The hive-site.xml in $HIVE_HOME/conf/ is the global hive configuration file. I have a working copy of hive-site.xml in my GitHub in case it might be helpful, you still need to modify to fit your environment.
Alternatively, the file hive-default.xml.template in $HIVE_HOME/conf/ contains the default values. You will need to copy hive-default.xml.template to hive-site.xml and edit it to set the right parameters.
You must place the hive-site.xml in $HIVE_HOME/conf/ before you can launch hive client
Once you have hive-site.xml to be in $HIVE_HOME/conf, at least, at the minimum, following parameter hive.metastore.warehouse.dir needs to set to location where the metastore_db is located, it is usually located in $HIVE_HOME, as my $HIVE_HOME is /users/user/hive/hive
<description>location of default database for the warehouse</description>