Property Prices a Source of Sticker Shock for Expats in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the world most expensive city because of its sky high property price. Photo from Flickr user Christopher Lance CC: AT-NC-SA

Hong Kong is one of the world most expensive city because of its sky high property prices. Photo from Flickr user Christopher Lance CC: AT-NC-SA

Hong Kong features on more that one ranking of the world's most expensive cities for a reason. The metropolis’ property prices are sky high, and with more than 7 million people squeezed into 1,104 km2, there simply isn't enough land to go around.

Expats flock to the city for the high quality of life and abundant work opportunities, but many say rental property prices are too expensive for the average worker.

Bennettleung aired his grievances in the Asia Xpat forum over the high cost of living:

The cheapest 300 feet apartment in the hk island side cost at least $6-7K, (half ur salary). 2nd option, is living next to junkies and prostitutes in some sort of ghetto area with common bathroom will cut your living cost down to $2.5K. Get real, the property pricing is extremely expensive in hk

In an interview about relocation to Hong Kong, Shira Katalin who is Chief Operations Officer at loans direct advised other expats:

 It is much more expensive in Hong Kong, especially the rent which is up to four times more expensive.

Should an average expat work and live alone in Hong Kong, a one-bedroom flat in the affluent neighborhood the Mid-Levels with about 450 to 600 square feet of space, it would cost 12,000 to 16,000 Hong Kong dollars (1,548 to 2,064 US dollars) monthly while a larger property would cost around 20,000 to 45,000 (2,580 to 4,804 US dollars). Accommodation near businesses or in upscale areas can be as much as 30,000 to 50,000 (3,870 to 6,449 US dollars). For a couple or a family with children needing more space, the rent spikes even more.

Of course, if expats are willing to live a bit far away from the business centers, such as the outlying Lantau Island, where it takes about 60 minutes by ferry or subway to travel to the Central District, the rent can be cut by half. Indeed many expats who don't have housing allowance from their work choose to live in outlying islands and the New Territories.

There are positives to Hong Kong living, such as the low cost of utilities, like mobile phones, Internet and electricity and the cost of transportation. For example, Axptguy38 evaluated the costs:

HK has high rents, yes. However it also has very low tax rates, cheap public transport, cheap clothing and cheap food.

Amidst government efforts to cool down the housing market, residential property prices are expected to slowly decrease. Moreover, large scale residential developments in lucrative areas like Sham Shui Po and in Ma On Shan are sold at a discount price to local residents which will attract investors who rent their properties out to tenants.

However, the shortage of affordable housing has become a huge challenge for local community. Even though the property price is expected to fall by 10% to 15% by 2015, local middle class still find the price too expensive as property prices in Hong Kong have surged 117.2% from 2008 to 2012. It is inevitable that expats will continue to feel the high cost of living in the city.


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