Although I am quite aware that there are many people who move to Hong Kong without having been there before, I strongly believe everyone would benefit from a ‘look-see’ visit. These kind if visits, which might be sponsored by your employer, gives as it says a chance to have a look to see how everyday life in Hong Kong can be for you. And even if you might have read every single book or blog on being an expat in Hong Kong, it is not the same as experiencing the city yourself.
Let’s be clear, a look-see pre-visit is not a sightseeing trip nor a mini holiday. You are on a mission to embrace the city, to see it’s pro’s and con’s in order to answer the most important question: ” Can we see ourselves living there?” And to be honest, if you don’t prepare your visit, you won’t get much out of it. You have only a short time in a huge city, so plan ahead, make appointments if needed and do some research so you know what you want to learn and see these couple of days.
What should be on your to-do list?
- Start with a general orientation. Buy a map of the city. Spend the morning on Hong Kong island and go to the Peak to see the city from above. Wonder around Central and go later to Kowloon to explore this busy part of the city. Get an idea of how the transport system works (MTR, taxi, bus, ferry) and try some local food.
- Locate your new work place and visit it. Go from there to visit a few neighbourhoods you might want to live. Take some time to walk around and focus on what would be important for you when you would live there. Don’t walk around like a tourist, but as potential residents, how would your day-to-day life look like if you would live here? If you could have your hotel in the area it would be even better.
- And although attempting, don’t go house hunting straight away. Take first some time to explore the areas and then get an agent to show you some flats. Note that most likely it is not possible to arrange your flat on your pre-visit, simply because landlords require you to take the property straight away. Your agent can advise you on this. However knowing where you want to stay (even sometimes the building) safes you much time the moment you arrive here for real.
- Visit several stores, markets and shopping malls to determine the availability and prices of products. Are specific products in your diary available? Are you able to buy shoes and cloths in your size? Should you bring your furniture and appliances or better buy it in Hong Kong? Should you take extra cost into your budget for buying certain products or food.
- Locate and visit prospective schools. In previous blogs I wrote about schooling in Hong Kong and the importance of starting early. So allow some time to visit the school and make appointments to prevent disappointments.
- If you have specific hobbies, check where you could perform them and you might want to visit the clubs to see the facilities, prices and in some cases admission procedures.
- Visit pharmacies to check if certain medication is available in Hong Kong.
- Eat in some local restaurants to see if you like the food. Or look for your favourite food and I am sure Hong Kong has a good restaurant for you.
In the end the pre-visit is about getting a feeling of how life can be for you in Hong Kong. The best way is to learn from others. Locals and expats are more than willing to help you and to tell you about their life in Hong Kong. Connect and meet them via social media. Or alternatively I organize also pre-visit tours and will help you get the most out of your ‘look-see visit’.