Apart from being on the other side of the world, there are lots of differences between living in Hong Kong and the good ‘ol US of A. The cost of living is one of them.
In general, you’ll get more bang for your buck in The States, but when working out if you’re going to be better off in either location, it’s necessary to look at all the facts so you can understand how each location will pan out for your individual circumstances.
In the following comparison between the two countries (for the sake of ease, we’ll refer to Hong Kong as a country, even through it technically comes under the umbrella of China, but as a Special Administrative Region it has it’s own currency and government), we take data from up-to-the-minute crowd sourcing websites Numbeo and Expatistan.
Whether you’re looking to rent or purchase, property in Hong Kong is far dearer than in the US. To rent a property outside of the city centre, you’ll have to splash out around 70% more in the Asian city.
And if you’re looking to rent in the heart of Hong Kong, as opposed to the centre of any US city, you’ll be paying between 85 – 106% more than one Stateside.
If you want to buy your own place, the divide becomes even greater. Expect to pay between 960 – 1065% more to own a little piece of Hong Kong than the US. Of course, the reason for this is all down to size. In Hong Kong, every inch of space is vital, whereas in many places in America there’s room to spare…
However, there’s a big difference in the interest you’ll pay on a mortgage in Hong Kong to that in America – and it’s a lot less – about 40% less. That can add up to a whole lot of money over the years!
Of course, purchasing or renting your apartment or house is only the first outlay. You then need to heat it, power it, pay for water, TV, Internet, and all the other things we want that add up to our monthly bills.
Once again, those living in Hong Kong will pay more per month for the basics than those in the US. For heating, electricity, garbage, water, etc., expect to shell out around 40% more per month in Hong Kong.
However, when it comes to home Internet, The States beats HK hands down, with prices of almost 50% less. When it comes to cell phone costs, the difference is even more remarkable. In the US you’ll pay around 70% less (on a prepay basis), than your counterparts in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has an excellent public transport system – the MTR. This covers every form of public transport you can think of: the metro, trains, buses, trams, and even the Star Ferry that crosses Victoria Harbour (be sure to get an Octopus Card for ease of travel and even cheaper fares).
The cost of a monthly pass here will be around 17% less than a comparable one in any US city. Taxi costs are also cheaper in Hong Kong, by around 34%.
However, when it comes to driving (and therefore gas for the car), then the US beats its Asian counterpart by miles. Gasoline costs nearly 200% more in Hong Kong than it does in the USA.
The cost of food in both countries varies wildly. For instance, milk in Hong Kong costs almost 300% more than in The States, cheese is over double the price, and beef is around 80% dearer.
You’ll also pay more for eggs (by around 16%) and chicken (20%), but in other instances, food is much cheaper in Hong Kong.
For example, bread is about 27% less and rice 35%. Fruit and vegetables also cost significantly less than in the US, at between 10 – 30%. Bottled water is also much cheaper, by about 15%.
We all like a treat every now and then (or more often, depending on your preferences), and while the US is certainly not known for being expensive to dine out., it can’t hold a candle to the prices charged by restaurants in Hong Kong.
A cheap meal out here will cost nearly 50% less than in America, and that king of take outs – McDonald’s, costs about 40% less as well. You will have to pay out more for your daily cappuccino in HK – around 15% more than the average cost in the USA.
For the movie lovers, the cost of seeing an international release is slightly more expensive in Hong Kong – by around 5%.
It’s bad news for those who keep fit, as gym memberships in the city come in at a whopping 107% more on average than for the same in the US. You’ll also have to spend out more for your fitness gear – an average pair of Nike trainers costs around 12% more than in the US.
Of course, the cost of living is also relative to the average salary you’d expect to earn. With everything in general being a lot more expensive in Hong Kong than it is in The States, you’d naturally expect average incomes to be higher.
Indeed they are, but probably not by the amount you’d think. In Hong Kong the average salary is about 5% more than that in the US. The average net monthly wage in the USA is $2,743. In Hong Kong, it’s $2,871. Of course, that’s the average wage. Depending on what sector you work in, there’s the opportunity to earn salaries far in excess of these figures.