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Moving to HK from Tokyo

  1. #1
    sugalump is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Moving to HK from Tokyo

    I have been living in Tokyo for the past 2yrs (I am from UK) and am currently weighing up the options of moving back to the london or to HK. If we moved to HK it would be for 3yrs (this is standard length of overseas placements for my husbands work).
    Life in Tokyo in some ways is great, we have a great flat and better standard of living than we did back in london but the language is a bit of an issue and making friends here is difficult. The main problem is work - my only option is to teach english which I chose not to do (the hours don't suit and the pay is rubbish anyway). So I have been studying instead which I enjoy but I really miss working and part of me thinks if I dont get a job soon no one will ever employ me again! Tokyo essentially feels like a bit of a bubble not real life. I kinda think I need to change that hence the decision to move.

    So I guess I have a couple of questions about life in HK.
    Is it relatively easy to find a job? I used to work in the public sector (health) and am guessing this is covered by the local job market but could do secretarial/admin work etc
    To complicate things I am pregnant (just) so if everything goes ok might be looking for part time work - is this easy to come by or is HK working culture not that flexible?
    Have you found it easy to make friends?
    Do you feel settled and part of HK or still feel like an outsider?
    Is language ever an issue? I have been to HK a few times and everyone spoke english but wonder day to day if you have problems as an english only speaker
    Does the weather bother you? (sorry everytime I watch CNN HK is always cloudy/smoggy!)

    Moving to HK would probably be best for my husbands career and financially better but I am worried that it could essentially ruin my chances of ever having one! (funny I wasn't that fussed about a career when we packed our bags 2 yrs ago). Maybe life in HK would be amazing and life in london in reality be filled of long commutes and mortgage payments but 3 more years seems like a very long time especially if it doesnt work out.

    Anyway any advice/comments would be appreciated because I keep changing my mind!


  2. #2
    LeahH is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Hong Kong, Mid Levels
    Personally, I would absolutely move to HK. We were in London for 12 years prior to moving here and while I will always love the UK, Hong Kong is VERY kind to you - especially with kids. We arrived with none and have had two here.

    I have also lived and worked in Osaka so understand what you mean about the language/isolation/general issues that go with expat life in Japan.

    HK couldn't be more different in that regard. Making friends is super easy, the expat community is very open and there are many different ways to get out there and develop a network of girlfriends. Helpers/childcare mean you can go out far more easily with friends and your husband than you would get to do in the UK.

    English is spoken everywhere so language is not a problem at all.

    I absolutely feel settled and we will be here for the foreseeable future. The only downside is that close friends can return home or get relocated, a factor of expat life everywhere I guess. We also have friends in the local community, it's harder to make local friends - but not impossible.

    Cant help on the health sector job front as we came here with my job in financial services. However, a lot of women I know have developed their own businesses here, part or full time. Affordable childcare is a big bonus from that perspective.

    As to the weather - humidity is pretty awful, but Japan is just as bad (actually I seem to remember the summers being worse). Pollution is the one big issue - no getting around it. But, on balance, when compared to the no-summer, freezing winters of the UK I am happy enough.

    Hope that helps!

  3. #3
    sugalump is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    thanks for the advice

  4. #4
    Singstar is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Olympic, Kowloon
    Hi Sugalump

    I agree with most of what LeahH says. We have been in HK for just over a year (from the UK) and so am happy to share some of my experiences:

    In terms of getting a job out here if you are married you are entitled to a dependant visa and therefore you have very limited restrictions on finding work. In terms of the health sector I am not an expert but friends in the health sector here say that you need to be able to speak and write Chinese - although I guess it depends on your role and level. There are jobs out here but I wouldn't say they are plentiful (I worked here for the first 6 months but my contract was not extended) and it may take time to find the right one - but if you are determined then you can get one. As for part time or flexible work - Hong Kong is really behind the UK in its thinking and I wouldn't say there are loads of part time or flexible working options.

    Making friends here is relatively easy - but yes people are constantly moving away (we have already had three friends leave) - so you need to be able to make new friends all the time.

    I do think the language can be an issue - although not a major one (and am guessing compared to Japan it is way easier) - but it depends where you choose to live - I live Kowloon side so there are less westerners but over all have not had too many problems :)

    Yes - the weather does bother me - compared to the UK the weather is so different - there is a lot of pollution but you get used to it and also there are lots of areas you can go to where you can get away from the hustle and bustle and get some fresh air.

    Hope this helps - good luck with your decision!

  5. #5
    cesh is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Hong Kong
    having been an expat living in London and an expat here in Hong Kong, I find it sooo much easier to make friends here, even without kids.
    I am now on a dependant visa and have absolutely no restrictions on the work I do. I used to work for a local expat-owned company full time and now work as a freelancer purely by choice - no issues with visa there (I work in media). Also planning to start my own company soon - again no issue. I did consider English teaching and got myself trained, but haven't needed to use it so far as just like Japan it pays rubbish. What area of the health sector are you involved in? Some people I know who are practitioners in things like physio can work part time without issues. If you are more of an administrator I think it does depend at which level you are before language becomes an issue. The healthcare system here is largely based on that of the UK, so it may be worth checking out opportunities or limitations anyway. There's always something to do here thought whether you work or not.
    Being an English-only speaker hasn't been an issue for me. I have started to learn bits of Cantonese but it's not necessary - just an interest.
    The pollution can be a bit yucky, but from my memories of living in London - let's just say I can blow my nose here without painting the tissue black!
    3 years can scream by in a flash - we've been here for over 2 years now and I can't believe how fast it's gone.
    The healthcare system here is certainly better than that I experienced in the UK (public and private), and I get to see a lot more of my husband here thanks to much shorter commute times.
    We do pay higher rent than we did in London, but things like taxis are much cheaper.

    Hope that helps give you an idea of what it's like for us.

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