Any tips for a move to HK?

As I’ve suggested in another thread I’ll be heading to HK for a new job soon. Having lived in Taiwan for several years I know very little about Hongkers except that which I’ve gained through the almost inevitable odd visa run . . and don’t those bastards always arise when you are at your financial lowest?

In any case, any tips for a move to HK, organising visas - it really can’t be as simple as it appears . . . . can it? - etc, much appreciated.

I might add that Tigerman has me sorted with the beer and pubs. . . . . I’d like to lose some of the belly though.

I had thought I’d like to live on Lamma island , hairless hippy that I am. However I have heard it’s best to ask your employer first as the ferries can stop due to poor weather well before a typhoon day is given (for example).



Mate, if you are moving to HK FOR a job, then your new employer should be assisting/sorting this out for you.

Lamma Island is an awesome place to live. The new ferries rarely stop for poor weather, but yes, they do halt service now and then.

Have fun, wish I was moving to HK… stuck in sunny Brisbane right bow… well not so sunny Brisbane is more like it

Cheers AWOL.

Actually my new employers are, however I’m not on an expat deal as it were and so I’ll have to sort out housing and the like. Having arranged several different means of Taiwan ARC I’m staggered at the apparent simplicity of the HK requirements. I guess I’m fishing for traps.

From freezing and rainy Taipei.

Enjoy Byron, hope it doesn’t rain down there.


If you want to live on one of the islands, I would strongly recommend Lantau Island instead of Lamma for many reasons. It is bigger, more private, less clubby/snobbish’, facilities are better (2 supermarkets whereas Lamma has none), the ferries are more comfortable and more frequent (there are also inter-island ferry services whereas if you live on Lamma you must always go to HK island to get anywhere else) there are hills galore for walks, great beaches and a nice big airport. It’s 30 minutes to the airport from anywhere on Lantau but from Lamma it can take hours. Don’t worry though the hills between the airport and where you are most likely to live are over 2000 feet high so you need not fear noise. As far as accommodation is concerned, it is also cheaper than Lamma despite having more to offer. There aren’t as many pubs but in my view the quality of life is much superior to Lamma. I personally don’t regret leaving HK after over 12 years, to come here but I do often miss living on Lantau and the space, peace and quiet it offered. If you need any more info, you can contact me. I am usually to be found in Carnegie’s where I occasionally ‘work’. Cheers.


Thanks for that great tip.

I’m a member of your fine establishment and will indeed pop over for a chat before I leave.



On Lantau, the place you want to look is Discovery Bay (DB). My wife and I are planning to move there in a couple of months. There’s a Park&Shop, quite a few restaurants and a beach. The apartments are all pretty nice and good value. There are no cars, only golf carts and a bus that runs through the tunnel to a town near the airport called Dongchung; you can get on the MTR there. There are ferries every thirty minutes or so between DB and Central all day, and there are also night ferries. The ferry is a little pricey at HK$24 per trip. The ferry service to DB is much more frequent than for Lamma or for any other part of Lantau. Lamma actually has a crowded feeling to me. The planning is much better at DB. The only possible drawback I can see with DB is that it is completely unChinese. There are Chinese people over there, but foreigners might actually be in the majority. If you first look for an apartment in Kowloon, NT or HK and then go to DB, you will see the difference in the quality of life, though. Oh, and as for typhoons and the ferries, I wouldn’t worry about it. Even if you can’t get a ferry in or out of DB, you still have the MTR in Dongchung.

Yes, the visa procedures in HK are that simple. If they tell you your visa will be ready in six weeks, it will be ready in six weeks to the day. Ain’t the rule of law and a professional civil service great? The service I get from the HK Immigration Department makes me ashamed of the treatment my wife and I get every time we go back to the U.S.

If you do end up moving to DB or Lantau island, PM me here and we can go for a beer.

