Expats are leaving ‘extortionate’ Hong Kong – ‘all sorts of issues’

China’s response to US Hong Kong advisory discussed by Yoon

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Expats who made a new life in Hong Kong are leaving in droves. Hong Kong has some of the world’s strictest Covid rules.

Expats in the financial hub of Hong Kong are going home, reports the BBC.

A new survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said border closures were the reason for many expats’ move, with the Chamber’s president herself leaving Hong Kong.

While Hong Kong is following mainland China’s zero-Covid policies, it’s not the only problem.

British expat Joanna said: “The cost of rent is extortionate.”

Stewart agreed and said: “Rent and property are outrageously expensive.”

Another British expat, Kate, said “the culture shock cannot be understated”, as it took her “a good six months to settle into life in Hong Kong”.

Britons moving to Asia may experience a degree of culture shock, as things can be very different to the UK.

Hong Kong remains a popular destination for expats, as the financial hub offers plenty of job opportunities.


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Many international companies have offices in Hong Kong and staff them with people from all over the world.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong outgoing-president Tara Joseph said: “Companies are not keen to go – but for the staff there are all sorts of issues.

“Because they have personal lives, they have anxieties, they have families back home.”

Covid exacerbated the problems of expat life, with Hong Kong’s borders closed.

British expat Anne left Hong Kong after seven years to move to Singapore.

Having not seen her family for three years, the mandatory 21-day hotel quarantine for all returning residents was just too much.

She said: “We desperately miss our families but the three-week quarantine and the continual instability of flights is too much.”

Tara said there was “no light at the end of the tunnel”.

Hong Kong’s relationship with mainland China is fraught, but the city is following the mainland’s tough take on Covid restrictions.

Kerr Gibbs, an American expat and China business veteran who is leaving Shanghai told the FT: “China has developed quickly due to the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of the Chinese people, [but] it’s also true that opening to the outside world played an important role.”

The world now being shut out, businesses and their staff are leaving or planning to relocate.

During the pandemic, for expats leaving, there is no way back to the city.


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