laugh.

View All Answers


7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Taking the bus up and crystal clear cabins down to watch the Shaolin monks perform at Ngong Ping, enjoying the multitude of karaoke bars, clubs, bars. Eating at all the wonderful restaurants (you can find anything your heart desires here). Watching the fireworks on New Year's Eve and then bringing in Chinese New Year a few weeks later with even more outstanding fireworks displays accompanied with the Dragon and Lion dances. There is always something fun to do here.

View All Answers


8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Stanley market, Ngong Ping, hiking Dragon's Back or Sai Kung, fishing villages, the Star Ferry, hire a junk boat, hop over to Macau and gamble with the best, the list is never ending here. There are many festivals celebrated here too.

View All Answers


9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There are so many markets, jade, silk, art. The list is long.

View All Answers


10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Hong Kong is an amazing post! It is so close to so many great travel opportunites like Thailand, Vietnam, the Phillipines, and mainland China. HK itself, has so many interesting places to visit and there is something for everyone here. The city MTR is very clean and easy to get around. This is the safest city I have ever lived in. HK is quite expensive, when it comes to housing, schools, eating out, but there are some really cheap places outside of Central. The weather is hot and humid during the summer, but gradually cools down in autumn. Occasional typhoons come through and bring wind and rain. In the winter, it can get pretty chilly.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

You can, but how much fun is that?

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I would live here forever!

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Idea that HK is polluted and just a city of cement and business trades. HK is beautiful and fun.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Mosquito repellant, sun block, umbrella, and your wallet.

View All Answers


4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Try any of Lonely Planet or Anthony Bourdain's The Layover or No Reservations. Here are some fun movies:http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/67455062.html

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

This is Hong Kong by Miroslav Sasek. Hong Kong & Macau (City Travel Guide) by Andrew Stone, Piera Chen and Wah Chow Chung.

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

This is a post of a lifetime!

View All Answers


Hong Kong, China 03/08/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, Taipei and London.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington, DC.About 20 hours flying time, usually with a stop in LA, SF, or Chicago.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Consulate.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

For the US Consulate there are 3 main housing facilities. One is just up the road from the Consulate, and has large, 3.5 bedroom apartments with slightly outdated fixtures and for some reason extremely slow internet. Another is leased units in a large building about a mile from the consulate. They run their own shuttle that drops off right near the consulate at exactly normal working hours. They have 2 and 3 (and maybe 4?) bedroom apartments, all very nice and very spacious by HK standards. The kitchens are a bit small and the appliances are HK-sized, not American sized. Also, no central heating or dehumidifying, you have to use consulate issued space heaters and dehumidifiers. But very conveniently located to everything you might want to do in the city and to public transport. The third main housing is a whole complex owned by the consulate out on the south side of HK island. It has units ranging from 2 bedroom to 4 bedroom. Most are very large, though some are a bit smaller than the Consulate's leased apartments, but all are still large for HK standards. They have balconies and a nice view of the ocean, and also have central AC/heating/dehumidifier and American appliances. However, this facility has had MAJOR maintenance issues since the remodel was completed about 2 years ago; the contractor apparently did a horrible job and now the whole building is falling apart (literally! tiles are falling off the side of the buildings!).Also, it is not very conveniently located for anyone except people with kids at the international school. You pretty much have to have a car out there, as the only thing in walking distance is one poorly-stocked grocery store, and there is essentially no public transport nearby. The consulate runs a shuttle from this complex once in the AM and once in the PM, slightly outside of normal working hours due to the traffic. It takes 15-20 min to get in normally, or 30min-1hr in rush hour.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Unless you're buying all Chinese products (which I don't recommend) and only produce from the wet markets, it is pretty expensive. Western imports, produce in grocery stores, milk products, etc are more expensive than in the US.Most things are available at one point or another, however the market in Hong Kong is considered as one giant experiment, so products come in for a few weeks, then just disappear. If you see something you like, you'd better buy all of it immediately, or you won't see it again.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Mattress pads, dehumidifiers/air purifiers. There's quite a few things I regularly order from the US because they aren't available here (i.e. American-sized clothes and shoes, women's shaving cream, stick deodorant, cold medicine and ibuprofen), but it's not really necessary to stock up on those things before coming.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything imaginable. In all price ranges. In general, though, eating out here is a bit pricey.

View All Answers


5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

They're not that big on organic here... it's available, but only certain items and very expensive. They really like soy products, so there's plenty of vegetarian and lactose-free foods and products. Not sure about gluten-free or other special products. One thing to be aware of when buying food products here is that HK has its own labelling system, and for some reason they insist on not including everything that is normally on food labels... if you have a particular allergy or sensitivity, you may find yourself frequently standing in the grocery store attempting to peel labels off of boxes to see the original US or UK one.

