Living in Hong Kong

Living in Hong Kong


Overview

Hong Kong, one of the most fascinating cities in Asia, is a city of contrasts. A melting pot of cultures and traditions of East and West, ancient and modern, Hong Kong is a vibrant metropolis and attracts expatriates from all over the world where people from all backgrounds live side by side.



Useful Information

Banking

Hong Kong is home to many major international banks and local Chinese institutions. The banking system is fast and efficient in handling international and multi-currency operations.

To open a bank account, you need to bring along your Hong Kong identity card or passport, your employment contract or salary proof, a proof of residency, as well as fill in the pertinent bank’s application forms and make a small deposit. You can then transfer moneys from your home bank account to your Hong Kong account easily.

Nearly all banks have Internet banking facilities and offer credit cards. ATMs are found everywhere whereas VISA, MasterCard, AMEX are widely used and accepted.


Climate

The climate of Hong Kong is subtropical, with warm and humid spring, hot and rainy summer, pleasant and sunny autumn, cool and dry winter. In summer months, the temperatures usually exceed 31°C during daytime and remain around 26°C at night, with occasional showers and thunderstorms. In winter months, the temperatures usually range between 10°-20°C and may drop below 10°C in urban areas, with occasional cold fronts followed by dry northerly winds.


Currency

The legal tender in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD or HK$), which is officially linked to the US dollar (USD) at the rate of 7.8 HKD to 1 USD since 1983. The banknotes, vary in design and colour, are denominated in $1000, $500, $100, $50, $20, and $10 banknotes and $10, $5, $2, $1, 50¢, 20¢ and 10¢ coins. Currency can be exchanged at banks and licensed money changers.

It is noteworthy that Octopus is now an integral part of everyday life in Hong Kong. The Octopus Card can be used for transportation and parking, at retail outlets, self-service machines, leisure facilities and schools as well as through online.


Domestic Help

In Hong Kong, domestic help is relatively cheap and reliable. Most families employ a full-time helper, usually from the Philippines or Indonesia. The employment follows strict immigration procedures that a formal contract of two years provided by and registered with the Immigration Department is necessary. The domestic helpers are recognised legally and work in Hong Kong on a foreign domestic helpers’ visa with salary scale fixed by legislation. They work a 6-day week with accommodation being provided by the employer.


Education

The Hong Kong educational system consists of 6 main types of schools, including government schools, subsidised schools, direct subsidy scheme (DSS) schools, private schools, private international schools and the schools run by the English Schools Foundation (ESF). A total of around 50 international schools are operating curricula of the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Germany, France, Singapore and the International Baccalaureate (IB) organisation. Admissions are extremely competitive and may require purchasing monetary debentures.


Language

The Hong Kong government has adopted a biliterate (Chinese and English) and trilingual (Cantonese, Putonghua and English) educational policy. While the majority of people are Chinese speakers, English is widely spoken with all official signs and public transport announcements and most menus are in Chinese and English.


Taxes

Hong Kong is well known for having extremely low income tax rates, ranging from 2 to 17 percent depending on personal circumstances. Residents can also enjoy a fairly generous annual tax free allowance.

In Hong Kong, salary taxes are only focused on income derived from business within Hong Kong. Tax is all done on a personal tax return basis and not pay-as-you-earn. You should also investigate if your home country has a double taxation agreement with Hong Kong, such that you are not liable to pay tax in both Hong Kong and your home country.


Travelling

The public transport system in Hong Kong includes railways, trams, buses, minibuses, taxis and ferries. This is one of the world’s safest, most efficient and frequent public transport system with a convenient payment method in the form of the Octopus Card.

Alternatively holder of an overseas driving licence issued by one of the approved countries or places may apply for a full driving licence by direct issue without test. The full driving licence is issued to those aged 18 and above which is valid for 10 years for those aged 60 or below.

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