Where in the world: Hong Kong

Written by
Emily Sexton-Brown

23 Nov 2015

23 Nov 2015 • by Emily Sexton-Brown

Why did you move to Hong Kong?

It was an international transfer with my previous employer in London. I had the option of Singapore or Hong Kong, neither of which I had ever been to, but I was advised to choose Hong Kong. As a young professional the city lets you work hard, but also play hard.


How long have you lived in Hong Kong?

I have been here almost two years, I know many people who have come for a six-month secondment and never left. This city is addictive. 

Did you always envision yourself moving abroad?

At the start of my career I had a notion that one day I wanted to work overseas. I looked at New York, Sydney, Dubai and Shanghai. This opportunity presented itself after three years in London and I put my hand up for it.


What are the main culture differences?

Hong Kong is an easy city to be an expat in, having similarities to London. My main struggle is the weather, it’s boiling and muggy or there are typhoons and it’s muggy. Either way, it’s muggy. The cultural difference in behaviour is certainly a shock, it’s acceptable to spit in the road or chop a chicken’s head off in a side street.

The world seems a lot smaller once you have lived abroad and, as a result, there are far more opportunities for somebody willing to risk it

Do you think this has enhanced your career?

Absolutely, training in London and moving to Asia can help your career rocket. The teams are smaller and more diverse. Therefore, the scope of work you do is greater. Hong Kong is still the gateway to China, and the projects you do might involve work in China – making you more versatile if you move back to the UK.


How did you feel about moving abroad?

Everyone should do it. It was the best decision for my career and personal life. The world seems a lot smaller once you have lived abroad and, as a result, there are far more opportunities for someone willing to risk it.

How do you think HR practices compare with the UK?

Most Hong Kong HR practices are similar, as the majority of large businesses here are international with global HR operations. However, the major difference is the lack of diversity rules here – a client won’t hesitate to ask for a ‘good-looking’ female recruit.

How does the cost of living compare to London?

The cost of living is similar to London; the cost of rent is astronomical in Hong Kong. Because of the lower tax, you’re more inclined to go out at night. It costs £3 and takes seven minutes to get home from wherever you are in town.

What do you do in your spare time?

I have dinner out with friends most evenings; it’s cheaper than the expat supermarket. At weekends we have all-day brunches, junks (party boats) and hike. 

What advice would you give others moving to Hong Kong?

Be open-minded. Hong Kong can be a culture shock, with all the dried ducks in the windows. But it’s an amazing city; you’ll make friends quickly and experience something crazy every weekend. It’s a hectic place but if you embrace the fact that you should always expect the unexpected, you will be fine. It’s an easy city
to fall in love with.



Missy Ho’s in Kennedy Town


The Big Buddha on Lantau


A junk (party boat) trip in the summer, and returning to Hong Kong as the sun sets, a view that makes people who’ve been here 20 years say: “I can’t believe this is where I live”


In pretty much any of the hundreds of bars. Either that or join a sports team