Living and Teaching English in Hong
Relax and Enjoy the City's Many
By Anna Maria Davis
Mention Hong Kong and most people picture
a noisy congested city; but that image is only half-true.
I live in Hong Kong aboard a tradition Chinese junk and
I kayak to work. And, I'm only 45 minutes from the city
Ask expats what they most love about
living and working in Hong Kong, and many will say that
it's the ability to work in a city where it's so easy to
enjoy Hong Kong's calmer pleasures: kicking back on a boat,
hiking along the extensive network of country parks, and
drinking beer with friends at a dai pi dong (a cheap and
cheerful restaurant) on a remote stretch of beach.
Now, the caveat. Don't confuse Hong
Kong with other Asian destinations where lax employers allow
anyone with a passport from an English-speaking country
to get a job without the proper visa. Hong Kong employers
won't circumvent the rules. While New Zealanders and Australians
can apply to work in Hong Kong on the "Working Holiday
Scheme," Yanks, Brits, and Canadians need to apply
for an employment visa. Regardless of your nationality,
you need to apply well in advance. Be sure to check out
Kong government's website.
For fresh TEFL graduates, Hong Kong
offers an abundance of part-time teaching opportunities
that pay higher hourly wages ($20-$30) than you would get
teaching English in most other countries. Small, privately-owned
schools have sprung up as a result of Hong Kong government
schools switching to Cantonese as the medium of instruction.
Some private schools looking for full-time English teachers
will get the visa for you.
For those with professional teaching
qualifications, potential employers include the international
schools. Pay and perks have declined over the last five
years but a virgin teacher can still make about $2,000-$3,000
per month, plus a housing allowance. Mature teachers can
earn about $6,000 per month.
Rent can be the killer in Hong Kong,
but with a little ingenuity and searching, it doesn't have
to be. I share a 50 x 20 ft boat with my partner and we
pay $1,000 per month. Shared apartments closer to downtown
cost about $500-$700. This online resource is a gem for
finding everything from apartments to pubs to helpful advice: hongkong.asiaxpat.com.