View All Answers


6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Some mosquitoes, lots of cockroaches, and pretty much any household bug that likes wet environments. One of the Consulate housing facilities has had bad termite problems in the summer, too.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO, but HK post is actually probably faster and more reliable.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestic helpers in HK are pretty much all brought in from the Philippines or Indonesia. The minimum wage for a live-in helper is about USD460/month. They must either be live-in or have housing provided for them. Because of Hong Kong immigration restrictions on domestic helpers, you generally have to have a full-time, live-in helper. It's hard to get part-time help (legally), though many helpers will, in addition to their full-time contract, work extra on their day off for someone else.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes and no. The consulate has a "gym", though usually there isn't much space during the logical times to use it. Bamboo Grove housing (the leased one about a mile from the consulate) has a gym. The other two housing facilities don't. There are several large gym chains in HK, but they are VERY expensive (typically over USD100 per month).

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

All fine and safe, credit is taken most places.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, everything.

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

South China Morning Post is the main English newspaper here, and it is pretty good. The Consulate has packages arranged with PCCW/NowTV that comes with a few English channels, and then you can buy others adhoc.

View All Answers


7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Depends where you hang out. You will usually need at least some Cantonese for taxis, and if you are going to authentic local restaurants as opposed to just staying in the expat areas then you'll need some Cantonese there, too. It's necessary at wet markets or local markets, and is very useful even at western grocery stores. You can live in HK without Cantonese... but you'd be very limited in your activities and experiences. You need at least a basic amount to have a good experience here.

View All Answers


8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

A lot. Hong Kong is all hills, and for such a pedestrian city has surprisingly bad sidewalks. Very few buildings have handicapped access, there are stairs everywhere.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. Taxis are a bit expensive.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

None, unless you live on the south side of the island. And then, a small one with good gas mileage. But you can't import left-hand drive, and I think you can't import more than some number of years old. There is a great used car market here, since HKers insist on buying brand new fancy cars every few years, so you can find good quality BMWs, Audis, etc under 10yrs old for less than USD10K.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Included in the PCCW/NowTV package, and is comparable to US rates and speeds.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

There are several good services here with plans comparable to the US.Everyone in HK has at least one iPhone. Seriously.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, 6 months or something ridiculous like that. But there is some kind of waiver you can apply for ahead of time if you have all the proper medical paperwork done. I think you have to get it certified that you lived in a 'rabies-free zone' beforehand, which, if you are coming from DC, means some finagling with the map to include much of the Potomac in that zone.

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes, we just use the SPCA, and they are pretty good.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes, but there is no diplomatic spousal working agreement here, so EFMs who want to work locally have to get their own visa through the job.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Suits. Nicer ones than I can afford.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No, it's one of the safest cities I've ever been in.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Lots of respiratory issues... nothing really serious, you'll just have colds or coughs or allergies a lot, but if you have asthma or other similar problems it could be a concern. The medical care here is great. Expensive, but great.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Unhealthy, and getting worse all the time. Pollution from Guangdong rolls down in waves, and gets trapped in all the smog that sits in between the mountains for days on end. Most days in the central area you feel like you are just breathing exhaust and rubber. At the worst times of the year (usually spring), everyone in the city seems to have a respiratory infection. Everyone gets coughs that last for ages. Particulate levels have reached "dangerous" many times in the last year.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

From about October to December the weather is phenomenal, sunny and 70-80 degrees all the time. The rest of the year... just stay inside. From January through February it is cool and wet, making it uncomfortably cold indoors where there is generally no heating. From February through about September it starts getting incredibly humid, and that there are constant problems with mold. In May it heats up, and until about September it is just too hot and humid to stay outside for very long. July to about November is typhoon season, we've had one typhoon day since I've been here but mostly they go far enough south of us that we just get bad thunderstorms with lots of wind.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No personal experience, but I've heard the HK international school is really great. There has apparently been some trouble lately with space and getting kids places at the school if people are assigned here kind of last minute or in the middle of a school year. There are plenty of other good international and private schools here, though.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I've heard the main international school is not very accomodating with special needs, and tends not to admit students who are already diagnosed with special needs.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

