The cost of living in Hong Kong, part III

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In this stage of my exploration of the cost of living in Hong Kong, we get out of the supermarkets and check out some of the other day-to-day expenses expatriates face in this costly city.

If you're interested in the earlier price comparisons I did for food, you can find them here and here.

In this installment, note that there are fewer direct comparisons to be made, since many of the costs I've surveyed are more or less fixed at a single level, e.g. utility charges.

So what stands out this time? What's interesting to me are the contrasts. That is, Hong Kong is incredibly expensive in some ways, remarkably cheap in others.

First, you'll see that the conventional wisdom you hear in Hong Kong is right on target: accommodation and international schools are very expensive indeed. Cars are also very expensive to run and maintain.

The cost of a car seems to be especially burdensome when you contrast it with one of Hong Kong's greatest bargains: taxis, and public transport in general.

Domestic help is also very inexpensive. It's worth noting here that I've included a separate category for 'expats salary' for domestic helper: that is, many expats pay their helpers quite a bit more than the government-mandated minimum, whereas (proportionately) far fewer local Chinese employers do.

Finally, a couple of methodological notes before we get started with the numbers.

For accommodation, my methodology was pretty simple. I used gohome.com's power search function to try to find rental properties that fit criteria for square footage and geographical location, then did a seat-of-the-pants calculation of an average price range. If you really do go flat-hunting in any of these areas, you're almost certain to find outliers beyond both ends of the range I've stated. I've also made things easier for myself by limiting the search to flats located on 'middle floors'; flats on lower floors will be cheaper on average, those in higher floors more expensive (sometimes very significantly so).

Second, note that the utilities figures I've included reflect the averages for the Tall family only. For electricity, the lower number is for winter, the higher for summer. Our flat is about 900 square feet, and we're pretty sparing with the air conditioning, so electicity bills for bigger flats that are air-conditioned all summer will be far higher, e.g. 2-3K/month, or even more.

As before, I've listed all prices in Hong Kong dollars first, then in US dollars.

Communications
  Mid-budget High budget
Telephone line, monthly fee 110.00/14.10
(basic line rental)
166.00/21.28
(basic line + lots of options)
Mobile phone, monthly fee 78.00/10.00
(basic 1000-minutes/month plan)
488.00/62.56
(3G w/unlimited data transfers)
Broadband Internet 238.00/30.50
3M service
289.00/37.05
18M service + several TV channels
Charge for local calls Free and unlimited
Domestic help
  Mid-budget High budget
Hourly rate for cleaning 60.00/7.69
Local Chinese part-time cleaner
75.00/9.61
Merry Maids Clearning Service (4-hour minimum charge of 300.00/38.46)
Full-time Filipino or Indonesian domestic helper, monthly wages 3,400/436
+400/51 monthly government levy
4,000-6,000/513-769
*'Expat' salary for helpers
Utilities, monthly charges
Electricity300-600/38.46-76.92
Gas400/51.28
Water150/19.23
Schools, fees for 2007-08 school year, except where noted
 

Primary grades

 Secondary grades

English Schools Foundation schools (UK-style curriculum) 54,300/6,962
85,000/10,897

Hong Kong International School (American curriculum) 120,400/15,436

139,027/17,824

Australian International School 83,000/10,641 95,800-100,700/12,282-12,910
German-Swiss International School 106,480/13,651

