My recommendations based on a similar experience (US IB VP relocating with company)
- Seems like the best place to be is Mid-Level. But have noticed that prices on website like hongkonghomes.com is over-inflated than what I heard from my mates (ex-hong kong expat). Is this generally true?
Midlevels is not the cheapest but it is close to central and the escalator makes it convenient. dont go with hkhomes, as someone said it is too expensive, just use it to get an idea of places. Apparently rentals have gone up over the past year, so things maybe a bit more expensive that what friends got 18 months ago. Understand that there is no concept of 'first impressions count' when it comes to renting apartments, most of them are filthy, smally and with left over previous tennants junk.
- I will be based in Central (Hong Kong Island) for work, apart from Mid-Level, what others area would you recommend that provides a good life-style (i.e. nicer and bigger apartment). We are a couple with no-kids. Is commuting over 30mins the norm here?
Lots of people are in Kennedy Town, but the apatments popular with expats are very small. Also consider pokfulam, or northpoint. I am in midlevels and love it, but it is not for everyone.
- Apartment vs. Service Apartment: Any recommendation? Has anyone used the Four Seasons apartment for long-term rental, if yes, how do you find it?
My friend lived in the 4 seasons, the apartments are very nice, but at weekends he found it a drag living in central right next to his office.
- I know in some country setting up bank account/credit cards is an issue due to lack of credit history? How was it in HK?
No problem at all. they throw credit cards at you. in HK just bring your passport and a letter from employer (probably not necessary though)
- "Normally" what portion of the monthly salary goes to rental? i.e. expat scenario
approx 30% roughly for people I know in same position as you (VP in IB), less for some guys who live in a smelly shoebox with no view. I am sure heaps of people on this forum use a much lesser proportion. Dont forget the rental allowance that essentially gives you rent (almost) tax free. Even if they dont give you housing allowance, you can elect to take a portion of your salary as 'rental allowance' you still get paid the same, but dont get taxed as much on the rental proportion
3. Package Negotiation
- A Hong Kong Agent put me forward for this role while I'm based in London. The job offers deem to be a local hired but with relocation assistance. For a VP within an investment bank, (I know this is an open question) what is an acceptable relocation assistance. A rough idea will do? i.e. what's should be on the table.
Business class flights over for you and family. Move everything for you, door to door shipping. Tax assistance in UK & HK for yr 1. rental commission paid for. English speaking relocation agent to show you around and give tour, hints and tips etc. Approx 10K USD 'settling in allowance' (sounds lots, but needed to buy furniture, rental deposit, curtains, electrical appliances etc)
- How many annual holiday do you get in Hong Kong?
4 weeks but they have lots of public holidays here, both chinese holidays eg CNY and christian holidays xmas, easter.
Enjoy, and good luck with your move.