As an expat or overseas student, preparing for your relocation to Hong Kong might seem a daunting mission – from packing your belongings, taking care of your home, preparing immigration documents for a visa or entry permit to finding an appropriate international moving company. To be honest, if you organise everything properly in good timeliness, it is not such a tough feat but before we start, remember to write yourself a checklist so that no detail is left out.
1. Make sure all your paperwork is in order
Before embarking on your adventure in another realm, the first task is to get your paperwork in order; after all, some of the paperwork involve your application for a visa or entry permit which can guarantee you a smooth entry into Hong Kong.
Whether you are coming to Hong Kong for employment or studying, you have to apply for a visa or entry permit, and remember to go to your bank to make the necessary arrangements for an international bank account or global money transfers, and of course, do the same for your family members if they are coming with you. If you are bringing your pets, be sure to have all their documentation ready to apply for a Special Permit from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and check if quarantine is required based on your country of origin.
Aside from paperwork that is related to your move to Hong Kong, it is also wise to have your will and power of attorney etc. in place.
And finally, be sure that you have made both hard and soft copies of all documents and save the electronic ones to your cloud drive.
2. Learn about your destination and bring what’s appropriate
Hong Kong during the summer can be very hot and humid, and the winter freezing and humid, with spring and autumn being kind of non-existent, so be sure that you bring clothes that are fit for these extreme weathers. The same goes for your furniture and belongings, avoid bringing items that can be easily damaged by moisture.
If you have read up on the housing situation in Hong Kong, you will know that Hong Kong is a city with a population of 7 million and very limited living space, so don’t bother with your furniture over if they are oversized and try to limit the amount of belongings you bring with you because you will definitely have a tough time storing them.
Another way to help you decide what to bring is by categorising your belongings in terms of replaceability, cost and urgency. Replaceability refers to how easily the item can be replaced, cost refers to the cost of insurance versus the cost of replacing, and urgency refers to how much inconvenience will it cause you without the item.
On a side note, while you are packing, it is also a good opportunity for you to do some house cleaning and sell or throw out whatever furniture and items you don’t use or want anymore. This will help to save on your storage space and thus fee if you cannot bring everything with you to Hong Kong.
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3. Picking a moving company
The easiest way to find a good moving company is word of mouth. The truth about moving internationally is time consuming and can be quite costly, especially when preparing for packing and making arrangements for the actual move.
If you are an expat, ask your company for recommendations for it might have internal resources or contacts can help you ease the hassle of finding a moving company on your own, and the other option is to get advice from your colleagues.
When comparing different companies, you should not only think about the absolute value of the cost but the quality of service in terms of punctuality, communication, efficiency, detail orientation and tracking. It is rare that a moving company is perfect and completely error free, so the advice is to research and read up on company reviews to find the moving company that suits you the best.
4. Rent out your home and take care of the utilities
If you own a home and don’t plan to sell, renting it out is the best way not to let your property become rundown, so you should take time to find the right tenant who will take good care of your home like their own. You also need to make arrangements for collecting the rent and manage repairs and maintenance. The most convenient way is to pay a real estate agent to sort everything out.
Next, inform your utilities providers about your departure and that your new tenant will be taking over. Another important to-do item is forwarding your mail, remember to send your local post office a notification with your new address when it is available or you will end up missing important mail such as your tax return and voting information.
>> Related Article: Useful Tips for Finding the Right Tenant
5. Register with your embassy
Though Hong Kong is a very safe place, it doesn’t hurt to take extra precaution. For US citizens, you can sign up for Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), it allows you to mark down the countries, along with the dates, you plan to stay in and sends you important safety information and warning alerts in case of an emergency. This will come in especially useful when you are taking short vacations to neighbouring countries which might not be as safe as Hong Kong. Other countries have a similar service, for example, Registration of Canadians Abroad for Canada and Foreign Travel Advice email or feed updates for United Kingdom.
6. Visit a doctor
Hong Kong is uncommon to disease outbreaks and usually doesn’t require any new vaccines, but if there are chances that you might travel to neighbouring countries, then you should definitely visit a doctor. Remember to get an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis booklet, which gives a record of all your immunizations and might one day come in handy. Better to be safe than sorry.