December is one of the most preferred months for those who look to relocate to other countries. The past few years has seen a steady exodus of expats living in Hong Kong owing to various reasons, beginning from the 2019 protests to the ongoing strict COVID 19 rules and restrictions. While the government has changed many of the rules, for some it might seem like too little, too late.
Most people choose to make major changes either during the school summer holidays so that children can get a fresh start in a new school in a new country in a new academic year or during the winter holidays as many employers prefer new joinees to begin in January or February. If you are one of those who has decided to move countries this winter, this article is for you. We @Localhood have compiled a list of things to do before you move out of Hong Kong and begin a new chapter of your life elsewhere. While this list tries to be comprehensive, it is by no means exhaustive. So please feel free to add on this in the comments section.
1. Complete your Hong Kong bucket list. While HK is definitely a place most folks would love to revisit some time in the future, there is always a difference when you are a resident and when you are a tourist. Hike up to your favourite peaks one last time, take the ferry to one of the outlying islands, party the night away at LKF, indulge in your favourite cusines at your favourite restaurants, meet up with friends, and do all that you kind of missed the past few years.
2. Fulfil your tax obligations. A lot of countries require you to provide a all taxes paid no dues receipt before immigration. It is advisable to have a chat with your consultant both in HK as well as the country that you are moving to so that you are not caught on the backfoot regarding this.
3. Pay all dues. Ensure that all bills are settled. This can include electricity, gas, water, mobile phone, internet charges payable. Also look into cancelling your Octopus card and getting the amount in it transferred to your bank account, as with your Payme. Most people retain their HK bank accounts for at least a year after exiting the country so that all dues can be transferred to it.
4. Give away / sell items that you don’t need. Hong Kong is a place where we end up accumulating a lot of items just because it looked cute or we hit a good bargain. A lot of times, these items just add on to the clutter. Once you get a sense of where you wll be going, the dimensions of your new home, your relocation allowance, it would be a good idea to start disposing your items here. There are various facebook groups as well as NGOs that would help you in this. Furniture that might not be a good fit anymore can be sold, plants can be given away, as well as extra pots and pans, books, tit bits, pantry items that cannot be shipped like spices and condiments. It would also be a good idea to reduce purchases, especially of groceries in the last few weeks.
5. Dutiable white goods and electronic devices. Most countries might charge duty on electronic goods unless they have been used and you have a bill to support, as well as on alcohol. While many of us living in rented houses are lucky enough to get the white goods in the house as part of the rental agreement, many others aren’t as lucky. Decide if you want to sell or dispose off appliances that are either obsolete or near there and take a call on them. It might of course be cheaper to carry the not very old TV rather than buy a new one if you do have a shipping allowance. Also check the number of personal devices you are allowed to carry to your destination country. This would include mobile phones, laptops, IPads, Kindles of all members of your family. Remember that these items are cheaper in HK than in many parts of the world, but also keep track of duty, if it exceeds stipulated number as well as international warranty.
6. Alcohol. Most countries allow only minimal number of alcohol bottles per adult in checked in baggage. Shipping is also cumbersome as alcohol attracts customs duty in many countries. It would be a good idea to check rules and regulations regarding alcoholic drinks in your destination country and then becoming the unofficial supplier/bartender at all parties until you leave HK! You could also gift these to friends!