So I finally got a little taste of Hong Kong... That cool spot everyone in Shanghai loves and that several people have told me I will absolutely love to.
The city-life, the out-of-city-life, the night-life, the convenience, the food, the people & especially the-much-less-hassle-than-Shanghai factor.
I like it. I really like Hong Kong. After few days of hiking around in my Nike Frees (like literally hiking when we did the hike to the peak on Sunday and just "hiking" around the city ignoring the subway & the cheap taxi convenience) I already felt I had a good overview of the downtown of Hong Kong island.
On Hong Kong island it's literally only the Northern part that has a big population and a downtown. The rest is mountains, beaches and nature-filled suburbs. We stayed in "Causeway Bay" in the North East part of Hong Kong. As Leon's work is located in "Central" the North West part of Hong Kong, I was quickly familiar with both areas - 2 very very different areas.
Both areas are super busy, super bustling & packed with thing to do, see & buy everywhere. But where Causeway Bay has more of the local Chinese charm, the local Chinese chaos and the local Chinese offerings everywhere, Central is the core business Center of Hong Kong. The in-between districts: Wan Chai and Admiralty is a nice mix where Wan Chai is both closer and more similar to Causeway Bay and Admiralty to Central.
Hong Kong is a step (or several) further than Shanghai in regards to Western offerings and what in many Westerners eyes makes a better lifestyle. First of all the air quality in Hong Kong is much much better than Shanghai. Forget about red AQI numbers.
Second of all and as I've mentioned: Hong Kong island is filled with nature (read: mountains, beaches) and surrounded by islands. This means that after a big night at the bars on Lan Kwai Fong (Hong Kong's Yongkang Lu - the ultimate bar street) recover during a hike to the Peak. Nothing like some fresh mountain & forest air. Or take a 20 minute ferry ride to Lamma Island for a big change of scenery. Check my visit here.
Thirdly, Hong Kong has more brands, more products and more options if you don't want to live like a local 24/7. We randomly came across a British Candy Store with all candy you can recall from your childhood and oh: Liquorice. My absolute favorite treat and former addiction. YUM! This would be absolute impossible to run into in Shanghai (though some candy is available for example Haribos Gummy Bears).
Also, Western cafes & restaurant brands will normally start their Chinese expansion in Hong Kong before the next and maybe more riskier step to Shanghai. The British healthy fast food chain Pret a Manger which opened in Shanghai last year after their long big success in Hong Kong is a good example. And they are not killing it in Shanghai yet...
We visited Jamie Oliver's renowned place "Jamie's Italian" one evening and that was absolutely amazing - maybe soon a spot like this will dare to move to the mainland as well.
Living In Hong Kong
Even though I found Hong Kong to be quite expensive, everything imported is in general cheaper than in Shanghai and mainland China. Especially Western brands within fashion and similar. That's why Hong Kong is said to be a shopping haven and you'll find shops and malls filled with shoppers from the mainland.
The biggest expense in Hong Kong is the rent and even the minimum level sounds absolutely crazy. So better get yourself a good housing allowance if you are considering expatriating to Hong Kong...
I could definitely see myself move to Hong Kong. But I have the feeling that I would have to dig out my super career focused mindset if doing so. Hong Kong doesn't seem like a place you just move and kid around. It's competitive, ambitious and more similar to metropolises like New York and London.
Now it's back to Shanghai and start planning our next step =) While we don't know exactly what we are up to we've kind of decided to leave Shanghai this year. Not for good but Shanghai (China) needs to step up their environment game and safe all of us living here from chronic lung problems.
We are still here for some time (not leaving just when the Shanghai summer-fun has started) and we are both working on projects that's meant to keep Shanghai as part of our life.
While I really like Hong Kong I can't wait to get back to our little home on Shaanxi Lu in Shanhai <3