A few months ago, I decided to move to Hong Kong from my lifelong residence of Cincinnati, Ohio. I had recently reconnected (on Facebook) with a cute girl from my high school homeroom whom I actually hadn’t seen in person since 85. Since I’ve never been wedded, have no kids and run my very own internet company that allows me to work from anywhere in the world, I decided to make an initial visit to check it out. It only required a few days to realize that I wanted to live in Hong Kong.
After extending my two 7 days visit to four weeks, I returned back to the states to tie up a few reduce ends. I sold or provided away most of my personal belongings and reduced my possessions to what might snugly fit into two suitcases. Getting 43 years old and having your existence reduced to what fits into two suitcases was a surreal and amazingly liberating. A month later, I was away to Discovery Bay in Hk for a new life experience. For anyone who is considering making such a move, I would really like to share a few observations and recommendations.
Currency: The Hong Kong government utilizes “Honk Kong Dollars”. If you’re used to US currency, making the transition is actually quite easy. The current exchange rate is approximately 7. 8%. In simple terms, this means that a pack of cigarettes that costs HK $39. 00 means about $5. 00 in the states. Since I’m not really sharp when it comes to math, I found an easy way to convert HÄSTKRAFTER dollars to US dollars. Parenthetically you see a pizza on a menus that is HK $100. 00. What is the value of this in US dollars? The things i find to be an easy way to transform is to first determine what 10% of the price is. In this case, 10% of $100. 00 is $10. 00. Then, I add about 25% of the $10. 00, which is $2. 50. So , the pizza that costs HK $100. 00 is about $12. 50 in US dollars. If want to buy flat screen television that is on sale for HK $8000. 00, I take 10% from the 8k, which is $800. 00. Then, I add 25%of the $800. 00 which is $200. 00. So , the HK $8000. 00 level screen television is about $1000. 00 US dollars.
Another thing to remember regarding Hong Kong is that there is no sales taxes. In addition , tipping in restaurants is usually rare. It seems strange at first to not tip or to just leave the change behind for the service, yet servers and bartenders in Hk are usually paid a nice salary or hourly wage – unlike in the us. Try leaving a $5. 00 tip for a $200. 00 dinner in a New York restaurant and see what goes on!
Transportation: Many adults in Hk have never driven a car. They merely don’t need to. Hong Kong is wonderful since it is such an orderly and organized town. Mass transportation is safe, clean, practical and very affordable. It is very easy to get a taxi, take the subway (known as the “MTR”), take a ferry or visit a bus. Even though Hong Kong can be part of China, it is overflowing with English-speaking ex-pats from all over the world. As a result, 99% of the signs are in English, which makes it extremely easy to get around. The not-so-obvious advantage of Hong Kong’s mass transportation system is that when you’re not driving, you are able to do other things such as read, check out email, nap, etc . This is a massive stress-reducer that most people don’t think about. Imagine having an extra two hrs to yourself each day!
Hiking: I currently live in Discovery Bay, that is a community on Lantau Island. We often compare DB to Hawaii and downtown Hong Kong to Nyc. In other words, I get to experience the most of both worlds. The great thing about living here is that we can hike all over the tropical isle to different communities, many of which are quite Chinese and relatively primitive. If you value the outdoors and love to be active, there are countless opportunities to get out of the city and experience Chinese culture on foot.
Proximity to other countries: I’m used to living in Ohio, which is pretty much land-locked. Hk, on the other hand is very close to mainland China, Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. Many people that I have experienced in Hong Kong are very world-traveled. It’s not uncommon to meet people who have visited ten, 15 or 20 countries. In only a few months here, I’ve made close friends from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, South Africa and Baltimore. It really is a melting pot every now and then is never a dull moment.
Residency: When you enter Hong Kong, immigration stamps your passport which allows you to visit the region for 90 days. If you plan on staying longer, there are several ways to become a resident. If your company in the states sends you here for business, you’re good to go with a work visa. If you are right here and are hired by a company, you will enjoy a work visa as well. If you are planning on starting a business, you will need to present your plan to immigration and obtain an “investment visa”. Don’t do this by yourself. Contact or visit the Hong Kong Business Development Council (HKTDC) and they will introduce you to an accounting firm who specializes in presenting business plans for approval to immigration. If you meet a resident and you fall in love, then you can certainly stay for good if you’re married!
Residing in Hong Kong is awesome. My only feel dissapointed about is that I waited 43 years to venture out of my rut in Ohio.
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It’s never too late to set off on a new lifetime adventure. Life is short, so if you possess always had the desire to explore could be planet, consider checking out Hong Kong. It’s different, but not so different that the culture shock will be too much to take care of.