What's it really like in Hong Kong?

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  1. #11

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    My 2 cents worth and some background that might help...

    I left the UK in my late 20's to go to Malaysia as an expat in circumstances that sound very similar to what you describe. I HATED it with a passion. At the time, I would have given you a list of reasons I hated it that included: heat, sanitation, impossible to get anything does/locals are lazy and lie to you/don't do what they say they will, nothing to do, nobody speaks english etc etc. KL was (at that time) alot less developed than it is now and alot less developed than Hong Kong. Since then I have lived in both Aus and NZ and now HK.

    However, the insights I have gained by moving around these various countries are that enjoying a move often has alot less to do with where you move and what you find there, than what you bring with you (and I'm not talking about possessions here!). If the person I am now moved to the KL as it was then back in time, I would enjoy it (I think). The place would not have changed but I have.

    So - the question for you is not "what is HK like" but "what am I like?". The others above have given you a big picture of HK ... but who are you? How do you feel when you are out of your depth? When you are lost and cannot read the sign posts? When you ask (in a shop, restaurant, on the street) for help and people either ignore you or answer in a way you cannot understand? Do you smile and try again, relaxed. Or do you get upset and scared or angry?

    Have you spent much time in a foreign place? Do you care about eating exactly the right foods, same brands, same time of day, cooked by yourself in a large kitchen with an oven? Or are you keen to get out, try new stuff, live in a tiny place where you probably cannot cook much?

    How do you deal with heat and humidity? Does it upset you or stress you? Or is it just something you deal with?

    How much do you need your family? Are you close? Dinners on Sunday and on the phone most days? Or "family"? I see them at xmas only! Ditto friends. In other words, even if HK is fabulous, are you really going to miss people back home?

    Re work - what will your job involve? Is it just the same as it would be back home (dealing with overseas, or expats in your firm) or will you have to market to locals (or other asians) and work with, work for, or be the boss of, locals? If yes, have you done this before? If not, you might encounter some significant culture shocks!

    When do you work best? At 8am in the morning? Or are you a night owl? A night owl might fit the local culture better than a morning person (particularly if you have a local boss who thinks that people staying late is a good thing!).

    These are some things to think about. I love HK. When I agreed to move here, I expected to hate it. But if you let it, it can really grow on you. If you leave your baggage behind you can have a great time - but you really, really need to be open minded and flexible. And only you know whether you are or not! Even if not, it'll be a great way to develop yourself, just don't expect to enjoy the experience at first....

    Good luck.


  2. #12

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    I've known people who hated Hong Kong and couldn't wait to leave.

    I've known people who "loved" the expat lifestyle in Hong Kong too much and had to leave for health and safety reasons.

    I know people who love Hong Kong and never want to leave.

    It was really is about what you make it. I'm sure you have plenty of bragging rights with your friends which I know can be important.


  3. #13

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    I thought that was an excellent post Moving. The only thing I would add is that if this is your first time abroad you may discover things about yourself that you did not know. So you may think you handle stress well/badly then find out that here the stresses are different and you are the opposite. If I had a magic wand there are definitely things I would change about HK (the climate in the summer for example) and in the early months you may find the negatives seem to come to the fore, but work through it and look at the positives.

    I don't know if I love it, but I like it and prefer here to the UK.


  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by hullexile:
    I thought that was an excellent post Moving. The only thing I would add is that if this is your first time abroad you may discover things about yourself that you did not know. So you may think you handle stress well/badly then find out that here the stresses are different and you are the opposite. If I had a magic wand there are definitely things I would change about HK (the climate in the summer for example) and in the early months you may find the negatives seem to come to the fore, but work through it and look at the positives.

    I don't know if I love it, but I like it and prefer here to the UK.
    Yes - this is very true too, I agree entirely.

    And while I agree with others that coming out for a "look-see" is important, don't think it's the same as living here. It's not. Some stuff just does not show itself on a short trip!

