Despite the current political turmoil in Hong Kong, this Asian country remains one of the leading trading hubs globally. The country boasts of the best cargo airport not only in the Far East but also in the world. On top of that, this tiny country is famous for its modern port and other infrastructure. At the moment, this region is considered one of the most developed in Asia and across the world. Also, its geographic location plays an essential role in shaping the economic and political situation experienced today in the Asia Pacific.
Now here is the question; what is the average salary in Hong Kong? As per today, the average salary in Hong Kong is 19,100 HKD or $2430 per month for male employees and 14700 HKD ($1875) for female employees. These two figures show that the average salary in this Asian country is higher compared to other regions in the world. As an expat, I find the average salary to be attractive for anyone looking to work in Hong Kong.
Sounds impressive, right? Despite the endless opportunities that Hong Kong City presents, there is the other side of the story. The cost of living is relatively high, which means you need to earn a good salary to lead a comfortable life. Real estate in this city is costly, thus pushing mortgage rates more elevated than it is normal. Besides, getting an affordable and spacious apartment to rent is too expensive, especially for expatriates. It is the reason I advise anyone to check the cost of living and rent prices before accepting a job offer in this administrative region of China.
What is the Average Salary in Hong Kong?
As I had mentioned earlier, the current average salary in Hong Kong is 19,100 HKD for male employees and 14,700 HKD for female workers. Considering that Hong Kong is an expensive place to stay, Hongkongers require a minimum of 1.5 million HKD per year to be contented. This minimum annual salary requirement is comparable to an average of 1.2 million HKD on a global scale.
In Hong Kong, salaries have always remained high despite the 2008 global financial crisis. Skilled workers moving to this eastern economic powerhouse should look forward to high wages and a quality lifestyle. Besides, there are numerous opportunities for talented young people from other countries. This is due to the region’s expansion plan, which opens doors to investors and creates more job opportunities.
Hong Kong provides a perfect destination for expatriates looking forward to earning better salaries. According to a survey conducted by HSBC’s Expat Explorer, expats are more likely to make as much as $170, 000 annually, which is more than the global average of $97,000.
Most of these foreign employees work in insurance companies and financial services sectors. Other promising industries for overseas workers include human resources, IT, marketing, and communications. Teaching English in Hong Kong is also marketable, especially for native English speakers.
When I look at Hong Kong’s economic outlook, this Asian economic powerhouse seems to have a brighter future. This is as a result of the exponential growth of its GDP in the last decade.
Apart from that, the city has provided a better platform in other sectors as well.
For example, businesses are very dynamic, with most of them focusing on finance and trade. Let’s not forget tourism and the role it plays in the country’s economy. Most of the tourists come from mainland China, including a few from other parts of the world. Hong Kong is indeed one of the most exciting places to live and work in Asia.
However, estimates of monthly income in Hong Kong vary depending on someone’s experience and professional. Below is a list of the top-paying professions in the country and their annual average income Hong Kong Dollars (HKD):
- · Sales Director – Medical Devices: 900,000 – 1.3 million
- · Human Resource and Administration-Director: 1 million – 1.5 million
- · Legal – General Counsel: 1 million – 1.5 million
- · Engineering General Manager: 1.5 million-plus
- · Retail – Regional Head of Retail: 1.5 million-plus
- · Insurance – Regional Head (Underwriting): 1.3 million
- · Pharmaceutical-R and D Director: 1 million-2 million
- · Finance and Accounting – CFO: 1 million – 2.3 million
- · Banking and Finance-Executive Director: 2.8 million-plus
- · IT and Telecommunication – CIO or CTO: 2.8 million – 3.5 million
From the table above, the highest paying profession in Hong Kong is that of a Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Anyway, these figures change from time to time, depending on the individual’s skills, experience, and salary negotiation with an employer. One advantage that Hong Kong has is that the tax is often lighter than in most countries across the world.