Is your employer doing the actual employment visa for you? If so, yep, that’s really it :slight_smile: You just go in on - and presuming you have an Australian passport, no visa required - and start work while your proper visa is arranged. That’s how it was in '97 anyway. Afterwards you can get a HK (non-permanent) resident ID card if you qualify which comes in really handy at customs at the airport :slight_smile:

Regarding where to live, I assume you’ll go look at the islands. Which is better depends very much on your personality. I don’t know the entire housing situation on Lantau, but there was a huge furore over ‘golf buggies’ - cars aren’t permitted on the island, so residents used golf buggies… but of course those numbers were limited too, leading to great resentment from the not-haves and much haggling over license transfers. I hear it’s a nice enough place in terms of space and value, but that whole situation put me off the place. I stress that I’ve never actually seen the residential areas of Lantau (since they are away from both the Big Buddha, and the airport). If you’re a self-described ‘hippie’ I think Lamma is much more appropriate. True, no supermarkets etc., but a very laid-back lifestyle, a near-private beach in the middle, vegetarian cafes etc. It is true that everyone knows everyone - whether you like that or not is up to you.

I am personally the complete opposite of an island person - we lived right smack in the heart of pollution-filled Causeway Bay - a major HK shopping district - for three and a half years - so these are merely my impressions from living in HK.

Househunting for places on Lantau is easier - look for ads in the English language papers for Discovery Bay, for a start. If you want to live on Lamma I think you are basically restricted to the agents on the island itself. You’ll probably need half a month’s agent’s fee and 2-3 months’ deposit. Lots of serviced apartments/cheap hotels you can live in while you look, but expensive compared to Taipei.

You should be able to buy all set up type things really easily - the Fortress chain is good and reliable for electricals and lots of outlets, though we always used Broadway ourselves. There’s an IKEA and everything. If you’re living on an island, though, you’ll probably want to just look there! Bear in mind that anything you buy off the islands you’ll have to lug home on the ferry (they’re well equipped for this). This would drive me nuts but many do it - I’ve shared a ferry to Lamma with a big-screen TV :slight_smile:

Good luck!

I love this site.

Thanks for the great replies. Lots to think about but more than a few doubts erased through tapping a few lines.

Dassgrl. Yeah, I actually booked a guesthouse in Causeway with the view to taking my time looking around. Nice to know about the visa business. What a relief!

Jive Turkey. I notice you are in Dongguan. My brother-in-law has a factory up there and promises to send down his driver to give me a lift up there on the odd weekend. May even see you there! I’ll PM my details when they are clearer.



When I talk about Lantau, I refer to Mui Wo (Silvermine Bay). Having watched DB grow from almost nothing to well, Legoland, I have much to say about it and very little of it good. It is expensive, the ferries are expensive, the developer controls just about EVERYTHING and at the end of the day you can’t go anywhere. Once you are there, you are trapped. The only way out is back to HK or to Tung Chung (Yuk!). There is an infrequent ferry service to Mui Wo (more on weekends and packed with DB residents fleeing the black-clad Stasi of HK Resorts ‘security’ and the claustrophobic characterless atmosphere of the place). Rent is pretty much the same as HK Island. I witnessed many people over the years leave DB for Mui Wo where you can have a similar-sized flat for 25% or less of the price, more space, a dog, a bike and freedom to choose how you move around. Most of the expats on DB (a minority by the way) are corporate types on packages and often with families. Mark my words, DB IS expensive. If you are on a local package, it is prohibitive. DB may be on Lantau but it is a world apart. I strongly recommend that you DON’t go there…well, maybe once in a while to have a giggle at how one private company can so utterly control the lives of the individuals who live there and transform them so they blend into one large being. It’s a very strange place. Mui Wo, on the other hand is great; fields, small winding paths, low rise, space between the houses, village folk pottering about, dogs, cows wandering about. Completely rural, very peaceful, quiet, unregulated (Have a look at the regulations for DB posted at the piers - there are tons). The other islands, well, Lamma is OK really but the flats are pretty packed together and your life will become the subject of discussion in the pubs whether you like it or not. Peng Chau - very small and very few foreigners (gweilos) and VERY cramped. Cheung Chau - Nice if you like fishing villages but very heavily built up albeit with a lot of local character. If I ever went back there I would not hesitate to go back to Lantau. I think my old place might still be available. It was about NT$15,000 per month which is very cheap by HK standards. In 10 years in that place, I was the only person in the building (plus ex-wife). Most places are three-storey village houses and floor areas are pretty much always 700 sq.ft or divisions thereof. In Mui Wo, you may be able to get a single storey village house with a garden space and privacy for about the same as I paid. Lamma, look at paying about HK$6000 per month and up for a 700sq.ft flat. Don’t forget also that on Lamma you have to lug all your stuff by hand or arrange trolleys etc. Also on Lantau but it is a lot easier. Ferries: Don’t worry about the ferries stopping for typhoons. When they stop so does everything else. But on Lantau you still have the option of getting back home by cab if the ferries stop early due to heavy seas. There is a road from Tung Chung to the South Lantau Road and blue cabs can easily be got in Tung Chung. Despite having a road linking North Lantau (Tung Cung/airport) and the south, it is in effect a closed road for which a permit is required which means that South Lantau is relatively traffic free at all times. Anyway, typhoons are a great excuse to knock off work early. Once though the ferry company screwed up big time and left hundreds of Lantau residents (and the other islands) stranded on HK Island and there was so much agro the riot police were called and huge fights ensued. But more about that over a beer…I a m getting nostalgic and I have work to do. Quality control for the draught beer. Lastly though: Don’t go to DB…remember The Prisoner with Patrick McGoohan? Actually, my personal opinion of DB was more than adequately summed up by my dog which, when we were out for a walk near the DB golf course, ran up onto one of the outer-lying greens, nearer Mui Wo, squatted right over the hole and dumped into it just before some blokes were about to play the hole. We fled and and left the golfers to work out how they would retrieve the ball should they have decided to play it. Not dissimilar (with some imagination) to the position you would find yourself in if you moved there.

