Face Off: Do Hong Kong people care too much about money?

Compiled by Ben Young

Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint. This week…

Compiled by Ben Young |

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Karl Lam, 16, German Swiss International School

From a student’s perspective, the importance of money and earning a high salary has definitely gone down, along with the popularity of those traditional career fields such as law and medicine. Nowadays, it’s become more acceptable and common for students in Hong Kong to explore other career paths that they are passionate about that may not necessarily be very profitable.

Hong Kong has also recently seen a rise in the number of people becoming entrepreneurs – a career field well-known for job instability and low income. In spite of that, there are still many start-ups in the city – an estimated 2,000, according to

US business magazine Forbes last year. For most nine-to-fivers, high salaries are secondary to work-life balance and mental health. According to the 2017 salary guide by US consulting firm Robert Half, most Hong Kong people see having a good work-life balance as more important than higher pay. Four in 10 Hong Kong workers surveyed for the guide said they are willing to accept less pay in exchange for flexible working hours.

It’s hard to say whether Hong Kong citizens care too much about money, as everyone is in a different position financially. However, one can clearly see a shift in lifestyle interests that are not centred on money making.

Face Off: should HK build more universities?

Snehaa Easwari, 18, Li Po Chun  United World College of Hong Kong

Hong Kong is often known as an international business oasis and the heart of finance. However, thanks to it being an incredibly affluent and busy city, it is also a very costly place to live in. In fact, Hong Kong was named the fourth most expensive city in the world by The New York Times this year.

According to the article, “Yes, Hong Kong’s an expensive city, but don’t put too much store by those cost of living surveys” in the South China Morning Post, one litre of petrol in Hong Kong costs an average of HK$16.71 – that’s 142 per cent higher than in New York in the US; while a medium-sized cup of cappuccino in Hong Kong costs HK$37.43. That’s 40 per cent more than in London in Britain.

And those are just little things compared to what people need to worry about, such as education and rent. With prices soaring on a daily basis, Hong Kong citizens are struggling to get by, and can barely save any significant part of their monthly salary. This accounts for why Hong Kong citizens are so concerned about money and earning more.

In short, Hongkongers care too much about money but for good reason – the city is expensive. 

Edited by Nicole Moraleda