30Aug

Expat Guide: Greeting Etiquette in Hong Kong

etiquette for expats hong kong

Hong Kong is home to many expats from the US and Europe. Social events within the community is a way for everyone to feel a little less homesick and is also a way to grow one’s network while staying in a foreign country.

It is a given that greeting gestures for westerners is different. So when the moment demands for it, How will you greet your next potential set of friends?  You’re no doubt keen to make a good first impression, and you’re wondering how to go about saying hello. Will the impeccably groomed lady to your left plant a kiss on your cheek as she introduces herself, as she seems to have done to everyone else in the room? And will it just be one, or might she unexpectedly go for the double just as you pull back?

In this case, it’s best to adopt the Hong Kong default of a kiss on both cheeks when meeting and greeting. After a few months of living here, you will come to observe the different greetings practised by various nationalities. Context is crucial, however, according to whether people are amongst their own community or socialising in a mixed group of expats from any number of cultural backgrounds.

The French will say hello and give a kiss on each cheek while Australians are accustomed to just one. Touching is unlikely for Indians so a casual “hi” will suffice. On the other hand, Americans and Swedes who would usually hug their friends might rein in their natural tendencies to embrace those from different cultures. The Dutch, who at home kiss three times when saying hello to friends, would likewise scale back the effusion, whereas the British might just overcome their natural reserve and start kissing with gusto. This is where a homogenised greeting really helps to level the playing field.

Read through our blogs to find out more about life in Hong Kong as well as information on insurance for expats.

 

21Aug

Updated Information on Hong Kong Healthcare

Updated info on healthcare in hong kong

Hong Kong remains to have one of the world’s best Public Health Care Systems however it is still advisable to supplement ourselves and our family with the convenience of additional private health insurance. Here’s updated information for your options in order to make the best choice when it comes to healthcare for expats in Hong Kong.

PUBLIC HEALTHCARE

Hong Kong provides residents with excellent and highly affordable health services. The life expectancy in the country is currently the world’s third highest and infant mortality is the ninth lowest. Here is the list of public health institutions.

DOCTORS

Finding your preferred doctor is easy; simply log on to the government’s Primary Care Directory (http://www.pcdirectory.gov.hk/) and select your specialist. Antenatal and postnatal care, well women services and childhood vaccinations take place at 34 dedicated Maternal and Child Health Centres across the SAR.

When attending an appointment, you’ll be asked to register with your Hong Kong ID and pay a small fee, usually by cash or Octopus card.

There are also a good number of private healthcare practitioners in Hong Kong, and access to their services will depend in no small part on your individual insurance coverage. Some insurers provide a pre-approved list of doctors, whereas others will allow patients free choice of doctor according to their policy’s financial limit. Opting to visit a private doctor will usually mean that you can choose your specialist according to your own needs and schedule, with shorter waiting times than in the public system.

Make sure to ask your insurance provider and confirm your cover details as well as payment methods.

HOSPITALS

In an emergency, you’ll be transported by ambulance to the nearest public hospital for treatment. With 17 public hospitals across Hong Kong providing Accident and Emergency services, and air ambulance services available to assist with evacuation from Hong Kong’s less accessible regions, you’re never too far away from help. Hong Kong’s A&E care operates on a triage basis, and is charged at a flat rate of $100 per visit. Once assessed by a doctor, if you’re subsequently admitted to hospital, you’ll be charged a $50 admission fee, then $100 per day, payable by cash or Octopus card.

There are currently 11 private hospitals that are internationally accredited in Hong Kong. Most provide 24-hour outpatient services for urgent cases and can arrange transfer to a public hospital for accident and emergency services if deemed necessary. Many of Hong Kong’s private hospitals are renowned for their specialist areas of expertise, including obstetrics and gynaecology, orthopaedics and ophthalmology, to name a few.

As with private doctors, you should always confirm the hospital’s billing process with your insurer, and check that any extras, such as medicines, private accommodation or out-of-hours surgery are covered.

To get the best insurance for personal or family cover, get in touch with us. We specialise in insurance for expats in Hong Kong.

2Aug

How to Rent Property in Hong Kong

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If you’re looking to rent property in Hong Kong, here are some guidelines to help smoothen the process.

scoping-for-land

First things first, you need to assess the market and find out what you can afford. Research what is available for your budget and two to four weeks before moving in, you’ll need to start an actual visit to these properties. Once you’re at the physical checking stage, it’s best to hire an agent who you can work with and who can show you the properties with the details you’re looking for.

details

If you’ve found some properties that interest you, it’s time to ask a lot of important questions that will aid in narrowing down your choices. You’ll need to find out who the landlord is and make sure this person is someone you can get along with since you’ll be dealing with them for the duration of your stay. Ask how long the property has been on the market and if it’s been a few months, find out why. If it’s under a mortgage, you’ll need your agent to secure a Mortgagee Consent and this may affect your move-in date. And of course, you have to inspect every inch of the property. Make sure utilities are in good working condition, there’s no mold on the walls, electrical outlets are safe, lights are working, and that the entire place is generally safe to live in. Once you’re living there and you find something wrong, you’ll regret you weren’t more thorough.

negotiate

Once you’ve decided on a property that has what you’re looking for, it’s time to make an offer to your agent then you will receive a provisional rental agreement. Rent, lease terms (including handover and move-in date), break clause, and maintenance works are open to discussion. Speak with the landlord and set realistic deadlines on anything they have to fix. It’s important to establish a great relationship with your landlord from the get-go to live happily in your new place.

The provisional rental agreement must be signed first and then the tenancy agreement. Review these careful as they are legally binding documents. Your agent can help you with this or if it’s too complicated, you can hire a solicitor. After you’ve signed the provisional rental agreement, you’ll need to give a deposit worth two month’s rent. Then the tenancy agreement comes next which includes stamp duty which you can split halfway with the landlord.

Once you get the keys to the place, it’s important to run one last inspection and document everything. Take photos of the property and keep them as records. Check any work that was done and document scratches, chips, or any kind of marks to prove they were there before you moved in, the number of keys, remote controls, and the gas and water metres. Your agent should make sure that all additional work you requested from your landlord should be completed at this point, the property should be clean and ready for you to reside in, and utility accounts are connected.

If you follow these steps, finding the right place to live in will come easily and you’ll find yourself enjoying your new place for as long as you’re there.

We recommend getting Renter’s Insurance to protect your possessions inside your apartment.