Hong Kong is believed to be one of the most expensive cities in the world. It seems to be always there in Top 10, together with Singapore and Zurich. But is the average prices and cost of living taken into account really realistic? Statistics might not be the reality of your daily life. Let’s look more at what makes life in Hong Kong more or less expensive.
1 – Housing
Being single in Hong Kong is not very convenient, unless you live with your family, because rent is really high and it’s very difficult to meet ends when you have to pay monthly rent. To rent an apartment, you need to pay at least 10k HKD every month. Then, there are maintenance fees as well, for repairs of the building, as well as security guard’s salary – that varies depending on your apartment. I pay around 700 HKD monthly.
2 – Bills
Bills for phone and internet are pretty standard – around 200-400 HKD each, depending on your plan. Electricity bills are paid once every 2/3 months and usually get higher during summer when you use a lot of AC at home. TV in Hong Kong is the most boring thing in the entire universe, if you do not buy additional channels, the only choice you would have is: News, Stocks, weird HK series that even HK people don’t watch, some Japanese cartoons, some Korean series but with no English subtitles and a selection of weird American reality TV shows. Oh, and sometimes you might be lucky to be on time for Dog’s TV – programme for dogs… So, if you want to watch sports, you need to sign up for Sports package with Now TV for example – that comes to at least another 200 HKD per month.
The cheapest thing here is water bill, that is payable every 2/3 months as well, and for now it never even came up to 100 HKD for us. HK uses sea water to flush the toilet, so clean water is only in taps and showers.
3 – Transportation
Using public transport in HK is very convenient, in fact Hong Kong is the most accessible city I know. You can get anywhere using public transportation. Where metro doesn’t reach, there are double decker buses. Where buses don’t reach, you can get by green or red mini buses. And then, there are taxis as well. Red taxis can take you everywhere, but Green ones cannot leave New Territories and Blue ones cannot leave Lantau. So, if you want to move between New Territories and Hong Kong Island, make sure you’re on the right taxi, otherwise you might need to change taxis somewhere in the middle or pay additional for going through tunnels.
If you’re thinking about driving in Hong Kong – think twice. It is very inconvenient and expensive to own a car in here. First of all, this is no Dubai – petrol costs a lot and to fill up a tank, it may cost you around 700-800 HKD or more. Parking spots are rare in Hong Kong, even in residential areas you need to pay monthly fee for a parking spot. If you live in the city, parking spots under your building would be marked as “short-term parking” and you can only pay 2 hours at once. There are people who would come down and pay every two hours. There are also some people who just let police fine them from time to time, as it’s still cheaper to pay few fines a month than to rent a parking spot.
4 – Food
If you eat Chinese food, like local people and don’t mind Hong Kong take on different cuisines, you won’t pay much for food. If you’re very specific about your Western food, you need to pay a bit more.
For people who work in an office, you would have to cash out 50-100 HKD for lunch menu. Usually, you can find a 50 HKD lunch in traditional HK restaurants cha can teng, in noodle shops or some fast food chains. For more fancy or girly lunch, prices go up, especially if you work on Hong Kong Island.
Food in supermarkets is fairly priced, but again, some products’ prices are quite surprising, especially so-called Western food. Ice cream is very expensive in Hong Kong. Cream cheese for your sandwiches might cost over 60 HKD. Butter, milk or cheese are luxury. I go to Marketplace or M&S to buy some products, as my local Wellcome sometimes simply does not have products which would be so common in Poland.
At the beginning, I would try to substitute with local products, but in the end I just want to have a bagel with poppy seeds, so Marketplace shopping became my biggest pleasures in everyday life and I stopped counting money.
5 – Education
If you want to learn something new, you can find a lot of opportunities, but if you’re English-only speaker, prices would be higher by few zeros at the end of the number. For Cantonese speaking Hong Kong residents, there are heaps of courses and lessons, offered by VTC, YMCA, etc., which are available for small money. Hong Kong government created a fund for people willing to learn new things and you can apply for reimbursement of tuitions fees.
My biggest disappointment was when I signed up for Japanese language course. I am not a beginner and it was pretty obvious to me that the class would be conducted in Japanese, because that’s the level I signed up for. The course was taking place in HKU Space. First, teacher was a HK person who almost got a heart attack seeing me. Second thing was that she would talk so much in Cantonese and mix with Japanese I couldn’t even distinguish what she was saying. I paid over 2k HKD and since you cannot get a refund once you start the course, I lost those money, but never showed up to the class again. Hong Kong has definitely different language learning methods and I cannot say I agree with them.
6 – Sports
To sign up to a gym, you need to sign a contract for at least one year and monthly that comes up to 500-600 HKD per month. I was lucky enough to get a cheaper price of 140 HKD per month to gym called Physical. Make sure to get the best price – you can bargain, as the official website would never give you actual price and I think everyone pays very differently.
Yoga, Pilates and other fitness classes cost around 200-300 HKD per class. Again, in Kowloon you can find cheaper classes. I am attending Pilates class in Kowloon – 150 HKD per class.
7 – Entertainment
Drinking in bars and clubs in Hong Kong is expensive. Very expensive. Make the best out of Happy Hours, as that’s the only time you can go crazy. Beers might cost even up to 100HKD per glass/bottle, wine would cost even more. Look out for All You Can Drink offers to save up a bit on that.
LKF is the most popular area for expats to party, but I’m not sure about the costs, because I have never really been there for a party (nobody believes me when I say that).
8 – Shopping
That’s the best thing about Hong Kong – shopping. You can buy anything and everything, from 1 to 1 million HKD. Cosmetics are available everywhere in shops like Sasa, Watson’s, Bonjour, etc. Clothes are available for every price – starting from big brands, to cheap no-name shops and street stalls where clothes can be bought for 50 HKD.
People in Hong Kong spend most of their money for food. They love eating, they love having huge family dinners or dinner dates with their friends. They love queuing up to famous or newly opened cafes and restaurants to check out the taste or take some photos for Instagram. Eating is a big part of daily life in Hong Kong and priority number one for everyone, and likewise take a big part out of their budgets.