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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Living the Vibrant Hong Kong Life

Hong Kong’s cost of living may be extraordinarily high, but the high quality of education, travel options, and safety could compensate for that.
  • Safety and peacefulness viewed favorably
  • More than half unhappy with quality of environment
  • Almost half struggle to make local friends
  • High job security and satisfaction; long working hours
  • Very high cost of living, but high average incomes

Expat Statistics 2016

Expat Statistics for Hong Kong — infographic

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Safe and within Easy Reach

Expats in Hong Kong feel safe and secure: only 1% of the respondents are not happy with their personal safety, while a quarter of them are very satisfied with the peacefulness of their destination. The travel opportunities are rated especially highly by expats, as no respondent was unhappy with this aspect, and three-quarters are very satisfied with the transport infrastructure, putting Hong Kong in second place in the Travel & Transport subcategory.

All in all, Hong Kong ranks 25th out of 67 countries in the Quality of Life Index. The Travel & Transport subcategory boosts the ranking in this index, as the ratings for the Health & Well-Being, Leisure Options, and Personal Happiness subcategories are indeed below average. The quality of the environment does not find favor with 57% of the expats in Hong Kong, compared to 20% globally who are not happy with the environment of the country they currently live in. However, more than seven in ten people (71%) are satisfied with the quality of medical care, with only 46% saying that healthcare is affordable, though.

Finding Your Feet in Hong Kong

Expats moving to Hong Kong will find that it is not the easiest place to get settled in: it ranks 48th out of 67 countries in the Ease of Settling In Index, with the low ratings for finding friends, locals’ friendliness, and the language barrier going a long way to explain this result.

Learning the local language seems to pose some difficulties for expats according to five out of six respondents (83%), compared to 45% of expats worldwide stating the same about the local language in their respective countries. However, about seven out of ten (69%) say they can still get by in their daily activities without knowing the language. This may of course be due to the fact that English, while possibly not the language spoken widely on the streets of Hong Kong, is still one of the official languages, next to standard Cantonese.

When it comes to socializing, 46% say that it is a struggle to make local friends. The reason for this might be the friendliness of the population (or lack thereof), with Hong Kong ranking a humble 52nd out of 67 in that subcategory. On the other hand, more than two-thirds (69%) say they have had no problems with culture shock since they moved to Hong Kong, while 57% do feel at home in the local culture.

“The mix of cultures and the possibilities to meet people from other nations is great here, as well as the variety of places to visit.”

Long Work Weeks and Expensive Living

According to five out of seven expats working in Hong Kong (71%), job satisfaction is rated favorably. In addition to the high job security, where Hong Kong ranks 19th, more than three-quarters (76%) are happy with the state of the economy. Full-time employees, though, work almost four more hours per week (48.5) than the global average (44.6).

The extortionate cost of living in Hong Kong cannot be ignored, either: it ranks 66th out of 67 in the Cost of Living Index, just before Nigeria. Close to three-quarters of the respondents (72%) are unhappy with the cost of living, with another 90% sharing the view that housing is unaffordable.

Having said that, however, five out of nine (56%) regarded the favorable taxation system as a potential benefit before moving to Hong Kong, which is twice the global average of 28%. Moreover, four out of seven expats think that their financial situation is positive, with 20% of the expats who chose to reveal their financial situation having an income of more than 250,000 USD per year, dwarfing the global average of 3%.

All this puts Hong Kong in 33rd place in the Working Abroad Index and 42nd in the Personal Finance Index.

Enjoying Quality Education

For expats with kids, Hong Kong ranks poorly in 37th place out of 45 countries in the Family Life Index. The costs and availability of childcare and education bring the ranking down, but the quality of education stands out.

Hong Kong appears at the bottom of the table in the Costs of Childcare & Education subcategory: 76% of expat parents say that education is not easy to afford, but 77% are satisfied with the quality of education, putting Hong Kong fifth in the respective subcategory. Options for childcare and education, however, are not so widely available, according to up to four out of seven expat parents (37% and 57%, respectively).

When it comes to general family life, about two-thirds of the respondents with kids abroad (66%) are very happy with their children’s safety and almost three-quarters (74%) are generally satisfied with their kids’ health. All this might contribute to 77% of the parents stating their overall contentment with family life, placing Hong Kong 29th in the Family Well-Being subcategory.

“I struggle most with the high cost of accommodation, high cost of international schools, and the pollution.”

Further Reading