In Stogram’s weekly interviews we present you our clients, young people we know who are living abroad. Their thoughts and observations, expats, living in countries like Thailand, Philippines, Holland, India, Australia and a lot more. We find that it’s always exciting to know about what motivated people to live in another part of the world, how they manage to live there, and what they’ve learned from their experiences in a land that’s become their new home.
This week Stogram made an interview with a cute young couple, Paula and Hassan Karim, currently living in Hong Kong who shared their story with us. Learn how they did it, how they managed to survive the difficulties of moving to another country, and how they are happily living their life’s dream.
-Where were you guys born?
Paula is half Hungarian and half Russian, was born and raised in Hungary however she spent the last 9 years abroad including time in the United States and the UK. Hassan was Born in England but has also lived in Brasil.
-In which country and city are you living now?
We live in an area called Tin Hau on Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong.
-Are you living alone or with your family?
Hassan has got offered a job in Hong Kong with his company which is why we moved out here. Both of our families are still in Europe.
-How long have you been living in HongKong?
We have been here since late July.
-What is your age?
Paula is 26 and Hassan is 35.
-When did you come up with the idea of living in HongKong?
It wasn’t really a choice as Hassan’s company relocated us here but we had been keen to experience living in a new country for a while and this was the perfect opportunity.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a work permit?
Hassan’s company was very helpful and informative in regards with our visas and arranged everything for us. I came (Paula) here via a dependant visa as we were already married.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
Hassan’s work package also includes private medical insurance for the both of us so we did not have to worry.
-How do you make your living in HongKong?
Hassan works for an insurance company and I am a professional nanny for a private family.
-Do you speak the local language and do you think it’s important to speak the local language?
Neither of us speaks Cantonese or Mandarin but whilst it would be useful sometimes especially in taxis and in shops and restaurants you can get by without it and most expats don’t speak any Cantonese as all signs are in English. We are keen to learn the local language though as we feel it’s an important step in integrating into a new country.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
Of course, we miss our family and friends sometimes especially as the time difference makes it more difficult to keep in touch however both of our families were quite far from us in England so it hasn’t been too much of a shock for us.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
We are planning on staying in Asia for the foreseeable future and are looking forward to travelling and exploring the wider region. Though we probably end up back in Europe eventually, maybe when we have children so they can be closer to our families.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home?
We are renting a 2 bedroom flat at the moment. The size of apartments in HK are very small, our apartment is considered to be quite big but it’s still only 500 sqft. Apartments here are very expensive and around double the cost of London however things like transport for example is significantly cheaper. Food can be expensive especially for western foods and meals. The good news is that there is no sales tax here so buying things in shops is often cheaper than the UK and income tax is far less.
We love all the things that Hong Kong has to offer.
-What do you think about the local people?
Local people can be a little distant with foreigners however they are mostly friendly, especially at our age. We haven’t really had much opportunity so far to meet many local people (as we get invited to and join gatherings organised by expats) but we are looking forward to meeting new people and intergrating into HK social life.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in HongKong?
We have a great lifestyle here which we couldn’t afford to have in the UK but we are so far away from our families. There are so many restaurants and bars yet we are so near to the mountains and the beach as well. In HK you are never more than 30 mins from anywhere and transport is fantastic.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in HongKong?
We would recommend them to download the HK taxi app which translates English into Cantonese and is invaluable and the HK observatory app which warns about typhoons and extreme weather.