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Your guide to moving to Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a thriving “East meets West” metropolis with a vibrant, multicultural community. Career opportunities and a high quality of life make it easy for new arrivals to adapt to life in Hong Kong.

From opening a bank account to home loans and healthcare, this guide will give you some of the essential info you need for a successful start to life in Hong Kong.

Setting up banking in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority supervises banking in Hong Kong to ensure effective, stable and transparent financial functions. More than 70 of the largest 100 banks operate in this city, including HSBC.

How to open a bank account in Hong Kong

You can open an all-in-one integrated bank account for services like deposits, credit cards, investment and insurance before and after your arrival in Hong Kong, depending on your current location.

With HSBC you can open an overseas account in over 30 countries and regions (including Hong Kong). You may be able to apply through online or mobile banking with your Hong Kong ID (HKID) or passport (depending on your current location).

Find out if you're eligible for an HSBC Hong Kong account.

Overseas account opening applications will be processed by and subject to approval by the overseas HSBC group entities.

Top tip: Once you're in Hong Kong and have an HKID, you can download the HSBC mobile banking app and open an account with us in less than 5 minutes.

If you hold a passport or HKID but haven't arrived in Hong Kong yet, reach out to our International Banking Centre for help.

How to transfer funds to Hong Kong

You can send money to an HSBC account in Hong Kong via HSBC Global Payments if you have an overseas HSBC account in your home country. You can also use Telegraphic Transfer if you're sending money from other banks.

Once you've set up your new account in Hong Kong, you'll be able to link it to your overseas home HSBC account through online and mobile banking. There, you'll be able to view all your worldwide accounts in one place. With HSBC Global Transfers you can move up to USD200,000 (or currency equivalent) per day between your accounts instantly and for free.

How to pay in Hong Kong

Credit cards are widely accepted and many offer exclusive privileges both in Hong Kong and when travelling abroad, annual fee waivers, and supplementary cards for family members.

If you prefer e-wallets, PayMe from HSBC1 is a secure and easy mobile payment service. You can top up PayMe from your bank account or link it to your credit card.

Almost everyone in Hong Kong uses an Octopus card. This pre-paid smart card can be used for traveling, dining and shopping. It's Hong Kong's version of the Oyster card in London and New York's MetroCard or OMNY.

With HSBC you can now enter your mobile cash withdrawal instructions on the HSBC Hong Kong Mobile Banking app and scan the QR code at an ATM for contact-free transactions.

Accommodation - renting and buying

There's no shortage of good accommodation choices but you do get what you pay for. Hong Kong continues to top the list as the most expensive city in the world for expat housing.

Apartments are the most common type of accommodation due to the city's high population density. But if you'd rather live further from the city, village houses are another option. These can be found in more rural areas or on outlying islands, and typically offer 3 floors of living space plus a balcony or roof terrace.

Renting in Hong Kong

It's easier to get a feel of different neighbourhoods once you're already on the ground but you can also talk to people in the know – you might find a local online chat group or a forum for Hong Kong expats.

Consider your lifestyle and how you feel about commuting. Many families wait to see what school their kids will be attending before they move. 

A standard tenancy contract is for 2 years, with the option to break the lease with some notice. It's common to negotiate the terms such as the monthly rent, duration of the contract, or inclusion of light fixtures. Don't be surprised if your new place doesn't come with curtains or an oven if these weren't factored in to the contract.

You can expect to shell out the equivalent of about 2-3 months' rent to cover the security deposit, agent's fee and stamp duty rental tax. So it's a good idea to ensure you have sufficient funds available to set up your new home. Opening an account in Hong Kong will make it much easier to sort these details.

To rent a place, you'll need to show your employment letter and contract, a valid visa and your passport or HKID.

Top tip: Set up autopay through your bank and you won't have to worry about late rent payments.

Buying property in Hong Kong

All property in Hong Kong is bought on a leasehold basis.

Like in many big cities, real estate prices in Hong Kong are typically lower the further you are from the central business district.

