Dwindling perks from companies are signalling the end of Hong Kong's colonial era and forcing expatriates to become more dollar-conscious when they look for homes to rent, according to leading leasing agents First Pacific Davies. 'In the 1980s, nearly everyone had all their bills paid by companies but multinationals are now implementing cost-cutting strategies across the board,' director Isabel Michie said. 'The effect has been to reduce perks paid to employees, namely large housing allowances, club memberships, cars and school fees.' Companies were increasingly employing single executives or married couples and expatriate staff were today most likely to be paid lump-sum packages so they were forced to take the responsibility for their own budgets. As a result, Ms Michie said: 'Expatriates are becoming more dollar-conscious and I don't blame them. They are looking for the cheapest rents and the best deals, rather than more expensive units which may have been affordable under housing allowance schemes.' British expatriates were becoming more interested in older properties, particularly in the Mid-Levels and Pokfulam. Americans tended to prefer new, but smaller, apartments on the south side. On average, First Pacific found that expatriates were now prepared to pay an average of $40,000 a month and a maximum of $70,000. Only those still enjoying company housing allowances were prepared to pay more, Ms Michie said. Most expatriate tenants now favoured value-for-money units that were furnished or partly furnished. Despite much corporate downsizing in Hong Kong, she said 'there are still a large number of top executives with unlimited budgets'.