Feb 28, 2019
Expat Life: How Hong Kong became Home Kong
I was elated to return to Hong Kong after a few weeks in New York. The first reason is that I have just experienced my first “real winter” in over 7 years and almost froze to death! Haha The second reason for my excitement is that this time around was my first time entering Hong Kong as a permanent Hong Kong resident so I’m delighted to have accomplished this personal goal. Some of you are probably wondering what does that mean. Well for me, Hong Kong felt like home from day one but now it is home home. 🙂 I can now reside in this bustling city indefinitely without a visa… unless I fail to return every 3 years of course. Along with other social benefits, I can now vote and buy property in HK without paying the 15% tax foreigners are required to pay to become a homeowner.
Shortly after relocating to Hong Kong, I learned that foreigners are eligible to attain their permanent residency after seven years of continuous residence. For some, 7 years would have felt like a lifetime but for me, I thought it would be a walk in the park to meet this requirement. Remember, I moved to Hong Kong before ever visiting and fell in love with this city immediately. My only challenge was that a few years in, I also fell in love with Africa. My frequent travels across the African continent threatened my ability to remain in Hong Kong to fulfil my residency requirement. I also took a career break to further my studies but managed to convert my visa type a few times to maintain my continuity.
However, my 6-month solo journey across Africa was my biggest obstacle and almost made celebrating this milestone impossible. What you need to know is that a 6-month absence from Hong Kong will disrupt your continuous residency and will reset your status. Collecting passports/residencies is my thing so I knew 6 months would be the maximum duration of all of my trips until I became a permanent resident. I hold 2 passports (St. Vincent & US) and 2 valid residencies (HK & Guinea-Bissau) so far. Yes, there’s a long story regarding the latter. No, I didn’t marry a local! Haha
I had been living in Hong Kong for over 5 years at the time of my 6-month solo trip so a residence reset was not an option. Following a few flight changes, I was due to return to Hong Kong a few days shy of my 6 months deadline because living life on the edge is what I do! Haha To be honest, this was the most fulfilling trip to date so I was pushing my limits. After a series of unforeseen events, I arrived extremely late at the airport in Accra to learn that my flight home had closed. I must note that the next flight from Accra to Hong Kong was a few
days later and would have gotten me back to Hong Kong after my 6-month deadline. The flight wasn’t just closed, none of the airline staff were in sight. I found someone to keep an eye on my bags while I bolted up the stairs to the Kenya Airways office. I entered knowing my BATNA (google it if you’re not an expert negotiator. Haha) of getting on the flight while leaving my bags behind. Luckily, I met a staff member and explained my situation and my desire to get on that flight that had already been cleared for take-off! Haha After minutes (which felt like hours of negotiations) I was advised that it was impossible to board. Have you met me before? No is not a word I accept easily so I negotiated on until I was told I would be able to board without my bags. A few minutes later, I managed to get my 3 pieces of checked luggage onto the same flight at no additional cost. I walked onto that flight showing all of my teeth while a plane filled with displeased passengers stared at me in astonishment. Ok, ok maybe it was the tears of gratitude in eyes. Lol Kenya Airlines Accra staff saved the day and made it possible for me to celebrate this milestone. I’ve been a loyal KQ customer but since then I have been their biggest advocate. This is NOT an ad! Lol
Moving to Hong Kong on a whim was one of my best life decisions. I have found the conviction to pursue my passions and had the opportunity to be immersed in a new culture. I’m now honored to call this vibrant city “Home Kong”. Attaining total freedom is my ultimate goal so I now have the liberty to split my time between Hong Kong and a few of my favorite African countries while exploring more of the world and occasionally revisiting the places I’ve previously called home (never again in the winter!) 🙂 My next goal is getting an ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) passport. Who wants to trade passports? (a real marriage is optional) Haha
Is attaining your permanent residency abroad or another passport one of your goals? Does this influence where you choose to expatriate? Please comment below.