Review : Living and Working in Hong Kong
Review: Be A Contributor
and Working in Hong Kong - How To Books
by Rachel Wright
by Diana McPartlin
the expat fantasy, every day is an adventure, and dealing
with a new language and culture a joy. After living in Hong
Kong for five years, Rachel Wright begins with a reality
check for those tempted by exotic dreams and seemingly generous
expat packages. “Foreign talent and expertise is still
in demand, but the extravagant salaries of the 1980s and
1990s are no longer common and many expats are now being
offered ‘local’ contracts.”
On the cost of living: “Life is not fun if you’re
living on the breadline, the pleasures
of dining out, drinking and dancing don’t come cheap.
Singles should aim to earn at
least $30,000-$35,000 a month before tax to live in reasonable
comfort.” On accommodation, she says: “If you
don’t want to live in an apartment, don’t come
to Hong Kong.”
With unrealistic expectations out of the way, she offers
comprehensive advice to
newcomers, covering everything from arriving at the airport
to getting around, finding accommodation, socialising, finding
schools, starting a business and travelling further afield.
Driving, she says, is “reasonably safe”, although
there are frequent complaints about reckless drivers. She
quotes Automotive magazine: “The common mistakes by
Hong Kong drivers are related to signalling. The main one
is turning with no signal. Next up is signalling without
turning. Third is signalling half-way around the turn.”
Wright is clearly a fan of the local lifestyle. She recommends
Chinese restaurants for dining lower down the price chain,
and praises the ubiquitous lunchbox: “They usually
cost around $25 and are extremely good value and tasty.”
Mooncakes also get the thumbs-up: “A meal-in-a-cake,
it’s built like a fortress. Once you breach the heavy
brown pastry walls and wade through the viscous melon paste,
rewarded with the golden treasure – a hardboiled,
salty egg yolk. Irresistible.”
Wright urges taking care with cooked food or snacks from
street stalls, and says that anyone who lives in Hong Kong
for any length of time is bound to succumb to at least one
bout of food poisoning.
There’s advice for trailing spouses who may find it
hard to settle. Getting involved in volunteer work is one
solution. Another is to invest in your own personal development.
One expat wife took courses in Pilates instruction and sports
nutrition when she couldn’t find work, and says that
“Hong Kong is a great place to reinvent yourself."
Wright finishes with a candid chapter on sex in the city.
Not all expat marriages survive the strain of “the
rising executive in the oriental sweetie shop” syndrome,
and spouses are advised not to spend long periods apart.
The dating scene for expat women is limited, especially
if they’re not interested in Chinese men: “Once
you’ve cut out the local men, the gay men, the married
men, and the men only
interested in Asian women, you’ve pared down the field
quite a bit.”
Although most new arrivals will figure this stuff out by
themselves eventually, Wright’s guide will pay for
itself in time saved.