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Can you live on HK$12,000 a month?
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oxi



Joined: 16 Apr 2007
Posts: 347
Location: elsewhere

PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 2:56 am    Post subject: Can you live on HK$12,000 a month? Reply with quote

Thought this might be interesting.
Especially to anyone asking 'Is a salary of XX dollars good?' type questions:-

http://www.ejinsight.com/20150708-hong-kong-challenge-can-you-live-on-hk12000-a-month/

No one can deny that living in Hong Kong is expensive.

The latest annual survey by the New York-based human resources consulting firm Mercer finds our city the second most expensive among 207 urban centers in the world. (The top place is claimed by Luanda, capital of oil-rich Angola in southwestern Africa.)

Although the report is intended to gauge remuneration packages for expatriates, the high cost of living in Hong Kong is a cross borne daily by every worker in the city.

Many wage earners are struggling on the verge of poverty as their income remains stagnant despite a moderately expanding economy.

A short film (《月入三萬的香港人》) about how hard life is for a Hongkonger earning HK$30,000 a month has received more than a million hits on YouTube.

But his life would seem like paradise for most other workers in the city, considering that the latest figures from the Census and Statistics Department show that median monthly wage across all industries in Hong Kong, excluding government employees, stood at HK$14,800 in mid-2014.

A gloomier fact is that, although landing a job is not so difficult nowadays, the starting salary for fresh graduates with an associate degree or higher has been hovering around HK$12,000 for the past three years, according to a report from the Hong Kong Economic Journal, and this is mainly due to the glut of college graduates and job seekers from overseas.

You might think the figure is somewhat underestimated as there are many pursuing a career in high-income sectors like financial or medical services.

But government statistics in 2013 revealed that the median monthly salary for workers aged between 15 and 24 — of which 40 percent are tertiary degree holders — was at a disgraceful level of HK$8,000. A 2014 survey by human resources firm CTgoodjobs showed that the median starting salary for fresh graduates was between HK$11,000 and HK$13,750.

So how is life in Hong Kong for someone who is earning HK$12,000 a month?

The first thing to be clear about is that, except for your probation period, your take-home pay is actually just HK$11,360 after your MPF contribution (at a rate of 5 percent) and salary tax are deducted.

If you’re not fortunate enough to be living in your parents’ house, then a third or even half of your money will go to your rent, no question about that. And forget about having a spacious flat; even a 350 square foot shoebox in Tin Shui Wai now costs almost HK$10,000 to rent.

You have two options: either find a roommate (or roommates) or rent a subdivided flat barely larger than the size of a couple of toilet cubicles. (Hong Kong is fast gaining a worldwide reputation for this sort of accommodation.) In both scenarios, forget about quietude and privacy.

Media reports say the average monthly rent for a cage-like bedspace in some shabby tenement buildings in To Kwa Wan or Tai Kok Tsui is about HK$2,000 to HK$3,000, while the cost of more “luxurious” subdivided flats with at least a door, a private flush toilet and shower range from HK$3,500 to HK$7,000, depending on whether there is a window, which storey and its proximity to a bus stop or MTR station.

So the average rent is HK$4,500. That means you have HK$6,860 left.

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? But don’t forget you need to feed yourself.

A lunch at a working-class restaurant chain like Café de Coral or Maxim’s may be well over HK$45 and supper HK$55. You may choose a cheaper afternoon tea set or go to a cha chaan teng, but all told, you’ll still be spending HK$130 or above for your daily food expenses. That amounts to around HK$4,000 a month.

Congratulations! You’ve still got HK$2,860 left. But wait, you need to take a ride to and from the office.

Inevitably, you’ll settle for the MTR, and these days you have to dig deeper into your pocket as the railway operator, which is sitting on a gigantic 2014 net profit of HK$11.6 billion, has hiked fares by 4.3 percent starting June, the sixth year it has raised fares since 2010.

Any medium-distance ride across the harbor will cost over HK$10 so the cost per month can be HK$500 — or more if you live in New Territories and have to commute to urban areas for work.

Telecom services, of course, are a daily necessity. Competition among carriers is keen, but that doesn’t seem to reflect on their fees: a fixed 5GB data and voice call plan costs around HK$350.

