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You would like to live in the second economic leader country but fear the culture shock? Go to Hong Kong. This semi-autonomous entity belongs to China but has its own government, (capitalist) financial system, currency and its own customs. It is one of the most important financial centers in the world and a major commercial hub. As a very cosmopolitan city, it is one of expatriates’ favorite destinations in Asia.

Are you willing to go to Hong Kong? Here are some information on local life that will ease your expatriation.

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Security

The risk of typhoons is the most common risk in Hong Kong. Depending on the alert level (T1 to T10), it is recommended to stay at home. For the highest ones, we also advise you to caulk the doors and windows exposed to wind. The alert and rescue system in Hong Kong is very efficient. The damage is therefore limited and generally material.

The crime rate in Hong Kong is low. Nonetheless, there is an increase in the number of robbery cases near the airport and hotels. Fraud to bank cards is also quite common. Therefore, take special care when typing your bank code and do not leave your card unattended.

Accommodation

Choose your accommodation

Hong Kong city is divided into 18 districts, with industrial and residential areas. Victoria Peak is the most expensive one. It is where you’ll find the most luxurious residencies, luxury shops and gourmet restaurants. The Central District includes administrations and services favored by expatriates. SoHo and Lan Kwai Fong concentrate a large number of clubs, bars and restaurants, making them very lively neighborhoods at night. Mid Levels is known for its recent and modern accommodations. Aberdeen, Admiralty, Stanley and Tsim Sha Tsui also are residential areas.

You will find all types of accommodation in Hong Kong. The "serviced apartments" are more expensive than the average ones for they are furnished. "Condominiums" also have high rents but offer additional services such as gyms and swimming pools.

            Housing costs

Hong Kong has the most expensive rental costs in the world, according to the 2018 UBS bank study. On average, accommodation prices range from HKD 5,000 to HKD 15,000 (€ 563 to € 1,700) depending on their size and location. To rent a house, you’ll need about HKD 200,000 per month (€ 22,506).

Announced prices are usually monthly ones. They do not necessarily include management fees and taxes.

Charges are to be added to the rent. Water, electricity and heating usually cost up to HKD 2,000 (€ 225). The “government rate”, a tax amounting to 5% of the rent, must be payed quarterly. Depending on the standard of your accommodation, maintenance or security costs might add to the final price.

            Find and sign

If you plan to rent the accommodation for less than 3 years, you’ll sign a contract. In the case you’ll stay longer, it will be a lease. Join an inventory to your signed contract. Also remember to negotiate and write down your terms of departure, the notice is usually from 1 to 3 months. A tax stamp is required to formalize the document, it will cost you from 0.25% to 0.5% of the annual rent.

Social networks usually are the best way to find accommodation. Take a look at expat groups in Hong Kong. If you do not find your match there, turn to online research or to real estate agencies.

Education

Hong-Kong’s official language is Chinese (mostly Cantonese, then Mandarin). Courses are therefore taught in this language. English is also common and taught at school as a second language.

In Hong Kong, schooling is compulsory for 9 years, from 6 to 15 years old. Kids usually attend kindergartens and learn to write at a very young age, in order to enter the most reputable schools later on. At the end of primary school, they enter junior secondary and senior secondary education for 3 years each. They thus pass the BKDEE, equivalent to A-levels.

The educational system in Hong Kong is known for its excellence and competitiveness. The pressure to succeed is very strong for Hong Kong students. Teachers give them lots of homework to do. Students spend an average of 2 to 3 hours a day working at home after school.

International colleges and high schools also exist. Check out your consulate website for information on schools teaching your national educational program.

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