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HK Magazine Archive

Median Intensity: What does the average wage get you in Hong Kong?

The median monthly wage in Hong Kong is just $14,800. This week we get super depressed as we ask: Just how far does $14K get you in Hong Kong­—and around the world?
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 September, 2015, 4:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 4:49pm

 Who Earns What? Wondering about a career switch? Here’s what a cross-section of Hong Kong’s industries make, on average.



 The Median Wage Food Chart So, you skipped accommodation (or you live with family). What can you eat in a month with $14,800 instead?



Property Hunt Say you’re going to spend half of your $14K salary on your rent—high, but this is Hong Kong. You’ll be pleased to know that in the SAR, $7K gets you…


Square Foot Math So, say you take all of that $14K and use it all to rent some space  in unorthodox ways. How much room is it going to get you?


Screw It, Just Emigrate

What can $14K get you around the world?

London GBP1,062 ($12,580) per month

Ah, swinging London! Just over 1,000 quid a month could get you this 1-bed apartment just north of the Old Street roundabout, London’s tech capital. It’s also just a few minutes’ walk from the hipster meccas of Shoreditch and Hoxton. Downside: It looks like someone died in it.


Sure, it's a bit of a fixer-upper

New York US$1,800 ($13,950) per month

You too could be a New York hipster with this sunny 1-bed flat in trendy Williamsburg. It’s got exposed brickwork for extra cool cred and a long, thin layout that looks someone tried to fold a normal apartment in half. 


(Photos: Miron Properties)

Madrid EUR1,700 ($14,713) per month 

Madrid is a city of great culture and great food: Who wouldn’t want to live there? This 2-bed, 2-bath, 968 square foot apartment is in Salamanca, the posh bit of town. See you for tapas in the Plaza Mayor!


(Photo: Idealista)

Koh Samui THB60,000 ($12,847) per month

What are you wasting your time for? Forget city living and move to Thailand, already. This 2-bed sea view villa has a private pool and when your erstwhile Hong Kong friends come to visit they’ll be greenish-puce with envy.


(Photo: Samui Holiday Villa Rental)


Alternative Living

Still want to live in Hong Kong? Here are some alternatives that almost make sense.

Get a houseboat! 

If you can find a mooring—which is almost impossible—AND you can find a vessel comfortable enough to live on, mooring fees are around $5,000 per month, plus additional costs. The downside; if you don’t have a boat already, houseboat rental is rare and starts at around $20K.

Live in Macau

Extremely regular ferries, lower prices and (in Macau and Taipa, at least) a charmingly sleepy atmosphere are all great reasons to live in our sister SAR. Also, you’ll have access to all the Portuguese egg tarts you can stuff into your face. If you don’t like the idea of renting a flat in Macau, then stride into a casino and drop your $14K budget on a spin of the roulette wheel. If you win, great! You’re richer by $500K and you don’t have to worry about rent for a couple years. If you lose, the casino will think that you’re some kind of a high roller, and comp you a suite for a month. It’s win-win...


You could live here! Well, not here. This is the view from the Mandarin.

Live in Shenzhen 

Rents just over the border in Shenzhen might not be as cheap as they once were, but they’re still much lower than they are in Hong Kong. If you have a Home Return Permit it’s easy to stroll over the border, and $7K will get you 2-3 bed apartment in the expat-friendly Shekou area, not far from Hong Kong. With almost-integrated transport links you can commute to Kowloon in under two hours. A potential negative: You will be living in Shenzhen.


Shenzhen is really underrated, you know. Honest (Photo: Edward Wong/SCMP)

Live under your desk at work 

Sleeping at work is pretty straightforward: all you need is a sleeping bag, comfortable pillow and a reliable alarm. When everyone else begins to leave for the day, just tell them that you’re working late on a big project, and that you’ll lock up. Once you’re sure everyone’s gone, you can bunk down for the night. You might have to bribe your office cleaner to leave you in peace, but that’s a small price to pay compared to having to drop half a paycheck on rent. Best of all, your boss will love you because you’re staying so late every night.

Protip: To really make this work, your most significant outlay should be to join a really good gym. Keep your clothes in a locker at the gym, and you can use their facilities to shower and change. The opposite sex will dig that you go to the gym every day, which is great until you realize that you’ve got nowhere to take them once you score.