Yes, DB is tightly controlled by The Company (I can’t even remember the name of the developer). However, I disagree that it’s expensive. When exactly were you renting a place for HK$15,000 a month? How big was it? You quote a price of HK$6,000 a month for 700sq.ft (management fee included) is easily doable at DB. For a place on HK island, Kowloon or well linked places in NT, you will pay MORE than this in the present market. How long ago were you seeing places at Mui Wo for that price? When I had a look, I thought the prices were a little cheaper than DB but for poorer quality. A LOT of three story houses have been going up in Mui Wo and the planning has been dodgy (or just fine if we follow HK standards). More and more shotcrete.

What do you mean? You can have a dog and bike in DB; I’ve seen plenty of them in DB when I’ve been there. What exactly do you mean by freedom to choose how you move around? Is there something I’ve missed there?

And I know single HK people making HK$15,000 a month who live in DB. We know plenty of flight attendants, some on expat contracts, some on local contracts, who live in DB. Most pilots take their fat allowances to to HK island.

The place is regulated. After living in a shithole like Dongguan, that doesn’t bother me too much. I want a quiet, safe place, that’s all. I am worried about the costs, though. The prices on the flats we’ve seen have been much cheaper than I had expected. It makes me wonder if there is some big hidden cost (excluding the cost of transportation; we already know about that) that we don’t know about yet. Does The Company take a “Company Tax?” Is there something I’ve missed, TbeBob? BTW, when you were in Mui Wo, how much was the ferry and how frequent was the service? After reading your comments here, I think I’ll go back for a second look. I’m still quite interested in DB, though.

I visited friends in DB once. What a strange place I found it (this was more than 10 years ago). There’s no way I could have lived there, I don’t think. As someone posted, think of The Prisoner.
Lamma I thought was extremely nice – I actually felt like I was on holiday when I was there. Met some very cool people, loved the little houses, the paths, the pubs, the ferry… Lamma is great (again, this was about 10 years ago. I’m sure its changed a lot since then.

