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Planning a move...so many questions!

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Planning a move...so many questions!

    Hi all,

    I'm a late 20s single bloke from the UK. Londoner by birth but I despise the place, so I've lived around the South West for the past several years. Currently in Bristol.

    I've been in executive search for the past five years which fortunately makes expat jobs in most places relatively easy to come by. I have an interview lined up and a couple of others in the pipeline.

    Why I want to move, and why Hong Kong:
    - It's next to impossible to truly get ahead in the UK (especially outside of London, and I refuse to live there again) - no matter how much I earn, so much of it gets taken away in taxes and I'm fed up of my money being constantly devalued by quantitative easing. The only way to really get ahead here is through entrepreneurship, which is my ultimate plan anyway but I want to save up some serious cash first for a mini-retirement and then my business venture.
    - Related to above - to save lots of money. Pay in Hong Kong looks far superior and especially with opportunity to earn, given the business opportunities within the region.
    - The place has always fascinated me. And it's clear as day that Asia is ascendant while the West is declining, perhaps terminally. Best start internationalising now.

    I have a couple of friends in Kowloon too (locals, but went to university in the UK).

    Salary-wise, basic salary for what I'm looking at from what I can gather at this early stage will be between 420,000-600,000HKD...most likely in the 480-550 region. OTE another 600,000+ on top at the minimum. But as far as I'm concerned the commission is for saving, not for spending. I want to live a comfortable and pleasant lifestyle on the basic salary alone and save everything else. I've been reckless with my money and have nothing to show for all these years I've worked. That has to stop, right now. If I can leave HK in 3-4 years with £six figures in the bank to finance a mini-retirement somewhere peaceful and then my future business ventures, after having an amazing experience in HK, then I'll consider that a massive success.

    So what kind of life will I be able to afford within that range? I value having a nice home in a place where I can generally walk everywhere I want to go (especially with convenience for gym and socialising), although I know that's extremely unlikely to happen in HK. One of the things I really hated about London life was how lonely and isolating it was because everyone is spread out all over the place and it takes forever to get anywhere. At the moment I rent an amazing 850sq.ft. apartment in central Bristol for £970/month including council tax. Midlevels places looked a third of the size at twice the price. What are the best compromises to look for in the general 15-25K HKD range, and would that leave enough for a good lifestyle afterwards?

    Otherwise, I like to go out and have a good time but not to spend money for the sake of it. I rarely buy things that can't be eaten, drunk or read. I have niggling health issues on account of arthritis from an old motorbike accident which are much easier to keep at bay with regular personal training and physio, so if I can afford that in addition to general healthy living considerations it will improve my quality of life immensely.

    I have a desktop PC (for gaming) with decent sized desk, if I ship that across will I find I have nowhere to put it? Do I need to get a laptop instead? Most of the newbuild apartments I looked at in Bristol were too small to house my computer. For that matter I have a lot of books and a fair few DVDs too, will I have to get rid?

    I have a pre-existing condition requiring expensive medication...does employers' health insurance usually cover this or am I likely to be funding it out of my own pocket?

    I also love motorcycling. I'm aware days out riding aren't exactly going to be the same in HK, being a small island, but if I did decide to buy a bike, is it prohibitively expensive and is it feasible to keep a bike living on Hong Kong Island or would I need to live further afield to do that? For that matter should I bring my leathers and riding gear over, or sell and buy new? Would it be difficult to get kit that fits properly in HK? I don't have much in the way of family or "home" beyond my own rented place so anything that doesn't come with me needs to be sold or put into storage. Incidentally is it possible to ride/drive into China for day trips/weekends on the road?

    Am I insane? I've never lived overseas or spent any substantial time abroad, but I have moved more than once around the UK knowing nothing and noone because I felt like it and I've never regretted it. I've done a lot of business internationally and I like to keep well informed, so I like to think I'm pretty worldly for the average guy in my kind of situation. I really can't see my future being in the UK long term, I'm already mentally disconnected from the place.

    I'm a little apprehensive about the work culture in Asia, with the added pressure of having to pay the company back for the huge expense of and faith in me for relocating me half way around the world. But nowhere near enough to outweigh the benefits. I have options in Houston and Singapore too, but Houston looks like a sprawled out, disconnected dive and Singapore sounds like my idea of hell (authoritarian nanny/police state). The heart is calling to HK.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
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    Have you ever visited HK? Not a pre requisite (i move d years ago without knowing the place) but i didnt have anything at the time (ie straight out of biz school more or less) so no fancy flats in the heart of Bristol etc etc.

    jimbo likes this.