No idea. Seems most people just use domestic helpers for pre-school childcare.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, probably any sport they want.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Enormous. Over 60,000 Americans alone, and probably even more Brits and Aussies.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Generally very good. The main complaints are the weather and the air quality, but most expats here are wealthy enough to just go somewhere else for the summer and escape the worst of it.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Prolific. Pretty heavy drinking culture here, I'd say. But certainly not the only thing that you can do. However, it does tend to create a bit of a divide between families and singles/young couples.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, it's a pretty good city for everyone. Though I would imagine kids would feel a little trapped indoors in some of the downtown apartments, there isn't really a 'yard' or anything to play in. I don't have kids, but I wouldn't think HK would bea great place to raise them... all the kids here seem to be very spoiled and obnoxious, all taken care of by domestic helpers and all seemingly very sheltered. Even if you don't raise your kids that way, you and your kids would still have to interact with those people regularly. I would think that would get very tiresome.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes, pretty good.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not really. You can pretty much find someone of every nationality and religion here, so it has had to be pretty open in general. There's definitely a lot of antagonism against Mainlanders here right now, and since Filipinas and Indonesians are typically maids here they are likely to be a bit discriminated against.

View All Answers


7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Mostly eating great food!Also great are going to the horse races, rugby sevens, Octoberfest, dragonboat, and renting a junk boat for a day.

View All Answers


8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Eating, hiking, eating, going on boat trips, eating, shopping, eating, going out to bars/clubs, eating, going to the horse races, eating, going up the Peak, eating, going to see the big Buddha, eating, going to the local markets, eating, going to Macau, eating, eating, eating... you get the picture.

View All Answers


9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Chinese art or antiques, bronze decorations, tailored clothes.

View All Answers


10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It's a very modern, cosmopolitan city. You can live in a very developed city, and still experience a lot of different cultural aspects. It's centrally located in SE Asia, so a good hub for regional travel. There's a lot of activity always going on here, you can experience a lot of different types of events and activities.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

Definitely not. Most everything is expensive here, and the COLA just doesn't cover it.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, but only barely. If I weren't working at the consulate or living in consulate housing I would come back... but there's a definite attitude in the consulate of: 'you're in Hong Kong, there's no such thing as a serious problem here, so we're not going to fix anything or help with anything'. It's very frustrating and has made life here not so much fun.

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter coats, large pieces of furniture or things that will need to be stored

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Umbrella, swimsuit, and hiking boots.

View All Answers


4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

Hong Kong is a great city, but it's very odd in some ways. If you come here looking for London or NY, you'll be disappointed. If you come here looking for China, you'll be lost. It's a little bit of everything, while not really being anything. It's also got a big wealth gap problem, and very little middle class. In the area where the consulate and the consulate housing are located, you'll probably feel very poor.

View All Answers


Hong Kong, China 08/31/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Third expat experience.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Australia - around 9 hours flight. Flights are direct and frequent.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

Almost two years through a three year stay. I arrived in late 2008.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most people live in high-rise apartments. It can take some getting used to if you've had a backyard at home. There are usually outdoors facilities (pool, outdoor courtyard, kids playground) in the expat buildings. The living space tends to be smaller than in, say USA or Australia. The public transport is very convenient for most parts of Hong Kong. All expats I know live on the HK Island, which means that the transport options are good - even so, people tend to take taxis everywhere as they are convenient and relatively cheap.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can shop in the markets or in grocery shops (ranging from the low end to the top-end international standard).Prices can be high if you shop in the international supermarkets which stock items and brands from all around the world.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Most things are available. The only think I've found hard to find has been hard wax (for hair removal - as opposed to wax you use with strips).

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything from $2 street noodles to many three michelin star places. I've been able to find any type of cuisine I wanted. I've really enjoyed the Vietnamese and South Indian options in particular.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not that I've noticed. I've seen some health outreach materials about mosquitos, but I haven't heard of anyone actually having any problems with illness through bites.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I use local mail- no issues.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Well priced. Many websites and agencies to assist you in the search. I think the monthly cost for a fulltimer is somewhere around HKD 3500 ish

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Most expat buildings have gyms in the clubhouse. There are many gyms in the city, however the costs tend to be high.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

I've had no issues. I opened a HK account and use the direct debit facility. I also use my foreign credit cards regularly.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

I think people can generally find what they need.

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Widely available. The standard of the pay television has not been overly impressive given the cost

View All Answers


7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Most people speak English. Unless you are somewhere very traditional, you are unlikely to have any issues. When I arrived I had intentions to learn Cantonese (like many expats), however this has not happened as you really don't need it... and it's unfortunately not the kind of langauge you can just soak up - it's difficult!

View All Answers


8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

People in wheelchairs would have difficulties in the older buildings and more crowded areas of the city. Some of the public transport stations have stairs - you would need to do research each time you went somewhere new.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

This is probably one of the best public transport systems in the world.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Buy one here - the second hand market is very well priced. No issues. Many expats don't bother to get a car as the public transport is so good.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Cost is reasonable.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Buy one here, or you can get a sim card from one of the thousands of convenienece shops around town.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

It depends on where you are bringing the pet from.

