How much will be paid for?
The first thing that needs to be established is exactly what allowances and reimbursements are included in the financial package offered by the employer for your new position. In former times, the vast majority of expats arrived here with a basic salary plus an abundance of additional items that were paid for separately by the company, including rent, school fees, annual air fares, utility costs, medical care and all repatriation costs. Senior personnel would also have a car and driver provided. Nowadays, many companies prefer to include all these allowances in an all-in “umbrella” package, thus saving administrative costs and leaving the employees to make their own arrangements accordingly. Some companies however, will still provide an additional one off 'relocation allowance' to cover the cost of removals, fees, deposits, fitting-out costs, and so forth.
- Birth certificates for all members of the family
- Marriage certificate
- Children’s school records
- Driving licences
- Medical and dental records
- Tax records
- Insurance records – evidence of previous car insurance can reduce costs
- Medicines – most prescribed medicines can be found here, but perhaps under a different commercial name. Make sure you know the generic name or contents of any vital medications.
- Measurements of any significant pieces of furniture in your shipment that might be hard to fit into a smaller home.
- Any smaller precious items the children are emotionally attached to – other than their grandparents, of course!
If there is enough space in the air freight, consider also bringing basic kitchen equipment and bed linen, towels and the like. Only bring electrical equipment that is 220volts, 50 hertz, otherwise cumbersome transformers will be necessary.
Housing in general
The largest monthly outgoing will be the rent for your new home. Newcomers to Hong Kong are not advised to buy property here on arrival - it is usually assumed that your stay here will be for a limited number of years and the financial advantages of purchasing can take several years to become viable. Also, it’s tough choosing a home here - the thought that it’s only a rental, and that you can move easily in a couple of years if you get it wrong, is indeed a comfort.
In due course, if you stay long enough and market conditions suit, you may think about buying your own home, or even a smaller investment property to let out, but on first arriving, play safe and rent until you understand Hong Kong thoroughly. One of the prime reasons for the high cost of property - both sale and rental - here is a simple matter of supply and demand. There are a vast number of people wanting to live on a severely restricted area of land. The natural shoreline of Hong Kong Island is a narrow strip of relatively flat land leading to soaring, steep hills.
There has been a huge amount of reclamation of coastal bays, but this is chiefly for mass housing projects which do little to relieve our expat problems! So please be prepared to live in smaller homes, with little or no outdoor space, but be assured - millions of families before you have made the adjustment, and gone on to live here most happily for many, many years.
And there are significant compensations - you may have a truly stunning seaview instead of a front yard, you’ll meet extraordinary people from many different walks of life, all with stories to tell, you’ll travel to exotic and wonderful places, and your children will learn so much more about life than a school can ever teach them.