  3. #3

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    Aug 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by HK2b:
    Am I insane? I've never lived overseas or spent any substantial time abroad
    No - HK is no hardship posting. Although you may struggle to find your favourite dishwasher powder from home.

    New flat sales are taxed rather than salaries hence the tiny flats.

    Good luck

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Nope. I've been too busy working to think of travelling, and when I have it's typically been a motorcycle trip (geographically limiting of course).

    I might be missing something, but the only thing that really concerns me is ending up working non-stop and being constantly exhausted and burned out. I've got pretty used to living in more chilled out places these last few years. But my industry is stressful pretty much wherever in the world you are and I've worked plenty of 10 or 12 hour days in my time so it's probably not hugely different in reality.


  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by HK2b:
    I've worked plenty of 10 or 12 hour days in my time so it's probably not hugely different in reality.
    We do have some 10-12 hour days but the rest are generally normally longer
    bibbju and Skierx like this.

  6. #6

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    Feb 2015
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    Quote Originally Posted by East_coast:
    No - HK is no hardship posting. Although you may struggle to find your favourite dishwasher powder from home.

    New flat sales are taxed rather than salaries hence the tiny flats.

    Good luck
    Nice one. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by East_coast:
    We do have some 10-12 hour days but the rest are generally normally longer
    Ha.
    Last edited by HK2b; 25-02-2015 at 08:06 AM.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    Some answers:

    - HK has public healthcare similar to the NHS. You can get cheap/free healthcare through that, but if you want private doctors and hospitals you need to pay or get health insurance.

    - 15-25K you will struggle to get a nice large apartment walking distance to nightlife (e.g. Mid-Levels, Soho). You will definitely need to compromise on size and possibly location as well.

    - You need to have a lot of self-control. You've said you have been reckless with money to date. HK can be a very expensive place with lots of opportunities to spend on food, going out, clothes, etc. You need to be sure you can resist these temptations if your plan is to save money.

    - Western places (e.g. pubs, bars/restaurants with American or European food) are more expensive than Chinese places. Easy way to save money is to eat more like a local. Are you OK eating Chinese food? I know this might sound like a silly question but I've met expats who have been here for years and never eat local food.


  8. #8

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    Jul 2014
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    Have you got a job lined up? I'd be applying first and then asking questions depending on how the opportunities develop.

    You may find what you expect as a salary may be lower in reality. The days of expat benefits/higher salaries for people from abroad are long gone (well not exactly true but much harder to get nowadays).

    On your estimated salary figures, I honestly think you'll struggle to leave Hong Kong in 3-4 years with 6 figures £££

    Last edited by bravizzel; 25-02-2015 at 10:04 AM.

  9. #9

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    Sounds very familiar

    I'm from Bristol and been out here 7 years now.
    I have a lot of dealings with recruiters and headhunters out here in HK particularly in the IT arena.

    Don't live on HK island if you want to save cash. $16k HK a month gets you a two bedroomed apartment Kowloon side which is 20 minutes from central on the MTR.

    Don't fall for the expat ghetto hype of Mid Levels is where you need to be because it isn't.

    imparanoic, Mrs. Jones and jmbf like this.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo:
    Sounds very familiar

    I'm from Bristol and been out here 7 years now.
    I have a lot of dealings with recruiters and headhunters out here in HK particularly in the IT arena.

    Don't live on HK island if you want to save cash. $16k HK a month gets you a two bedroomed apartment Kowloon side which is 20 minutes from central on the MTR.

    Don't fall for the expat ghetto hype of Mid Levels is where you need to be because it isn't.
    I presume HK$16k in mid levels , you get a 150 sq ft shoebox, HK$16k in Kowloon, let's say hung hom, lai chi kok, you get a 350 sq ft 2 bedroom small apartment, HK$16k in NT town, you will get a 600-700 sq ft apartment probably next to a lot of greenery

    To the OP, do you favor the party life of lan kwai fong on a very regular basis and don't mind living in a shoebox(it's like small area with a lot of clubs with attracts a lot of westerns and some locals), if yes, consider, a place near or on hk island

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