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

I believe so. A surprising number of people have dogs and cats given that most of the population lives in small(ish) apartments.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

It varies with the economy. Unless you have specialised skills (e.g. Derivatives Law), while english is spoken widely in the job market here, it can be tough for people without Chinese to be considered for a role. Most of the expats I know have found their jobs through connections. It's important to attend networking and expat community events when you are looking for a job. People are always coming and going - so it seems to usually work out well if you have patience.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Same as any large international city. The women tend to dress more trendily and less in a conventionally business fashion way than in other places I've been.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No - it's such a safe place to be. I know people who let their teenaged kids go out at times they never would back in their home countries (Australia, UK, etc).There were some incidents last year where someone was dropping amounts of liquid corrosive acid down onto streets -a few people were treated in hospitals, but no one hurt seriously. This was really widely covered in the press.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

High quality health care. The public hospitals are good. Most expats use the private hospitals, which can be very pricy.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air quality can be very poor, and infact is one of the few negatives consistently discussed by expats. You do get used to it, however it would be a factor in deciding whether to live here long term.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot, steamy summers. Cool-Cold winters (despite my preconceptions, I needed a coat and scarf during the winter!)

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are many International Schools. I don't have kids, but I don't think people have any issues on this front.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Everyone I know who has children has a live-in nanny / 'helper'.It is very affordable, and people often say that the availability and affordabilty of the helpers is one of the best things about being an expat in Hong Kong.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

The kids of people I know do sports with their schools.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very large, from all around the world.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Generally very high.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Fantastic and varied. People tend to meet out in bars/ eateries rather than going to other people's houses, unless they know them very well. There is a very vibrant social life here. I've heard it refered to as "Disneyland for Adults".read into that what you will!I do think that people who are more environmentally minded, or into the hippie and non-commercial type lifestyle may have to search around for their niche a bit harder than others.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Hong Kong is a great city for all of these groups. I have found it really easy to meet new people and make friends. I'm married with no kids. Families also enjoy it here - after a period of adjustment to highrise living. There is a good variety of things for people to do with children. For singles it looks that it is easy to get out and meet people on the dating scene (there is certainly a vibrant 'meat market' in the bars in central!).I have heard anecdotally that the dating here is easier for men than for women for whatever reason.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

There is quite a conservative attitude in the local community towards gay people, however I believe that expats in the community are somewhat separated from this. There are some well publicised and frequented gay clubs, and there are some good sections in 'what's on' publications.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

As I don't speak or read Chinese, it's difficult to respond to this properly. As in any society, there is likely some prejudice against the non-dominant sectors of society. I've heard that some people from SE Asia can find it difficult. I can say that I have never felt threatened or discriminated against in any way due to my race or gender. There is a bit of a sense that the locals like to keep a little separate in the way they live their lives, but I have never felt really offended by this. People stare less here than anywhere I have ever been. It seems that anything goes in terms of self presentation.

View All Answers


7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The great range and contrast of activities available in Hong Kong - you are never bored. You can hike in the lush vegetation on the mountains, sail boats, go to the beach, or you can stay in the urban setting and shop, eat out. The food is amazing - such variety, and the most amazing fresh seafood. It's so hard to say what the hightlights are, as I love so many things about Hong Kong!

View All Answers


8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Too many to list.... eating out, bars, hiking, junks (boats with food and drinks), seafood feasts in fishing villages, shopping, weekends in other parts of Asia, sea sports such as Dragonboat racing....etc etc

View All Answers


9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Tailored suits (especially over the border in Shenzhen).Fantastic shoes made to order at reasonable prices. There are some local items, though most of the HK shopping tends to be very international and branded.

View All Answers


10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It's an extraordinarily easy place to get things done. Everything is very convenient and efficient. As one of the special advantages, I would say that there is an endless variety of eating and cuisine options.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

depends on how you live. If you live it up here, you can spend as much as you would in other large international cities. Most expats I know here go out frequently and really get into the lifestyle - but you could live cheaply if you wanted to do that too.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutley. It has really exceeded my expectations, and now I think it will be hard to find a place which measures up!

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

wok.....leave it to the professionals. Oh, and your post-colonial prism. Hong Kong is booming after '97.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

dance moves. Many an expat experiences a second wind on the clubbing/bar scene here.

View All Answers


4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Any of the HK martial arts films. Look out for the HK streetscapes in The Dark Knight.

