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Visiting/Moving to HK

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  1. #1

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    Visiting/Moving to HK

    Hello Everyone! I'm moving to Hong Kong in the Fall! yay

    I am a Korean American from Upstate NY and I will be moving to HK in Sept/Oct but visiting in about 3 weeks. My work has transferred me there and our office is in Wan Chai (all paperwork is done). I'm super excited to move since I've lived in this mid-sized city all my life. My work is taking care of my living expenses up to $15,000HK dollars a month for the first 12 months. I'd like to live near work and around the night life since I am young and single. Any suggestions? SOHO, Wan Chai, Happy Valley, and Midlevels are where I'm currently looking.

    What does the 20-something demographic do on the weekends or after work? I know there are bars and restaurants but is there anything else? I currently play beach volleyball, take kickboxing classes and play on an organized kickball league. I'd like to continue to play sports but I'm not sure where to look.

    Also, during my one week visit in July my new manager will be showing me around the city. He obviously cannot be with me 24/7 so are there any places of interest I could/should visit on my own? I believe my hotel is going to be in Wan Chai off Gloucester Rd.

    Any other pertinent information would be appreciated. Here are some topics of interest:
    -What clothes to bring (I have a lot of cold weather clothes)?
    -What are the fashion styles?
    -How bad, exactly, is the air quality (I'd like an apt with a terrace)?
    -How close are the beaches?
    -What's the best airline to travel with?
    -How far can I get by/travel through HK with only knowing English?
    -What is the Korean population in HK and what is the general public opinion?
    -What is the American population in HK and what is the general public opinion?
    -How serious will my business role be taken seeing that I'm a young female?
    -What are the annoying habits of visiting Americans so I know not to do them?

    I've asked some of these questions with my manager who is from HK but I'd like some more opinions. I apologize if I may sound ignorant but a lot of these questions can only be answered by honest locals. Some of them may be obvious answers but I'm just checking to make sure.

    Thanks for your help!


  2. #2

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    Well, I'll start the ball rolling, although there are some answers I don't know (being old enough to be your mom ).
    When you say "Living expenses <15K" does that mean a housing & utilities allowance/ rebate, or something else?

    As for what to do in HK while you are not being shown around, it depends very much on your interests - check out websites like www.hkta.org and <title>HOME - Hong Kong Extras . Hong Kong is VERY safe to walk and use public transport at all hours, even for a young single female - there are no "no go" areas to worry about.
    And public transport here is excellent - economical, clean, frequent, safe (except for the driving skills of certain red minibus drivers!), and extensive.

    Clothes - this is a maritime tropical climate, currently summer, so expect temperatures around the high 80s with humidity in the range of 80 - 95%. Very little difference between day and night time temp's, BUT beware of the air conditioning! Bring a couple of light jackets or cardigans for indoor wear. Because of the extreme humidity it's a good idea to stick as much as possible with cotton and linen for under as well as outer wear.

    Air quality in winter is appalling; in summer it's variable, but the humidity is so bad that most people with balconies don't want to be using them except for extra storage space.

    For surf beaches you will have to travel out of HK, but there are plenty of mediocre - very nice flat water beaches here. Some have buses stopping right there (like Shek O on HK island), and others require a couple of hours hiking from the nearest road.

    Many people get around Hong Kong all their working lives without picking up any Cantonese at all, but IMO it's worth putting in the effort to learn the language if you're planning to be here for more than a year or so.

    As long as you don't ram the "superiority" of your nationality/ ethnicity down people's throats, most people here couldn't care less whether you come from local public housing or from the planet Zog.

    Image counts for a lot more here than in many other places - if you dress the part, people will generally take you seriously. Of course a lot will also depend on your own company culture here, so do try and have a few words with any female colleagues while you're visiting.

    A couple of general points to note: first, although you will be coming on internal transfer, you will still doubtless find differences in work culture and practice between "home" and here, often in contexts that surprise you. Some things will be better, some worse, but most are just "different", so give yourself at least 6 months to adjust.
    Secondly, Hong Kong doesn't do "politically correct" the way the USA does - even when people say something that would seem shocking, it's just a different way of doing things. Related to this, local people will frequently ask things like why you are fat / thin / have pimples / freckles / scar tissue opn first meeting! It takes some getting used to, but is just friendly chit-chat, the same as talking about the weather in England.
    Oh yes, and thinking of countries "divided by a common language", you will find various expressions and lots of slang different - careful with your own slang expressions, as some of them could be considered offensive (we had a couple of threads arising from this earlier this year).

