Salaries for expats in Hong Kong

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Multinational corporations where many expats earn a salary. Photo by Harvey BarrisonSkilled expats looking to relocate to the eastern economic powerhouse can expect high wages and a great quality of life. The region's emphasis on expansion means that there are also doors open to talented young foreign workers. Having weathered the global crisis, salaries for expats in Hong Kong remained above the global average.

The financial services sector was slightly weakened in 2012; however, an assistant accountant earned in the region of 270,000 HKD that year, while a manager in investment management with five years experience earned an annual gross salary of around 525,000 HKD. On the other hand, a first-level IT helpdesk analyst for a corporate firm with three years experience made about 220,000 HKD. A network administrator earned around 430,000 HKD.

Expat jobs and salaries in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a good destination for expats with high earning potential. According to HSBC's 2012  Expat Explorer survey, 55 percent of expats in Hong Kong earned over 1.16 million HKD a year – with the majority being employed in the financial services sector of the economy. The global average for expats earning an equivalent amount is 17 percent.

Other good industries for expats in Hong Kong include marketing, communications, human resources and IT. Teaching English as a foreign language is also a popular vocation – contributing to the fact that around a third of the expat population is aged between 18 and 34.

Typical monthly Hong Kong expat salaries include:

  • ESL teachers, about 33,500 HKD
  • Mid-level position at an advertising or marketing firm, around 35,000 HKD

    Mid-level job in the financial services sector, in the region of 40,000 HKD

  • And for a top-level position in this field, about 100,000 HKD or more

Saving money in Hong Kong

The cost of living in Hong Kong is notoriously high – and expats who aren't eligible for high salaries might find it difficult to save money in Hong Kong unless they can negotiate a good salary package. Even though 75 percent of expats working in Hong Kong state they earn more money than they did back home, nearly half of them also say that they pay more for accommodation. Similarly, only 16 percent of expats pay less for healthcare in Hong Kong than they did in their country of origin.

Accommodation in Hong Kong is particularly steep, ranging from 12,000 HKD a month for a one-bedroom flat to 35,000 HKD and over for a two-bedroom modest house. Education is an additional expense for expats with children, and those who want to send their children to private international schools will have to pay between 60,000 HKD and 120,000 HKD.


It should be clear that saving money in Hong Kong depends on expats negotiating the best salary package they can with their prospective Hong Kong employers. Allowances such as housing stipends, health insurance and travel should also be secured if they can be.

Extremely lucrative expat packages are becoming less commonplace as Western expats face more competition from professionals from the region. Many employers also prefer to pay expats slightly higher wages and to leave them to handle their own housing and transport costs. In order to get the best deal they can, expats will have to do extensive research and only accept job offers that will support the lifestyle they want.

The silver lining for expats seeking employment in Hong Kong is that the tax burden is often going to be far lighter than in their home country – nine out of ten expatriates in Hong Kong pay lower taxes than they would back home.

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