Hong Kong Relocation
The key to a successful Hong Kong relocation is preparation. You need to prepare for the life you expect and for the eventualities that you may encounter. Essential preparation for your Hong Kong relocation includes:
Prepare the family for your Hong Kong relocation:
- You know that your life will be different in various ways, so prepare accordingly.
- You are likely to be living in an apartment smaller than your current home.
- Schools and other factors may be ‘unkowns’ or ‘works in progress’. Be flexible and expect setbacks.
- Make lists; organisations you need to contact prior to departure in your home country (e.g. insurances, investments and tax affairs); organisations you need to contact prior to and on arrival in Hong Kong; what to leaves/take/buy etc.; moving your pet.
Prepare for the short term or unexpected:
- If you are taking a Hong Kong relocation as a job transfer, what is your exit route once you have served your expected time, or if the family doesn’t settle? Who pays for what, under what circumstances?
- If your family members in your home country were to experience a major life event, have you considered the implications?
- If the trailing spouse expects to find work in Hong Kong and can’t, what are the implications?
Prepare for the long term:
- If your Hong Kong relocation was to last longer than expected, what would the implications be for your family, tax, insurances, state/company pension, investments, children’s education, will/probate/guardianship etc. be?
- If you have kept a property, vehicle, items in storage, investments requiring supervision in your home country it may not be easy to deal with those affairs or wind them up if you don’t go back when anticipated. What would you do?
Prepare the family emotionally for the Hong Kong relocation:
- How will the family keep in touch with friends and family in the home country after a Hong Kong relocation? Set up Skype accounts before you leave and get everyone up, running and using such services before you leave.
- Talk to your children about the changes in friends, culture, environment and lifestyle involved in a Hong Kong relocation. Mum and Dad may be out a lot more. There may be a domestic helper at home. There may be less bread and more rice on the menu.
- The breadwinner may be supported through work, with high professional demands and certain temptations. The trailing spouse may experience loneliness, particularly if they expect new friends to knock at the door (they won’t). They will have to deal with many issues alone, which will create jealousy and emotional pressures which need to be anticipated and discussed.
- New boundaries and expectations need to be agreed, for all the family. A Hong Kong relocation is a world-class opportunity only if everyone benefits and the family continues stronger and enriched by the experience than before.
Prepare financially for the Hong Kong relocation
You will need to budget for:
- HK tax retrospectively for your first year and in advance for your second year. Although Hong Kong taxation is relatively low, paying tax for two years at once needs to be budgeted for. Additionally, US citizens will be paying domestic tax and will need to be aware of double-taxation provisions. Local banks provide loans for paying Hong Kong tax, subject to acceptance.
- 3.5 months apartment rental, to cover deposits, advance rent and agents fees.
- 2 months school fees as a deposit, plus monies for nomination rights (if applicable) and a laptop(s).
- Curtains, handymen to fit up shelving/ceiling fans etc. and associated fittings will be a one-off cost. Will your furniture fit and will your appliances work?
- If you are paying for shipping and other relocation costs, to reclaim them later you will need access to additional cost or credit.
- Overheads related to your affairs in your country of origin, e.g. covering the mortgage until it is rented or sold.
Unfortunately, if you are taking a job with a new employer in Hong Kong, you are likely to be taking it on the same terms as a local, which means you will be completely responsible for these costs. Be prepared!