I love Hong Kong and so do my kids. But of course there are some drawbacks worth to share with you. I interviewed some expats from all over the world living in different places in Hong Kong and here is our list of drawbacks (maybe not so surprising, but its the truth..):
- Air pollution – Number one problem is Hong Kong’s air quality. Although not as bad as in some other cities in China (Beijing, Shanghai etc.), but Hong Kong’s air pollution is the biggest drawback according to expats. At first you might not be bother too much, but when you spend more time in the city, you’ll see and feel how it effects you. Although the government tries to implement measurements to improve the quality and most people buy air purifiers, it’s something you have to deal with. There are many apps and indexes to check the daily situation.
- Overcrowded – Hong Kong can be crowded, really crowded. It’s the worlds number 4 most densely populated country and with some areas having more than 57.000 people per km2, you could figure that on an average crossing in Central or Kowloon during lunch time or using the MTR during rush hour it can feel like your packed like sardines in a can. However, Hong Kong is a well-organized city and for big public events (like New Years firework) there will be crowed control measures in place. But the good side is, they get things organized. The Hong Kongers love to line up for anything, like a bus or for some food and in general they obey traffic rules. And if you feel you need some space and air, you can always go to one of the many islands or country parks.
- Expensive – Although you get used to the pricelevel, most newcomers won’t believe their first supermarket receipt and you might need some time to take in on your 12 US Dollar beer. It is one of the most expensive cities for expats in the world, especially when it comes to rents and schooling. Read my blog for more details and your options to beat the HK dollar.
- Finding a job outside the ” expat sectors” – For expats having a background in finance, property and law there is a lot of work. Especially the banks and consulting firms are know for hiring foreigners. However it seems a bit more difficult for people outside those professions to find a job, since most companies require fluency in Cantonese or Mandarin.
- Long working hours – Be prepared for long working hours. Although officially hours tend to be from 9.00 am to 18.00 pm, not everyone is able to leave the office by then. It is said that Hong Kong has the longest working hours in the world and a work week of 5,5 days (including half day on Saturday) is not unlikely. So check the expectations of your new boss when accepting an offer.