Salaries for expats in Hong Kong
"What can I expect to earn working in Hong Kong?"
Skilled expats looking to relocate to the eastern economic powerhouse of Hong Kong can anticipate high wages and a great quality of life. Although expat jobs in Hong Kong are usually reserved for high-level professionals with plenty of experience under their belts, the optimistic economic climate in the region is opening doors for younger foreign workers as well.
Expat jobs and salaries in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a great Asian destination for expat workers who have the potential to earn large salaries. According to HSBC's Expat Explorer survey, 35 percent of expats in Hong Kong earn over HK$1.55 million (about 200,000 USD) per annum – with the large majority of these (61 percent) being employed in the banking and financial services sector of the economy. Other good industries for expats in Hong Kong include advertising, marketing, communications, human resource management and legal and paralegal work. Teaching English as a foreign language is also quite a popular vocation – contributing to the fact that 30 percent of Hong Kong's expat population is aged between 18 and 34.
Some typical monthly Hong Kong expat salaries include:
- For ESL teachers, about HK$18K;
- For a junior position at an advertising or marketing firm, HK$20K (and for a senior position at least HK$50K);
- For a mid-level job in the banking and financial services sector, between HK$30K and HK$40K;
- And for a top-level position in this field, about HK$100K or more.
Saving money in Hong Kong
Even though 75 percent of expats working in Hong Kong state they earn more money than they did back home, nearly two-thirds of them also say that they pay more for accommodation and food and drink than they did in their countries of origin. 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 expat salary package.
Accommodation in Hong Kong is particularly steep, ranging from HK$10K (for a tiny, though serviceable one-bedroom flat) to HK$80K and more for luxurious apartments and houses with ample family space; while the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Hong Kong in 2011 was HK$22K. Other living costs are also high – probably totalling about HK$17K for expats who use public transport every day, eat most of their meals at home and don't enjoy Hong Kong's vibrant nightlife too much.
Therefore, it should be apparent that expats – and especially those relocating with kids of school-going age, education is an astronomical cost that hasn't even been factored in yet – need to negotiate a good expat salary package with their prospective Hong Kong employers; one which makes allowances for housing stipends, health insurance, and travel and (if applicable) education subsidies. Although this practice of extending lucrative expat packages is becoming less and less commonplace, with many employers preferring to pay slightly higher wages to expats and to leave them to sort out their own housing and transport costs, you must ensure that you conduct thorough research and only accept a job offer if the salary will support the lifestyle you want to lead in Hong Kong.
The silver lining for expats seeking employment in Hong Kong is that your tax burden is (in all likelihood) going to be far lighter than in your country of origin. Only seven percent of expats in Hong Kong pay higher taxes than they ordinarily would back home.