Jive Turkey:

I rented for for the eqyuivalent of NT$ (NOT HK$) 15,000 per month.
I left Mui Wo two and a half years ago.
The ferries are now the same models as the DB ones.
Membership of the DB Club is mandatory; there’s one hidden tax.
Most CX pilots moved from Clearwater Bay to DB when Kai Tak moved to Chek Lap Kok. Few now live on HK Island unless they bought property there.
True, there has been quite a lot of development in Mui Wo and yes, the houses are older but there are no madatory management fees (another form of company tax?). In DB the company (Hong Kong Resorts also controls the ferries, has a monopoly on the bus service and the selling of Golf carts and controls the one company which allows you to move furniture into DB).
When you scratch the surface, DB is not the island idyll the developer would like people to believe. Maybe CX hosties do live there but most of them share.
Even the beach is artificial. Can’t walk your dog there though - it’s forbidden.

These are a mix of facts with a gratin of opinion. Where fact, please believe me. Opinion: well, I make no secret of my dislike for the place.

Guess I’ll have to sort this DB vs. Mui Wo dilemma out for myself. All good stuff and great advice.

I can tell ya, I’m seriously looking forward to replacing my 30 - 40 minute scoot dodgem - especially in this weather - for a similarly long ferry ride where I can chill out and read the papers. I’ll certainly not be shooting any albatrosses though.


[quote=“TpeBob”]Jive Turkey:

Membership of the DB Club is mandatory; there’s one hidden tax.
Ahha! That’s just the sort of thing I suspected. I’ll be going for a look at Mui Wo soon.

Jive Turkey:

Need any further info. or biased opinions, you can PM me or pop down to Carnegie’s and ask if I am around. Information is offered free on the grounds that I would hate to see you end up in DB and ultimately end up being a shadow of your former self after the Hong Kong Resorts Psy-Ops machine has had time to work.

FYI (or consideration) HG: You may wish to note:

My personal Mui Wo Village Rating is this:

(Greater Mui Wo area)

  1. Wang Tong (close to beach and shortest distance from Pier)
  2. Pak Ngan Heung (Furthest away from Pier but quite quiet)
  3. Luk Tei Tong (same distance from pier almost as above but more popular with gweilos/foreigners, better quality housing).
  4. Tai Tei Tong (previously popular with foreigners and the cheapest but very cramped and noisy especially at weekends because large number of holiday homes)

(Elsewhere on the island - in no order of preference but listed in increasing distances from Pier by road):

Pui O - many foreigners live here and is cheaper than Mui Wo but totally overcrowded at weekends when hordes of urban Cantonese from HK & KLN come over to practice their whispering skills. Can be difficult to get buses and cabs at weekends because of this.

San Sek Wan - very small. Accommodation limited amd all houses too close to the road which is noisy when buses of whispering holiday makers scream past.

Cheung Sha Upper & Cheung Sha Lower Beaches. - Very nice. Good beaches but accommodation choices are limited.

Tong Fuk - Good but at least 30 minutes by bus from pier. Advantage is greater proximity to airport. A 15 minute advantage over Mui Wo. A good little bar/restaurant run by a Brit (Dave Powell) who is quite off the wall. Reasonable accommodation available and a good beach. If you choose to live here just be careful how you pronounce it to your mother on the phone.

Shui Hau - Featureless and way too far from the pier but very close to the Big Buddha if you want to go there everyday. Close but still a 1000 feet climb by foot or road.

Tai O - No foreigners live here, except one and he is to avoided at all costs. Also, about 45 miutes from the Pier.

Tung Chung - North Lantau. That horrible colllection of high rises you can see coming into the airport. Like DB but 90% Government Housing rather than private. Awful place. To be avoided.

On the south side, all the supermarkets and good shops are to be found in Mui Wo.

The best thing about living in Mui Wo as opposed to DB is that you can choose how to live your life rather than conform to some monolithic development corporation’s idea of how you should live and behave. Mui Wo is also the last redoubt of the now dormant LLF (Lantau Liberation Front). Die-hards who didn’t OD on smack in the early 90’s can still be found here in small pockets.

Hope this helps. Cheers.


It certainly does.

I’ll be stomping around Mui Wo on Tuesday.

Hope top see you before then. Your bar, but at least one drink’s on me!



