Your Expat Relocation Guide to Living in Hong Kong

By: Habitat
21 Mar 2024

This guide is your essential resource for navigating the process of settling into Hong Kong. From understanding local customs to finding accommodation and getting around the city, we provide practical information to ensure a smooth transition.


Before landing in Hong Kong, it's important to understand the visa requirements. Whether you're a professional or spouse, here's what you need to know about obtaining a visa. 

Employment Visa

The Employment Visa is a crucial document for professionals seeking to work in the city. It serves as a gateway to employment opportunities and allows individuals to utilize their skills and qualifications in various industries. Obtaining an Employment Visa opens doors to a wide range of career prospects in Hong Kong. 

For more information on the Employment Visa: Immigration Department Employment Visa 

Investment Visa

The Investment Visa in Hong Kong is a valuable opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs and investors. This visa allows individuals to establish and manage their own businesses in Hong Kong. With the Investment Visa, entrepreneurs can explore and capitalize on the numerous business opportunities that Hong Kong has to offer. 

For more information on the Investment Visa: Immigration Department Investment Visa  

Dependent Visa

The Dependent Visa in Hong Kong is a crucial document for individuals who wish to join their family members residing in the city. This visa allows spouses and children of Hong Kong residents or individuals holding valid employment visas to live and work in Hong Kong. The Dependent Visa enables dependents to enjoy the benefits of education and employment in Hong Kong. 

For more details on the Dependant Visa: Immigration Department Dependant Visa  

Top Talent Pass Scheme

The Top Talents Pass Scheme in Hong Kong aims to attract highly skilled individuals with exceptional work experience and academic qualifications from around the world. This scheme is open to high-income professionals, graduates from top universities, and those with specialized expertise. Applicants do not need to have a job offer in Hong Kong at the time of application and can be granted a 24-month stay on a time limitation basis, provided they meet immigration requirements.  

There are three categories under the scheme: Category A for individuals with an annual income of HK$2.5 million or above, Category B for degree graduates with at least three years of work experience, and Category C for recent graduates with less than three years of work experience. However, Category C does not apply to non-local students who obtained their undergraduate qualification in Hong Kong. Successful applicants will receive an initial stay of 24 months (about 2 years), and overseas Chinese nationals may also apply if they meet specific criteria.  

It is important to note that eligibility criteria may change, and applicants must meet normal immigration requirements and have a clean criminal record. 

For more information on the Top Talent Pass Scheme: Immigration Department Talent Admission 

Navigating the visa landscape in Hong Kong can get complicated. Each visa category has its own requirements and application details, which depend on factors like your nationality, professional experience, and financial resources. It's important to consult with experienced immigration professionals who can help you understand the complexities, determine the best visa option for your situation, and guide you through the process smoothly. Their expertise will minimize delays and ensure a hassle-free entry into Hong Kong. 

If you need help handling visas/immigration: 
Fragomens -

Expatriate Services 

For a more detailed dive into special visa types and schemes, have a look at our comprehensive take at different entry policies into Hong Kong.

New and Revamped: The Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (“New CIES”)

Banking and Financing 

Understanding banking and financing in Hong Kong is crucial for effectively managing your finances as an expat. The city offers tailored services to meet the needs of expatriates, making it easier to handle your financial affairs. 

When it comes to banking, you have a range of options from local and international banks. They understand expat requirements and offer services like multi-currency accounts and international fund transfers. Managing your money is made convenient with user-friendly online and mobile banking platforms. 

Hong Kong's banking sector is known for stability and transparency. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) ensures that banks comply with international standards and regulations, ensuring the integrity and security of the system. 

As an expat, you may need to manage finances across borders. Hong Kong's extensive correspondent banking network simplifies international fund transfers and cross-border transactions. This is especially useful for personal remittances or if you have business interests in different countries. 

To open a bank account in Hong Kong, you typically need your Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID) and proof of address. This can be in the form of utility bills or rental agreements. Some banks may also require additional documents like employment contracts or reference letters. Each bank has its own specific requirements, so it's best to check with them directly. 

