Skilled expats looking to relocate to the eastern economic powerhouse that is Hong Kong 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. While the cost of living in Hong Kong can be astronomical, expats can rest assured that salaries in Hong Kong are significantly higher than the global average.
Expat jobs and salaries in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a good destination for expats with high earning potential. The majority of expats in Hong Kong are employed in the financial services sector of the economy. 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.
Estimates of typical annual Hong Kong expat annual earnings in 2021:
ESL teachers: 260,000 HKD (33,500 USD)
Marketing manager at an advertising or marketing firm: 410,000 HKD (53,000 USD)
Project manager at an IT company: 580,000 HKD (75,000 USD)
Mid-level job in the financial services sector: 290,000 HKD (37,000 USD)
Actual salaries can vary depending on experience, qualifications and other factors.
Saving money in Hong Kong
More than half of expats working in Hong Kong state that their progress towards their long-term saving and investment goals has been accelerated by working in the region. However, 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.
Accommodation in Hong Kong is particularly steep, and education is an additional expense for expats with children. Those who want to send their children to private international schools will have to pay steep fees.
It should be clear that the ability to save money while in Hong Kong depends on expats negotiating the best salary package they can with their prospective Hong Kong employer. Allowances such as housing stipends, health insurance and travel should also be secured if possible.
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 – and a big drawcard – is that the tax burden is often far lighter than in their home country.