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Hong Kong - Expats

Hong Kong is one of the world’s most popular expat hubs. Even before expatriation became popular, there were many foreigners moving to Hong Kong thanks to the country’s status as a British colony and a member of the Commonwealth. Today, not only do many expats travel to Hong Kong to teach English as a Second Language, many foreign countries relocate their employees to Hong Kong to work in the financial or technological sector.

Although Hong Kong is one of the most expensive cities for expats in the world, many expats are relocated by their current companies and offered substantial benefit packages that help alleviate the financial burden. Those being relocated, as well as those new hires coming on, are often met with a benefits package that includes a high salary, health insurance, school tuition for dependents, and a housing allowance. The housing allowance is of particular importance since the cost of housing in Hong Kong is very high.

The majority of the expats in Hong Kong are British, followed closely by the Canadians, Americans, and Australians. Expats appear to find Hong Kong friendly, modern, and unique. The tolerance of different nationalities and religions makes it one of the more open Asian countries, despite the fact that it still maintains some of its conservative Chinese values.

Expats are divided and live all over the city. Throughout the city, there are different areas that appeal to people for various reasons. Some expats prefer to be in the Mid-Levels, for instance, where there is an abundance of shops, restaurants, and nightlife and a close proximity to the business district. However, those with families and pets often like Discovery Bay for its openness and greener feel.

Still, expats can be found throughout Hong Kong is all of the areas and where you decide to live usually depends on budget, employment location, and your particular housing needs. Some areas are more expensive than others and for what you might pay in one area for a small apartment you might be able to get a larger townhouse in another.

For many families, the international school that their children will be attending is the deciding factor when it comes to where they will live. International schools do tend to have long wait lists, however, so it can be important to sign your child up as soon as possible. Some families have found that they must adjust their ideal location around the school that has availability.

Cantonese is the main language but Mandarin is spoken as well. Knowing a few words in the language can help expats feel more comfortable in the city. If you’re interested in learning the local language then enrolling at one of the language schools can be helpful. You might also check with your place of employment, too, to see if they offer such services. Most courses run for around 4-6 weeks and cover basic words and phrases, sentence structures, and idioms. Although English is widely spoken, especially in the tourist areas and business sector, it is helpful to know a little bit of the language and residents of Hong Kong will appreciate the effort.

Expats are welcome in Hong Kong and, indeed, nearly expected at this point in time. Hong Kong can have a temporary feel for the expat, however, since there is a constant influx of those arriving and just as much of a turnover since many leave every year as well. Although many expats do seek permanent residency in Hong Kong after 7 years, many return to their native countries after they have finished out their contracts.

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.