Hong Kong: A Part-Time Nomad Guide

Top 3 Post Insights

  1. Stay in Sai Ying Pun, Soho or Sheng Wan.

  2. Choose a co-working space which aligns to the type of people you want to meet.

  3. A bitter sweet goodbye.

 
 Shum Shui Po 📸@ivankwongphotography

Shum Shui Po 📸@ivankwongphotography

 
 

Hong Kong is non-stop!

A vibrant city, there is always somewhere to eat, drink and play. The best part? There’s always an egg tart around the corner ; )

In my previous post, I mentioned I was looking for a new home base. Which is why I went to Hong Kong, as I thought about relocating here by the end of the year.

Hong Kong is an EPIC city, but for me, it’s a place to visit/ holiday rather than live. Don’t let that stop you though! There were plenty of things I didn’t do, like hikes and island day trips. My experience is purely subjective, so please visit for yourself : )

Regardless, here’s what I did:

 

Where to Stay?

There’s 3 areas expats recommended to me:

Sai Yin Pun | Sheung Wan

  • I stayed in both suburbs and loved it! It’s got a good mix of young expats and locals. Great cafes, bars and restaurants. It’s not very touristy and you feel like you can actually make a life for yourself here eg. find your favourite cafes, happy hour bars, go for runs etc.

Soho | Central

  • Soho and Central are a little more busier and happening. There’s lots of bars and shopping. There’s definitely more tourists hanging about, so if you’re only here or a few days it’s a popular place to be.

Kowloon | Mong Kok | Shum Shui Po

  • Kowloon is on the northern side of Hong Kong. It feels a little more localised than the first two areas mentioned above. There’s lots of markets, street food yet there’s still some really nice hotels.

Note: Wherever you stay, try and stay near the MTR (train line). It’s pretty easy to get everywhere on the MTR. But don’t stress because there are plenty of cabs around. Just don’t expect a beaming smile from your taxi driver. Uber is available but not that reliable.

Co-working Spaces

I went to Blueprint in Quarry Bay (Tip: Your first week is free if you follow this link). But TBH it was a little too corporate for me. Check out Naked Hub or The Hive in Sheung Wan, it’s a little more laid back.

 

Eat and Drink

I only scratched the surface of the food and drinks scene, here’s some of my favs spots :

  • Tim Ho Wan (Sham Shui Po) is the Michelin star dumpling place. Go hungry and try on a week day!

  • Chilli Fagara (Soho) for modern asian fusion restaurant -chilli fish and banana fritters are a must.

  • Sevva rooftop bar (Central). Amazing views of the city. Great after work drinks/ tourist hot spot.

  • Catch (Kennedy Town) has good Aussie breakfast .

  • Mercato (Central) is a modern mid-high end Italian fusion restaurant.

  • Winston's Cafe (Sai Ying Pun) has good coffee.

  • Maple waffle outside of Naked Hub has good matcha egg waffles.

  • Rhoda (Sai Ying Pun) is a good little date place for wine and food.

Instagramable Spots

So you need to update the gram?

As a digital nomad, I’m sure you want to some cool photos ha. Below are spots I went to.

Ps. If you are wondering who took these photos, I found these guys @ivankwongphotography, @lcphotolc, @tjonphotography on Instagram. Hack: Search hashtags like #hongkongphotographer #hongkongphotography and slide in their DMs. Ask if they want to either collaborate (TFP) or ask for their day rate.

  • PMQ: Art space, shops, open exhibition area and more. Fun fact: this used to be a police station!

  • Soho: Cool/ Yuppie area. Amazing graffiti walls (very popular with tourists and other Instagramers).

  • Flower Market (Mong Kok): Flowers, enough said!

  • Central: Old trams, new vs old Hong Kong, touristy but a goodie for people new in town.

  • Sham Shui Po: On the Kowloon side of Hong Kong. More authentic HK eateries and infrastructure.

  • Shenug Wan/ Sai Yin Pun: If you want to get a sense of ‘real’ living for expats.

Places I didn’t get to check out:

Here are links to other ‘must-gram’ places for you Instaholics:

 PMQ

PMQ

A Bittersweet Goodbye…

I’m grateful that working remotely has enabled me to travel. Sometimes you go to places which feel like home, others are an opportunity to explore new cultures from a tourist perspective. For me Hong Kong wasn’t a place I could call home for the next year or so. Here’s my quick rationale:

1) Freelance Work

At the time, my client base was part remote part on-location. I had heard from other expat freelancers that it might be difficult to find contract work, as businesses based in HK prefer to work with locals. Of course, I didn’t nearly give this as much as time effort, but I heard enough first hand experiences to know this might prove to be a big challenge.

2) Lifestyle

As I was looking for a new home, I was considering things like rent, social activities, community etc. On average a one bedroom apartment in the city is around $3,000 p/month. For the same price, you could get a beach front apartment in Bondi! Food can be cheap here too, however there wasn’t much of a middle ground for food. It’s either cheap eats of expensive restaurants. I also felt a little cramped… god I sounds like I’m just complaining about everything! There’s 7 million people in HK and on average it’s humid and above 27 degrees, so you can imagine how we all feel like sardines in a can lol.

3) Expat Culture

My AirBnB host said:

“I’ve been to more farewells than birthdays.”

This was super alarming! I had been told that HK is quite a transient city. Most people are here for work and once the job or contract is up, they leave. It seems like a place people go to work and not necessarily the lifestyle.

Most guys are in finance or they’re pilots. Not sure about the girls, the girls I met were teachers or buyers for retail companies who were manufacturing in China. Perhaps I didn’t try hard enough to meet more people, but the small sample of girls I met weren’t very ‘warm.’ Again this is a general statement, as not everyone is like this. Luckily, I had a gf who was a British local. She gave me a bit of insight into how some expats don’t treat HK as a home base. It’s more like a playground to do as you please, with little regard for the city as someone’s actual home. I want to caveat that this is NOT a full representation of HK, it’s purely a subjective experience based off a small sample size of people I came across.


I almost feel guilty writing this because I really did enjoy the good bits of Hong Kong. I met some amazing locals who showed me around mainland and Kowloon. I went to some awesome dumpling places in random alley ways. I met some really cool expats who loved the work hard play hard lifestyle.

But all in all, Hong Kong was just not a place Lizzie could call home. I will definitely be back to visit again REAL SOON. I hope you do too. If anything, the egg tarts on every corner are worth it alone : ) xx


 
 
Liz PalComment