Living in Hong Kong is a truly extraordinary experience, one which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Yes, of course, all the major cities are different, but few are quite as uniquely different as HK. The entirely exceptional cultural, economic and political situation that exists here means a culture shock is on the cards regardless of where you originally come from. Here we give you our brief guide to Hong Kong life and Hong Kong culture to ensure you are prepared to join this extraordinary city's vibrant populace.
People who live and work in HK either live on or off the island. Like moving to any central location, being on the island means you are close to the nightlife, restaurants and, most probably, your place of business, though this will be reflected in your rental costs and the amount of space you get. By choosing to live off the island you will save a packet or, at least, get a bit more value for money, though it will mean a longer commute and a potentially more isolated social life.
Hong Kong is a city that offers you an extraordinary amount of choice when it comes to what you do in your spare time. From high culture to crazy nights on the town it's all here. Live music, art, theatre, cinema, theme parks, restaurants and anything else you could name is available to those in need of entertainment.
The first great bit of news for the recently arrived expat is that the city hosts a very friendly, welcoming expat community. People come and go all the time from the island and, as such, they are always looking to make new friends and let people in to their circle. The second piece of good news is that, as well as the high-octane, non-stop nightlife, there are plenty of other options available. Outdoor activities, for example, are everywhere in the city, such as hiking in the nearby mountains, water sports in the river and ocean, football, rugby and much, much more.
As if you need to be told, restaurants are one of the things for which Hong Kong is famous. You really can find incredibly high quality food from just about every culinary culture here. Not only that, you don't have to spend big to get fine food in a really nice eatery. The downside is that, though eating out is great and, if you do it the right way, surprisingly affordable, cooking for yourself is actually very expensive and not always easy to do. Supermarket prices can be very, very high and they will not always stock products consistently – i.e. one week a place will have a shelf filled with tuna, the next week there won't be a single can to be had. After a while, hitting the restaurants often feels like the better choice.
The work/life balance
Chances are, you came to Hong Kong because you were offered a great job here and, chances are, most people you meet will be in the same boat. That means managing a work/life balance will be easy so long as you subscribe to the work hard, play hard philosophy. Making business connections and social connections is often one and the same and is very easy to do.