As one of Asia’s largest financial capitals, Hong Kong is a fairly expensive city for expatriates and locals alike. With dense residential development and high average salaries, living in Hong Kong can be an expensive process, particularly for residents accustomed to a Western standard of living.
Hong Kong is one of the world’s most densely populated cities, boasting more residents above the fourteenth floor of their buildings than any other city on earth. One district, Mong Kok, is widely regarded as the world’s most densely populated area due to its myriad high-rise buildings.
Because of this lack of space, one of the largest expenses for residents of Hong Kong is rent. The city’s rental prices are amongst the highest in the world on a per square foot scale, and even one of the notoriously tiny ‘Hong Kong closet’ type rooms can command a high monthly rental rate.
Generally speaking, a small apartment – either a single room studio or a one-bedroom apartment – in a popular area such as Tsim Sha Tsui, Hung Hom, or Yau Ma Tei can cost anywhere from $800 USD upwards. Large apartments, particularly those located in high-end areas such as Mid-Levels, Wan Chai, and Tsim Sha Tsui, can command rental rates as high as $50,000 USD per month.
While Hong Kong’s residential property prices make housing a major expense, many aspects of life in Hong Kong are very affordable. Hong Kong’s public transport system, anchored by the efficient MTR subway system, is one of the most affordable and user-friendly networks in East Asia.
Likewise, eating out in Hong Kong is rarely an expensive experience. While Hong Kong is full of costly high-end restaurants, the majority of ‘everyday’ meals are highly affordable. Residents on a particularly tight budget can enjoy fantastic food from family-owned restaurants at great prices.
Nightlife and entertainment are also fairly affordable in Hong Kong. Many bars and restaurants are open late into the night, largely due to Hong Kong’s reputation as a hard-working, late-night city. A drink in many bars is unlikely to cost more than $7 USD, except in very high-end locations.
Finally, the cost of services – domestic assistants, for example – is very affordable in Hong Kong. A large portion of the city’s expatriates enjoy the assistance of a maid or PA due to Hong Kong’s low minimum wage and large amount of foreign, English-speaking assistants.
While the high cost of rental housing makes Hong Kong an expensive destination for many people, the city’s affordable aspects go some length to soften the blow. From cheap food to great, affordable public transport, Hong Kong’s high prices are evened out by its highly affordable aspects.