A friend of mine from the UK just asked me how to move to Asia. I have been here for almost five years now, and I realised that some things may have changed since I left the UK. However, I gave her the best advice I could. She is not the first person to ask me for advice about moving abroad. Many of the people who have visited us have asked for advice about how to move to Asia. As someone who enjoys travelling and living overseas, I have outlined some of the main points to consider when moving abroad for work or study. The advice is based on what I did before moving to Hong Kong, but can be applied as a guideline for any country.
Get a visa
Thoroughly research the country you are moving to. If you are coming from the UK, a lot of countries in Asia will let you enter without a visa. Hong Kong is one of them. They will issue a standard holiday visa valid for six months when you land in Hong Kong. This is just for visits or travel, be aware it is illegal to work on such a visa. You can easily google the immigration policy of your desired country. To work in Hong Kong, you will need to be sponsored for an employment visa. Once you get an employment visa in Hong Kong, you can get a Hong Kong ID card. This allows you to set up a bank account, use public hospitals, libraries and apply for a credit card. Make sure your passport is up to date, as this will be needed for applying for a visa.
Check yo’ self
If you are moving for work, or are being sponsored by a company, they will want a background check. When I left the UK, I went to work for an overseas limited company, meaning that I got a certificate of no-criminal conviction from Disclosure Scotland. This is similar to the standard CRB check you get for employment within the UK. However it is valid for overseas companies. If you are already in Hong Kong your company will ask you for a certificate of no conviction, and inform you of where to obtain it.
Head to the doctors
There is no National Health Service in Hong Kong, although you can pay a small fee to use the public hospitals. As a result, Hong Kong companies provide medical insurance as standard. However, you will need a letter from your doctor to send to the medical insurance company. First book an appointment with your GP and ask them for a letter stating that you have no serious medical conditions. If you have an illness which needs to be monitored with appointments or medication, make sure your new employer is aware of it. Also, thoroughly research your rights in your destination country, in terms of using public hospitals as an expat, dentists (often not included in insurance), prescription glasses etc. Your employer’s insurance provider should give you a brochure about where their offices are, how you can access treatment etc.
Sort your credit out
Moving abroad is expensive and anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. I sold my car and a lot of my belongings to pay for my airfare. I also got a credit card. Make sure your credit is in order, you can do a free credit check at Moneysupermarket.com. If your credit is good, getting a credit card can be as simple as booking an appointment at a bank. Make sure to update your bank details and tell them you will be moving overseas. Provide your overseas number if necessary. Caxton FX offer a currency card which you can “load” by transferring money. This can be used worldwide and you can avoid currency exchange charges.
Put a roof over your head
Depending on where you move, house hunting has varying degrees of difficulty. Hong Kong is extremely expensive, although some companies provide housing. Ask your employer, and if in doubt, see if they can recommend a good estate agent. Also check out websites such as Geoexpat.com or roommate.com for advice.
Depending on your line of work you may already have business cards. Networking in Hong Kong is very important. It can be useful just when meeting people socially to pass them a card than having to shout out your number in a crowded bar. If you have moved abroad and are looking for work, make sure your CV is in order. Put your original certificates in a folder, and make a set of copies. Also keep a set of passport sized photographs for application forms.
This advice is not extensive, but will get you well on your way. If you are moving with a partner or your family you can check out websites such as geoexpat.com or asiaexpat.com. Hong Kong has a large expat community to make you feel at home.
If you are moving abroad for employment, I have another post here:
Find advice about what you can do for work once you’re here.
If you are looking to study abroad, I have a post about how I do so here:
Hong Kong Immigration Department: http://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/
Expat forum: Geoexpat.com Asiaexpat.com
Disclosure Scotland: https://www.mygov.scot/basic-disclosure/apply-for-basic-disclosure/
Canton FX: https://www.caxtonfx.com/
Money Supermarket: http://www.moneysupermarket.com/
Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.
Thanks for reading!