If you need financing for investments like property or starting a business, Hong Kong banks offer competitive loan products and financing solutions. They can provide guidance on mortgage options, interest rates, and repayment terms, helping you make informed decisions that align with your financial goals. 

It's also important to be aware of banking regulations, tax implications, and investment opportunities in Hong Kong. Engaging with a financial advisor or wealth management institution can help you navigate these areas, ensuring compliance and maximizing your financial situation. 


Finding your dream home in Hong Kong requires careful navigation, considering the unique aspects of the market. Habitat can guide you through all the steps and ensure a smooth transition into Hong Kong and finding the perfect home. 

The property market in Hong Kong can be fast-paced and competitive. Be prepared to adjust your expectations based on your budget and preferred location. Your agent can provide insights on market trends and pricing strategies to help you make informed decisions.  

Habitat would take you through different areas and buildings that are suitable. It's important to consider what is important to you, what facilities, proximity to schools, beach or city views and closeness to your workplace.

Keep in mind that certain buildings and neighbourhoods in Hong Kong have regulations regarding pet ownership. Discuss your furry companions with your agent upfront to find pet-friendly properties with amenities like dog parks or walking areas. 

To kickstart your home hunting journey take a look at our sales and leasing guide or contact us directly at the link below. 


Hong Kong offers a vibrant and diverse schooling landscape, particularly suitable for expatriate families. The city is home to a wide range of international schools that cater to the needs of expat children, providing them with a high-quality education. These schools follow internationally recognized curricula, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or British curriculum, ensuring a seamless transition for students from different educational backgrounds. Additionally, Hong Kong has reputable local schools that prioritize strong Chinese language programs and academic achievements. When choosing a school, expat families should consider factors such as location, facilities, extracurricular activities, and admission processes. Overall, Hong Kong's schooling options offer a diverse and enriching educational experience for expatriate children, ensuring they receive a well-rounded education in a multicultural environment.

We at Habitat have curated a schooling guide, with a list of various different schools in various different districts. Share the article to your friends or family looking for top-tier education for their children.

Top Schools in Hong Kong: A Guide to International and Local Institutions

Top Schools in Hong Kong: A Guide to International and Local Institutions

Domestic Helper 

Hiring a domestic helper in Hong Kong, whether for household chores, childcare, or elderly care, is a common practice among many families. There are various ways to find a suitable helper, with engaging reputable agencies being a popular option. Agencies like FairAgency, HelperPlace, and Sunlight Employment Agency specialise in domestic helper placement, offering assistance in finding the right candidate and handling necessary paperwork and legal requirements.  

Another avenue is to utilize online platforms like Asiaxpat or join Facebook groups such as Southside Mums and Hong Kong Helper Connection. These platforms provide opportunities for direct interaction with potential domestic helpers and facilitate the negotiation of terms. When hiring a domestic helper, it is crucial to establish clear expectations, offer fair compensation and benefits, and ensure compliance with legal obligations. Conducting thorough interviews, checking references, and arranging trial periods can help assess compatibility and suitability.  

By utilizing the services of reputable agencies or leveraging online platforms, families in Hong Kong can find reliable and qualified domestic helpers who can provide valuable support in managing household responsibilities. 

Our Recommendations:
 Fair Agency  
Sunlight Employment Agency  
Helper Place 

Getting around 

Hong Kong has an extensive public transportation network, making it the preferred choice for most expats. The MTR, buses, trams, and ferries offer extensive coverage and frequent schedules, allowing you to efficiently reach all corners of the city, avoiding traffic congestion and parking hassles.

Don't forget to pick yourself an Octopus Card, a popular contactless smart card system widely used in Hong Kong. It has become an essential part of daily life for residents and expats. With a simple tap, the Octopus Card enables quick and convenient transactions for all public transportation. Beyond transportation, the card can also be used to make purchases at convenience stores, supermarkets, restaurants, and vending machines.

Additionally, Hong Kong's compact layout makes many destinations easily walkable – perfect for quick errands, exploring vibrant neighborhoods, or enjoying the pedestrian-friendly streets. 

