Due to its rich history, enviable cultural mixture, and stunning sights, Hong Kong has been labeled The City of Dreams. With such a reputation, this metropolis attracts people from around the globe. With nothing but a knapsack on their back and a head full of expectations, expats settle in one of its densely populated streets with a vision of a better life.
At the moment, around 4.6% of the entire Hong Kong population are expats, mostly individual workers between the ages of 35 and 54 who hoped for a better career opportunity.
Unfortunately, the cost of living forces many to postpone their dreams, as Hong Kong represents one of the costliest cities in the world. Though people are able to find better-paying jobs (in fact, better than anywhere else in the region), high day to day expenses make it almost impossible to save up for anything.
Then how come so many people still decide to start a new chapter of their lives in Hong Kong? Because they learn how to manage their finances and live more economically. They learn where to look for decent accommodation, what the cheapest yet practical means of transport is, where to shop for groceries, as well as how to improve their financial skills in general.
For those of you who are still struggling to make ends meet, we’ve prepared a guide to help you handle your finances, get by in Hong Kong, and grow your savings.
Although the Trotter duo motivated us to dream big with their aim to become millionaires in a year, we also saw just how difficult it is to achieve such a goal, and how disappointing it may be when we don’t. For this reason, a better alternative (that may still provide the same result in the long run) would be to set several smaller and easier-to-achieve financial goals. This will constantly remind you of the reasons why you are sacrificing certain luxuries.
Be sure to make these goals as specific as possible. For instance, instead of telling yourself “by the end of the month I will eat less in restaurants”, say “I will spare $200 by eating at a vendor”.
Once the paycheck transfers to the credit card, you decide to treat yourself with a night out, a delicious dinner, or just one designer clothing item, all prior to handling the rent and utility bills. Consequently, you end up counting change half-way to your next pay.
Make a list of regular monthly expenses that cannot be skipped, set aside the necessary funds and pretend that money doesn’t exist. The remaining sum on your balance is the real state of things and the amount you actually have at your disposal for every-day indulgences.
It is also good to define a monthly savings sum. However, this can be done only after you’ve spent a few months living in Hong Kong. It doesn’t have to be a large amount – as little as $20 or $30 is enough if you stay on track with the plan. Here’s where UniCard Mastercard can come in handy – we’ve joined forces with FXPartner to provide expats with a prepaid debit card that allows you to create two separate accounts, savings and spending, on one card. You will have both balances at the palm of your hands, and will easily transfer money from one to the other, based on your immediate needs.
Now take a look at the amount you have left once the unavoidable expenses are covered. To be sure you don’t spend it recklessly, a prepaid debit card again presents itself as a practical solution. Namely, to use this type of credit card, you need to prepay a certain sum, so you are prevented from spending more than you have. Furthermore, there are no usual credit card interests, charges or credit checks, so you won’t be unpleasantly surprised with the unwanted monthly fees. UniCard Debit Mastercard solution is especially practical for expats who often travel to their home country, as it allows them to handle transactions in multiple currencies.
This especially applies to people who are used to handling their day-to-day expenses with a credit card. With our Mastercard, you can track your expenditure in real time with a mobile app, as every single transaction is recorded. This way you can easily sit down every month and calculate your spending on individual items or services, ultimately discovering the ones that can be avoided and transferred to a savings account instead.
With a multitude of bus and subway lines taking you to any part of Hong Kong in no time, not even locals want to bother with a personal vehicle. Traffic can be a nightmare, insurance costs can go through the roof, and maintenance expenses can easily drain your monthly balance.
Hong Kong is known for its unmatched Mass Transit Railway system, with more than 150 stations and trains that are never late. Note that many opt for an integrated Octopus smart card fare-payment technology that covers all types of public transportation – it is both cheap and practical, as it enables you to just hop on the next first transport to work, be it a bus, a train or subway.
Westerners might like to treat themselves from time to time with a restaurant meal originating from their home country, but it ends up being an exceptionally expensive treat. Instead, you are advised to taste local dishes, as that way you might end up paying as little as $5 to $10 for a lunch.
With street vendors on every corner, a busy worker doesn’t really have to worry about preparing anything on their own in advance, and can still enjoy a delicious, yet affordable meal. And while we’re on the subject – preparing your own food is an option, but not always the most affordable one. Though you can find cheap fruits and vegetables on the local market, meat lovers will be unpleasantly surprised by the high price of the meat.
If you’re set on eating in a restaurant, follow the locals: they already had the chance to test the offering and return to the venue that offers the best value for the money.
In a search for a residential property, people tend to first look at the apartments in Central, Repulse Bay, The Peak and other neighborhoods known for their proximity to a business district, well-organized transportation network, great education centers, and the overall quality of life.
The truth of the matter is, entire Hong Kong offers outstanding living conditions, with some neighborhoods being more affordable than the others. For instance, many expats choose to settle themselves in Wan Chai or on Lantau Island, where you can enjoy some peace and quiet in one, two, or even three-bedroom apartments at a reasonable price.
Moving to Hong Kong brings about a multitude of challenges, the majority being a result of the high costs of living. Nevertheless, once an expat manages to locate the most affordable amenities and obtain a prepaid card that enables you to better manage and track your spending, you get a little closer to the goal you’ve set for yourself.