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Hello all,

I’ve just received a job offer for the HK office a multinational finance-related firm. Waiting to get the official offer and begin the compensation discussion. Not quite sure what they will offer, but have a rough idea; also, the HR rep told me that it would be all salary and bonus, so not expecting any sort of extensive expat package. From my research it seems that the days of the loaded expat package are waning, but the offer should come with relocation allowance and tickets home.

Will be moving with my wife, who also works in a finance-related field, so between our two salaries I am pretty sure that we will be able to carve out a comfortable niche for ourselves. It is just the two of us, no kids yet. We live in New York now, so we’re used to, and prefer, apartment living; although I realize that what we have now is spacious by comparison to anything that we will find in HK. Both of our offices will be in Central and our jobs will likely require considerable travel. We’d like to be no more than 30 minutes door-to-door from work and no more than an hour from the airport. Right now, I am looking at the areas on HK island surrounding Central, from Kennedy Town east to North Point.

I have a few questions:

1. Are there other neighborhoods to which I ought to be paying attention? We’d like to be fairly central and have food and entertainment options, but don’t need, or even want, to be in the poshest most happening areas. By way of comparison, in New York we have lived in Harlem and Brooklyn.

2. The HR rep already told me that there will be no separate housing allowance. I have read, however, that employers can designate a portion of your salary as a housing allowance for tax purposes. Is this true and is it something that most employers are willing to do? Is that something to ask for in the negotiating stage or is it best to wait and make those arrangements once I come on board? Things are a little tricky, because I am not talking directly to HR in HK, but with someone from the company’s headquarters in another city.

3. I’ve been looking at apartments online and it seems that the kind of place that I am looking for (building with a gym, new-ish finishes, larger 1BR or moderate 2BR) can be found in the HK$25k to HK$40K price range. Are the prices that I am seeing on squarefoorHK and HKhomes accurate? Or will things be more expensive or cheaper once I am on the ground?

Obviously, this is all at the internet search stage for me and things will get more concrete once I am on the ground, but any information that I can glean now will help me in my and my wife’s compensation discussions.

We are both very excited about the move. Thank you in advance for any and all suggestions.

Best,
j r
 

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How about business? Do you intend in putting up your business while you're here in Hong Kong? If yes, better check out Sheung Wan rent office, Wan Chai office rental and Causeway Bay office rent offered by JLL Properties. They have good location.
 

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Hong Kong is small and 30 minutes commuting covers a wide area. In HK commuting time is more relevant than distance. Some places are more residential while other more business.

For Tax, you can offset some of your housing cost against your salary. There is an ratio of rent/salary that makes it optimal. Better talk to a tax person for that. Anyway if you are US citizen or green card holder, you need to pay US tax - so saving on the HK side has less impact.

The SquareFoot or HK Homes are quite representative for rental price plus/minus 20%.
 

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Hopefully, everything will be pretty smooth for you. Places like Central, Tsim Sha Shui, and Wan Chai are pretty centralised areas in Hong Kong. Housing allowance will be included within your pay cheque, and apartments are equiped with facilities are most likely will be costly. But all depends on other factors like size, location, furnished or un furnished, and what kind of services will be provided.
 

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along the same lines, am moving there shortly-- any ideas on turnaround time between seeing an apartment, and when you could move in? i assume its pretty quick given most places advertised look to be vacant ( or maybe they are just old photo from when it was vacant?)
 

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You need to be aware that day to day expenses in HK are quite high, despite the impact that in Asia everything is cheap - it's not at all cheap, but as in every country its possible to find a middle way.
In any case - good luck for searches!
 
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