Hong Kong Expat
Being a Hong Kong expat is generally a great experience . Whilst the enhanced opportunities, social life and family experiences are usually self-evident, a small minority of relocations are not successful. We’d like to devote some time to explaining the full experience, so you are ready for Hong Kong expat life.
Hong Kong Expat life for Spouses
Most Hong Kong expat families relocate through the main breadwinner’s job, usually the husband’s. Hong Kong for spouses who don’t have full time employment is usually a full social schedule, a domestic helper to take care of the chores and a great adventure.
However, not every spouse finds it easy to settle. They may find that they lack the work-based support with it’s associated social support structure that their partners enjoy, if they aren’t working. If they are introvert, lack disposable income or have no access to mix with like-minded spouses the going may be tough. Some spouses don’t expect to work and some do, only to find that they are unemployable in the world-class job market of Hong Kong. You’ll need to factor this possibility into account if you are budgeting on both partners working in Hong Kong, as well as understanding the life/career implications.
With families and friends many thousands of miles away and a partner working and socializing long hours, the demands of setting up a home can call fall entirely on an unsupported spouse. This situation puts strains on domestic relationships and can, in extreme cases result in the relocation failing.
To minimize the chances of this happening:
- Where possible book the services of an orientation consultant. They will help the trailing partner adapt to Hong Kong for spouses and their families. Some real estate agents offer a similar service, but their primary driver is to lease you a property, not get you settled.
- Do your research and prepare for the move prior to arrival. Know what you need to arrange (schools, accommodation, Hong Kong ID cards etc.) and understand what Hong Kong expat life for spouses means.
- Get out and meet people independently and as a couple.
- Join a social club, a gym and enroll in orientation courses at the YWCA.
As a Hong Kong expat you may have memberships, or friends with memberships, at clubs and associations for working and non-working spouses, like the Ladies Recreation Club (Tel: +852 2522 0151), The Helena May, American Women’s Association or Women’s Forum. Specialist Women’s magazines such as The List are a useful source of information.
Most people soon get into the ‘networking’ culture. Everyone is either in the same situation or will remember being in that situation themselves. You’ll soon build up a broad range of social contacts that will soon keep you as occupied as you want to be. Don’t expect people to come to you though – you have to get out and participate. You will find that you’ll be meeting new people throughout your stay in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong expat life can be quite a transient, with many executives only on a 2-3 year secondment. Every year some of your friends will depart and there will be new arrivals to take their place. In no time people will be looking to you for advice!