This week I’m talking to Sarah, she’s recently moved to Hong Kong on a working holiday visa and I was curious to find out what it’s like.
Sarah is a 26 year old professional world wanderer currently based in Hong Kong. 4 years ago Sarah left the UK and everything that offered security and routine in exchange for a constant life of excitement and adventure. And she is still living it now. Through out working as a Dive Master, freelance writer, running her blog www.coffeewithasliceoflife.com and working along the way she now leads a life as a full time digital nomad and wants you to follow her travels and learn how you can do it too.
Sarah has gone from working on a live aboard boat to living in Hong Kong! So Sarah how did that happen!?
I know, its such a huge change! To cut a long story short, there was a long period on the scuba boat with no customers, I was offered the opportunity to go away for a while and then come back. I typed in Guam (near where the boat was) to ANYWHERE. Tokyo came up as the cheapest. Tokyo it was then. I decided to book it the next morning.
When I went to book it Hong Kong had over taken in the cheapest price stakes. So Hong Kong it was. And Hong Kong it definitely was. It completely stole my heart in the first 24 hours. I remember feeling a completely new feeling of thinking that I was meant to be here – that something big would happen here. I went with my gut and stayed. I have now been here 3 months!
That’s awesome! So how easy is it to find work and get a working holiday visa in Hong Kong?
Is there a word easier than easy? Because that would be it. You literally have to fill out a form and go to immigration with your passport and within 5-7 days you have a working holiday visa for 12 months (Read more about how to get a working holiday visa for Hong Kong here)
Getting work is the same. There are thousands of jobs online and all you have to do is walk down the main road in Central and you will spot so many ‘Positions Available’ signs. The easiest job to get into is English Teaching which can also be arranged before you come.
Sounds good. So why do you love it so much in Hong Kong?
Got a bit ahead of myself on the first question there; but really, I never had any intent on coming to Hong Kong. In fact it was always up there in one of the places I was never to bothered about seeing. Maybe that’s why I love it so much; it completely surprised me.
Hong Kong is hands down the most exciting and vibrant place I have ever visited. It honestly gives me goose bumps everyday. Its hard to explain why I love it so much, but I definitely think it is a personal reaction. I don’t expect every single person to come here and fall for it like I did. But after spending 3 months living on a boat in a very secluded part of the world I was so ready for the hustle and bustle of city life.
But nothings perfect right? Are there any downsides to a working holiday in Hong Kong?
If you let there be downsides then yes there could be. I’d say I’m still very much in the honeymoon period at the moment. But I can see some things that will start to grind on me, but pretty stupid ones. Like it is ridiculously humid, I can’t remember what it feels like to walk outside and not be hit by a wall of hot air. Also people walk super slow. That’s a stupid downside but it means you can’t get anywhere fast. Maybe I just need to start walking slower and wear less clothes. But the main one is the cost. Coffee, alcohol and food mainly (sadly my main expenditure) are ridiculously overpriced in Central Hong Kong.
Is there any such thing as a typical day in your life in Hong Kong?
I don’t think there has been a ‘typical day’ in my life for the last 4 years. When I have time to stop and think it is amazing to look at where I have come. I love that no day is normal. But everyday has coffee. Lots of coffee. And smiles, lots of those too, the rest is a mixture between writing, networking and working odd jobs. I like to never have a normal day.
Sounds fun, so how are you funding your lifestyle there, have you been working in Hong Kong?
Yes – until last week I worked full time in a cocktail bar. It was easy to get the job and they paid well but the hours were really tough. 11 hours a day and 55 hours a week. So I decided to keep doing what I really love and continue working hard on the freelance writing. There are so many opportunities here in Hong Kong I can always have a few articles a week to work on, as well as going to events and networking. I am still considering maybe getting a part time teaching job too just to keep a steady income in.
What sort of jobs can people get in Hong Kong on a working holiday visa and how do you go about finding work there?
Teaching English is the most popular. If you are a native English speaker and have a TEFL you will find a job very easily here – they even sponsor you for a work visa which means you can stay even longer and teaching also pays really well! You can also get any job in the hospitality, food and beverage industry as well as PR and Marketing. In fact there isn’t many jobs that wouldn’t accept you on a working holiday visa as they can always sponsor you for work visa if you are the right person for them.
I’m so tempted to come over now! So what was been the greatest challenge about settling in life in Hong Kong?
It’s so fast paced. You have to be constantly on the ball and always looking for the next opportunity. Late nights and early mornings are the norm. It’s work hard, play hard and dog, eat dog at some points. It’s a challenge settling in as you are also getting to know the environment around you.
I can also be a bit of a culture shock when it comes to prices and the way of living. People don’t bat an eyelash paying $20 USD for a cocktail here. You have to find out what works for you rather than follow the crowd.
What do you wish you had known before you moved to Hong Kong?
I wish I knew how amazing HK was so I could have come here sooner. I’m a great believer that things happen at the right times, but damn I would have loved to come here sooner.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, what tips would you give for people wanting to follow in your footsteps and have a working holiday in Hong Kong?
DO IT. Come find me. Lets get coffee, I’ll tell you all you need to know. Seriously what are you waiting for? Don’t think about it too much, don’t think ‘what if’ just do it, take the chance. I’m pretty sure it will pay off!
Thanks so much Sarah for this interview and for spreading the word about the working holiday opportunities in Hong Kong – I have to say I’m very tempted to come and check it out!
Are you working or volunteering abroad and want to be featured to help inspire others? Email anna [at] global-gallivanting [ dot] com
If you liked this post, sign up to the free weekly newsletter and never miss any travel inspiration and get The Backpacker’s Guide to a Working Holiday in Australia FREE!