112,480/14,421

Chinese International School
109,200/14,000
128,800-130,700/16,513-16,756

Yew Chung International School 128,535/16,479 112,000/14,359
(2006 price)
Cars
  Initial cost, new Annual licensing fee
Compact (1000-1499cc)
145,000/18,590
Toyota Corolla
3,929/504
Family (1500-2499cc)
216,000/27,692
Toyota Camry
5,794/743
Deluxe (2500cc and up)
586,000/75,128
Toyota Crown
7,664/982
Gasoline, 1 liter 13.70/1.76
Taxis
Taxis, flagfall 15.00/1.92
(covers initial 2 kilometers)
Taxis, rate per additional kilometer 1.40/.18
(also add 1.40/XX for each 1 minute waiting time)
Taxi fare, airport to city center ~320-350/41-45
Other public transport
  Typical short distance Typical long distance
Bus ~4.00-5.00/0.51-0.64 ~13.00/1.67
(cross-harbor tunnel bus)
MTR (subway) ~4.50-5.50/0.57-0.69 ~13.00/1.67
(Kowloon-HK Island)
Ferry 2.20/0.28
(Star Ferry, Central to TST)
22.20/2.85
(Fast ferry, Central to Lantau Island, weekday)
Tram 2.00/0.26, all distances
Housing
Monthly rent for 1000 square feet, middle floor, in:
Mid-levels 25,000-35,000/3,205-4,487
Pokfulam 22,000-30,000/2,821-3,846
Western/Sai Ying Poon 22,000-25,000/2,821-3,205
Shatin 16,500-20,000/2,115-2,564
Tseung Kwan O ~20,000/2,564
Monthly rent for 2000 square feet, middle floor, in:
Mid-levels 45,000-80,000/5,769-10256
The Peak 60,000-85,000/7,692-10,897
Stanley (low floor only) ~50,000/6,410
Repulse Bay 60,000-75,000/7,692-9,615

I'm very interested in hearing reader reactions/getting contributions on any of these cost categories, and in adding new ones.

We've also got much more information on schools, domestic helpers, accommodation and other FAQs for those moving to Hong Kong, so check them out.

Comments

nice one Mr T!

Made you sound like an A team member there, ah well.

Nice posting, really great. Love these tables of information!

Cheers
Alex

school fees and debentures

Hi

Great bit of information.  However, I'd add on the schooling the cost of the debenture to be able to be admitted to paying school fees.  Plus the % chance of getting into the school at all!  Saw in the paper yesterday something about 18000 students vieing for the last 49 Form 6 places!

When we applied for school here my daughter had a 1 in 5 chance of being admitted to K5 at GSIS and had to do an assessment with the other 19 children watched by 6 teachers ... 

Car price commentary

About a car--if you live somewhat "out" from things like shopping, groceries, etc, a car can be quite useful (we live relatively close to the Clearwater Bay Beaches). Also, the prices for used cars are very, very reasonable, especially compared with comparable cars in the US. Granted, the yearly licensing fee is quite high, but insurance is dirt cheap (we pay something like HKD 1500 for a year). Fuel is expensive too, compared to the US (roughly $6.50-7 USD per gallon)--we generally only use about one tank of gas per month, so that will tell you how much driving we do. There are times it's cheaper/easier/faster to use the car. There are times when it's not. We have made the choice to have a car because of our location, but we use public transportation whenever we can (often we will park at a park and ride carpark and take the MTR or a bus).

Licensing is based on engine size, so you must choose carefully if you don't want to pay a larger licensing fee.

In general, high-end cars (BMW, Mercedes Benz) are much cheaper used here than in the US, and are very cheap to maintain--because of the high numbers of them in the city, parts and labor are cheap. On the other hand, minivans are as expensive or more so than in the US, and there are a lot of very small, very cramped carparks in which a minivan is difficult to deal with. Also a 7-passenger car (not a minivan) will be more expensive than a "regular" 5-passenger. We started out with a 7-passenger which died in a year, and now have a 5-passenger Saab 900S. We paid a decent price for it and maintenance is not out of this world (though parts are more expensive than a comparable BMC or Merc).

M

Many village housing in

Many village housing in Saikung runs for HK$7000-10,000 for 700sqft, 3 level flats. they are 2-3 bed room. they are quite good and many expats live in it. Many of them can have free parking lot, so having a car can be affordable.

In general compared to the proportion of ones salary, I feel HK prices are not that high apart from the housing and education...of course if you are going local..

parking cost

A car may be not too expensive to buy, but is expensive to run.  

Average hourly parking rate: $25 per hour in the city, $12 per hour outside city.

Average monthly parking rate: $4000 per month in the city, $1800 per month outside city.

costs of schools, cars, housing

Thanks for the great comments to all who have added so far.

Gweipo, you're quite right; I'll try to get debenture numbers up for the schools I picked. They're no small deal.

