An Expats Comprehensive Relocation Guide: Hong Kong
Hong Kong has been a popular destination for expats. With many advantages, including high wages, low taxes (compared to the rest of the world) and high living standards, why wouldn’t you consider Hong Kong? We’ve helped break down the facts and figures below to help your next career move.
The majority of corporate expatriates find employment in Hong Kong’s financial sector, especially investment banking. Expats also regularly find opportunities in the fields of IT, digital advertising, human resources and the legal sphere.
It is home to the highest concentration of banking institutions in the world with over 71 of the largest 100 international banks having operations in the territory. With China’s growing economic status, the proximity to mainland China is also and advantage for banks and trading deals.
Income Tax Rates:
Personal income tax is capped at a rate of 17%. Another great component of Hong Kong’s tax system is the ease in which it is administered. An individual can file their taxes in less than ten minutes, with minimal assistance. It is regarded as one of the most efficient tax systems in the world.
Visa requirements are not as stringent as in many other countries. Further, forms can be completed in English. A variety of companies are also available to assist expatriates with applying for the appropriate visa for Hong Kong.
Generally, work permits are easy to come by if expats can prove they don’t have a criminal record, that they have a high level of education or possess a highly specialised skill set that isn’t readily available locally and will be of value to the local market.
However, it is necessary for all expats who are not from Mainland China and who are not graduates of a Hong Kong university to have a job contract and an employer sponsor prior to applying for a work permit.
Main Relocation Costs:
Accommodation in Hong Kong is expensive. According to a CNBC report, real estate prices in Hong Kong are the second highest in the world, only behind the Principality of Monaco.
Expats living farther from the central business district can typically find more reasonable rent, but will have a longer commute to work. On a positive note, Hong Kong possesses a comprehensive public transport system, making a personal vehicle more of a luxury than a necessity as cars can be in places such as the Middle East.
Costs of Living:
The cost of living in Hong Kong can be high for expats. Listed third in Mercer’s 2014 Cost of Living report, the “Pearl of the Orient” has an extremely overinflated real estate market, which makes finding accommodation an expensive endeavour to start with.
Your average price for a 3 bedroom apartment in the city centre can cost you around $4,437 USD per month, making it one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. Your average 3-bedroom apartment outside the city will cost you $2,706 USD per month.
Add to that the fact that the majority of produce and commodities have to be imported. Expatriates tend to find that the necessities of life are generally more expensive in Hong Kong than in other global cities. Nevertheless, high expat salaries tend to offset these costs, and many find their quality of life is higher than it was back home.
However, there is the ability to live a simple life, with an exuberance of world-renown markets, at times you can love as cheaply as you can barter.
Hong Kong is a place that lives by the motto, “work hard, play hard.” The city thrives on perpetuating and amplifying its bustling urban energy. There are always restaurants to dine in, bars to drink in, clubs to dance in and attractions to enjoy.
Private Schooling Fees:
Hong Kong has a variety of private international schools, which vary in curriculum and teaching style. Most international schools use an English-based curriculum and tend to be separated into the British, American, Canadian and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.
International school tuition can be quite high, reaching as high as US$23,600 a year for a grade 12 education. Additional costs can include a non-refundable application fee, a reservation fee- which can be up to half of the annual tuition- and an annual capital levy.
Aptly dubbed Asia’s World City, roughly 7% of Hong Kong’s total population is comprised of expatriates. Three of the most numerically prominent nationalities are from the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, who come to Hong Kong to fulfil roles in the domestic and service sectors. The remaining expat population is something of a cultural melting-pot, with France, South Korea, India, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and Pakistan each representing between 2% and 4% of the total expat population.
Juggling family duties with your occupational responsibilities can be a daunting task. However, a Hong Kong lifestyle can be just the remedy. Due to affordability, it is a standard practice to have a live-in helper. These assistants are often Filipino women who can be employed to help out at home with the cleaning, cooking, and care of children. These domestic workers generally pick up kids from school, look after them while their parents work, and help look after the house. A lot of expat families think Hong Kong is a fantastic place to have children, as life is made tremendously easier than in most other countries, thanks to these helpers.
Hong Kong is more than a concrete jungle or one of the world’s leading financial hubs. It is a location where excitement can be had if desired, or peace and calm if that is wanted instead. Anything and everything can be found on this enchanting island. The “Pearl of the Orient” can offer a once-in-a-lifetime atmosphere and lifestyle that many expatriates can find too tempting to resist.
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