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Many, such as Sampan, Gweilo.. and there are lots of great resources on the web especially from the HK Tourist Board.

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

This is a fabulous place. I am so pleased that I had the opportunity to come here. I'm going to find it hard to leave!

View All Answers


Hong Kong, China 06/12/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Athens, Nassau, Tashkent, Vancouver, Frankfurt, Pretoria.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Philadelphia. Flights through Newark, Chicago or San Francisco. Total travel time is about 20 hours.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

2 1/2 years.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Consulate Employee.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is mostly in apartments, either in downtown area (Wan Chai) or on south side of the island. The Consulate owns a big complex on the south side in Shouson Hill that they just did a major renovation on. It's now beautiful, although perhaps a bit isolated. Most new arrivals will be sent there this summer, which means that next summer most will probably wind up in Bamboo Grove, a nice high rise tower in Wan Chai. Not the biggest apartments you'll ever live in, but they're nice, and for Hong Kong, they're really nice.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can get everything here. Probably a bit more expensive in general than in the US, sometimes much more so.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing. You can get everything here, and what you can't you can order to be shipped via the DPO.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

TONS! Most of the US fast food chains are here, but there are restaurants everywhere, with new ones opening up and old ones closing all the time. Almost every cuisine you can think of in all price ranges.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not a major issue. They have mosquitoes and roaches on the streets like anywhere else, but nothing too problematic.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have a DPO and the pouch. Hongkong Post is quick, reliable and cheap, particularly if you're going to mail somewhere other than the US.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

There are tens of thousands of Philippina and Indonesian domestic helpers here, and it won't be long before you are approached either to take on a person full time (must be live in - most quarters, even the downtown apartments, include servants quarters) and they work for six days a week, or a few hours on the sly (technically not permitted, but appears to be common practice).Monthly contracts are a paltry US$600/month or so, although workers on the sly charge by the hour (about US$8).

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Good gyms either within the complexes where you live, or in membership gyms all over the place. Decent pools are a bit harder to find. Typically they are too short, shallow, and/or crawling with children.

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Commonplace and ubiquitous.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Everything.

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

South China Morning Post is a world class daily English-language local newspaper, and there are several others. Cable gives you tons of English language channels on TV.

View All Answers


7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is pervasive. Signage and all official business is conducted in English. Most Hong Kongers know English pretty well, even the cabbies. If they don't, they will hand you the radio to speak to their dispatcher who will translate for you. It would be nice to know some Cantonese (or perhaps some Mandarin, although it's not what's really spoken here), but you can definitely and comfortably get along without it.

View All Answers


8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It would be a bit of a challenge. This city is hilly and crowded, and people bump into each other a lot. Infrastructure isn't particularly designed for disabled people, although the crossing signals all beep for the blind.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are EVERYWHERE and they are really reasonably priced. Public transport is excellent, extensive and pretty cheap, although it's often quite crowded.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

A car is generally not necessary, and it's very difficult to import one, so don't bother (They drive on the left in Hong Kong, so if it's not a right-side drive car, don't even think about trying).Second hand cars can be cheap here, but the flip side of that is that you will get little resale value for your car here. If you live in the city center, you will almost never miss not having a car. If you live on the south side of the island, you should consider one, especially if you have kids. Parking is a major hassle and taxis are cheap and everywhere - don't burden yourself with a car if you don't have to.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Readily available. Maybe US$45/month.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I stick with what the consulate provides, but all kinds of phones and cell plans are out there. This is a very wired city, probably more advanced than any city in the US in this respect.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes, although I believe that under certain circumstances that can be bypassed.

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

That's my understanding. Lots of people have pets here. The local SPCA has lots of cats and dogs to offer (note: it is illegal to declaw cats in Hong Kong).

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes. Work permits are generally not a hassle, and I haven't really come across anyone who wants meaningful work but can't find it.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business attire - suit and tie during the work week. Tons of excellent and well priced tailors around the city will make sure that you are snazzily dressed. Get it all made here!After hours can be very casual. It is okay to walk around the city in t-shirt, shorts and flip flops.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None. This place is really, really safe. Even if you lose things in a taxi (wallet, phone), it's commonplace for them to find you and return it to you.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Not really, except maybe those who are particularly sensitive to air pollutants. This area is near to the epicenter of major Asian outbreaks of communicable diseases like bird flu, SARS, etc., so they are extra vigilant and cautious about outbreaks whenever they pop up. Health care is excellent here, especially childbirth - fancy pampering!Lots of families choose to have children here.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Not the best. Much better than the rest of China, but it can get pretty bad sometimes with all the pollutants wafting down from the mainland China factories upriver. I tend not to notice much or be affected by it much, but others do. For about a week earlier this year, there was a particularly bad stretch where it was really bad and the pollution index literally went off the charts. You could see the thick cloud just roll in.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