Momof2boys, I certainly agree -- your tips are very good. Used cars can be an excellent deal here, because for a variety of reasons there are always people looking to unload them quickly. But isdl is certainly right too about relentless running costs; that was certainly my experience when the Talls ran a car. I've written more about cars and the costs and experience of running one in HK here, here, here and indirectly here.

As for flat costs. Anon has mentioned Sai Kung, and that's certainly an area that can be cheaper, but the kind of costs listed, i.e. 7-10K, would be restricted pretty much to village houses only, and to just one floor. Other village areas around HK's New Territories would have similar low-cost possibilities, and then of course there are the expat establishments on Lantau and Lamma Islands, where again village-style housing is relatively cheap.

I've never lived in a village-type situation, and would be particularly grateful for anyone who has to write in with a bit about the advantages/disadvantages of that lifestyle!

parking costs

I've been thinking and realizing that I did not include car costs for the simple reason that we don't have to pay to park so I don't remember that part of the cost. isdl and you both point out that the parking costs are a huge consideration besides the other costs. I'm sorry I forgot that originally!

M

parking costs

If someone drives to work everyday, then the parking cost is double.  That's why I catch the bus everyday.  My car is twelve years old and I did fifty eight thousand kilometers on the clock. The service guy said that it is quite the norm, and someone did even less.

It depends on the village....

Village life really depends on your village.

I lived in a village in Sai Kung for 3 years. Really liked it, had a gorgeous sea view. Parking was non-existent. One neighbor told me that all the parking was reserved for the native villagers & he stopped trying to park there when on his second night, someone left a large stone on his windshield, as a "message".

Other villages have more parking.

I have a friend in a village in a country park where there is no parking or even a proper road. You have to walk along a foot-path for about 5 to 10 minutes to get there from the main road. The village shares some hand-carts.

Other friends once live Pak A in Sai Kung cuntry park. Walking to the main road was about 40 minutes. Most people in that teeny village went to Sai Kung town on their own boats or took the gaido.

I have relatives in a village on Southside of HK Island, free parking galore.

Parking

No worries, mom2twoboys -- you're just fortunate you don't have to pay for parking!

The cost of parking was one of our main motivations for getting rid of our car. In our development a space rented for about HKD2200-2400 a month. Mr Tall's bonehead math calculator tells me that monthly cost can be broken down to about HKD80 per day, i.e. over 10 US dollars. That's enough for a couple of fairly substantial taxi rides each day here in HK, and when you add in the other costs, you realize that even taking taxis almost exclusively for day-to-day transport is cheaper than running a car here -- unless you've got a built-in advantage, such as free parking, or you've got a long commute that's really inconvenient without a car.

Having grown up in the rural USA, where cars are so quotidian, I lack the ability to appreciate 'car as status symbol'. In fact, conversely, I still occasionally feel quite dashing when I race over to the side of the street, hail a taxi, fling myself in, and then . . . fumble around for a while with the Cantonese pronunciation of where I'm going, which I must admit takes the shine off the whole urban sophisticate scenario, but still!

SKMama, I've also heard/been warned about very similar warnings/rocks/smashed windshields etc. associated with taking 'reserved' parking spots in HK villages, so this is a good warning for people looking at village housing and expecting to keep a car. Even though it may look as if parking will be free and easy, you'd better find out for sure!

convenience?

Hi--not meaning to hijack the thread in the direction of cars, but I was thinking as I was driving from Clearwater Bay to Tai Wai yesterday with a sick bird (yeah, it appears the only "exotic" vets are in Tai Wai--not very convenient). Yes, I could do it by public transportation (mini-bus to MTR to KCR to taxi or walk 15 minutes), but it would take me a large portion of the day to get there and back and you're not supposed to transport birds on the MTR (at least according to the scolding signs I've seen there before). The time factor is where it would be helpful to have a car (though, as you've very accurately pointed out, if you don't have the car costs, a taxi is not out of the question--though I don't think I'd take a taxi from here to there and back!).

