Cost of Living Hong Kong

Living in Hong Kong, from Brazil

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Living in Hong Kong, from Switzerland

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Economy & Finance

"Money makes the world go round." – This common saying is especially true for Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the cost of living in Hong Kong can be fairly high for expatriates. But this overview of your daily expenses provides some helpful tips on how to keep the average budget low.

In many international surveys, the cost of living in Hong Kong is consistently among the highest in the world. According to the 2012 and 2013 Mercer surveys, the city ranks 9th or 6th, respectively, among the cities with the highest expenses for expatriates.

It is especially accommodation, healthcare, and international schooling that contribute to the elevated costs. However, according to a recent ECA International survey, the big cities in mainland China may now be overtaking Hong Kong.

As in most other places, there is a clear distinction between the cost of living in Hong Kong for an expat lifestyle and local standards. The best way to slash your budget is to embrace a local attitude. For example, leaving the "expat bubble" or using public transport instead of owning a car can decrease your regular expenses.

Moreover, you should take the higher costs into account when negotiating your salary. If your company pays for your children’s schooling and your family’s healthcare, your cost of living will become dramatically lower.

Housing

One of the main factors which contribute to the high cost of living in Hong Kong is housing. It is not unusual for families to spend 50% of their overall budget on accommodation. The reason for this is simple: Hong Kong covers barely 1, 100 km2, but it’s home to a population of 7.2 million people – a number which keeps growing.

The general shortage of land is reflected in the excessive property prices. Furthermore, using utilities adds up as well, particularly in summer when you need air conditioning. Most people live in apartment buildings, as suburban family homes are something that only the wealthy can afford. But your rental expenses also depend on where exactly you would like to live.

Many expats move to Hong Kong Island. The Mid-Levels are a popular area among very well-off residents from overseas. The neighborhood is close to the central business district and offers a good infrastructure, for example the prestigious Island School.

Families with younger kids tend to settle in the southern part of Hong Kong Island or in specific areas elsewhere, such as Discovery Bay on Lantau Island. Choosing one of these expat enclaves, however, you may expect to pay a HKD 50, 000 (per month!) for a three-bedroom apartment. As for higher rents, the sky’s the limit.

Nevertheless, you can save quite a bit of money on rents if you are willing to move off Hong Kong Island. There are a number of expats who prefer to settle in Kowloon or in the New Territories due to cheaper rents. Single people on a budget should also think about sharing an apartment.

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