A Guide for Newbies in Hong Kong 

Being a newbie and starting a new life and moving to Hong Kong is at once exhilarating, daunting, and stressful.

Where better to come for advice on moving to Hong Kong than to people who’ve already done it and are living the Hong Kong dream?

Here at Savvy in Hong Kong, we’re a group of expats and locals, ready to help you come to the city we love. Are you a newbie and ready for the bright lights, delicious food, and wondrous chaos?

We’re here to guide you through your journey of life in Hong Kong.

There are things you’ve probably never thought of, like buying Hong Kong-themed gifts or the legalities of insurance for your helpers.

Then, the obvious stuff that you probably started stressing about as soon as the job offer landed – how can I find an apartment? Which are the best furniture stores?

Whatever your question about moving to Hong Kong, we’ve got it answered. We’ve done it before and are ready your hold your hand.

Got questions we’ve not covered here in our guide for newbies to Hong Kong? Get in touch, and we’ll be sure to get articles up that cover what you need to know.

In the meantime, here’s a guide for newbies moving to Hong Kong – with lots of tips if you’ve been here years and stumbled on this! We’re going to be looking at:

  • Finding an apartment to move in to
  • How to find the right furniture for your new place
  • Shopping second hand in Hong Kong
  • Places to buy authentic Hong Kong gifts for everyone  
  • A guide to buying a second-hand car in the city
  • Getting insured at the right price
  • Moving companies
  • Mortgage applications and hacks

I’m a newbie; where do I start with apartment hunting in Hong Kong?

If you're a newbie and looking for a new apartment in Hong Kong, we have tips for you.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash (https://unsplash.com/@neonbrand).

It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Do you try to organize an apartment before you move to HK or find temporary accommodation first?

Our advice for newbies, like with any relocation, is to get here and figure out where you want to live first. Hong Kong is huge and vibrant, and every area has its own feel.

Whether you’re looking for a neighborhood to raise your kids or a funky area for post-office cocktails, there’s somewhere perfect for you.

If you’re a newbie, you’ll be best taking an Airbnb for a month or so or stay in a hotel that fits within your budget. Use that as a base as you trawl around myriad apartments across different suburbs – you’re going to be looking at lots of apartments.

The basic trade-off when it comes to Hong Kong property is:

  • Old properties have more space and few facilities
  • Newer properties are smaller but may have gyms and pools

What you need is a good estate agent. Along with caution about difficult landlords and what to spot in your tenancy agreement, we recommend who we think is the best agent in town in our guide to apartment hunting in Hong Kong.

I’m a newbie; where do I go to buy furniture in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong has a fabulous range of furniture stores. If you're looking for furniture in Hong Kong, we tell you where to go for modern, Scandinavian and art-deco pieces.

Photo courtesy of EMOH Design Facebook.

If you believe your neighbors or a Google search, you’re basically choosing between IKEA and Horizon Plaza to deck out your newly acquired apartment – we told you the agent was good 😉.

Although they’re reasonably priced, do you really want to live in an identikit apartment? You’ll have lots of restrictions when you rent an apartment in terms of décor; your furniture is how you put your personality into where you live.

There are things you need to think about when you’re buying furniture in this city, especially if you’re a newbie.

Elevator size, doorways, overpowering your rooms with big pieces – these are all things to think about before investing in big furniture. We’ve got a full rundown of all the things you need to take into account when buying furniture.

Also, in the article, you’ll find our top five recommendations for where to get the best and most stylish stuff in town.

You can get your hands on Scandinavian chic without visiting IKEA, art deco-style design classics, 2nd hand planet-saving furniture in the places we recommend.

I wish I had known about all these places when I first came to Hong Kong as a newbie.

I’m a newbie; where are the best second-hand stores in Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong, you will be able to find a huge amount of high-quality second hand goods for sale. The variety, quality and price will amaze. You just need to know where to find these items.

Photo courtesy of 2nd Chance Facebook.

