#ASK-AN-EXPAT - Life in Hong Kong

“I love Hong Kong. It’s the perfect mix of hiking/beaches/sunshine/travel hub/employment opportunities for English teachers.” – Sabrina Dytnerski.

Today we are hearing from Sabrina, who travelled all the way from Canada to spend her time teaching in Hong Kong. Sabrina has been living in Hong Kong for quite some time now, so we are hearing from someone who is definitely clued up about this city! Hong Kong boasts one of the largest Canadian communities abroad, estimated to be as many as 300,000 Canadians living here. This is just a tiny fraction of the expats living here, and that is such an exciting thing for Hong Kong to shout about!

In this interview Sabrina will be offering you her wise tips, advice and personal stories so keep reading to find out what she say to say! Take it from us, she knows her stuff.

Interesting fact: Hong Kong International Airport is the same size as 20 soccer fields.

How did you first hear about Experior?

I first heard about Experior from Indeed. I applied for a job with them in June 2016 and they were able to place me by August 2016.

What made you decide to move and work in Hong Kong?

My husband got a PhD opportunity here  – we found out in June 2016 that his opportunity started in Sept 2016 so we had very little time to find a suitable job for me.

Where are you from originally?


How long have you been in Hong Kong?

2 years+!

What do you do for work?

I’m a Teaching Associate, Teacher, & Instructor.

What did you study at University?

I studied English literature & Anthropology.

Did you always want to be a teacher? If not, what did you want to be?

I always wanted to be a teacher!

How was your transition to Hong Kong? How did Experior help your big move across the world?

Experior was extremely helpful with the transition. Not only did they place me in a great job, but they held events that ensured I could meet other teachers and make lifelong friendships. Experior always returns my calls/emails. With most recruiters, they just drop you as soon as you say ‘no I’m not interested in xyz position’ but Experior will help you find something that’s perfect for you. They don’t get offended if you don’t want xyz opportunity; they just find something different that does work for you. I’d say the emotional intelligence that is prevalent in this company will be it’s greatest asset in the future.

What’s your favorite Chinese food?

DIM SUM.. dumpings…tsing tao!!

What’s your least favorite food you’ve tried?

Pig’s ear .. it was literally like eating a human ear that had been marinated in soy sauce.

Do you find the language barrier difficult? Have you learnt any Cantonese or mandarin?

I have learned about a handful of Cantonese words and a couple mandarin words but honestly, everything is in English in Hong Kong. The language barrier barely exists. I don’t know if that will change in the future, but so far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that it’s not an issue if you don’t speak any Chinese. Of course, the people in my building speak Cantonese so I’d like to be able to say good morning and thank you, so it’s nice to learn a couple words.

Was it easy to make friends in a new country or difficult? Did Experior help with this?

Experior are extremely helpful in making sure you are exposed to lots of people in the same situation as you. They host (FREE!) events where you can meet people in the same situation as you are. It is hard to make friends in a new country because a lot of the local people already have their lifelong friends and you are just a transient person coming through for a short time. So it’s hard for people to want to invest time with you if they plan to live here forever. However, the expat community is huge here and they are all away from their family and friends so they are super keen to meet new people. You just have to try your best to get out there and make connections, that’s really the key to happiness here. I’m in my early 30’s so it’s a little harder to make friends at this age! But, being someone in their 20’s in Hong Kong, it would be super easy to make friends and have a very active social life here!

What’s the best thing you’ve experienced so far whilst working abroad?

It’s been a huge eye-opening experience for me. I’ve never lived outside of Canada, and I feel I’ve grown so much as a person by living outside of my home country for an extended period of time. I would say the best thing is that I’ve adopted a lovely pup from the local SPCA and he brightens my world!

What do you miss most about home?

Mum! Sausage Rolls. Central heat. Good wine. Clean air. Clean oceans. Canadian fruit.

What does Hong Kong have that’s better than home?

My dog is from the HK SPCA. I wouldn’t have found him in Canada! Otherwise, it’s got to be the weather. People complain about the humidity here, but when you come from Canada, a little humidity is a small price to pay for having 24 degree weather year round. You know how at home, you have to wait for the shower to warm up, naked, cold, crunched up in the standing position? In Hong Kong, you wake up and walk out of your air conned bedroom, into 25 degree heat and stand and wait for your shower to ‘cool’ to a nice temperature. It’s a totally different experience waking up and getting ready for work. It’s like being in Vacation Weather ALL YEAR.

 What is the transport like in Hong Kong? What do you use the most?

I hate being stuck in traffic, so Hong Kong is a dream with the MTR. You never wait, there’s no wasted time. There’s no road rage. You’d be surprised how good it feels to not have to worry about traffic when doing a commute. It’s a major weight lifted off your shoulders. The only thing that upsets me about moving home is losing the Hong Kong transportation system.

What has been your favorite Experior event so far?! Tell us about it!

Experior hosts epic Christmas parties! They host fun junk boat events in the summer which I highly recommend. They are so good at making sure you have opportunities to meet people (and party with them!) in Hong Kong. I can’t say enough about how good Experior has been in facilitating my move here. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to stay here as long as I have if I had chosen a different recruiting company. Their dedication to keeping their people happy is unparalleled in the recruitment industry.

If you were to give advice to someone moving to Hong Kong, what would you say?

Make sure you save 3.5 months rent in advance so you can pay the 2 month deposit, first month, and half month agency fee (that’s if you want to find a place by yourself and not through Experior). And remember that Hong Kong apartments cost more than double what you are paying at home. It cost more than $10,000 canadian dollars to secure an ‘average’ apartment (read: teacher’s salary!) in Hong Kong. So save your pennies or get a signing bonus so you can afford it! But once you’ve paid your ridiculous rent, if you like local food, life isn’t too expensive here. But if you want Western food every day, that’s a different story. Also, get a temporary place when you first arrive (a month or two) even if it costs more than you plan to spend on rent. You’ll be so glad you chose a temp place so you can look around and see where you want to live. When I first was moving here I thought Causeway Bay was the place to be, but now I’m so glad I never moved to Causeway Bay because it’s loud and crowded and hard to be there long term. It’s fine for an afternoon, but if I had to live there, I’d never want to go outside. You don’t really know what part of Hong kong is your style from what people post online. You need to go and spend a day somewhere to see if you really could live there. And with the ridiculous deposits that are required, if you pick the wrong part of town, you are stuck there until the lease is up.

My other advice would be to try and do everything you can to meet people and make friends. Experior is great at facilitating this, but you also need to pursue things that you think you might be interested in. You won’t have the connections and community that you have at home (which is ok!) so you need to get out there and meet some people. You won’t connect with everyone either, so it’s an ongoing process for you to build a few connections and make a few friends. But the other expats are generally really keen to make friends, so you’ll probably find it easier here to make new friends than if you wanted to make new friends at home.

I love Hong Kong. It’s the perfect mix of hiking/beaches/sunshine/travel hub/employment opportunities for English teachers. It’s a great place to be if you teach kids. It’s probably going to pay you more per hour than you could make in any other country if you teach children. The need for native English teachers here that are full of energy and actually enjoy teaching kids, is HUGE.

Thanks so much Sabrina!

It was great chatting with Sabrina and she gave so much insight as to what Hong Kong is truly like. It sounds like she is very settled here, and often people are surprised at how easy it is to settle in a completely new country!

Here are a few photo’s Sabrina shared of her experience so far!







Hong Kong is definitely the place to be! If you want to find out more information for yourself then get in touch at teachers@experiorasia.com or check out the Experior Asia website www.experiorasia.com

Until next time!