In an era that has seen Hong Kong come under increasingly draconian security law imposed by Beijing, the principle of 'one country, two systems’ appears to have faded fast. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced measures that make 3 million Hong Kong residents eligible for UK citizenship. So, if you are planning to make the move from Hong Kong to the UK, it is important to be well informed and organised to give you the best possible start.
As of January 2021, “the new Hong Kong BN(O) visa will create a bespoke immigration route to enable British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) citizens ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, and their immediate family members, to move to the UK and work and study”. BN(O) citizens can apply for two 30-month visas, or a 5-year visa to stay in the UK, which then opens up the route to apply for indefinite leave to remain and ultimately naturalisation as British national.
Choose Where to Live
The UK is a fairly large country with too many options to list here, below is a shortlist to give you some ideas.
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” Samuel Johnson.
Mr Johnson may have never boarded the Central Line at Bank Station during rush hour, but it has to be said that London is an awesome city in terms of culture, commerce, diversity, history and architecture.
West London – You will find quieter neighbourhoods, good schools, great architecture, strong culture.
East London – Culturally diverse restaurants and boutiques, great nightlife, green spaces and parks, historic houses and museums.
South London – A modern urban village, you will find green spaces, family friendly areas, many hills and historic districts.
North London – Community spirit, family friendly areas, beautiful parks and historical sites.
Poorer and more well-off London residents often live in close proximity to one another in adjoining districts, if not streets or even buildings. In general, the West and North of the city are regarded as more affluent than the South and the East, but there is so much variation across the whole city that this doesn’t really give the full picture. The average house price in London is £660,000.
Cambridge is a safe and beautiful University City just 55 miles North from London. The University of Cambridge was founded in 1209 and the whole city is alive with history, culture and academia. Excellent schools, plenty recreational space, very family friendly and stunning unique architecture everywhere you look. The average house price in Cambridge is £450,000.
Sometimes hailed as ‘the capital of the north’, Greater Manchester is actually a Metropolitan County containing two cities – Salford and Manchester. The population of Greater Manchester stands at 2.8M, making it the second most populous urban area in the country after Greater London with 13.7M.
Didsbury – Popular suburb with good access to both the city centre and the airport, boutique shopping and good local restaurants.
Altrincham – Placed at the upper end of the Greater Manchester market, with close proximity to excellent local grammar schools and a family friendly vibe.
Manchester City Centre – Buzzing urban centre, with a host of excellent shopping, eating and live music venues.
The average house price in Greater Manchester as a whole is £210,000. A good 3 bed semi in either in Didsbury or Altrincham will set you back in the region of £350,000-£450,000. A similar amount will buy you a decent 2-bedroom apartment in the City Centre.
Edinburgh is a unique and beautiful capital city steeped in culture and history. Medieval and ultra-modern architecture sit harmoniously side by side, and the city really comes alive during the summer months when The Edinburgh Festival - World’s largest arts festival, is in full flow. The average house price in Edinburgh is £270,000.
Buy a Home
Rightmove.com – the largest online property portal in the UK with over 1 million units listed for sale. Rightmove is a powerful data tool if used to full effect. Check out my video on how to get the most out of rightmove.com. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPP-2ewG7_U
Zoopla.com – Slightly smaller than rightmove.com, but still offering close to 1 million units for sale (admittedly 95% of those will be the exact some units listed on rightmove.com). Another powerful tool with lots of functionality, I especially like the property ‘heat maps’ that show maps of the UK with house price indicated by colour, allowing you to quickly see where the best value and most popular areas are to be found.
Property Sourcing Agent – If you prefer to let someone else do the work for you, there are agents in the UK who will take your criteria and search for on market and off market properties on your behalf. Some will charge 1-4% of purchase price, whilst others may charge a flat fee typically ranging from £1,000-£10,000.
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Choose an International Removals Company
It’s almost 10,000 km from Hong Kong to the UK, so moving your belongings to your new home is a logistical challenge. Make sure your worldly possessions are in safe hands by doing a little research.
Investigate their credentials.
Request and compare quotes.
Check they have insurance.
Read reviews and testimonials
Moving from Hong Kong to the UK amidst a global pandemic is massive step. It pays to do your research and stay informed at every step of the journey. The UK has a lot to offer in terms of culture, lifestyle, careers and education. Even the food isn’t so bad, if you know where to look!