I'm not a huge fan of the weather here. It is often hot and humid, and you just drip with sweat after even a short walk outside. Two winters ago here was pretty nice, with blue sky and mild temperatures, but this past winter has been incredibly gray and cloudy. In can get surprisingly chilly in the winter, and most places don't have heating, so you definitely want a few space heaters (GSO provides two for places that don't have heating, but I would try to get at least one more).Summers have seen frequent typhoons.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Don't have kids, but I know the schools here are great. Parents are really, really happy with them. Hong Kong International School (HKIS) is particularly popular, so work with CLO ASAP to ensure that you can secure a spot.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I know that there are schools here for special needs, although you have to specify what the need is, since they may have challenges addressing certain needs.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Don't know about pre-school, although I'm sure it's readily available. Almost everyone gets Philippina/Indonesian domestic helpers full time if they have children. It's cheap, good quality labor and a routine practice among the expats of Hong Kong.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes - many of the school sports teams compete regionally with their counterparts throughout Asia.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Enormous. This is probably the most cosmopolitan city in Asia, with expats from everywhere. Mostly it's high-flying international banking/business types. Not a huge diplomatic community here, but still respectable.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Excellent. Almost everyone loves it.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Tons - as much or as little as you have an appetite for.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's a great city for everyone. Singles love it, childless couples, families - it has it all for everyone.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Pretty good. Among the expat crowd there's a fair sized community and a handful of bars. Hong Kong started its first Gay Pride parade two years ago, they have an annual Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and the city is very blase about homosexuality. Within the local Chinese community, it's a bit of a different story. It's a pretty taboo subject, and most local Chinese gays are pretty uptight and closeted.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No,no,no. There seems to be no racial tension here at all. Chinese Hong Kongers display no sense of resentment or hostility to Westerners or third world nationals here. Everyone goes about their own business.

View All Answers


7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Dragonboat races (watching and participating), Rugby Sevens, sunday dim sum brunches, Wednesday evenings in the beer garden at the horse races in Happy Valley, trips around the region.

View All Answers


8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Where to start. Any hobby or interest can be pursued here. Hiking is a very common pastime, and there are green trails all over the place, amazingly close to the urban center. There's a Disneyland and its (better)rival, Ocean Park, which has pandas, dolphin shows, rides and aquariums. The consulate sponsors an annual dragonboat team in the spring/early summer. Day trips to Macau to check out the casinos or the big concerts. Tons of shopping.

View All Answers


9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Electronics (not really unique, but cutting-edge technology - things are often available here before they are released in the US). Local Chinese furniture - particularly from Macau or across the border in Shenzhen or Zhuhai.

View All Answers


10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Great cosmopolitan city - all kinds of dining, shopping, entertainment. Great transportation hub.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

I suppose if you tried, but why would you want to? Life in Hong Kong is what money is for.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Most definitely. This is an awesome place and everybody loves it.

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

suits, work shirts - get them made here!

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

don't worry - you can find anything here.

View All Answers


4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Infernal Affairs

View All Answers


5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Suzie Wong, Tai Pan,

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

It's been a great assignment. I've really enjoyed Hong Kong. I wouldn't want to make it my permanent home, but many expats try hard to extend here, or stay on after retiring here.

View All Answers


Hong Kong, China 06/17/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, this was my second overseas tour - I previously lived in the Caribbean.

View All Answers


2. How long have you lived here?

2005-2007.

View All Answers


3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I am posted at the U.S. Consulate.

View All Answers


4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Hong Kong has tons of flights each day - there are nonstop flights from both the East and West Coasts of the U.S.A. as well as lots from London/Europe.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most expat housing is in really nice, large apartment buildings on Hong Kong island (as opposed to in Kowloon). I lived in Shouson Hill near Repulse Bay, which I loved because I could walk to the beach, but others didn't like it.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Now, this is the bad part of Hong Kong. It is EXPENSIVE. The expat-type food and household supply selection is great but it is all generally imported from England, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. If you chose to eat only local foods, you can shop at markets and save some money.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I would ship stuff that may be expensive here if you want but you can get anything you need. I remember that party supplies and childrens toys were expensive. Also, if you wear a larger size of clothing or shoe than normal Asian sizes, I know some people had trouble finding clothes and shoes. I am a women's U.S. size 8 and I was probably on the larger end of what they sell in the shops. However, any woman who wears U.S. size 8 or under (including children) will be able to buy factory rejects from Gap, Ann Taylor, Lucky Brand jeans, etc. etc. for about $5 per item. It's great!

