27Feb

How to Rent Property in Hong Kong

 

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.

13Jan

Common Expat Concerns After Arriving in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the safest cities for expats. There is also a large expat community providing an easier transition for people who move to the country as singles or with their families.

The biggest adjustment is often the language barrier but on top of that, there are other common concerns felt by expat. InterNations conducted a survey on November 2017 and these were identified as the most common concerns:

SOCIAL CIRCLES

Missing one’s friends is normal. But there is an expansive network of expats whom one can treat as their close support group. There are also numerous interest groups and organizations to join. In addition, social networks and instant messaging has made it easy to stay in touch with people back home. Setting schedules to chat or video call helps make the distance seem smaller.

Business culture with coworkers also falls under this category as Hong Kongers are known to be very serious workers. The most important thing to remember is to remain open and flexible with the local culture because it’s you who needs to adjust. You’ll find that the experience is more pleasant than what you may have initially assumed. One way to initiate social interactions with coworkers is adding them as a professional connection through LinkedIn. This establishes a professional yet approachable means of reaching out to people you work with.

GIVING BIRTH IN HONG KONG

Hong Kong has one of the top medical facilities in the Asia. Having a child is not so much the issue but rather making the choice of giving birth in a public hospital or subscribing to private health care.

Having health insurance that can cover $100,000 or more for prenatal and postnatal care implies checking into a private hospital so you can choose your own obstetrician, have a private room, and get regular check-ups with the same doctor. This is not to say that public healthcare is bad in Hong Kong. In fact, public medical facilities are quite advanced, however, one gains greater control over what happens to you with insurance and private care.

Village Insurance Direct is one of the few companies that help expats find comprehensive health insurance in Hong Kong.

GETTING A NANNY OR DOMESTIC HELPER

Expat parents don’t have to necessarily get a domestic helper or nanny but it is one of the normal practices for dual earning households. Having a nanny to take care of the kids instead of leaving them in a day care is preferred by more expats.

We’ve written a blog which provides useful information on the process and expectations when getting a domestic helper. You can read it here: Expat Guide: Hiring a Domestic Helper in Hong Kong

Note that employers are required to get insurance for domestic helpers. We also provide help in finding cheap insurance for expats.

IS IT WORTH LEARNING MANDARIN/CHINESE?

Taking on the challenge of learning a new language to better communicate with coworkers and new friends is worth the time and effort. Not only will it make life easier but you’ll find that you’ll be more open to exploring other activities outside of your comfort zone.

There are tutors that are available on an hourly basis. One can easily get an online tutor and conduct the lessons online to save the time of going to class. But learning is different for everyone so we recommend trying both to see which works for you.

Need help in finding personal, family, or business insurance? Contact Village Insurance for enquiries.

14Dec

Expat Guide: Schools in Hong Kong

The former British colony’s education system is highly regarded with top standards. Even public schools uphold quality curriculums but are mainly taught in Cantonese with a focus on repetitive examinations—a system that might be different from what expats look for in a school. As a result, expats favor international schools.

ENTERING HONG KONG SCHOOLS

The first thing expats must know is that getting into good schools in Hong Kong could be challenging. The demand is high and so are the standards. If you’re planning to move with your family, we recommend you start your application a year early to take into account the waiting period. Affluent locals also compete for slots that make the process even more challenging. Some international companies sometimes reserve spots for their employees’ children so check to see if your employer can provide you with assistance.

Education is taken very seriously in Hong Kong culture. Teachers are treated with a great deal of respect, and students tend to be disciplined and well behaved.

The school year in Hong Kong typically runs from September to July.
top schools in hongkong
Expats who choose to reside in Kowloon or the New Territories choose an international school based because of their close proximity to more international schools.

Expats also have to note that if your package does not include subsidy for your kid’s education, you might find tuition for international schools quite costly so best to look at all possible options.

Below is a list of international schools you can start with:

Hong Kong International School
www.hkis.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
Ages: 4 to 18

Harrow International School Hong Kong
www.harrowschool.hk/
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: British
Ages: 4 to 18

American International School of Hong Kong
www.ais.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
div dir=”ltr”>Ages: 3 to 18

Australian International School Hong Kong
www.aishk.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Australian and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18

Beacon Hill School
www.beaconhill.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 10

Bradbury Junior School
www.bradbury.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 4 to 10

Canadian International Schools of Hong Kong
www.cdnis.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Canadian (Ontario) and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18

Carmel School of Hong Kong
www.carmel.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Jewish and general studies
Ages: 3 to 12

International Montessori School
www.montessori.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Montessori
Ages: 1,5 to 12

Kellet School (British International School in Hong Kong)
www.kellettschool.com

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: British
Ages: 3 to 14

King George V School
www.kgv.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: British (IGCSE) and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 12 to 18

Quarry Bay School
www.qbs.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 5 to 13

Yew Chung International School
www.ycis-hk.com
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: IGCSE (Cambridge) and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 6 months to 19

For any assistance on family or personal insurance, we help find the best cover for expats in Hong Kong. Get in touch with us today.

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.