Ciara Kenny

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Destination in Focus: Hong Kong

Practical advice on finding a job and a place to live in Hong Kong, with useful links to Irish organisations, social and business networks and emergency assistance, written by Gateway Hong Kong.

Thu, Nov 1, 2012, 11:58


Written by Philip Galloway and Isa Schaller of Gateway Hong Kong.

Hong Kong: a city of extremes

Hong Kong is a city of extremes. One moment you can be perched on one of the many levels of walkways (think space-age films), wandering past neon lights, Rolls Royces and busy professionals; and the next you can be trekking up one of the remote peaks on one of Hong Kong’s outer islands.

Hong Kong is known as a banking and finance hub, but it is also home to many companies employing people in consumer product manufacturing and design, professional serivices and infocomm, to name just a few.

The Irish community thrives in Hong Kong, with a vibrant social scene. With one of the largest expat population per capita in the world, making new friends in a similar position to you is very easy there.

The Irish Chamber of Commerce and St Patrick’s Society are both very active, hosting regular social functions in top venues. St Pats offers discounts at certain bars in HK. As for Irish sporting clubs, there is the HK GAA club which takes part in regional tournaments.

Find a Job

Earlier in 2012 the Hong Kong government highlighted a skilled employee shortfall of 14,000 by 2018 and has committed itself to increasing incentives for foreign skilled workers to move to and work in Hong Kong.

Don’t expect overnight success: Expect to be searching for a job for at least a month if you don’t arrive over with one arranged in advance.

Register with as many relevant recruitment agencies as possible: There’s an abundance of them here with big international firms like Michael Page and Robert Walters.

Check the big job sites: JobsDB in particular is the biggest player in Hong Kong and has listings for every industry.

Go direct: Make contact with any companies you’re interested in working for. Seek out people working there, whether it’s via Linkedin, Twitter or personal contacts. Message them and ask about available opportunities. This type of networking can be very lucrative in Hong Kong.

Income tax & health insurance

Your disposable income will be much the same in Hong Kong, if not greater than in other international hubs. Though the salaries are a little lower, the taxes compensate for this substantially, as Hong Kong has one of the lowest income tax structures in the world. For example, a person who earns HK$700,000 (€70,000) per year will pay HK$87,000 (€8,700) tax, or 12.4 per cent.

The employee is responsible for paying their own tax. The Inland Revenue Department has a detailed guide.

Healthcare facilities in Hong Kong rank among the best in the world, but the cost of treatment can be enormously high. It is very much advised that those travelling to Hong Kong get global health insurance before they leave Ireland, in case there is an emergency. Some companies provide health plans for employees but be sure to check the fine print for details of what you are covered for.

Find a place to live

Even if you’re transferring from Dublin, London or New York you will find accommodation in Hong Kong costly for what you get. For a compact one-bedroom flat in a relatively central area, you will pay around HK$15,000 (€1,500) per month. Head towards the more popular areas on Hong Kong Island (like Soho or Central) and accommodation goes up by 20 to 30 per cent to HK$18,000 to HK$20,000 (€1,800 to €2,000).

If you are looking to save money, head for Kowloon. Here you will find accommodation at a fraction of the cost and with far greater space. New Territories will also give you more space and facilities for your money. This is a popular choice with families. Fully serviced condominiums are plentiful here but the trade-off is the commute. Accommodation in Hong Kong is very well serviced transport-wise so you’re never that isolated.

For apartment rentals, websites to try include,,, or the classified sections of and

To kit out your home there are a number of options ranging from affordable to luxurious. Renting furnished apartments is very common and the standard of furnishing is often very high. If you still prefer to have your own furniture then there are two IKEA outlets and a number of high-end options spread across the city.

Cultural differences

Because of Hong Kong’s mixed east/west history, culture shock is not as present an issue as it is in many other Asian cities. It is possible to live a very opulent western lifestyle, or engage with the rich Cantonese culture on offer.

Guanxi, or the development of interpersonal relationships, is still very important in Hong Kong – even today. The exchange of business cards is an integral part of the business process and is seen as an exchange of gifts – especially amongst the Chinese. It may be taken as an offence if you do not provide a business card in exchange for your acquaintance’s card.


The Consulate of Ireland, Hong Kong – Emergency assistance for Irish citizens can be obtained here.

Irish News

Although the Irish population in Hong Kong is rapidly growing, there still is no central news portal for Irish affairs in Hong Kong. The Irish Chamber of Commerce provides news on Irish business in Hong Kong.

Recruitment resources

Michael Page – Global recruitment firm with a wide range of specialities.

Morgan McKinley Hong Kong– Global professional recruitment consultancy that connects specialist talent across multiple industries and disciplines.

Hays – Experts in recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people across a wide range of specialised industries and professions, they also operate across the private and public sectors.

Robert Walters – International recruitment firm that place candidates in accountancy & finance, banking & financial services, human resources, information technology, legal, sales & marketing, secretarial & support as well as supply chain, logistics & procurement.

Hudson– Helpful guide to placing foreigners and a guide to which industries to focus on.

Business & social networks

St Patrick’s Society - Social group for the Irish community in Hong Kong.

Irish Chamber of Commerce – The recognised forum for Irish professionals with an interest in the development of business ties within Hong Kong.

Enterprise Ireland – The government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets.

Ireland Hong Kong Business Forum(IHKBF) – The organization provides a forum for companies and individuals interested in Hong Kong.

Irish sporting clubs

The HK GAA Club – Has Men, Women and Junior teams.

About the author:

Gateway Hong Kong is an online guide to working and living in Hong Kong. The organisation provides comprehensive advice on all the things you need to know before you make the big move. For those who have moved, we provide information on finding work, a place to live, meeting people, eating out, and things to do.

Also, Gateway Hong Kong has a growing portfolio of jobs for Irish candidates. To find out more, visit Also follow us on Facebook ( and Twitter (@gatewayhongkong). You can also join the LinkedIn Group to connect with recruiters and other expats.