When choosing a bank or financial institution to finance your property, you should consider:

  • how much the property costs

  • how much you need to borrow

  • the repayment terms of the loan

  • interest rates

  • early repayment penalties, if any

Learn how much you can borrow and calculate repayment amounts with our mortgage calculator. You can also see what you can save with a Deposit-linked Mortgage.

Immigration, taxes and visas

You can find the answers to most of your questions about arriving in the city on the Hong Kong government's Immigration Department website. There, you'll find useful information about visas, identity documents, right of abode and immigration clearance.

Visas and work permits

In most cases, you'll need a work permit to take up employment in Hong Kong, whether as an entrepreneur, investor or expat employee in technology.

Because visa requirements can change, we recommend that you do your research early and prepare all your documents and fees in advance. It's best to check the Hong Kong government's Immigration Department website regularly for the most up-to-date information.

Hong Kong ID

All Hong Kong residents over the age of 11 must apply for an HKID within 30 days of arrival if they'll be staying for longer than 6 months.

Your HKID can be used to open a bank account; you may be asked for it when you apply for a job locally, and when you enter and exit Hong Kong. It can also be used to apply for a library card, register for public health services and more.

Hong Kong tax system

Hong Kong has competitive tax systems for locals, expats and businesses despite its high cost of living. There are no taxes on capital gains or dividends, and estate duty was abolished in 2006.

Communications, healthcare and education

Internet and mobile connections

You might want to sort out your communication essentials as soon as you touch down in Hong Kong. But until then, you can use free Hong Kong government Wi-Fi hotspots located around the city. They are available for both residents and visitors.

Internet - Hong Kong has sophisticated telecommunications infrastructure and fast internet speeds. The city also has high rates of fixed broadband penetration. When you apply for internet service, you'll generally need to provide your passport or HKID and proof of address. This may differ for each internet service provider, so check with them before you apply.

Mobile - As with broadband internet, you have a number of mobile network operators to choose from. 5G mobile connection became commercially available from April 2020 onwards. 

If you plan to use your own phone, make sure it's unlocked with your original carrier. Your SIM card may not work otherwise. You could also choose from a range of pay-as-you-go SIM cards.

Top tip: You can connect to free Wi-Fi at MTR stations, and some city buses and malls offer charging stations or battery pack rentals.

Healthcare in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has one of the best healthcare systems in the world.

Like Canada, Singapore and the UK, public healthcare in Hong Kong is heavily subsidised. It's available to anyone with an HKID and the right of abode, even non-permanent residents. Some expats opt for private insurance so they can access services which may not be covered by the public healthcare system. There are many private healthcare providers, but they can be very expensive.

The Hong Kong Department of Health regulates all healthcare facilities, keeping the medical standards high whether you decide to go public or private. 

Local and international schools

Education can be expensive as local schools may not always be an option for your children. In Hong Kong, the language of instruction at most local schools is Cantonese or Mandarin. If you're planning to stay for a while, this could be an excellent opportunity to give your child a bilingual education!

There are many international schools in Hong Kong. However, competition for places can be fierce. Be prepared to pay non-refundable application and registration fees upfront for almost every school you apply to. Once your child is accepted, expect to pay a deposit and an annual "capital levy" fee.

Some employers provide corporate school debentures. These are lump-sum loans that usually guarantee a school placement. Contact the schools before you move, and ask your employer to help you secure a place if they can.

Public holidays and festivals

Hong Kong enjoys 17 public holidays every year.

You can expect lively festivities throughout the city such as dragon dances, parades and fireworks for Chinese New Year celebrations. Join in on local traditions to usher in a new year of health and prosperity, spend time with family and friends for food and drinks. Other local festivals include Buddha's Birthday, the Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival and Ching Ming (Tomb-Sweeping Day).

There's nothing like celebrating the local holidays to make yourself at home in a new city.

Ready to open a Hong Kong account?

Simply select your current location and where you would like to open an account. We'll then walk you through the steps.
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