OTOH, there is a HUGE reason not to have a car, and that is the driving itself. I'm sure there are other major cities in the world with as poorly marked roads as HK has (we had similar problems in Washington DC last year, and terrible construction problems in St. Louis several years ago, so I know they exist), but IMO, HK is a really terrible place to drive. I was so stressed out driving to Tai Wai and back. For the most part, I refuse to drive past the SK/TKO district (except to Tai Wai or Tsuen Wan on the occasions I need to go there). Yes, we have maps. Yes, we plan out our trips in advance as well as possible. But there was a good year and a half that we would leave at least 30 minutes early and make sure we had at least 1/2 tank of gas so that we would have time to get lost and get found again. I hold the maps in my sweaty little hands while my husband drives, hoping and praying that we don't get lost (though I've become very adept at finding out where we are lost--just not how to get back to where we want to be). And if I'm driving without my husband along, I just pray that there are no detours or major construction.

I also don't see a car as a status symbol--it is a way to get from point A to point B. We could easily get along without a car (especially if we consider the costs of licensing vs. the cost of taxis). However, my husband is the one who insists on having it, and since we don't have to pay parking fees, it's not really too bad in the long run.

So if you live in a remote area and have a free parking space, it may be worth it. Or, if you have a very long commute (I have a friend who lives in Tuen Mun and one of his jobs is out here in Clearwater Bay--his commute time driving is 1/2 what it is by public transportation). But HK has about the most awesome public transportation system in the world. I am awed by how far-reaching it is (you just have to budget your time accordingly--for example, for me to drive to SK takes about 1/2 hour--to go by bus, it's about 50 minutes).

If you're a status symbol kind of person then the costs involved with owning a car won't bother you too much I'm guessing (isn't that the definition of status symbol?). If you're trying to decide if you want a care, you need to weigh the factors of cost vs. convenience. It will NOT be cheaper for you to own a car. However, the convenience may matter (if you want to take the time to learn the HK roads).

M

Village house - great place to live but not for everyone

Village house

The variation in village house is huge, as well as the rental and sale price. Some village houses are far away, while other are just near MTR stations, so as usual you need to look at the surrounding and may be the residents. If you find a lot of expats, then most probably the village is expat-friendly.

I have lived in a village house for 3 yrs and my neighbors (foreigners) have lived there for more than 10 yrs. The village is just near HKUST, TVB, ESF clear water bay road, International Kinder garden nearby, 5-15 mins to Hand Hau MTR station, quite near to Sai Kung, etc. There are many expensive bungalow nearby such as Marina Cove and silvermine bay, golf course, and the expat oriented Welcome (Pik Uk) and Park N Shop (silvermine bay and HKUST). There is a decent population of foreigners working in university, or elsewhere. Rental around 10,000 for 700 sq ft. There are free parking, metered parking (for day time parking) and fee-paid parking (800/month). Also you can buy or rent a flat with reserved personal parking included. There is also an English medium free bulltin – SaiKung explore, that provide valuable information.

Ten Advantages of village house
1. Price is lower than similar size villas. There is also no management fee.
2. Larger size: Flat usually have a usage ratio or 70-80%, while village house has standard 700 usage space with about 80sqft balcony. For 2nd floor you can also use the 700sqft roof. For ground floor you may have a small garden. There are also many duplex (1400 sqft) and whole houses (2100sqft)
3. Usually in country side with green and healthy environment. If you own the three levels (2100 sqft), it can be great to decorate the whole house. You have more control on renovation work.
4. You can have parties at home, especially on roof. If you rent a flat and the landlord own the 2nd floor, the landlord may allow you to use the roof. Most flats are too small for parties.
5. Free or cheap parking. Please know your neighbors to avoid “rock on your wind screen”
6. most village have walking and hiking trails nearby. Good for short walk after work.
7. Chance to blend with locals, if you are interested. We have lion dance every year during the Chinese new year. Depending upon the village the neighbors can be very friendly. Once I lived in a village near clear water bay, the neighbors gave us vegetables for free. Currently, on the ground floor we have an old couple and they are very friendly. They give small gift to our children and always want to have small talk with my wife (Chinese).
8. Large space for children to play such as cycling, playing hide and seek, soccer (on grass playground)
9. The best of both world – work in city and enjoy rural life with spectacular views (mountain, sea, ravines, etc)
10. You can own animals such as dogs. On Sundays, saikung water front is more like a dog show.