  5. #15

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    bragging rights with friends? perhaps for an hour or two.

    one of the biggest shocks for me was going "home". i had so much i wanted to share, and everyone was really interested for about 30 seconds. then they were back to discussing the game from last night or some such.

    i would love to move back to canada, just to be nearer to family (have really missed my mum since i had kids of my own), but if i were to be completely honest, moving back scares the crap outta me! i've been gone so long (my entire working life) that it's what i know now. i KNOW how to get things done. I know where to do them. i know what can be done. i know how locals think/feel about certain things.... moving back home is a HUGE blank and that scares me...

    add to that, when you've been gone for a while, and then return, everyone makes allowances for you because you've been gone. everyone makes their best effort to meet for lunch/a drink/coffee etc. but it is because you are not usually around. it is a blip in their radar. they have had a life without you for X years, so even if you did move back, it might not be so easy to settle back into life at "home".


  6. #16

    I would also add (depending on the industry you work in) to expect a lot more working hours.


  7. #17

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    Carang's right - I feel like a fish out of water back in the UK now after being away for the best part of 12 years. I've tried moving back twice in that time and lasted less than a year each time. And, I find starting again in the UK tougher than starting again in a different country - HK's large transient expat community makes it very easy to build up a social network quickly whilst you find your feet and settle into local life.

    But, you know what, you come over, give it a go, experience it, and if the worst happens and you hate it here, well, then you just leave. Nothing wrong with that.

    Oh, a quick comment on safety. HK is by far the safest place I've ever lived and as a single female I really appreciate that - I feel much more at ease here walking around at night and stuff then I do in the UK.


  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArKay:
    Carang's right - I feel like a fish out of water back in the UK now after being away for the best part of 12 years. I've tried moving back twice in that time and lasted less than a year each time.
    Good luck with that. I cannot even imagine trying to move back to the UK. Like Carang, I find even having a conversation with previous friends and family difficult, as they have such completely different views of the world (like, no view of the world, just a view of the local issues/sports or TV shows!). I can just about still cope with the idea of moving back to Australia as I still visit there frequently for work and find aussies are much more open-minded and interested in the world, but the UK is an alien place.

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by carang:
    bragging rights with friends? perhaps for an hour or two.

    one of the biggest shocks for me was going "home". i had so much i wanted to share, and everyone was really interested for about 30 seconds. then they were back to discussing the game from last night or some such.
    Exactly, but that doesn't stop people from wanting those stories even though others will find them as boring as the ubiquitous holiday snaps.


  10. #20

    I just moved back to HK from London 5 months ago, although I was born here so I was always partial to HK!

    London obviously has a lot more open space, huge parks, loads of museums, West End performances and a much larger variety of cultural activities so if you are hugely attached to those things, then HK probably isn't the place for you.

    On top of that, in HK people can be very physically pushy on the street due to lack of space / amount of people, and they don't apologise either! Sometimes when you're walking on the street you hit some random patches of smell too, that can be nasty! And prepared to get real sweaty in the spring, summer and autumn ...

    So those are the bad things out of the way. For me, in every other way HK trumps London. I feel like it's the most convenient city in the world. You can take taxis anywhere, it's so much cheaper than in the UK. I love it! Public transport is super efficient, you never have to wait more than 3 minutes max for the underground. You can use your Octopus card (like the Oyster card in London) on I think all public transport (except taxis), and in 7-11 (a convenience store that is literally on every corner), McDonald's, Watson's (our equivalent of Boots).

    The food is great, options are endless. It is so easy to go out. In London, I felt like I always had to plan to go out, because people tend to end up living quite far from Central London. In HK, people can just meet up last minute because everything is so close. The partying is off the chain, all the bars and clubs are in one area, if one club is crap, then you can just go on to the next one. You can easily party until 6am here, in London it's so hard to find a place that's still open after 3am and not trying to rip you off. Lots of food places are still open in the early hours too if all that dancing has made you hungry.

    Lastly, I find the expat population / returning overseas Chinese are really friendly. HK is quite a transient place, lots of people are coming and going so there are a lot of newbies in town at any given time which means everyone is open to meeting new people. It can be intimidating at first, but if you give it time you can make some great friendships.

    And it's still warm in November!


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