Doing what’s right by the planet can actually be more fun and yield better results than buying absolutely everything brand new.

With so many people coming and going in this most transient of cities, there’s always great second-hand deals to be had,

Be sure that you’re buying something sturdy; the principle of “buy cheap, buy twice” still applies to second-hand goods. When you need second-hand stuff, here’s where to turn:

  • Retykle sells second-hand kid’s clothes that are quality, budget-friendly, and you’re helping the environment by reducing waste to boot.
  • Hula is an online platform that retails verified, lightly worn designer clothes. All sellers are verified so you know nothing is a knock-off.
  • 2ndchance is the place to go for second-hand home furniture, with free delivery for all purchases over $2,000.
  • Asiaxpat works as an online forum for people to buy and sell their stuff. You can grab clothing bargains when people are leaving, and even grab a whole home’s worth of furniture if your style’s flexible.
  • Carousell is the home of everything – second-hand electronics, kitchenware, clothing, and just about anything you can imagine gets listed here.
  • HKCarTrader hosts lists of the second-hand cars that are retailing in the city at the moment.

If you’re a newbie, or even not a newbie, we recommend taking the time to explore these stores that sell high-quality items for a fraction of regular prices.

For full details of all these stores and what you can expect, we’ve put together a guide to second-hand shopping in Hong Kong.

Now that I live in Hong Kong, where can I buy Hong Kong-themed gifts?

If you're looking for a gift for someone, consider giving a Hong Kong-themed gift. You will be supporting the economy, and also Hong Kong-themes gifts are memorable and interesting.

Photo courtesy of Qraftie Facebook.

Who doesn’t love receiving gifts? Sure, you can go generic and pick up a bouquet of flowers or order a thank you card online.

But if you instead chose Hong Kong-themed gifts,  you are not only supporting the local community, but you’re likely to be giving something quite memorable. 

We’ve got some super-cute and cool shops for gifting in Hong Kong, and there’s a complete list over in this full article. To give you a taster of some of the stuff we cover;

  • For custom cards and lovely Christmas ideas, and plenty of other gift ideas, check out Biscuit Moon.
  • Breath-taking home items that are at both unique and thoughtful can be found at Ginger Jar Lamps Co.
  • Quirky, funky, and fun gifts can be found down in Wong Chuk Hang when you visit Mirth.
  • Qraftie which is an online platform that allows local artisans, artists, and designer to sell their items
  • Arty, original pieces for great gifts, can be found at Sun Ngai Brass Ware, running for 70 years so far.

Where do I start with buying a second-hand car as a newbie in Hong Kong?

There are so many second-hand cars available for sale in Hong Kong. Do your research, so that you get the best value for money possible.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash (https://unsplash.com/@sakethgaruda).

The trains are fantastic in Hong Kong and will get you everywhere you want. But we aren’t going to deny the convenience of a car, especially when you have kids.

Luckily, the second-hand car market is pretty saturated, again because there are always people moving on.

Just because there are many second-hand cars in Hong Kong, it doesn’t mean it’s an easy and straightforward buying process.

There are lots of things to be aware of, such as:

  • The ownership history
  • The service history
  • How old the car is – coming up to seven years means inspections.
  • What paperwork you need to do

If you’re a newbie in Hong Kong, it’s essential to know just how competitive the second-hand car market is in Hong Kong. You can expect some great deals!

To get the process fully broken down for you, head over to our list of tips on buying second-hand cars in Hong Kong. You’ll get all the details you need so you won’t end up with an old, expensive banger.

Now I have lots of stuff, what’s the deal with getting insurance in Hong Kong?

Buying insurance in Hong Kong can seem overwhelming. We have written a blog to help you make buying insurance in Hong Kong easier.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash (https://unsplash.com/@frieauffcom).

Getting yourself insured is an essential step as you set up your life in Hong Kong as a newbie.

It can be quite a challenge with so many policies and so many things that need to be covered.