Other trivial expenses include, but not limited to: water, gas, electricity, broadband service, basic beauty and skin care products (for young ladies), clothing, etc. All these will cost you HK$400 to HK$500 each month, although the amount may vary substantially according to individual taste and habits.

So now you have no more than HK$1,600 left.

Already in a relationship? You also have to invest in this thing to sustain and enhance it, like going to movies, buying gifts, traveling once or twice a year. It’s safe to say a guy needs to set aside HK$500, at least, for regular dates, while a girl will definitely have to spend more on clothes, perfume, fitness gym membership and the whole caboodle.

So, you may just have HK$1,000 left, either for any ad hoc expenditure or, like your parents have always told you, to save for the future.

A few months ago, Lau Ming-wai, son of realty tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung and chairman of the Commission on Youth, urged his poorer peers to save “at least HK$3,000 every month if you earn HK$10,000” in order to afford a home of their own.

Now, we wonder, how could we manage to save that much given the high costs of the most basic items we can’t do without?
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Jmbf



Joined: 29 Jun 2014
Posts: 662

PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting article - quite thought provoking.

However, some parts of it are a bit inaccurate. For instance, people on that level of income are unlikely to eat out for every meal. They are more likely to eat cheaply at home.
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kpjf



Joined: 18 Jan 2012
Posts: 385

PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Telecom services, of course, are a daily necessity. Competition among carriers is keen, but that doesn’t seem to reflect on their fees: a fixed 5GB data and voice call plan costs around HK$350.


A necessity to have 5gb of data if you’re on 12,000 a month? Get real! I can understand if you have no wifi at home, but to "need" 5gb of data when you're outside? Do people like throwing money down the drain? I remember half my students telling me they had all this data, then you actually ask them how much they use per month they haven't a baldy! For all they know they could be using 700MB a month and paying for 5gig. And if all you're doing is using email, sms, instant messaging and some online newspapers you're hardly going to be using 5gig.

Furthermore, eating out in restaurants on 12,000 a month. Am I missing something here? Rocks for brains? If my salary is pitiful the last thing I’d think of is 5gb data, eating out in restaurants and monthly clothes shopping? Is this article actually realistic? If I’m skint I’m not going to be thinking I “need” new clothes this month. I don't have a single debt or money problems yet I don't buy clothes every month.

Anyone who is broke and paying 4,000 HKD monthly in restaurants is a numbskull!

Quote:
Now, we wonder, how could we manage to save that much given the high costs of the most basic items we can’t do without?


This is risible to say the least. What kind of society is it nowadays where basic items include 5 gig data on your smartphone and eating out in restaurants. GET REAL!
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theoriginalprankster



Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 895

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2015 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It must suck to live in an apartment with the same atmosphere as a coffin, slug it out teaching spoilt princesses/princes, eat cruddy food, and watch all the wealth/wealthy, right in your face.

When I visit HK I stay with my mate in Discovery Bay. The rent on his apartment is HK$70k. Great view, but way smaller than my apartment was in China.

I would want to be earning 50k minimum to consider living in HK.
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Jmbf



Joined: 29 Jun 2014
Posts: 662

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2015 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It must suck to live in China where the pollution levels are reaching record hazardous levels, slug it out with hordes of rude / aggressive mainland Chinese who would rather go about their business than help a child struck down in the street, where the Internet is limited and censored, where the food is of questionable safety and even basics such as oil and eggs can be fake and tainted.

Hong Kong's not perfect, but let's not pretend China is any better.
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theoriginalprankster



Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 895

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2015 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jmbf wrote:
It must suck to live in China where the pollution levels are reaching record hazardous levels, slug it out with hordes of rude / aggressive mainland Chinese who would rather go about their business than help a child struck down in the street, where the Internet is limited and censored, where the food is of questionable safety and even basics such as oil and eggs can be fake and tainted.

Hong Kong's not perfect, but let's not pretend China is any better.


Very true.