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Hong Kong mail is often faster and cheaper than APO or pouch anyway. You can use either.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Hong Kong has a great immigration scheme where they allow domestic helpers to come in from Indonesia, Thailand, the Phillippines, etc. If you sponsor one of these helpers, it is Hong Kong dollars $3600 per month (divide that by eight for approximate U.S. dollar equivalent) and that gets you six days a week of full-time live-in child care, cleaning, running errands, etc. It is a really nice set up.

View All Answers


3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

View All Answers


4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Of course Anglican church is big here, as are Catholic churches (all in English), and there is a huge mosque. I imagine any religion you want, they would have it here.

View All Answers


5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

The South China Morning Post is the main one and it is quite good (Check out their website if you don't believe me). You can buy newspapers from the US and UK at imported prices. The cable TV was quite good and features a selection of shows from the US, Australia, UK and Canada, New Zealand. The cable TV was less than mine is here in the U.S.

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

I did not know any Cantonese and I was fine. However, some taxi drivers don't speak English so it is a good idea to have the address written down for you if you think this might be a problem. I never had a problem with this though. All customer service representatives, McDonalds workers, etc. will speak almost-perfect English. The locals would love it if you can try to learn even just a few words or phrases in Cantonese.

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

The taxi drivers are generally extremely accomodating for persons in wheelchairs, etc. I have seen them lift elderly people out of the chairs and gently place them in the taxi, fold up the wheelchair, put it in the trunk, and after a 5 minute taxi ride, do it all over again in reverse. That being said, Hong Kong is extremely hilly. It is difficult to get around in this respect - the sidewalks can be very narrow. I think it would depend on the disability, really.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

They drive British-style here.

View All Answers


2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

See above comments. Taxis are all metered and extremely cheap, as are buses. Hong Kong has an excellent public transport system.

View All Answers


3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Because so many Hong Kong locals have so much money generally you can buy a used car for really cheap - the rich people all want the latest model so the market is flooded with nice used cars. I would not bother bringing a car. The public transport system here is so efficient, safe and cheap I would wait to see if you even want to buy a car. I bought a car but I really didn't need one, and most of my friends didn't bother.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

High speed internet is all over the place, including wireless hot spots, and again, I was paying less than I am here in the U.S.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Check on their website for PCCW and you'll see the latest deals, etc. PCCW is a main service provider and they also did cable TV if I recall. I was happy with them.

View All Answers


3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

You can buy local scratch-off phone cards from 7-11 that are very cheap. Hong Kong cell phones do not charge by the minute so you can use your cell phone (with one of those cards) to call anyone anywhere in the world for literally pennies. Also, the internet is high-speed so you can use that as well.

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

I did not use a kennel as I had a domestic helper. When we went out of town, we just left our dogs at home with the helper. We used the vet at the RSPCA when our dog became ill and he was a UK-trained expat. The experience was pleasant, and reasonably cheap. I know there is a vet that makes house calls in Hong Kong - a lot of expats use him.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

This depends on how long you are going to be living in Hong Kong and what skills you have. There are a lot of teaching jobs and I think a lot of computer or IT sorts of jobs.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Hong Kong locals wear a lot of black suits! For work they dress up, and dress conservatively. Even in their free time, they tend to dress fashionably (think Tokyo). I would have felt uncomfortable dressing like a total slob, even if I was just running down to the supermarket. Hong Kong is a city that is very much into fashion. Men can get really nice suits made here, for cheap.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Pollution gets worse each year. One week a year the factories across the border in the Mainland of China shut down and you can see clear, sunny skies for that week. All of the pollution in Hong Kong seems to be air pollution from the factories across the border. Having said that, the pollution did not affect me at all and I still spent many happy days at the beach or hiking, etc. I think the pollution is better than it is in Beijing, for instance.

View All Answers


2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No security concerns. Hong Kong is probably the safest city in the world. I never felt afraid there - ever - as a woman walking alone, anytime day or night. There aren't a lot of cities in the world that are like that anymore. The locals sometimes talk about getting pickpocketed but I never heard of (or saw) anything like that happening.