Since your reply, I went back and edited bits. Thanks for the offer of a drink; it would be churlish of me to refuse.

back to Lantau: Check notice boards in Wellcome for flat info. Park n Shop won’t have any as it’s the lesser supermarket in terms of choice. Try The China Bear pub next to McDonald’s (left out of the pier - 35 seconds walk) and ask the publican (Paul Docherty or his partner James Tierney) They’re Scottish but affable (!!) If youwant to have a good look at the “Greater Mui Wo” area, you can hire a push bike from the bike shop opposite Wellcome (1 minute 13 seconds from the pier, give or take) or walk to the Silvermine Beach Hotel (5 minutes from the pier) and see if you can rent one off the old hag who sets up shop just over the bridge before the hotel. She is weather sensitive so mght not be open if it is too cold or wet. Get a map. There might be one from the occasionally open information booth at the pier. Don’t know if they cost anything because I never needed one.



Jive Turkey:

BTW, Last I heard and this was pre-handover, the Golf Buggies were selling for…get this…HK$80,000 each. That’s right, EIGHTY THOUSAND for a bloody golf cart. Even if you get your own you would not be allowed to use it as HKR has an absolute monopoly on the selling of them and they fix the price. What I fail to understand is that there is…a waiting list!!!

DB skewers the mind, it really does.


[quote=“TpeBob”]Jive Turkey:

BTW, Last I heard and this was pre-handover, the Golf Buggies were selling for…get this…HK$80,000 each. That’s right, EIGHTY THOUSAND for a bloody golf cart. Even if you get your own you would not be allowed to use it as HKR has an absolute monopoly on the selling of them and they fix the price. What I fail to understand is that there is…a waiting list!!!

DB skewers the mind, it really does.

Maybe the situation has changed. I don’t even think they sell new golf buggies. When we were last there, someone told us that the number of licenses for golf buggies is restricted; it hasn’t been raised in a few years. At present, you can get an old golf buggy for peanuts, but you have to pay an arm and a leg for the license. I can’t remember exactly how much, but there is a market rate for them. I think the figure quoted to me was much higher than the 80k you mentioned. Basically, it would be about as expensive to own a golf buggy in DB as it would to get a small car and register it in HK. I also found a new ferry schedule for Mui Wo. While not as frequent as the DB ferry, it is still not bad (every 30 to 40 minutes). Mui Wo has fast (HK$21) and regular (HK$10.5) ferries, so you can cut your commuting costs if you aren’t in too much of a hurry. I think I’ll be having a closer look at Mui Wo. BTW, do you have any idea how much the membership fees are for the DB Club? I have absolutely no interest in joining any such club.

Jive Turkey:

I have no idea how much the mandatory club fees are but it isn’t cheap. Most people I know on DB had no interest in being members either, it’s just that if they wanted to live there…

The ferries: The BIG advantage of the cheaper ferries to Mui Wo is that if you have freight and are willing to arrange your own trolley, NWFF (New World First Ferry) allows it. The ferries themselves are old, dirty and slow. There are two classes on these boats and ‘deluxe’, such as it is allows tiy to go upstairs and enjot the ‘air-con’ and the view from the open deck at the back. For HK$10.50 you can sit with your fridge and the chicken and vegetable baskets. Noodles, beer (San mig only) and basic snacks are served on the slow ferries. There are also three-tier and two-tier ferries. If you want to travel ‘deluxe’ make sure it is a three-tier ferry as the two-tier one deluxe area is small, at the front and no direct access to the deck at the back which is covered, full of seats and small. The fast ferries don’t allow freight or dogs. If you smoke you can usually get away with it at the rear of the bottom deck of the slow ferries. That’s where the more laid-back foreigners hang out. The 6.30 p.m. from Central is usually full of them. There is also a 3.40 am (I think) fast ferry from Central to Mui Wo in case you want to stay out later in Wanchai and get drunk. If the booze doesn;t make you throw up the purple seat covers will! Avoid social contact on this ferry until you know the people first; some can get quite irritable, due to being totally drunk.

At weekends you can buy a return ticket FROM Mui Wo and this advisable because single tickets FROM HK to Mui Wo from Sat. pm through to Sunday are more expensive. It also allows you to walk straight through and not stand in line with the holiday makers. In fact you should always do this at weekends. These concession tickets are only available at weekends but it is NOT POSSIBLE to buy return tickets FROM HK.