Once the decision to relocate to Hong Kong has been made, you face the challenge of leaving your known everyday life behind and reestablish yourself and your family in a new, exiting, but different place. Hong Kong is a truly international city so the vast majority of norwegians in Hong Kong find the transition easy and, thanks to the international community, find great value in being able to choose exactly how exotic you want your everyday life to be.
Of course, if you have a budget for it, having someone with local expertise as well as experience in helping Scandinavian families and companies with the relocation to Hong Kong will give you the easiest transfer and help you avoid the potential pitfalls in the process. Please contact the following of our members to see what assistance they can offer you during your relocation:
If is not an option, please find some advice we have collected from Norwegian members that already have walked this path ahead you.
What you should know about moving to Hong Kong
Please note that the following advice are collected and given with good intentions and that the Norwegian Chamber of Comerce Hong Kong will not accept any liability from anyone that follows the advice without confirming facts and requirements with the appropriate auhtorities.
Norwegians do not require a visa to enter Hong Kong for a duration of not more than 3 months, but employment and study are prohibited. In order to take up employment in Hong Kong an employment visa or an investment visa is required. Visa applications may be submitted at the Chinese Embassy in Oslo, by mail directly to the Hong Kong Immigration Department or through a sponsor in Hong Kong. The processing time takes about 4-6 weeks. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 may accompany the visa holder and they are free to take up employment or education in Hong Kong. You are normally not allowed to obtain an employment visa while staying in Hong Kong as a visitor. So, make sure your employment visa as well as your family’s dependent visa’s applied for and granted before you arrive in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong ID card
The resident Hong Kong ID card, of HKID, is a credit card sized ID card you will get issued 4-6 weeks after your work visa is approved. This is the ID you will need for all public offices, banks and other services. This ID card will also be used instead of your Norwegian passport when entering and leaving Hong Kong.
When that is said Hong Kong is a city that lives on a constant flow of international professionals and commerce which is shown by how easy it is to get the fundamental services set up. Most institutions like public offices, banks, real estate agents, telecom and internet providers and hospitals will accept your norwegian passport (with approved Hong Kong work visa) as ID, enabling you get all necessary services and contracts in place without the wait for a local ID number.
This is maybe the most important item you need to have sorted BEFORE you arrive in Hong Kong, but it is often overlooked by norwegians as this is a non issue in Norway.
Getting a school for your kids is unfortunatley not a straight forward task in Hong Kong and is reported to be the hardest challenge when relocating. Most expatriates will need to send their kids to a private international school as local public schools require knowledge of Cantonese before they accept a pupil. Bear in mind that a lot of the international schools require prior knowledge of english before accepting students, so especially if you have kids 6-10 years old, finding a school can be a challenge if you leave it too late.
The choice of school also have further implications. First off, the tutoring fee in private schools can be substantial and an expense not in your current family budget. Knowing this monthly expense is important to include when planning your economy while you live in Hong Kong. Furthermore each school will only accept applications from families that lives within its school district, this is an area around the schools location that can vary significantly in size. Only with a proof of address within the school district are you eliglible to apply. So the school you choose also have a bearing on where you need to look for an appartment.
This process may take some time, but once enrolled, your children will enjoy education on very high international level.
Hong Kong is a city of sky scrapers and more than likely your new home will be a flat in a high rise of 25 or most likely a lot more floors.
Normal tenancy agreements in Hong Kong runs with fixed price over 2 years, usually with an initial quarantine period of 14 months, during which you will loose the 2-3 months deposit if you want to terminate the contract. After the 14 months, both parts can commonly terminate the contract with advance notice equal to the number of months rent paid in deposit.
Cost of housing, especially in Hong Kong’s central areas, is expensive, and finding the right flat and commit to a 2 year contract may seem a daunting task on top of everything else you need to arrange to set up in a new place. Hong Kong has a very extensive offering of serviced apartments where you for slightly higher rent can move into fully furnished and serviced apartments for some weeks or months until you have settled in. This is a solution many expatriates choose to get to know the city and the different areas before they decide where to live.
Getting an bank account when arriving in Hong Kong is very simple. Most banks will open an account for you using your Norwegian passport (with approved Hong Kong work visa) as identification until you get you local Hong Kong ID. Most will give you an account with internet banking, check book (which is still widely used in Hong Kong) and a debit card even without having your salary credited to the same account.
If you want a local credit card you must usually have regular salary deposits to the account, or pay in and maintain an minimum balance in the account of 2 times the credit limit of the credit card.
As a holder of a norwegian driving license you are automatically eligible for a Hong Kong driving license. Get an approved translation of your Norwegian drivers license before you leave Norway and remember to bring the original lisence and you can get a Hong Kong driving lisence issued by the Transport department as soon as you get your HKID.
Hong Kong has a range of very good public as well as private hospitals. The level of health care in Hong Kong is on par with the best in the world and level of care as well as cost are regularly spoken very well off, even by norwegians. Hospitals in Hong Kong will commonly charge the fee for the treatment as you leave, unless it is a planned procedure and particularly if it is a private hospital this may be a significant sum, but all hospitals in Hong Kong are recognized by norwegian health insurers and refunds for medical costs are usually a straight forward task, a task you will have to do to cover your medical expenses none the less.
Internet and telecom services are very similar to what you will find in Norway. The biggest providers are:
- Cable TV & Internet: PCCW , Icable
- Cell phone: Vodaphone, 3, CSL
A wide selection of gyms are available all over Hong Kong. In newer and larger apartment complexes you will also find gym and swimming pools freely available for use by the tenants.
The biggest Gyms in Hong Kong are: Fitness First, California fitness and Pure. In addition to these there are an incredible range of small and large yoga centers and specialised offerings in sports and fitness. This of course in addition to team sports football, Rugby, Cricket, Volleyball.
Hiking: Despite the general impression, Hong Kong actually have large areas of country parks and mountains. It has a large network of hiking trails that are easily accessible and well marked. Hiking is by no means a hobby you will need to give up when moving to Hong Kong.
Beaches: Hong Kong offers a wide range of white beaches, many of them within only half an hour travel from the city centre.
Water activities: With its more than 200 islands Hong Kong is of course the perfect spot for water activities. Diving, wake boarding, rowing, sailing or just a leisurely cruise on a junk is all easily available and you can find a club for almost all water sports.