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The Cost of Living in Hong Kong

Contributed by 1st Move International Ltd
October 27, 2020

Hong Kong is one of the most energetic and busy cities in the world, where Eastern traditions meet Western approaches to business and lifestyle. As the second most competitive economy in the world (after New York and London), the city is a rush of transactions, development and progress. If you're thinking about moving to Hong Kong, this guide will show you everything you need to know about the cost of living in Hong Kong, the places you should think about living and what it's like to be an expat in Hong Kong.

Renting in Hong Kong

When it's time to house-hunt, moving to Hong Kong presents some interesting advantages and disadvantages. Firstly, there is a lot of competition for property and a lot of people looking for an apartment or house. That competition is balanced by the scale and speed of development. There are few roads or streets in the city that are not seeing some type of refurbishment, extension or construction project. So although there are a lot of people in a small island space, there are actually plenty of options to be found.

The general advice is not to get overwhelmed and take the first place you like, but keep looking and be patient. Once you've seen quite a few houses/apartments, you'll have a much better idea about what 'good' looks like. The older apartment buildings won't offer so many modern amenities (a pool or gym) but may provide more space, whereas recent construction has been focused on smaller, self-contained apartments. You'll have to decide between facilities and square footage.

Properties on the island of Hong Kong typically cost around 12,000 to 30,000 Hong Kong dollars (HKD) which is around GBP 1,180 to GBP 2,970 per month. This sounds incredibly steep to begin with, but when you take into account higher salaries and lower income taxes, the rental cost won't be quite such a large part of your budget as you may imagine. The closer to the city-centre that you live, the higher the rental cost will be.

Local Food and Upscale Restaurants

Food and eating out costs will, of course, depend on your lifestyle and habits, but it's worth noting when moving to Hong Kong, that in small apartments, people don't cook at home very often, and supermarket prices are surprisingly high. You can however, find amazing fresh food in the street markets all around the city, as long as you know what you are looking for.

The supermarkets in Hong Kong charge a hefty premium for the western items imported over, and it's rarely worth buying them over the perfectly good Chinese versions. Due to this, and the fact that selection and variety are low, people often choose to eat out more often than in other countries. Hong Kong has a remarkable variety when it comes to restaurants, from cheap and tasty street vendors to some of the highest-quality restaurants in the world. For a street food snack (sesame rice noodles is typical), you will pay about 20 HKD (GBP 2). Expect to pay around 90 HKD (GBP 8.90) for a normal lunch in a restaurant and 200-300 HKD for dinner with friends (GBP 20-30). As an expat in Hong Kong, these prices won't seem too bad at all.

Socialising will likely be the most expensive part of your lifestyle, especially due to the lack of larger apartments where social events can take place. Instead of dinner parties and drinks at home, people tend to spend social time in bars and restaurants, with the associated rise in cost that that brings.

According to a recent survey by HSBC, it's common for a mid-level expat to earn around GBP 113,000 (especially those working in the huge banking sector), and lifestyle and food costs are around GBP 750 (not including rent), on average.

Moving Around

Moving around the city is easy, fast and cheap. The clean and safe MTR train system zips around the city with incredible efficiency, and visiting the 155 stations is very relaxing (compared to the London and New York systems). Visitors often use single tickets but with an 'octopus pass', a single journey will cost 10.50 HKD (GBP 1.04) and the card can even be used to pay for food in restaurants, or drinks in a bar. You can have a night out in the city and travel around, without having to carry cash or a bank card with you. Even though you're a long way from the UK, most of the MTR directions and station indications are in English as well.

You can also use taxis to get around the city, at roughly 6-8 HKD per minute (GBP 0.59-0.79 per minute). This is very reasonable, although the cost will start mounting up if you take taxis often, and encounter some of the problematic traffic that Hong Kong residents face.

Things to Know

Don't forget that you'll have to pay stamp duty, even for a rental contract. This is normally between 0.5-1 per cent of the yearly rent (which for a GBP 1000 a month apartment would be around GBP 120), and is necessary for the contract to be considered legal.

Being an expat in Hong Kong is one of the most expensive experiences in the world, but with the higher average salaries and a little care, it can be a perfectly affordable place to live and call home.


Tags: Hong Kong | Expats | International Living



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