Moving to Hong Kong – What salary will you need?

Hong Kong is a popular expat location for those looking to further their career. With a strong economy and excellent job prospects, it’s no surprise that so many British professionals relocate to this Eastern territory.
Making such a big move overseas will inevitably have an impact on finances, so it’s important to know how things like living expenses, education, healthcare and accommodation differ relative to the UK. Having this data to hand makes it easier to negotiate a salary with an employer to ensure that quality of life is not negatively impacted.

Finances in Hong Kong

The HSBC Expat Explore Survey 2016 ranks Hong Kong as 19th for Economics. The survey questions expats living in countries around the world and gives an accurate report that potential expatriates can use to understand how their financial situation might change, for better or worse.
The report states that income levels are higher than the global average, and 62% of expats earn more than they did in their home countries. The average salary is almost $170,000 USD a year. Expats who took the survey also said that they were able to save faster and invest more in long-term plans than in their home countries.
While this is good news, the cost of living in Hong Kong can be high. The biggest costs are healthcare and education. Healthcare in Hong Kong is among some of the best in the world, with high-quality public and private services available. There are also plenty of foreign-trained, English-speaking doctors if preferred. When in possession of a local ID card (after 180 days residence), expats can access the public healthcare system and benefit from subsidies. Advance payment is often needed for treatments and appointments, so a good private health insurance is recommended. Bear in mind that private medical assistance is among the most expensive in the world, which is why many expats stick with the public system.
Schooling is also of a very high quality, however many public schools teach only in Cantonese and are run very differently to UK schools, with a strong focus on testing and examinations. While education at public schools is free for all, the language barrier is likely to cause problems, as well as the curriculum, which is why most expats use one of the many international schools. Fees are incredibly high however, and places are competitive.

Negotiating benefits

When negotiating a salary, it is important to also negotiate the benefits package. Ideally, a comprehensive healthcare plan for the whole family and a school subsidy would be included. This would help ease the pressure of the two big costs when moving as a family, and allow more of the actual salary to be put towards accommodation, living costs and savings.
The salary should easily cover a home, school fees, transportation, bills and expenses. Some more generous benefits packages will include help towards housing and a car. Benefits packages were once quite generous in Hong Kong, but over the years they have started to decrease and salaries raised to compensate, so do the maths to ensure that all the essentials can be covered, leaving enough money for a good quality of life.
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