What we Bring Back to Hong Kong from Canada

There are a few categories of goods in our house. The first is things we shipped over from Canada. Since we were lucky enough to have shipping as part of Braden’s relocation package (read about that here), we took full advantage. This was a curated selection of items from our North America apartment, mostly furniture, that we knew would fit in our new flat. Most things that were useful and “partial” (ie tin foil) made the journey too (why not!) But oh my goodness…if I could do it over again I would have brought so much nice North America toilet paper!

We supplemented with purchases in Hong Kong to set ourselves up (read about our first apartment and current apartment) but I really don’t feel like we have made a lot of significant purchases here.

Of course there are many things we purchase exclusively in Hong Kong, mainly groceries and everyday products. There is no doubt that living in a small space helps to reduce shopping and spending. We bring in what we need and use what we have. Prices in Hong Kong are high, but when you’re buying less you spend less, even if what you buy isn’t super cheap. We shop for food every few days (no Costco size anything for us!) as our fridge and freezer are so small. Everything we need is available in Hong Kong (in general) but we’ve found a few brands aren’t the same or we miss our favourite items we got used to in North America. As such, there are items we prefer to purchase when we are in North America (like peanut butter). Then there are things that we only buy in North America (like toothpaste).

If I know we’re going to Vancouver I immediately start making a list. Online shopping ensues, and any purchase that can be put off and wait for North America shopping is noted down. Inevitably we end up at a mall once during our trip, then squeeze in a stop at The Superstore, Safeway, and Shoppers Drug Mart and we’re pretty much covered. It sounds silly, but it takes our breath away when we arrive at an enormous store (aka any random Safeway that we wouldn’t have thought twice about before we moved to Hong Kong!) We usually just look agog at all the space, variety of goods, wide aisles and organized presentation.

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My Mom arriving in HK with a box packed for us. Opening it is like Christmas!

Here’s a quick list of our “essentials” from North America that we “can’t” live without.


  • off the shelf medication (Tylenol, Advil, Nyquil, Polysporin etc)
  • vitamins
  • protein powder
  • toothpaste
  • deodorant
  • bodywash
  • contact solution
  • tampons
  • moisurtizer
  • hair products
  • sunscreen
  • anything Sephora!!!

We save a decent amount of money by buying these things in Canada, and I just feel better knowing the medication we have is coming from a reputable source. Also, you have no idea how weird toothpaste is here…we thought we were playing it safe with a “fresh mint” flavour and then we opened the box it turned out it was green tea flavour!

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The storage area under our sink is a stockpile of toothpaste. contact solution and Braden’s body wash.


  • honey
  • peanut butter (especially this kind)
  • marinades
  • mustard (Braden’s favourite is this one from President’s Choice!)
  • Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce
  • maple syrup (yes, all the Canadian stereotypes are true)
  • cheese (it’s about 3 times more expensive in HK)
  • Reese’s eggs (don’t ask Braden why he loves these unless you want to hear a detailed explanation of peanut butter to chocolate ratios)

Pro tip: as far as we understand, there is no duties or taxes charged on wine coming in to Hong Kong, so we’ve packed full cases of wine as checked luggage.

Clothes + Shoes

  • Shoes (women’s size 41 in Hong Kong is basically non-existent!)
  • bras & underwear
  • maternity clothes

I’ve actually found a couple decent places to shop in Hong Kong recently, which is really helpful. It’s a pain to have to shop for clothes under pressure while in Vancouver, so I’m really trying to avoid that.

Big Ticket Items

Previously we shopped for “larger” items for Campbell outside Hong Kong such as:

  • stroller
  • high chair

Upcoming for him will be:

  • strider bike
  • hiking backpack

We try to do as much research online as possible (Braden’s forte) but I HATE hunting around trying to gather information and then analyze pros and cons. I discovered the website reviews.com and I’m really impressed by how easy they present the research and conclusions.


Where all our money goes now!

  • Clothes (cheaper in Canada)
  • Shoes (cheaper in Canada)
  • Puffs (half price in Canada
  • Arrowroot cookies (not available in HK)
  • Cheerios (not available in HK)
  • lotion (half price in Canada)
  • sunscreen (way cheaper in Canada)
  • Medication (worth mentioning again, as it’s a priority – dye free and no questions about quality!)

Also refer to the detailed “must have” baby list, itemizing the essentials (in my opinion) for year one of living with a baby in a small apartment here.

So…consider yourself warned…if you’re planning to visit you’ll likely hear us beg you to maximize your luggage allowance and bring a box  of goodies over for us, just like the one my Aunt and Uncle delivered in the photo below!

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Sorry Campbell, our precious cargo is now a box!


This post was written for inclusion in the March collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series and follow our community board on Pinterest for the latest small homes and family minimalism pins!

Little Bungalow– “Questionable Purchases” : I have one habit that helps me avoid buyer’s remorse (most of the time). 
Fourth & West– “The Consumption” : Where to go when you have to buy.

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