The cost of living in Hong Kong is undeniably high, with some reports putting the city's cost of living as the highest in the world.

For a number of years, including 2020, Hong Kong has topped Mercer's Cost of Living Survey. This is thanks in part to the region's extremely overinflated property market, which makes finding accommodation an expensive endeavour. Add to that the fact that most produce and commodities are imported, and one tends to find that the necessities of life are generally more expensive in Hong Kong than in other cities.

Nevertheless, the typically high salaries earned by expats tend to offset these costs, and many find their quality of life is higher than it was back home.


Cost of accommodation in Hong Kong

Housing in Hong Kong is notoriously expensive and, depending on their needs, expats can expect a high percentage of their salary to be spent on an (often tiny) apartment. The older Chinese-style apartments, in particular, may be more reasonably priced, but don't afford the space that Western expats may be used to.


Cost of public transport in Hong Kong

Public transport is cheap, clean and reliable. By contrast, owning and maintaining a car in Hong Kong is very expensive. Most people find that they don’t need one if they live centrally; plus the cost – and risk of bumping into erratic taxi drivers – is generally not worth it. 


Cost of education in Hong Kong 

Education is free in Hong Kong's state-run schools, but the majority of expats who arrive with kids prefer to send them to one of the region's private international schools that teach in English and follow a Western curriculum. These can be incredibly expensive and expats should make sure their salaries or package will cover school costs before signing a permanent contract. 


Cost of healthcare in Hong Kong

Healthcare is free for expats using the public system, which is very good but heavily oversubscribed. Most organise a private insurance plan through their employer. 


Cost of groceries and shopping in Hong Kong

Thanks to its proximity to China, there are many things that can be picked up cheaply in Hong Kong. Household supplies, clothes and other bits and pieces are made just across the border and transported freely into Hong Kong, and are thus very affordable. China also provides a lot of Hong Kong’s fresh food and grocery items, and if expats are happy to go local in terms of produce origin, the weekly shop can be easy on the wallet.

That said, most Westerners prefer not to buy local produce, especially with stories of questionable farming practices and food additive scandals hitting the papers regularly. Expats buying imported goods can expect to pay double for many food and produce items (especially meat), with the result that grocery shopping costs will quickly add up.

There is no shortage of Western items on international supermarket shelves: Tim Tams and Vegemite for the Australian market, graham crackers and ranch dressing for US expats and Tiptree Jam and Marmite for the Brits. Not to mention the Japanese supermarkets, Thai food shops and Philippines speciality stores stocking their own culinary assets from home.


Cost of living in Hong Kong chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for July 2020.

Accommodation (monthly)

Furnished one-bedroom apartment in city centre

HKD 20,000

Furnished one-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

HKD 14,000

Furnished three-bedroom apartment in city centre

HKD 42,000

Furnished three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

HKD 26,000

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

HKD 28

Milk (1 litre)

HKD 24

Rice (1kg)

HKD 18

Loaf of white bread

HKD 16

Chicken breasts (1kg)

HKD 78

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

HKD 60

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

HKD 40

Coca-Cola (330ml)

HKD 9

Cappuccino

HKD 40

Bottle of local beer

HKD 50

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

HKD 450

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

HKD 0.60

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

HKD 190

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

HKD 1,200

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

HKD 8.50

Bus/train fare in the city centre

HKD 10

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

HKD 17

NormaTeggart Our Expat Expert

Norma Teggart Freeman currently lives in Hong Kong and enjoys cooking, working out and cats!  To find out more about Norma and life as an expat in Hong Kong, please feel free to follow her blog, Teggs Hong Kong.

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