    RocCity and NorthernNomad like this.

  3. #3

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    Apr 2005
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    Any suggestions? SOHO, Wan Chai, Happy Valley, and Midlevels are where I'm currently looking. for your budget, you will get a shoebox in those areas.

    What does the 20-something demographic do on the weekends or after work? I know there are bars and restaurants but is there anything else? I currently play beach volleyball, take kickboxing classes and play on an organized kickball league. I'd like to continue to play sports but I'm not sure where to look. there are beaches all over hk. it is a group of islands, kowloon & new territories...discovery bay has a net on their beach with volleyball games going most weekends.... not sure about the other beaches... sorry

    Also, during my one week visit in July my new manager will be showing me around the city. He obviously cannot be with me 24/7 so are there any places of interest I could/should visit on my own? I believe my hotel is going to be in Wan Chai off Gloucester Rd.
    you could visit just about everywhere on your own. hk is VERY easy to get around via public transportation. private cars here are somewhat of a luxury and as with any luxury, only a very small percentage of hkers own one.

    Any other pertinent information would be appreciated. Here are some topics of interest:
    -What clothes to bring (I have a lot of cold weather clothes)?-DO NOT bring too much. the coldest it gets here is a couple of degrees C... this usually lasts only a few weeks. you WILL need a warm sweater/cardigan at the minimum. if i were you, i'd wait and buy what you need here so that you don't have a whole bunch of useless clothing taking up much needed space.

    What are the fashion styles? someone once said to me, "hk is full of fashion, but very little style"... not many women wear jeans and a t-shirt.... lots of skirts/dresses...business suits.

    -How bad, exactly, is the air quality (I'd like an apt with a terrace)?
    for your budget, this is HIGHLY unlikely, especially in the areas you are considering... don't think you realise how expensive rent can be in hk... especially on hk island! $15,000/month is on the low end of housing allowance

    -How close are the beaches?- VERY close... i would say that from most places, a beach is accessible within 30minutes... this doesn't hold true of every place in hk, but most... the question is: do you really want to swim in the water? can you handle the heat and humidity?

    What's the best airline to travel with?
    totally depends on you...

    -How far can I get by/travel through HK with only knowing English?-a little bit of cantonese goes a long way to building bridges... you will get a lot more out of the experience if you at least try to learn a few words of the local language. that said, it isn't generally a problem at all in hk... it was a british territory for 150 yrs after all.

    What is the Korean population in HK and what is the general public opinion?-koreans are people, too! oh, and korean bbq is awesome!

    What is the American population in HK and what is the general public opinion?-
    "god bless america" and to hell with the rest of you... please leave your "america is the best" attitude at the door on your way in....this is a different place, with different ways of doing things... respect that. do not prattle on about how wonderful the good ol' us of a is... it isn't and we all know it.

    How serious will my business role be taken seeing that I'm a young female?- depends on your skills... if you are good at your job, you shouldn't have any problems.

    What are the annoying habits of visiting Americans so I know not to do them? do NOT tip everywhere you go!!!! and see my above comment regarding the rest...

    good luck!
    RocCity, NorthernNomad and m4nn like this.

  4. #4

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    Jun 2010
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    are there any places of interest I could/should visit on my own?
    you could go to TST, star ave, great night view everyday, they also have light show everyday at 8pm.

    -What clothes to bring (I have a lot of cold weather clothes)?
    don't think you need a lot of cold weather clothes, most of the time the weather is above 15 degree, say 20-35 or so. Well, there are some days in winter below 10 degree, but rare.

    -What are the fashion styles?
    I've lived in the States, China, Canada...I think among all these places, HK is a place you could easily find out what's the most popular fashion in the world.

    -How bad, exactly, is the air quality (I'd like an apt with a terrace)?
    I'd say it's ok, not as bad as people talk about. But definitely much worse than living in a house in the bay area in the States, with sunshine & green everywhere. Among all the places you chose, I'd say Mid Level & Happy Valley's air quality is the best. Sheung Wan & Wanchai's are not that good, but if you live in a condo it doesn't really matter as you could always turn on the AC.