Ten dis-advantages of village house
1. Some villages are in remote location; therefore public transportation can be an issue.
2. Inconvenience compared to flats: no lifts, ground floor air-conditioned shopping centre, etc.
3. Sales price has huge variations (emotional costs) and bank charge slightly high interest rates and lower % of loan.
4. Hong Kong is generally safe, but some may feel that village houses are not safe. Actually some remote ones may not be so safe with frequent burglary.
5. Most “elite” schools are far away from village houses. With some exceptions, such as Good hope school is near village houses.
6. Night life is inexistent in most villages. Some places it can be scary with few or no lamp posts.
7. New year and weekends can be noisy with overnight karaoke and mahjong
8. You may encounter surprises, such as the broken wind shield, as skmama has mentioned. [ It has never happen to me and it may depend on the villages]
9. Status symbol: If you are one who cares about status symbol, then village houses are not the right choice.
10. It may be your first encounter with snakes or stay dogs.

parking, cars and village houses

Hi Mr T,

I definitely needed to comment.

Cars; cheap to buy second-hand, criminally expensive to maintain and run. Living in Yuen Long [where?] and working in Sham Shui Po [eh?] the journey takes 30 minutes door to door by car compared to 45 minutes bus journey and the walk to/from bus stops. So convenience is a huge factor. Before the Western Rail opened there was a good chance of enduring this journey a la sardine style. Not fun in the sweatier seasons. Mr T and Mr B are also more than aware of my adversion to being used as a leaning pole or cushion whilst on public transport so for my sanity and others safety - the car is the way for me. BUT; the bus journey is HK$13 [US$2] including using the Tai Lam Tunnel. This by the way, has just increased its toll from HK$25 to HK$28 each way. So minimum tolls is HK$56 plus petrol. Taking this route 6 times a week - I get through HK$500 petrol every 8-10 days depending on how I drive. Add on a couple trips to South side or to the airport and its an expensive ride.

The alternative is the mini drag racing circuit known as Tuen Mun highway which is not for the faint-hearted as the main criteria for driving here is sufficient hours experience on the X-box.

Finding your way around HK is tricky - I think the town planners have a subversive streak. When this is combined with road works, diversions, traffic accidents and/or whole new reclaimed areas - all maps are deemed out of date within 5 minutes of printing.

Parking; I have free parking at work and home so not an issue for now. Public car parks, however, are a personal nightmare. Don't be fooled by those bright glossy signs with HUGE HK$10 printed on them. More often than not, this means HK$10 for 15 minutes with a minimum of 2 hours! You only get burned once. Some of the glossier malls do have reasonable parking fees; IFC, PP and Festival Walk but don't forget they only take Octopus cards or visa.

A lot of car parks do require the parking skills of a stunt driver though. Take note of the scratch marks on car park walls at bumper height - tight corners and wide cars are never a good combination. The same goes for many car doors with dints on the side - usually caused by the door of a car parked 3 inches next to it being opened by a kid/granny/non-car owner.

Village houses - I live in a village house, its my father's village - I love the space, the roof, the front garden. I hate having to do 3 times the cleaning and the huge utility bills. And yes, its far far away from Central/TST/Causeway Bay. Having a car helps.

Ah - to avoid the rock in the window message/removal of tires hint or the parking of a container truck in front of your car for 3 days gesture its best to check beforehand whether you can have parking rights. Your village house landlord is most likely a village family member and can let you know. Otherwise you need to enquire in the most polite terms to the village head whether a space can be made available to you. Sometimes its free, sometimes its not - depends on the village. If you are assigned a space - don't assume you can park anywhere or that your visiting friends can also park otherwise you're back to rocks in the window etc etc. Don't think its because of you - it happens to all 'offenders'. If my friends are visiting - I leave a piece of paper on the dashboard with my phone number so if the 'owner' of the space objects/shows up, they can call first and we can move the car. Its not a foolproof system but offers a slim chance of keeping their car intact.

Batpor

Great post on village housing

Anon, thanks much for that excellent post -- I liked it so much I've written a full article in response; it'll be up tomorrow morning.

The Batpor village/car experience . . .

Batpor, loved your post!

