What Is Life Like In Hong-Kong – The Expat Guide


Hong Kong, which means ‘fragrant harbor’, is a lively and energizing city. The exciting blend of modern high rise buildings and huge mountains makes this city a genuinely interesting and enthralling one.

As a significant financial center, Hong Kong has a low tax environment and a rather exclusive standard of living. In Hong Kong, you can expect to meet people from all over the world.

The aim of this article is, according to Savvy in HK, to provide an ex-pat guide about life in Hong Kong.

Firstly, let’s take a look at the basics.

The City Never Sleeps


The fact that Hong Kong never appears to sleep might be the first thing you notice when you arrive upon the ‘fragrant’ shores of Hong Kong. Regardless of whether you are in Hong Kong for business or pleasure, the city is a perfect haven for young-hearted individuals, this often means hitting the popular lanes of Lan Kwai Fong until early hours.

Hong Kong truly is the city that never rests and nightspots have no legit standard closing time. You might be surprised one day when you’re on your way to work to hear loud music still booming from a nearby nightclub. During typhoons, numerous office workers enthusiastically swarm to nightspots for the well known T8 lock-ins.

The Perfect Residence

A lot of ex-pats love to live in Southside (Hong Kong Island) as Southside offers an oasis away from the city center, without being too far away. It generally takes around 20-30min by cab to Southside from Central, and once you arrive at Southside, the whole mood changes. You will be greeted by sparkling blue water and green mountains. This is a good life.

In recent years, the extension of the MTR line from Ocean Park to Admiralty has really helped to make the commute easier.

Seashores are in abundance on the Southside and Stanley has great quality, fresh air, and some good community spirit going for it. The only downside is the end of the week traffic and enormous rents,

Americans and the French love Stanley and Tai Tam because of the proximity to HKIS (American) and FIS (French) schools. Also, where the French goes, scrumptious restaurants and stylish shops follow.


Something else about Hong Kong you may discover overwhelming, apart from the high cost of living, is the pollution. Unfortunately, the Hong Kong skyline is often covered in a discouraging layer of cloudiness.

Electric vehicles are well-loved in Hong Kong (particularly because people tend to drive relatively small distances) and chargers are accessible at almost all shopping malls.

Despite this, Hong Kong remains far behind other cities like London when it comes to recycling and lessening plastic use.

Clubs and Sports


Almost 40% of land in Hong Kong is designated as national parks. Does this surprise you? Normally when you think about Hong Kong, images of high-rise buildings spring to mind. But Hong Kong also offers breathtaking hiking and trail-running opportunities. When you come to Hong Kong, you might just be surprised by the number of avid-fitness lovers you meet.

Loads of individuals live in small apartments with no gardens. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden (which is extremely rare), you can expect it to be more or less the size of a London postage stamp. However, in Hong Kong, club memberships are popular. These private clubs tend to have swimming pools, tennis courts, bowling alleys, and so forth. This will allow you and your kids to enjoy some out-door exercises, and just have a little outdoor area to enable you to breathe and relax.

You don’t necessarily need to actually play sports to a high standard in order to become a member of a club. For example, you don’t necessarily need to play cricket to join the Cricket Club, but it can help. Each club has its own set of rules. There is a huge range of clubs you could consider joining, it’s just a matter of finding the one that suits you (and your budget) best.



Hong Kong can offer a magnificent way of life. When you include the advantage of full-time domestic help (and the vast majority employ domestic help), it can offer an incredible social life.

A Dependent Visa allows you to work with requiring special permission, although finding a job in Hong Kong is becoming increasingly difficult for those that don’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese fluently.

Individuals wanting to set up their own organizations can open a sole ownership business or private owned organization easily. Hong Kong is a business-friendly city.



Opening a bank account isn’t excessively difficult, albeit, as a standard requirement, verification of FICO assessment can require significant investment.

The old Hong Kong Shanghai Bank (presently HSBC) is the main bank here alongside Standard Chartered. Web and mobile banking are also easily accessible, and ATMs are abundant across the city.

Hong Kong ID card

The other key thing you need to do when you arrive is to get your HK Identity card.

Speaking English

From multiple points of view, a relocation to Hong Kong can be a genuinely straightforward one.

Until 1997, Hong Kong was a British colony and life in Hong Kong is still extremely British. You can expect most people (including taxi drivers and shop staff) to speak English.

All road signs are in English and Chinese, and there are major newspapers available in either English or Chinese.

For those wanting to learn Mandarin or Cantonese at a fluent level, Hong Kong University offers long term full-time courses. Even if you don’t become very skilled, any attempts to speak the local language are welcome by local people.

Health Care


Most ex-pats living in Hong Kong have private health insurance despite the fact that all Hong Kong ID holders are eligible for subsidized public health care services. Public hospitals in Hong Kong tend to be of very high quality and the costs are super low. The only issue is the amount of time you might need to spend waiting at a hospital before you see a doctor. Also, for non-urgent issues, it might take months before you can secure an appointment.

There are plenty of excellent private hospitals in Hong Kong. For example, The Adventist on Stubbs Road has a superb A&E department, and The Matilda on the Peak is notoriously popular with expecting ex-pat mothers. Giving birth at The Matilda is almost like giving birth at a 5-star hotel. You can press a button to request items from the delicious menu, and there is another button you can press to ask the nurses to look after your newborn while you get a little rest.

You may discover your health care choices are restricted by your insurance. Be wary of visiting a private hospital if you’re not sure whether or not your insurance will help to cover some of the costs. If you don’t check, the bill will more than likely shock you.

Popular medical clinics loved by ex-pats are Central Health and OT&P.

In terms of health insurance, all the key brands are available in Hong Kong including AIA, BUPA, ING, and Blue Cross.



Life in Hong Kong offers an exciting time. There are a lot of interesting jobs in Hong Kong and you can expect a hectic social life. Living in this Asian metropolis has brought about many life-changing experiences for those that have lived here.