View All Answers


3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The aforementioned pollution did not bother me but if I had a child that had asthma or something I might have worried about it. The medical care is extremely good as you may expect and there is a large offering of both eastern and western medicine.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Usually it is mild and pleasant but sometimes it gets a little chilly so definitely bring a coat. In the summer, it is extremely hot and humid. And three months of the year it rains, rains, rains.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I don't have kids but the one thing I know is it is an absolute must to get your kids on a waiting list for a school basically the minute you have an inkling that you might be coming here. The schools are very good and competitive. I know a lot of expats like the HKIS (Hong Kong International School) which is world-famous.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I have heard that special needs children have a hard time finding adequate schooling in Hong Kong. The schools here are (from what I hear) generally quite competitive and maybe not very forgiving in that respect.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Hong Kong has a great immigration scheme where they allow domestic helpers to come in from Indonesia, Thailand, the Phillippines, etc. If you sponsor one of these helpers, it is Hong Kong dollars $3600 per month (divide that by eight for approximate U.S. dollar equivalent) and that gets you six days a week of full-time live-in child care, cleaning, running errands, etc. It is a really nice set up. In addition there are lots of preschool programs as well as stuff like Mommy & Me, Little Gym, language classes, music classes, etc. Hong Kong is a very child-centered city in a lot of ways.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

HUGE. We have tens of thousands of Americans in Hong Kong alone (I think around 30,000 or so). I believe the UK has even more than that.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

I think most people feel geniunely fortunate to be living in Hong Kong. There is something for everyone and everyone finds their own niche. Hong Kong locals are (I found) generally positive, optimistic, family-centered people and I think that attitude is contagious. Of course when you are talking about 100,000 people or so this is a gross generalization, but the morale is probably the highest here that you will find. Everyone that I ever knew/met was having the time of their lives. Expats in Hong Kong work hard and play hard. When people complain it is generally about the pollution, and about how crowded certain areas of the city can get, especially on weekends. If you go to Central on a Saturday, some people can start to feel claustrophobic.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Local Hong Kong residents have small apartments so almost every meal is eaten out. The main form of entertainment for them is definitely eating! As for expats, the bar and club scene is excellent, and it is fun to get a big group together and rent a

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This is a great city for all. Families, singles, and couples - men and women, gay and lesbian, etc. etc. Anyone would be happy here. The one complaint I did hear from people that have children are during the rainy season (about 3 months a year) the children can feel cooped up and bored and people can get a bit stir crazy.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

See above answer.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that I ever saw or heard about. Definitely as a woman, I felt that I probably got more respect in Hong Kong, professionally, than I do even in the U.S.

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Oh gosh - you name it, Hong Kong has it. Whatever you are into, Hong Kong probably has a club for it. There is a lot to do. Getting bored in Hong Kong would pretty much be impossible. I think interesting things in Hong Kong include: taking day trips to the outlying islands to experience a slower, more authentic way of life; taking trips over to the spas & casinos in Macau; hiking some of the many fascinating and well-kept trails; participating in a Dragon Boat rowing team; and of course the food/restaurants and nightclubs are world-class. Believe me, you will not get bored here. Also, unlike my previous posting, the actual tourist attractions (Star Ferry, The Peak Tram, Big Bhudda etc.) never got boring for me. Whenever I had visitors I was happy to revisit these places.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Wooden furniture can be made to order from a photo or a catalog for a fraction of the cost of what it would be in the U.S.

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

I did not! I spent way too much money! I went out all the time, and went shopping all of the time, so that is my own fault. If you ate local food and tried to stick to a budget you might be able to, because food and transport is cheap enough. But, Hong Kong is an expensive city - probably because there is a lot to spend it on!

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Oh, definitely. I thought Hong Kong was going to be fantastic and it was way better than I thought it would be. I would have tried to save some money BEFORE I went.

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Out-of-date technology - you can upgrade here for cheap. Old VCRs, Camcorders, etc. - you won't need them and the electronic stuff here is great.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Rain gear. When it is the rainy season you'll need boots or at least crocs or something, and a waterproof rain jacket. An umbrella is not gonna cut it.

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

My Favourite Wife by Tony Parson (even though it is about Shanghai, it captures the feeling of living in Hong Kong right now)

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

If you can catch the Globe Trekker episode about Hong Kong that is a great one.

View All Answers


6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

My Favourite Wife by Tony Parson (even though it is about Shanghai, it captures the feeling of living in Hong Kong right now)

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

If you have read the above, you can see that I am absolutely in love with Hong Kong. Some people get sick of it after 2-3 years but I would still be there if I could!My only advice is if you think the pollution is going to annoy you, or you don't enjoy big cities, I would not come here. Hong Kong is a huge, bustling city but there are a lot of opportunities to go from Central to within one hour be walking on a trail in the mountains, totally alone. It is a fascinating place to be, especially right now, and if you are considering having a child anytime soon, the maternity hospital is supposed to be the nicest in the world!Hope that helps.

View All Answers


New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More