While public transport excels for most, car ownership might be a viable option for those needing flexibility or frequent travel beyond urban areas. However, keep in mind the significantly higher costs due to the high first-registration fees, parking challenges, and annual registration fees. Consider alternative solutions like preowned cars or car rentals before committing to full ownership. Ultimately, the choice depends on your individual needs, budget, and preferred lifestyle. 

Here are some helpful links to facilitate getting around Hong Kong: 

Octopus App: Playstore, Appstore  
MTR Website: MTR 
Uber: Uber 

 Buying a Car 

Buying a car in Hong Kong can be a complex process for expats due to high taxes and expenses. However, considering a pre-owned car can offer a more affordable option with good value, especially for families. Many of these cars have been well-maintained. It's important to note that mileage is not a major point of negotiation, as Hong Kong cars generally have lower mileage compared to other countries. 

When buying a car, expats will need a Hong Kong ID card, a local driving license, and a Hong Kong postal address. It's advisable to thoroughly inspect the car's service history, inquire about any accidents, previous owners, and warranties. 

Buyers can consider purchasing from owners directly or reputable dealers like Vins, which offer online shopping, showrooms, test drives, and assistance with paperwork. However, it's crucial to budget for various costs associated with car ownership, including registration tax, transfer of ownership fee, annual vehicle license, insurance, vehicle examination, servicing, fuel, toll roads, and parking. 
Here are some recommendations for buying your car:  
Hong Kong Transport Department: 

Entertainment and Activities 

Hong Kong provides a variety of options for relaxation and leisure. Its natural landscapes include mountains and beaches, offering a peaceful escape from city life. Hiking trails provide exercise and scenic views, while beaches offer a serene setting for relaxation.

The city offers diverse leisure activities to cater to different interests. Golf courses are available for enthusiasts, and karaoke rooms provide entertainment and socializing. There are also symphony halls for cultural experiences and fine dining options ranging from Michelin-starred restaurants to street food stalls, reflecting the multicultural nature of Hong Kong.

To promote social engagement, private membership clubs and online platforms facilitate connections among like-minded individuals, including expats. Weekends in Hong Kong offer opportunities for outdoor activities such as sailing, kayaking, and challenging hikes. The city's cultural heritage is showcased through temples, street art, and museums, allowing individuals to immerse themselves in local culture and history.

Have a look at these articles: 
or have a look at our neighborhood guides: 

Importing pets 

Relocating your pet to Hong Kong requires meticulous planning and adherence to regulations to ensure a smooth transition. Three months before arrival, secure an import permit from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), ensuring your pet is microchipped and current on vaccinations, notably rabies administered at least 30 days (about 4 and a half weeks) prior. Pet travel differs from passenger travel; your furry friend must travel as air cargo. Airlines like Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa offer pet shipping or consider a pet relocation specialist for comprehensive logistics and paperwork support.  

Upon arrival, your pet will undergo an AFCD inspection at the airport. Have all documentation readily available. Depending on your origin country, a 4-month quarantine at an approved facility may be mandatory, so research and book these facilities in advance if applicable. Settle your pet into a pet-friendly apartment and explore green spaces like Victoria Peak for exercise and bonding.  

Consider pet sitters or walkers if your schedule demands. Remember, responsible pet ownership is key in Hong Kong; adhere to leash laws and noise regulations. With thorough planning and the right services, your pet's relocation to Hong Kong can be stress-free and successful. 
Here are a few recommendations on pet mover services: 
Ferndale Kennels and Travels 


Hong Kong has different seasons that will influence what you should pack. In summer (May-October), it's hot and humid, so pack light and breathable clothes like cotton and linen. Keep an umbrella handy for unexpected rain and be aware of typhoon season. 

Autumn (November-February) is pleasant with temperatures around 20-25°C (68-77°F). Pack light layers for cooler mornings and evenings and enjoy the colorful autumn foliage. 

Spring (March-April) is a transitional season with slightly warmer temperatures. Be prepared for occasional humidity and showers. Pack breathable clothes and an umbrella. 

Remember, Hong Kong has wet and dry seasons. The wet season is from April to September with more rain, while the dry season is from October to March with more sunshine. 

Hong Kong Observatory: 

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