C'mon Hongkongers, look on the bright side

By Ariel Conant

A new survey shows that Hongkongers are an unhappy bunch, but a group of expats say it's not all bad

By Ariel Conant |

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While a new survey says happiness in Hong Kong is at a record low, expats across the city say Hong Kong isn't as bad as many residents make it out to be.

Last month's City University survey compared Hong Kong to Osaka, in Japan, and Singapore on six areas of life: politics and society, the economy, the environment, public health, leisure and entertainment, and housing.

Hong Kong had the lowest overall score, coming in at 6.98 out of 10. Singapore scored 7.56 and Osaka 7.41.

But expats across the city who have relocated to Hong Kong say that locals may be exaggerating their woes.

Tertius Steyn, who has been in Hong Kong for three years after relocating from his home country of Namibia, says he's much happier in his new home. "Hong Kong is safe beyond measure compared to South Africa or Namibia," he says. "[In those countries] never could you walk alone at night without fearing for your life."

Others, like Australian Kelly Riley, admit Hong Kong does have its faults. "Pollution is bad," she says. "But clearly I love it [in Hong Kong]. I've been here for five years!"

Toko Ishigaki, from Japan, has lived in Hong Kong for 16 years. "I have tonnes of complaints including air pollution and the crazy rent rise but those are by-products of everything else that Hong Kong has to offer," she says. "I am pretty happy in Hong Kong."

In the survey, Hong Kong's housing scored lowest of the six areas with just 4.22 out of 10. Singapore scored 3.05 points higher in housing than Hong Kong.

Gray Carper, an American who has been in Hong Kong for seven years, acknowledged that Hongkongers had plenty to be unhappy about, including housing prices. Among his complaints, he cited "long work hours, not enough paid leave, [and] outrageous housing costs for next-to-no space".

"Yet I've found Hongkongers to be welcoming, generous, kind and indeed happy. I've stayed this long because I'm happy here," said Carper.