Moving to Hong Kong brings a wealth of exciting opportunities. With a thriving economy, a good standard of healthcare and education, and favorable tax laws, Hong Kong is popular among expats. Whether you’re moving for lifestyle or work reasons, there’s an endless amount of restaurants and activities to try, neighborhoods to explore, and people to meet.
The hustle and bustle of Hong Kong are what makes it such an exciting and incredible place to live, but it can also be overwhelming at first. As soon as you arrive, you’re greeted by a range of new smells, noises, and visuals. As one of the world’s most densely populated cities, Hong Kong is a thriving metropolis packed with people which can be intense at first. It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed, lost, and unsure about your decision to relocate.
We talked to Allied, a company that helps thousands of expats move to Hong Kong every week so they know a thing or two about settling into a new country. Here are their 5 tips on preparing for culture shock.
1. Acknowledge adjusting takes time
When planning an international move, it’s easy to assume you’ll hit the ground running and immediately adapt to your new surroundings. However, adjusting to a new country takes time. Not only will you be faced with a new climate, currency, and culture, but you’ll also need to adjust to a new routine. If possible, schedule your move to Hong Kong so you can take a few days to explore your new neighborhood and get used to your new home before you begin work or study. Doing some basic research on where you’d like to live and what types of activities you’d like to try is a great way to ease the transition and get excited about the move.
It’s also great to prepare for the drastic change in the climate. Depending on where you’re moving from, the humidity in Hong Kong can be overwhelming at first. Take the time to adjust to it, and expect that you may be feeling tired or dehydrated after your first move. You’ll also need to get into the habit of carrying an umbrella and fan with you, much like the locals do. It’s also important to note that small changes like the shops and other amenities opening much later (around 10/11 am) in Hong Kong will influence your regular routine.
Keep in mind that while you may master the basics like eating out or riding the MTR (Mass Transit Railway), it will take some time till you begin living the lifestyle you had envisioned. Be prepared to feel like a foreigner for the first few months as you adjust to Hong Kong becoming your new home and create a new daily routine.
2. Make an effort with the local language
Although English is spoken widely throughout Hong Kong, Cantonese is an official language and over 90% of the population speaks it. Being an expat, you’ll likely be spoken to in English and it’s easy to get by solely using English. However, learning a few words in Cantonese can make a significant difference to the locals and prove that you are willing to make an effort to embrace the culture. Attending a language school before you move can be a great way to learn more about Hong Kong culture and pick up some useful phrases.
3. Connect with other expats
Connecting over shared experiences is a powerful way to make friends and feel more at home in Hong Kong. Reaching out to expat communities in Hong Kong is a great way to start establishing a network of friends and contacts when you relocate. They’ll be able to provide some useful advice and recommendations for your move from overseas and help you feel more settled once you’ve relocated. Meeting expats from your origin country means you’ll have a community to celebrate or partake in any holidays, activities, or other familiar things that you otherwise would have let go of following the relocation.
4. Avoid comparisons
Unfortunately, comparison comes naturally to all of us. It will be natural to constantly compare your new home in Hong Kong to your old home overseas, but it’s important to try to avoid the two. It’s best to recognize that your new home is different and that there will be aspects you love and some things you dislike – much like your previous country. It’s also common to fall into the trap of comparing the reality of life in Hong Kong to what you see on social media, television, and the news. Having realistic expectations can also help you quickly adjust to your new home.
Relocating to a new country is not like a holiday, the feeling of adventure and excitement may begin to wear off after a little while. Accepting your new home as imperfect can help you readjust and prevent continuous comparisons.
5. Make your move easy
One of the most difficult things about relocating overseas is facilitating the international move. A stressful move can make your adjustment to Hong Kong difficult and add another layer of stress. By choosing to use a professional moving company familiar with international moves to Hong Kong, you won’t need to worry about organizing complicated logistics or chasing up missing items. Instead, you can concentrate on what matters most – becoming familiar with your new home and overcoming culture shock. An experienced moving company such as Allied will be able to handle any Hong Kong border paperwork, ensure your belongings and furniture are safe throughout the journey, and facilitate an efficient and stress-free relocation.
As every international relocation to Hong Kong is different, you’ll need a moving company that can cater to your specific needs. Allied offers a range of moving services from professional packing to vehicle relocation so every aspect of your international move to Hong Kong will be covered. With a global network of over 600 locations, they’ll oversee your relocation from wherever you are to your new home in Hong Kong.