Average Household Income in Hong Kong
The average household income in Hong Kong depends on a number of factors. Key among these factors is the source of income, which in this case, refers to the type of profession. However, salaries increased to an average of 17,200 HKD per month in the 2nd quarter of 2019. This figure represents an increase from 16,900 HKD monthly from the 1st quarter of 2019.
Generally speaking, the household income averaged to about 12,589.44 HKD per month between 1999 and 2019. This average income was a rise to an all-time high of 17,200 HKD per month in the 2nd quarter of 2019, with a record low of 10,350 HKD in the 1st quarter of 2005. Most of this income is spent on rent, transport, food, utilities, and Leisure. The remaining amount goes to savings for future use.
Minimum Wage in Hong Kong
According to the information from the Labour Department of the Government of Hong Kong, the minimum wage is 37.5 HKD ($4.80) per hour. The last time there was an increase in the minimum wage in Hong Kong was way back in 2015.
But as of January 2019, the lowest amount of earning for a worker, regardless of their job positions, is 37.5 HKD in one hour of working. This increase translates to an 8.7 % rise from 34.50 HKD in the previous years. This increase became effective, starting on May 1, 2019.
The minimum wage increase targets about 150,000 employees, mostly in the service and security jobs. This number shows the most significant growth since the statutory minimum wage was launched in 2011. This amount is reviewed every two years since 2011.
In 2013, the minimum wage rose to 30 HKD and a further 32.50 HKD in 2015. In 2017, the government increased the rate to 34 HKD, which was 6.2 % from the previous increase (in 2015).
Even though there is an increase in the minimum wage, this amount is far lower than in most developed countries. For instance, the minimum wage in Australia (which is the highest worldwide) is $13.60 per hour. In Germany, the minimum wage is $10.10 an hour while in Taiwan, the minimum wage stands at $4.90.
Hong Kong government has promised to increase the minimum wage to 44 HKD if the country’s GDP improves in the future. This directive follows the 17 % economic growth since 2011, which contributed mainly to the increase of minimum wages per hour from 28 HKD in 2011 to 37.5 HKD in 2019.
Despite the increase in wages, the new rates cannot substantially change the prevailing living standards of many workers. Unless this rate increases to a minimum of 54.70 HKD, the lowest-paid employees may not achieve the living standards in the city. Most of them survive on credit because of the city’s high cost of living.
Average Salary in Hong Kong City
Hong Kong is well-known in the Asia Pacific for the highest salaries among expatriates. The average wage in the city is about 1.4 million HKD or $178,706 per year. This amount is $72,000 more than the average salary for an expatriate globally.
This salary comes after long working hours in a country that is ranked 17th best place to live and work in the world. Slightly more than 25 % of foreign workers are earning about $250,000 in Hong Kong City, while 24 % earn more than that in China Mainland and 21 % in Singapore.
Even though the average salary in Hong Kong is better than in most cities in the world, the high cost of living compels workers to spend more on basic needs. Rent and mortgage rates in this city are among the highest in the world. In fact, expatriates prefer living in rental flats and apartments rather than buying their own property. When it comes to job distribution, 23% of foreign workers are in financial services, 15% in education, and 8 % in business services such as consulting or accounting.
Cost of Living in Hong Kong in US Dollars
The cost of living in Hong Kong is considered the highest in the world. This high cost of living is attributed to the inflated property market in the region. For that reason, most of the expatriates find it expensive when looking for accommodation. Besides, a large percentage of essential commodities and products are imported. These two basic human needs contribute to the high cost of living in Hong Kong.
Property rental starts at around $1,000 a month for just a small apartment away from the city. Such an amount contributes to foreigners spending almost $2,500 each month on rent. This amount excludes charges such as water and electricity costs as well as management fees.
To save money, some people choose to share their accommodation, stay further away from the city or use public transport and so on. This calls for negotiating for a higher salary when you are offered a job in Hong Kong. Or else, you may end up surviving on credit in a foreign country far away from your own. There are quite a number of ways to live a good life in Hong Kong. The tips above should help you at least have an idea of the salaries to expect in Hong Kong.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.