Yet, did you notice my use of the past tense? I left because of the above factors you mentioned.
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Jmbf



Joined: 29 Jun 2014
Posts: 662

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with you that HK can be challenging for those on lower income levels. I also think that HK is still a great place for teachers to earn a very decent income.
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bograt



Joined: 12 Nov 2014
Posts: 330

PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I would want to be earning 50k minimum to consider living in HK.


That about what I'm on and I managed to save 200,000 dollars this year. Rent is a killer at 15,500 but we have quite a nice place easily big enough for the both of us. I imagine your mate paying 70 grand must be a banker or something.
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theoriginalprankster



Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 895

PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bograt wrote:
Quote:
I would want to be earning 50k minimum to consider living in HK.


That about what I'm on and I managed to save 200,000 dollars this year. Rent is a killer at 15,500 but we have quite a nice place easily big enough for the both of us. I imagine your mate paying 70 grand must be a banker or something.


Pilot at Cathay. They pay most of the rent.
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bograt



Joined: 12 Nov 2014
Posts: 330

PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

theoriginalprankster wrote:
bograt wrote:
Quote:
I would want to be earning 50k minimum to consider living in HK.


That about what I'm on and I managed to save 200,000 dollars this year. Rent is a killer at 15,500 but we have quite a nice place easily big enough for the both of us. I imagine your mate paying 70 grand must be a banker or something.


Pilot at Cathay. They pay most of the rent.


Fair enough I guess he deserves it. I heard some US airline pilots are so hard up they actually sleep in trailers at the airport. Bit of a gap from a 9,000 US dollar a month apartment.
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Jmbf



Joined: 29 Jun 2014
Posts: 662

PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bograt wrote:
Quote:
I would want to be earning 50k minimum to consider living in HK.


That about what I'm on and I managed to save 200,000 dollars this year. Rent is a killer at 15,500 but we have quite a nice place easily big enough for the both of us. I imagine your mate paying 70 grand must be a banker or something.


Too many variables at play here. I earn twice that but save less. Factors such as lifestyle, children, financial obligations back home etc etc all play a role in determining what you can save.

I think that the only thing you can take away from that is that HK still provides a good platform to pursue the lifestyle of your choice. If you are frugal and careful you can save a decent amount. If you want to live well, travel extensively etc etc then you can do that as well.
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theoriginalprankster



Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 895

PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jmbf and bograt, may I ask what positions you hold in the education industry?
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bograt



Joined: 12 Nov 2014
Posts: 330

PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

theoriginalprankster wrote:
Jmbf and bograt, may I ask what positions you hold in the education industry?


Consultant + IELTS examiner.
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Jmbf



Joined: 29 Jun 2014
Posts: 662

PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2015 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

theoriginalprankster wrote:
Jmbf and bograt, may I ask what positions you hold in the education industry?


Private tutor + freelance editor / copywriter.
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theoriginalprankster



Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 895

PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Private tutor + freelance editor / copywriter.


Ah, I've got plenty of experience doing those, tutor in Asia, editor and copywriter before I left for Asia over a decade ago. Would like to get back into the publishing world again. Joined Elance.com recently.

Quote:
Consultant + IELTS examiner.


I was an IELTS examiner for four years in China (based in Xiamen, HQ in GZ), but stopped when they instituted the new full time/contracted system. I might rejoin them in the future, but the idea of regular travel on the mainland (which is required as an examiner) is not my cup of tea.

To the best of my knowledge, HK examiners were working through the GZ office, no? Or are you with IDP?

Examining was a great money spinner, albeit a mind numbing job.

I quite like the idea of tutoring + examining + copywriting/editing/writing, keeping in mind some tutoring and publishing work can be done online these days, thus cutting out travel frustrations, costs and time wastage.

I'm in my late 30s and intend making Asia my base of operations indefinitely, serving the Asia/Asia Pacific region, and to a lesser extent the entire world (with what can be done online).

I'm peering into the crystal ball, and trying to gauge which city is best to set up shop for the next 5-10 years. Love or hate China, it's a major world player these days, with an insatiable demand for the services we provide, as are the other countries in Asia.

HK would be great, but I'd dearly like to live in a place like Discovery Bay, and head over on the ferry to HK proper if and when I needed to.

Any suggestions?
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