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Hong Kong - Cost of Living

Cost of living in Hong Kong can be very high by Western standards, but only in some areas. In other areas, the cost of living is considered to be pretty reasonable or at least comparable to the cost of living in places such as London, Paris, and New York City. The priciest thing expats usually have to worry about is accommodations. Many employment packages offer stipends or housing as part of their benefits, which can be an incentive in relocating to Hong Kong.

The area you live in and the type of housing you want will dictate price. Prices can start at around HK$8,000 per month. In an upscale neighborhood, this will almost surely be a very small apartment with little to no amenities. However, in one of the outlying areas this might get you a larger apartment, or even a townhouse, in a newer building. Discovery Bay on Lantau Island is popular with expats and offers affordable housing options, as well as access to international schools. A small one bedroom apartment in one area might cost HK$14,000 while a larger one further from the city center might be HK$8,000. If you live in a large detached house with luxury finishes you could end up spending as much as HK$80,000 per month.

Utilities can be one of your biggest expenses. A monthly electric, gas, water, and garbage bill can be around HK$1,000. On the other hand, internet service is relatively inexpensive with unlimited data running HK$200 per month. Internet and mobile phone costs are competitive since several providers offer rates. You can also get your services (internet, mobile phone, and cable) combined or “bundled” and see additional savings.

Many people in Hong Kong eat out regularly and some enjoy most of their daily meals outside of their homes. Dining prices can vary greatly depending on the kind of eatery you choose to frequent. In international style, or Western, restaurants, you will normally pay more than what you might in other parts of the world or at home. Genuine “local” food is almost always going to be a cheaper option.

Eating at a small noodle bar can offer you a lunch for under USD$3. A larger Cantonese restaurant might give you a sit-down lunch or dinner for around USD$10. Fast food options are available, too, and these are inexpensive. You can expect to pay about USD$2 for a pot of tea and might even find that beer and alcohol is half the price of what you might pay in places such as London or Singapore.

Supermarkets offer good options if you prefer to cook at home. To get the freshest food, most people shop several times a week. If you choose to shop at a place like the Park n Shop International, you might be able to find items that you would find in your native country, but they are sure to be at least twice the amount that you might pay at home. A meal for two in a mid-range restaurant can cost around HK$300 while a fast food meal might run HK$30. A loaf of bread is around HK$12 while a liter of milk is HK$20. For some of the cheapest prices on meat especially you might visit a wet market where you can buy poultry and watch it killed, cleaned, and packaged for you while you wait. This will give you the freshest options, too.

The public transportation system in Hong Kong is good. The train network, called the MTR, has journeys that cost between USD$.30 and USD$3. There are also ferries that can take you to the outlying areas. Riding public transport is inexpensive and convenient, especially when compared to driving in Hong Kong which can be frustrating and expensive, thanks to high gas and parking prices. An Octopus Card allows you to ride on all the public transportation systems in the city and this can save money as well. Taxis are affordable and start at a fixed price of USD$2.50.

Medical attention in Hong Kong is fairly reasonably priced as long as you have a Hong Kong ID card and can get the public rates. By going to a public hospital with your Hong Kong ID card, you will pay substantially less than what you would pay at a private hospital without an ID card or insurance. Many expats feel more comfortable having private health insurance since this can offer comfortable rooms in private hospitals and often more expedited services.

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