Scottish Expat Living in Hong Kong - Interview with Joanna

Published: 11 Jul at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Hong Kong
Joanna is a Hong Kong blogger from Scotland. When she first moved to Hong Kong, she struggled to find lots of up-to-date information about the city online, so decided to start her own blog. Joanna works in digital marketing for a large media agency in Hong Kong - a career that has taken her to Berlin, Edinburgh and now Hong Kong. Joanna's expat blog is called B Hong Kong (see listing here)

Playing Liar's Dice and Eating Great Food at Java Road Cooked Food Centre
Playing Liar's Dice and Eating Great Food at Java Road Cooked Food Centre

Here's the interview with Joanna...


Where are you originally from?
Edinburgh, Scotland

In which country and city are you living now?
Hong Kong

How long have you lived in Hong Kong and how long are you planning to stay?
I've been here just two months and I'm planning to stay...indefinitely! 2-3 years seems to be common amongst Expats in Hong Kong, but at the moment I can't imagine being anywhere else.

Sheung Wan Street
Sheung Wan Street
Why did you move to Hong Kong and what do you do?
I moved here because I was looking to move away from my hometown, I love travelling and I was getting itchy feet. My boyfriend's job took him to Hong Kong and it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to try out living in Asia.

Did you bring family with you?
No, in fact I hadn't been to Hong Kong before I moved here, so I didn't have a clue what to bring! I did manage to fit it all in a 20kg luggage allowance though.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Hong Kong is an easy place to move to, because there is a lot of English speaking and you can find most of the same things here than you can in Europe or the US. I lived in Berlin for a few years, and that taught me some important do's and dont's that I tried to stick to in my second time living in a foreign country.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
One of the great things about Hong Kong is how thriving the expat community is. Everyone is really keen to make friends, so it's very easy, and soon you'll be invited along to every event in town. The majority of my friends are expats and come from all over the world, the USA, UK, Netherlands, France and Australia.

Camping in Sai Kung
Camping in Sai Kung
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
I recommend trying out the Cooked Food Centres, they are food courts run by local businesses in each district, normally you can find great local food at extremely cheap prices, and they have a great atmosphere on weekends. My blog post can be found here: http://www.b-hongkong.com/2015/05/food-liars-dice-at-java-road-cooked.html

What do you enjoy most about living in Hong Kong?
I love how much is going on in Hong Kong - every week there are events for all tastes, whether it's art, music, film or outdoors activities. One big surprise for me about Hong Kong was how many outdoor pursuits there are, and how many people are interested in them, even in sweltering heat! There is lots of beautiful hiking spots, beaches that are great for camping, in the summer there's boat trips with wake boarding, there's jogging clubs and trail running. Although I'm not cut out for a lot of these activities, it's a great side to a city that I thought was more about skyscrapers and shopping.

How does the cost of living in Hong Kong compare to home?
Hong Kong is more expensive than Edinburgh, in particular the cost of rent is extortionate, even by London standards. I have found though that there are many ways to live in Hong Kong on a budget - Western restaurants and bars can be very expensive, whilst local cafes and food stalls are extremely cheap, and often tastier food.

Shopping for Chinese gifts at the Temple Street Night Market
Shopping for Chinese gifts at the Temple Street Night Market
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Hong Kong?
It is a long way from home for many expats, so not seeing my family as much is a hard thing. Fortunately technology like Skype and FaceTime means I can speak to them very easily and it's easy to not feel so far away.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Hong Kong, what would it be?
Absolutely move here, and treat the move as if it was permanent. When I lived in Germany I had a 'just another three months mentality', so I didn't get a long lease on a flat, or a phone contract, or buy too many things in case I moved back to the UK. What happened was that it put me in a sort of limbo where I never felt truly settled, and possibly made me less social too, as I didn't feel the need to pursue friendships as much.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Probably the move in the first place! I had to be transferred by my company so that I could get a working visa, no visa means no Hong Kong ID card, and no ID card means it's very difficult to sign up for bank accounts, gyms, etc. I'd recommend giving yourself a week on arrival to sort out all the bureaucracy, it took me a while!

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?


Outdoors Hong Kong - hiking in Sai kung
Outdoors Hong Kong - hiking in Sai kung
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Don't wait for people to invite you to things - be proactive, find fun things to do and invite people to them, you'll be surprised how big a group you can get together.
  2. Use Meet Up - Meet Up is a great website for finding events happening in your city. In Hong Kong there are hundreds of groups for a huge range of interests. Most people just go to meet ups by themselves, so it's a great way to meet new people.
  3. Don't expect that every single moment will be great. Moving anywhere comes with its stresses and unexpected problems. Remember that for any hard times there will be so many more good ones, and don't let it put you off.
  4. Keep in touch with home. It is really easy to get sucked in by Hong Kong, time flies by so fast it's sometimes difficult to keep in touch with friends and family. Always make time for it, I've found having a scheduled time every two weeks where I agree to Skype a friend works really well.
  5. Travel as much as you can. A fantastic thing about living in another country, or even continent, is that there are so many places on your doorstep. Whilst Japan used to just be a dream for me, due to long and expensive flights, I can now get there in under 4 hours. Make the most of your Asia bucket list whilst you're in the neighbourhood.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
B Hong Kong includes the best places to eat, drink and visit, as well as the best things to do and see in Hong Kong.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Email me on joanna.clairehk@gmail.com

About the author

Expat Blog ListingJoanna is a Scottish expat living in Hong Kong. Blog description: Blog Hong Kong finds the best sights, food and travel the city has to offer. A blog for new arrivals in Hong Kong or anyone wanting to explore this amazing city further.
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