It’s a story familiar to professionals around the world: leaving their home countries to seek out better opportunities, whether for work, economic reasons, or overall better quality of life. Those in Hong Kong are no different. For years, native Hong Kongers have been leaving to seek out education or work opportunities in the region or beyond.

Whether they left for political reasons during the 1980s and 1990s when there nearly 1/6th of the population left, or left recently for a job opportunity or to spend a few years studying abroad, a new trend is emerging. These professionals abroad are now returning home – and in increasingly larger numbers.  

The reasons vary for why professionals are returning. However, in many cases, a strong economy in Hong Kong helps make the decision much easier. According to our latest Salary Benchmark Report, the economic outlook for Hong Kong is positive with all-time low unemployment and strong growth in areas such as Financial Services, Fintech, other digital industries and Property. While trade wars are an ongoing caution, Hong Kong is staying strong as a key finance hub within Asia. Ecommerce opportunities are growing and Hong Kong is seeing high numbers of entrepreneurs, both home-grown and expats.

Hong Kongers overseas are taking notice

This strong economy is drawing the attention of those overseas, despite the challenges that Hong Kong is also facing. Hong Kong is also dealing with a talent shortage, especially in healthcare, elderly care and construction and an ageing population. Still many native Hong Kongers are drawn to economic opportunity, or a longing to be home, and are moving back.

These professionals who are returning from overseas are largely a highly educated and experienced group. Many were educated abroad at prestigious universities, or come with strong background experience and expertise in their fields.  

Why are professionals returning home?

The reasons to move back are as varied as the individuals themselves, but there are several factors that drive the most returns.

New opportunities

As Hong Kong, and Asia in general, continues to fulfil its economic potential, especially in fields such as technology and financial services, opportunities in Hong Kong are growing. These new opportunities are sometime more varied and interesting than those aboard.

With a large number of foreign firms, especially Chinese-owned opening offices in Hong Kong, the opportunities are growing even more. These firms offer fast-track career progression and attractive salaries to help attract the best talents around.

Higher salary and career path opportunities

The fast-paced city is also known for its fast-growing salaries. Many professionals move back because of the promise of higher salaries, although there is an awareness of the high cost of living as well. Having lived abroad, these Hong Kong professionals also understand what they are worth. Because they have a global perspective, with local cultural knowledge, they are able to ask for a premium on salaries – and get it.

There is also a perception that career advancements happen faster in Hong Kong, drawing those abroad who see a better chance at quicker career advancement at home.


The factors of family ties and a strong sense of Hong Kong culture cannot be undervalued. A percentage of professionals return home solely to be with family, and look for their next job as a secondary motivation.

And in other cases, those returning home simply miss their lifestyle in Hong Kong and the familiarity of being home.

Second generation overseas Hong Kongers

Another group of returnees includes those born abroad to parents from Hong Kong. For its part, the Hong Kong government is constantly looking at what it can do to help draw this talent back home, whether it’s offering incentives or improving policies that make it easier for those born abroad to move back. Hong Kong realises its need to remain sustainable and competitive, which in many cases, includes bringing people back.

As the world becomes smaller, many professionals abroad, whether through necessity or choice begin to eye a move back home. This can be a huge advantage to companies if they seek out this returning talent that has a global perspective paired with the deep understanding of the place they call home.

If you're overseas, looking to return home to work, we would like to talk to you. We understand your needs as a returning talent and can facilitate a successful match with Hong Kong’s biggest brands across growth industries. Get in touch 

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