Just a couple of reactions:

Gosh, I never realized the Tai Lam tunnel was so expensive! Tunnels (and not the kind MrB goes on about) are the wild card in the cost of HK driving, aren't they? One of the reasons we found using our car so expensive was that we often drove it from east Kowloon or Tseung Kwan O to HK Island, so that meant a return trip through the Eastern Harbour Tunnel, which is similarly spendy. It just adds up like crazy!

Parking, too -- my own personal driving nightmare is that old car park in the middle of Sai Kung town. I'll freely admit (unlike much of the world's driving population) that I'm an average driver at best. I hate tight maneuvering and the constant need to reverse into parking spaces as quickly as possible while the drivers of other cars itching to get past me give me the evil eye. That's why I also tended to favor the bigger malls' less-stressful carparks!

Mom2twoboys has also mentioned the stress of driving in HK, and I fully concur. It's not that bad, I guess, in that if you can avoid the few big highways in HK (e.g. the Tun Muen highway, as Batpor attests) then there's not much high-speed driving like you would get on urban freeways in the USA. But you do have to be constantly on your guard. I don't want to descend into ranting about HK driving skills, but there are high enough proportions of inexperienced and aggressive drivers here to push my personal stress levels above the redline far too often.

And I agree pets can be a big reason to keep a car. In the past Mrs Tall and I had a German Shepherd, and although he was the sweetest boy around, he was not popular with taxi drivers (taxi drivers in HK have the choice of whether or not they'll carry a passenger with a dog). So the car was good, and of course our dog loved riding around in it. But sometimes we had to take him somewhere via taxi, so we perfected the tactic of sneaking up on taxis from behind, then yanking open the door and jumping in as fast as we could. Then, if the driver didn't want to carry us, he had to actively throw us out!

Mr Tall

more on cars

Western Cross Harbour Tunnel is more expensive: private car's actual toll is $40 and the gazetted toll is $90.

We drive on the left hand side of the road, this may be the reason why people from the States or Europe find driving in Hong Kong is more difficult. Furthermore, if one missed the corner, it would take a long distance to make another trun.

Left side

Driving on the left side was tricky at first, but I've been driving for three years. It's not so much the driving on the left side as it is the exit signs that sneak up on you--as you said, miss a turn, you're out of luck. Some places, yeah, it's no big deal to get around to where you want, but there are some places there is no place to turn around. You are, quite simply, screwed. Even with my scrupulous notes (yes, I have notes of how to get places, like the vet, for example), I live in perpetual fear of taking the wrong exit (like the exit just before the one I want that fakes me out almost every time).

I would rate myself like Mr. Tall--an average driver--and the one thing that bothers me about being on the right side of the car is backing into a parking place. My boys laugh and say they can always tell where I'm parked, LOL.

Fortunately, it's not necessarily the drivers that are the problem--it's the **%&*^%^& signage. We drove from Chicago to Washington DC and back to South Bend this summer, stopping also in Columbus Ohio. We kept commenting on how much warning the road systems give you of exits, merges, etc. That is exactly what is lacking here.

About Mr. Tall's comments on dogs. Our neighbors (who just moved to Uganda) had two tiny silky terriers. When they had to take the dogs somewhere, the taxi drivers usually charged them extra for the dogs, like for bags in the trunk. So they had their fare plus dog fare.

M

After writing some comments

written by me - After writing some comments for some time using 'anonymous' name, I finally decided to register.  Myself living in HK for 13 yrs and married to a Chinese wife and having a lovely 5 months old daughter, I feel this site is a great place to venture.

cars again

The are less signs in the city area than highways: lack of space to put up big signs, may be.  Furthermore, the signs usually direct drivers to the districts or main roads, rather than to the side streets.

If I'm compelled to drive on the next day, especially to an area that I'm not familiar with, I will do a test drive the night before.  It gives me a sense of the new area.  This may sound a bit silly but I don't have to panic on the next day.  But, it boosts the cost of driving.

Another hidden cost of driving: when you are caught by the traffic warden.

Birds or animals are forbidden on public transport except taxi, but subjected to extra charges.

Left Side

I fully agree with M's comment on signage. Its diabolical here.