You’ll start to collect insurance policies, such as:

  • Medical
  • Home and contents
  • Household fire
  • Helper
  • Car

All there policies will come with different renewals and an array of various terms and conditions.

It’s useful to note, by law in Hong Kong, if you have a helper, you need to have a specific insurance policy for each one.

It can be super helpful for your finances, and possibly sanity, to consolidate your insurance policies. It’s not always easy to hunt down good deals and good insurers, so sticking with one for all, or most, is helpful.

The whole process of organizing insurance is incredibly stressful for newbies.  Need advice on buying insurance in Hong Kong? We’ve got a handy article all about what you need to know right here.

If you’re a newbie, this should make the whole process of buying and organizing insurance easier.

I’m moving within Hong Kong or going back home, what do I do?

If you're moving within Hong Kong, or even moving to another country, check out our article on the best moving companies in Hong Kong.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash (https://unsplash.com/@hiveboxx).

If you’re a newbie in Hong Kong, it won’t take you long to realize that everyone always seems to be moving apartments in Hong Kong.

Why is this? Rents are high in Hong Kong, and if people can get a better deal elsewhere, it makes sense to move.

If you’re looking to move within Hong Kong or suddenly find yourself moving back home. You’ll need to organize a moving company.

You’ll need to get a few moving quotes. But the first thing you need to figure out is what is involved in your move. Before you start emailing around, ask yourself:

  • How much experience do you expect from your movers? Are you ok with less experience at the right price?
  • What’s the volume of stuff you need to move? International movers to Hong Kong will likely have an idea of volume, but if you’re already here, assess what’s coming with you.
  • How far are you moving? From the airport or seaport to which area? If you’re moving house within Hong Kong, remember that the longer the move, the more it’s going to cost.
  • Which services do you want? Are you going to be packing yourself? Have you got a supply of boxes and moving blankets?

One thing you really want from your moving company is responsiveness. Smaller, family-run companies are much more likely to give you a personalized service.

Check out our full list of recommended moving companies in Hong Kong, as well as other tips, tricks, and hacks for a successful relocation.

How do I go about getting a mortgage in Hong Kong?

If you're looking for a mortgage in Hong Kong, there's a lot to consider. We suggest using a mortgage broker to make your life a lot easier.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash (https://unsplash.com/@tierramallorca).

Once you’ve lived in Hong Kong for a while and no longer a newbie, you might want to start looking to buy an apartment rather than rent your home.

It’s a logical step if you plan on being here a long time – you get to build up an asset rather than paying someone else for your home.

Be warned, property isn’t cheap in Hong Kong – are you even surprised? Property prices here are, on average, 21 times the average monthly salary. Be prepared to pay big money.

You need a big down payment, too. The city’s financial regulator sets limits on how much deposit you need for certain property values.

As we write this, you can only get a mortgage for 60% of the value on lending up to $5million. It’s their way of trying to stop substantial price increases.

There are lots of hacks in the mortgage market that are useful to know, such as:

  • Finding banks that accept your foreign income when assessing your mortgage application
  • Where to find a useful interest rate checking tool
  • When you’re going to incur hefty settlement fees on your Hong Kong mortgage
  • Knowing when you can ask your bank for a rate match offer

Getting a mortgage broker in Hong Kong is a savvy move. They’ll do most of the leg work for you, and they get paid by the bank, so there are no hidden costs.

To see who we recommend from personal experience and how cash rebates and credit checks work, head over to our article all about mortgages in Hong Kong.


We hope that we can make the process of settling into life in Hong Kong for newbies a little easier. It can all seem quite daunting (and expensive) when you move to Hong Kong.

But once you know what you’re doing and no longer a newbie, you’ll be amazed at what you can all see, do, and eat in Hong Kong.

If you think we’ve missed out on any topics for newbies to Hong Kong, or you have any questions, please let us know in the comment section below.

Related articles

Finding an apartment
Where to buy Hong Kong-themed gifts
Tips for buying insurance in Hong Kong

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