Moving to Hong Kong can be exciting and terrifying at the same time. Whether you’re moving here for work alone or with your better half or furthering your studies, there’s bound to be a lot of things that you need consider all at once. We have put together some quick tips to help you get ready and land on your feet in Hong Kong.
Have your address printed in traditional Chinese.
Cantonese has 9 tones and a mispronounced word in the street name could land you halfway across the city. Unless you have complete confidence in your ability to pronounce words correctly in a foreign language, a printed address in traditional Chinese for work or home could save you a lot of trouble. Interesting tidbit, Kowloon (gau lung), Kowloon Station (gau lung zam), Kowloon Tong (gau lung tong) and Kowloon City (gau lung sing) are very different destinations!
Cash is king.
Credit cards are a good alternative, but they’re not accepted everywhere while mobile payments are only starting to take hold. Opening bank accounts can take some time for new arrivals as banks require a proof of address before they approve your request. On the plus side, ATMs are widely available throughout the city so you should have no problem withdrawing cash from your overseas accounts (at a fee of course and do take note of your withdrawal limits). Our advice —have a couple days’ worth of cash with you on arrival. Consider getting an Octopus card, you can top it up with cash and use it for most public transport (excluding taxis), to buy groceries and a cool beverage at 7/11 on a hot summers day if you’re running around town in peak summer months. Major banks in HK include HSBC, Hang Seng and Standard Chartered and you can never be too far from a branch.
Depending on the time of year, Hong Kong weather can be a bit unpredictable. It can go from summer to winter or vice versa in about a week’s time. In winter, weather forecasts may say 10-15°C, temperatures that you may be used to, but it doesn’t account for wind chill, lack of centralized heating and no insulation in most residential buildings. In the summer, it could be 30°c and 90% humidity out but the air-conditioning is on at full blast inside. Clothing items like a hoodie or cardigan should definitely be on your packing list so you can be ready to layer up or down as needed, and don’t forget the umbrella during monsoon season, when it rains, it pours.
Place to stay.
Hong Kong is a notoriously expensive city when it comes to real estate (a fact that you probably already know), but it is also a reasonably transient city with people moving to and from the city regularly. That means finding a permanent home in the city isn’t just a question about supply but also about finding the right fit. A hotel for a few days to a week after you land is a good option as it gives you some time to explore different areas before deciding on a permanent solution. Co-living spaces and serviced apartments on the other hand are a great longer-term option as they’ll be furnished and come with an in-built social network to kickstart your life in Hong Kong. Many brands, like Weave offer regular events, workshops and a ready-made community to help you assimilate into the city and meeting locals and expats in comfortable surroundings.
IKEA can be a good friend.
Your one-stop-shop to get all the daily necessities to get you going. Visiting multiple stores in a foreign city to get basic things for daily life isn’t an efficient use of your time during your first few days in town. There’ll be a time where you should start exploring but your target should be get settled down as soon as you can. All of Weave’s properties are conveniently located near shopping hotspots and our community teams will be happy to give you some insider shopping tips, and oh, did we mention our studios and suites come fully furnished?
Find out where’s the nearest late night eatery.
We know, you didn’t move to a foreign country to eat at the same fast-food joint. There are a lot of places for food in Hong Kong that stay open overnight, a word of caution, lot of these places serve local delicacies and may not even have an English menu – so it’s a good time to brush up on some Cantonese. Having said that, most local store owners will often be delighted to see a foreign face trying local food and will go out of the way to help you out. So, head on out to one of the cha chaan tengs (local HK cafés), dim sum or fish ball stall to try mouth-watering delicacies. Alternatively, if you are craving some comfort food, there are plenty of McDonald’s, Starbucks and other burger joints to satisfy those late night hunger pangs.