I pride myself on my sense of direction but it is so easy here to miss a turn or [my personal favourite] have double white lines appear overnight on a familiar route necessitating in exploring whole new areas of HK whilst discovering a bilingual fluency in expletives and basic beratement until finding the right route again. All I can say is never get lost in industrial estates - they're guaranteed to make you feel like an experimental white mouse in a lab maze but without the reward.

Batpor

In defence of car ownership

We've been in HK for almost a year now and decided we will get a car. Our family includes a baby and a small dog, and thus far we've been doing ok with public transport and taxis. However, with the fall approaching we want to take advantage of more of the outdoor opportunities HK has to offer. Frankly, this is easier with a car for people with children and pets. Our poor dog is getting almost no outings as it is too burdensome to lug all the babies stuff, our stuff, and the dog on public transportation. I am hoping that having the car will enable us to see parts of HK and take part in activities that we would not have before. If nothing else hopefully it gets us out of the malls!

Further I have found that although people in HK have many positive characteristics, they can be a bit oblivious to the hassles and challenges of a person travelling with a child/stroller. Most of the stuff is minor, from young people taking the easy seats/standing areas on the bus or train, to having 25 people swarm through a shop door my wife holds open before I can push the cart through (even my wife who was born and raised in HK has been embarrassed by this one), to making me push the stroller off a narrow sidewalk on to a street (popular in Soho). Compared to our home in NY City, I find HK a bit more difficult to navigate with child.

A car won't solve all these issues, but I think it will go some ways to mitigating them so that we don't become reluctant to explore because of hassles.

Housing allowances

If you're just negotiating your salary package to relocate to Hong Kong, gweipo explains you'll want to try and get rental raises / second moves covered too.

MrB

Status symbol

There can be some very beautiful designed village houses with private pools, large gardens and much better than what most any high rise development has to offer on Hk Island or Kowloon.

Village Housing

I am a HK chinese citizen looking at country housing in HK from UK.

As most of my closer contacts in HK now are the very Chinese, I think they would be quite shocked and probably would not be so well informed as you or people on those website about the country living. And I mean country living where there are fellow persons such as myself who is looking for safety as well as travel convenience still (to City Centre or HK island). In other words, I would like the quiet and innocent sanctuary in the country (and to do my paintings etc.), but yet I would like to have the easy access to see my family and friends on the island, as well as to conduct any businesses with the "world", so to speak!)

It's simple enough for me to look via the professionals, ie. estate websites and agents etc., but I believe nothing beats firsthand information and personal experiences by people who have similar interests.

I would appreciate any advice or comments you can give on they locations, ie. which countrysides(!), the kind of housing (incl. prices and the respective sizes), the population and the kind of people, and of course, the safety and convenience issues are quite important.

Finally, I have to commend Mr. Tall and Mr. Balding for this innovative and insightful site ... I am a big supporter already!

I look forward to any input anyone may have, though I know this is quite a mouthful to handle all at once, and I would be grateful if you or anyone can also point me in the right directions for further information, e.g. people or weblinks etc...

Many thanks in advance!

Cost of living

Hi,

The article is indeed very informative.

I am planning to move to HK this year, and just trying to figure out the monthly expenses. With one school going kid, and accomodation of 2BHK near Central, I work out per month: $7000 (school) + 20000 (accomodation) + (Groceries )15000 + (Travel) 700 + Power/ Gas etc (2000), it works out to be approx $45000. Is this realistic?

Thanks in advance!

$45K monthly budget

Amita,

The accommodation (monthly rental) is the one that I feel least confident in. Have you already decided on a building and know the rents?

But overall, yes, that total seems reasonable for two adults + 1 child.

MrB

Planing to move HK from Tokyo

Hi Tall,

Its Redwan and living in tokyo. Recently i got a job offer at HK and planning to move coming July. But Im worry about the living expence of HK. Would you please give me clear idea about expences.

Im  a single person and my new comany going to pay me HKD 25000. So do you think its enough for single person to live in HK with this earning. 

Your kind reply would be highly appreciable.

Thanks,

 

Redwan 

Cost of living in HK

Not sure where you are getting the electricity numbers from, but I have never had a bill under 1k and have had ones up to 5k in the summer with air cons running. I have lived in Red Hill and Shek O.