We interviewed Geoff Denton who, originally from Melbourne, moved from our London office to Hong Kong. Here's what he had to say about living and working there.
Why Hong Kong?
Hong Kong offers a unique lifestyle, with excellent restaurants and bars that mix with a Western and Asian culture. There’s never a dull moment here. Being from Melbourne, the time zone also works well with chatting to friends and family back home. This makes you feel as though you are not that far away at all. My fiancé is from Europe, so geographically it works well for us as a half-way point between both our families and friends.
There are other homely reminders you see on a day-to-day basis too, such as UK and Australian sports on TV and you’re able to buy the basics easily (think Vegemite, Tim Tams for Aussies and M&S for the Brits).
Apart from this, the work on offer in Hong Kong is really interesting and complex. Being a smaller legal community, you have far more client interaction on a daily basis. Gone are the days of client briefings with multiple agencies for example. Rather, you are really forced to take the lead on engaging with clients and forming relationships with them. This suits me and the way I go about things, so it’s a good match.
What’s it like living there?
Hong Kong is an easy place to live. With such a big expat contingent here, it’s really easy to make friends and meet new people (usually via the famous free flow brunches and on junks). Travel to and from work is easy (I walk in every day which takes around 15 minutes).
Finding somewhere to rent is very easy and there is a complete range of accommodation to suit all budgets. Some people like living closer to Central for convenience and to be close to the action, whereas others prefer to live further away and near/on the beaches, which are around 30-40 minute commute by ferry/MTR.
Hong Kong is a main travel hub for Asia and it is possible to make weekend visits to places such as Bangkok, Shanghai, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines. Travel is cheap and you often get excellent flight and hotel packages through travel agents.
Taxes are low too which obviously helps, with most people paying around 15% on a yearly basis.
How’s the market? Is Hong Kong still considered one of the world’s financial hubs?
The market, like the city itself, is always active. We have a great team here, and between us we cover off on all levels of seniority and manage things well. Every day is busy.
You only have to look across the city skyline to see how many banks and financial institutions are based here to say that yes, it’s absolutely one of the world’s financial hubs. In fact, Hong Kong is home to the highest concentration of banking institutions in the world.
On top of this, Hong Kong is the gateway to mainland China, and with the continued growth of the China market and ever increasing influence on Hong Kong, this is set to continue.
How difficult is it to get a visa? How much of a problem are language barriers?
The visa process usually takes 6 weeks at most, and is not difficult at all. The company will take care of all of this on your behalf, and will even assist with family members that are dependant.
Most people think that without being able to speak Mandarin or Cantonese, it would be a struggle. The reality is, most people speak English and going about your daily life is relatively hassle free without it. For instance, everywhere is signed in English and menus are all in English and some helpfully will have photos too.