If you’re looking for a job in Hong Kong or are planning on working in Hong Kong, you probably have a bucket of questions about how to find work in the city. Below are the top questions asked by expats who are looking for a job in Hong Kong and planning to move here. If you feel something should be added to this FAQ, drop me an email and I’ll try and work it in.
What Type of Jobs Are Open to Expats in Hong Kong?
Unless you speak Cantonese fluently, you’ll find there are only a limited number of professions and jobs open to English speaking expats. The major areas include banking and finance, teaching, media and hospitality. These all require varying levels of qualifications and experience, and in some areas expats are slowly being squeezed out in favour of locals and mainland immigrants. You can find out more about each industries qualification and educational requirements, as well as general advice on how easy it is to get employed in our What Jobs Are Available for Expats in Hong Kong article.
How Do I Find a Job in Hong Kong?
Although Hong Kong has a reputation as an expat playground, it can be surprisingly difficult to secure employment in the city. Most of the expats working in Hong Kong have actually been transferred here by their company. Finding work for the lone expat is much more difficult, starting, as they do, with a language disadvantage in an incredibly competitive job market. There are however a number of online and print databases and resources that are dedicated to expats looking for work. Take a look at our full How to Find a Job in Hong Kong article for a list and discussion on each resource.
How Do I Get a Hong Kong Work Visa?
Obtaining a Hong Kong Work Visa is more difficult that ever, with the Immigration Service increasingly stringent in assessing applications. The criteria for qualifying for a Hong Kong Work Visa are somewhat opaque, but the first thing you need to do is secure a job offer. You then need to satisfy a number of criteria to be granted a work visa, the most important of which are your educational background and the qualities you offer over a local employee. You can find a full blow-by-blow guide to the process and the pitfalls in our Work Visa in Hong Kong Guide.
Is Hong Kong Really Tax Free?
No, not quite. That said, Hong Kong is annually voted as the world’s freest economy and the city is free from sales tax, capital gains tax and VAT. Income tax is also very low, with the highest rate set at 20% for those earning HK$105,000 and more. You can find out more in our article Understanding Hong Kong’s Taxes.
What Is Life Like in Hong Kong?
In a word, frantic. New York and London might claim to be twenty four hours, but you haven’t seen a city tick around the clock until you’ve seen Hong Kong. Shops and markets regularly stay open until 11p.m., with restaurants opening until the early hours of the morning. Working hours are long and stressful, with a five and a half day work week that includes Saturday morning. The official working day runs from 9p.m. until 6p.m, but in reality most office workers stay until 8p.m. or later. Apartments are pricey and small.
In return for the above, you’ll living in one of the world’s most exciting cities; you’ll find outstanding food, amazing sights and all night parties. The city is undoubtedly stressful, but if you enjoy the buzz of being in a city full of energy where decisions make a world impact, you’ll love Hong Kong. This is also a great place to put a bulge in your bank account. Find out more in our Picture Tour of Daily Life in Hong Kong.
What About Finding an Apartment in Hong Kong?
They’re easy to find, but less easy to pay for. Landlords are notoriously demanding in Hong Kong and rental prices are some of the highest in the world. You’ll generally be expected to part with two months rent as a security deposit and to hand over at least half a months rent to the agent who finds your flat. You should also be prepared for high rise, small space living; in Hong Kong square metres are at a premium.
While looking for an apartment, many expats plump for a serviced apartment rather than a hotel, which offers favourable rates for long term stays of two weeks or more. Serviced apartments also offer more of a homely feel than a hotel. Check out our Top Five Serviced Apartments.