Hong Kong is frequently voted one of the best places to live and work as an expat. Despite cries that it is not the same experience as it once was, there is no doubt that positions in Hong Kong are highly sought after. So let’s take a closer look at why that is.
The city itself
Like other big cities of it’s kind, Hong Kong is a megalopolis that has more than enough to offer to expat workers. However, it has a unique flavor that is hard to replicate elsewhere. The clash of cultures and influences make for a mix that is one of a kind. Chinese and Western styles mix, melt and then reproduce themselves in the most spectacular of ways. Besides that, Hong Kong has five star hotels, Michelin starred restaurants, street markets and food stalls within spitting distance of one another. This is Hong Kong’s unique draw and it has been a large part of the attraction for expats over the years.
The burst bubble
Fast forward to now and many are claiming that Hong Kong’s bubble has well and truly burst. The competition for posts, due to the enormous desire to work in Hong Kong and what it can offer, has meant it has become quite difficult to find a position. Couple that with often unbearable levels of pollution and rising costs of living, all of which equate to Hong Kong slipping down the scale in recent years. However, for those that do manage to secure a position, they can still enjoy a remarkably safe and accessible city.
Finding the right position
Hong Kong is home to a vast amount of offices, including international businesses. All of these need expat workers in droves. Finance has typically been the big pull for people working in Hong Kong and for this reason, when the global economic crisis hit, it hit hard in Hong Kong. Whilst the area may not have suffered along the same lines of other financial hubs, the positions available are not quite what they were. A reduction of posts is only one factor. Expat packages are also less lucrative, with many benefits and bonuses being drastically reduced. Previously, an expat worker could expect free schooling, medical insurance, housing and transport alongside their salary. However, many now claim this has become ancient history. Whilst packages feature many rewards, these are not quite as comprehensive as before.
It is not all bad news though. There are still many positions available to expats and the government is investing heavily in financial technology. For people working in this sphere, the sky can well be the limit. Consultants are still in demand, as well as law professionals, communications experts and human resources experts. For those people working in such fields, there should still be a healthy competition but greater opportunities of access.
What you can expect
Hong Kong’s currency has been stable for many years and the city is famous for it’s nonexistent sales tax. Monthly salaries for expat workers often exceed that earned by locals, and so spending power is huge. In fact, many expats may find they can afford private education, full time domestic help, childcare and luxury holidays. As fantastic as that may sound, take into account that Hong Kong is also one of the most expensive cities in the world. The bulk of a salary may go on housing, but this can be circumvented somewhat if expectations about housing sizes are kept low. Living in a Western sized apartment will also come with a hefty price tag, but downsizing means that you can keep rental costs more realistic. Education is another sore point. Private education in international schools is pricy, as well as being extremely difficult to enter into. Competition for places is extremely fierce and the round of applications and interviews can be overwhelming.
Broadening your horizons
Yet, people living in Hong Kong will be amazed at how many doors are open to them once they arrive. From dining at world class restaurants, drinking in rooftop bars, or enjoying a milk tea in a cafe, life is never boring. Thanks to the amount of expats living in the city, there is no shortage of social events on offer. For the many downsides that living far from home can bring, the experience awaiting is more than enough to counteract any ill effects. So whilst the expat bubble may have burst, it certainly doesn’t mean that another bubble isn’t ready to take it’s place.