    -How close are the beaches?
    20-30 mins by car if you live in Wanchai/HappyValley/SOHO/Midlevel
    but it would be 5 mins walk if you live in Repulse Bay/Stanley

    -What's the best airline to travel with?
    depends, when I was in the States, I usually take Continental Airline, the service is pretty good; and the price is usually cheaper than others.

    -How far can I get by/travel through HK with only knowing English?
    You probably don't want to go to bargain with locals, but luckily in many big shopping malls, you don't need to & people can speak English...
    Their English is not perfect, accent, work-use, etc., but at least no problem to talk to.

    -What is the Korean population in HK and what is the general public opinion?
    no idea..

    -What is the American population in HK and what is the general public opinion?
    there's a lot in the area you choose to live. most American are in HK island.

    -How serious will my business role be taken seeing that I'm a young female?
    I'm a young single female too, don't worry about that. I take it as an advantage sometimes

    -What are the annoying habits of visiting Americans so I know not to do them?
    not sure...

    RocCity likes this.

  5. #5

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    Jun 2010
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    Thanks everyone for great answers and advice! I'm definitely looking forward to change.

    My work will be giving me $15,000HK for a housing and Utilities allowance. I've been checking on Craigslist a lot and have been finding a few places in the neighborhoods I desire for $15,000 that are around 450sqft (41.8 m2). That's pretty small but livable. Is that the shoebox size you are refering to, Carang? My manager is arranging for someone to show me around for an apartment the first month I am here (while I stay in a serviced apartment). I will also look at places during my one week visit but that is over 2 months out from when I will be moving so the apartments I will be viewing may not be available in October.

    In regards to the beaches Carang wrote "the question is: do you really want to swim in the water?" Is the water not safe? I live near Ontario lake and I refuse to swim in it, way too polluted.

    Business suits? Really? In hot weather?

    I'm planning on taking Cantonese lessons. My manager told me not to bother and to just watch a lot of TV and repeat everything everyone says, haha. I will also be working in a tiny office 12 hours a day with two Hong Kong businessmen so I'm sure I'll pick up a lot from them. I'd like to become fluent. Any other suggestions for learning the language? I was just worried about my "only English" speaking abilities for the first months I'm there, until I can start speaking Cantonese (somewhat).

    Im a liberal so I'm not too keen on the "holier than thou" USA talk. So, no worries there.

    Any good websites on cultural courtesies? I know the number 4 is unlucky.... I should have a business card in both English and Cantonese... don't set my chopsticks in my dish.... etc.

    Thanks


  6. #6

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    450' is the GROSS area... it will probably be less than 300' in actual size... just beware!


  7. #7

    Beware of housing on Craigslist, there are plenty of scams. The best is visit some realty agent near where you want to live.


  8. #8

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    i was also going to mention craigslist... it is NOT as common here as it is in the states. you will get a better idea if you look at sites like
    gohome.com.hk than by looking at craigslist. even then, take what you see with about a pound of salt... best to use a local agent, just as woodpecker suggests.


  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by chingleutsch:
    Air quality in winter is appalling; in summer it's variable, but the humidity is so bad that most people with balconies don't want to be using them except for extra storage space.
    The air quality isn't that bad, and my perception is that it has been getting a bit better in the last couple of years. Most people I know with balconies or roof terraces use them regularly. It seems to me that people's bodies adjust to some extent to the humidity after a couple of years here.
    Quote Originally Posted by dr1122:
    -How bad, exactly, is the air quality (I'd like an apt with a terrace)?if you live in a condo it doesn't really matter as you could always turn on the AC.
    And that helps how exactly? All an aircon will do is cool and dry the air.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by RocCity:
    In regards to the beaches Carang wrote "the question is: do you really want to swim in the water?" Is the water not safe? I live near Ontario lake and I refuse to swim in it, way too polluted.
    Water quality has certainly improved over the last 20 years (or whenever it was that they closed down all the pig farms!), and water quality at all gazetted swimming beaches is tested regularly - get the most up-to-date results here: http://www.epd.gov.hk/epd/english/en...q_current.html

    Quote Originally Posted by RocCity:
    Business suits? Really? In hot weather?
    Yes; that's one big reason for the fierce air conditioning!

    And extra thanks to Carang for the "Don't tip everywhere" point. This is a biggie - apart from at western style bars and restaurants you can pretty much forget about tipping

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