Hong Kong Expats
Hong Kong Blog For Expats, Locals and Tourists

Top Things Expats Hate About Hong Kong

Newcomers or those still overseas pondering a move to Hong Kong after receiving a job offer or regional assignment may not have sufficient information about the city besides its tall buildings, business clout or soaring property prices as they often appear in the news.

Love it or hate it, Hong Kong is just like any other city or town you’ve been. There are things you like and things you hate. For now, let’s focus on the latter and see what expats probably hate the most in this otherwise lovely special administrative region.

1. Humidity
From June until September, or depending on who you ask, Hong Kong’s summer is just atrociously humid and sweaty that clothes could virtually become sweat sponge as the air is laced with humidity on a typical sunny day.

2. Strangers remain strangers
You may share seven other households in the same floor you are staying but you likely don’t know them that much. Many people tend to look only after themselves by not opening doors for others or not waiting for someone to board the elevator.

3. Letting others do your work
Many people don’t clean up their fastfood tables, relying too much on attendants. Parents leaving almost every task to their helpers, including their role as parents to their children — in the name of career.

4. People lacking manners
Loud personal or phone conversations on public transport. Some people eat at air-conditioned buses, leaving a funky smell afterwards. Some people take MTR seats reserved to elderly, parents carrying babies or pregnant women and don’t offer them when someone more deserving comes along. Did we mention about nasty shopkeepers who don’t know how to smile?

5. Lack of English language options
In recent years, we observed that more billboard ads, government announcements, restaurant menus and websites are only displayed in Chinese language.

You can guess what these restaurant condiment labels are.

6. Lack of local English-language TV channels
There is TVB Pearl which broadcasts in English (on some hours they’re in Potunghua) and that’s it. If you allocate more time watching TV channel, you’d have to subscribe to a cable service.

7. The education system
Young kids don’t have enough time to play as they often undergo tests and assessments even before the age of three.

8. High cost of living
Expats although generally perceived as higher income individuals cannot be immune to the expensive cost of living — say food or parking, not just housing accommodations.

9. Crowded house
Over seven million people live in a city with an area of just a little over 1,000 sq kilometer — that doesn’t even do justice with the land area as only 6.9% of it is devoted to residential purpose; two-thirds of Hong Kong is composed of forests, shrubs, grassland and wetland.

10. Pollution
As a doorway to China, Hong Kong cannot escape that negative association with bad air quality, contaminated food or risk of exposure to diseases like avian flu. To make matters worse, noise pollution from both perpetual construction projects and that brash middle-aged woman in the neighborhood,

Some expats may get paid HK$200,000 a month, live on company-paid city-view mansions and have access to luxury perks the city has to offer. Yet, they might still their own share of gripes about Hong Kong. So are the rest of us.

Photo credit: Luca Mascaro / Flickr

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