15 July 2016 - Asia’s world city comes at a hefty price. Ranked consistently among the highest in the world, Hong Kong’s cost of living is important to take into account when deciding on whether to move to the city. The most salient factor is the cost of housing. Ranked first in 2016 as the most unaffordable, the prospect of finding “a home away from home” is a process which brokers great consideration.
Despite this, Hong Kong remains an attractive destination for expatriates worldwide due to its vibrant culture and economic prospects. Our guide to the cost of living in Hong Kong aims to provide a rough overview of what expenses you will incur when living here. With this estimate in mind we hope that your budget will be able to accommodate all necessary items for Hong Kong living.
By far the greatest cost, property prices in Hong Kong can easily consume a family’s overall budget, no matter if you plan to buy or rent an apartment. This is in large fact due to the high population density and lack of available land. This general shortage of land inflates housing prices which in desirable locales such as Mid-levels and Repulse Bay, makes for a 3 bedroom rental of HKD40K+ not uncommon. That being said, your rental expenses are tied to where you want to live. Though certain districts are more popular due to the availability of good schools within their catchment area, those more concerned with minimizing costs, can look at options outside of Hong Kong Island.
New Territories and Kowloon districts make for generous cost savings in terms of rentals. Using a 3 bedroom apartment as the standard, prices can be HKD15K lower compared to its equivalent in the city center. Yet for those who insist on harnessing the convenience of city center living, flat sharing is always a viable option to reduce housing costs.
In terms of private car ownership, Hong Kong consistently ranks lower than the international average. Hong Kong Island’s robust transportation network sidelines the need for private transport. In fact, not opting for private car ownership can lead to large cost savings.
With high gas prices, parking and annual fees for license renewal amounting to over HKD10K, the comparable low costs of public transport are often a more favorable choice. With fares as low as HKD4.40, the Hong Kong MTR and buses are cheap by international standards.
Due to import costs, food and consumer goods can be more expensive compared to prices overseas. Though going ‘local’ in terms of produce does yield significant savings, for those used to international brands and products, pricing in Hong Kong will seem inflated.
Dining out is cheaper than in New York or London since most restaurants levy a fixed service charge and the tipping culture is fairly non-existent. What is more pressing though is healthcare and school tuition. With annual tuition fees amounting to HKD200K for some international schools, this could take up a significant portion of a family’s budget allowance. In terms of healthcare costs, though public service providers are available, those looking to opt for private healthcare will have to contribute to a private healthcare insurance plan which will add to monthly expenses.