How much does it cost to live in Hong Kong?

I leave Hong Kong on Friday after almost two full months living in the Sheung Wan area. Below I’ll reveal exactly how much it cost me to live in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

Keep in mind though that I was very much focused on work while here in Hong Kong, grafting full-time from home and rarely going out exploring the city and doing all the typical tourist stuff. I saved a lot of money by renting a room in a shared apartment, cooking most of my own meals, and eating at the same few cheap eateries over and over again. All that suited me perfectly, but probably not everyone’s idea of a good time.

Still, what follows should give you a feel for how cheap you can live full-time on Hong Kong Island. I’ve also included some info from friends and fellow bloggers I met here in HK to help round out the picture a bit.

Housing and Utilities

I share an apartment with three other people I’d never met before moving in. The rental was arranged by Wing-Kong Holdings. According to my research before the move they provide perhaps the cheapest rooms for rent on Hong Kong Island. You can see a video tour of my place in this video. It’s small but clean and has everything I need (fast wifi, kitchen, laundry facilities, etc.). All utilities are included in the rental price and a cleaner comes twice a week to take care of the common areas.

Rent is paid per month, minimum one month stay. For me it worked out to 165 USD per week.

There’s also the deposit, which was 775 USD, but I should be getting that back in full later this week so it’s not included in any of the totals/averages below.

Food and Drink

This worked out to 108 USD per week, give or take. About 61 USD was for groceries and the rest for restaurants, coffee shops, etc.

As mentioned, I was very careful here. Most of my meals out cost me 5 USD or less, and I made the same few cheap meals over and over again at home. I’m not a big foodie so this arrangement was fine by me, but if you like eating out a lot or buying lots of different ingredients for cooking, you could easily spend two or three times what I did each week.

Also, I don’t drink alcohol, which helps save a ton of money.

A typical restaurant meal for me in Hong Kong
A typical restaurant meal for me in Hong Kong

Public Transport

The public transport is phenomenal in Hong Kong, and I consider it fairly inexpensive. I’m sure if you’re jumping around the city a lot though it can add up pretty quick. Per week I spent less than 5 USD on public transport, but that’s certainly not typical for most people living in Hong Kong. Keep in mind that I work from home.

Mobile Phone

Less than 8 USD per week for unlimited 3G service from 3 Mobile.

Everything Else

Let’s lump the rest in together, resulting in about 46 USD per week for miscellaneous expenses. That covers…

  • Laundry detergent
  • Toiletries (note that I don’t use shampoo)
  • Two trips to the barber
  • A new tin opener
  • Stamp and a postcard
  • Air freshener
  • iPhone armband
  • One month of Krav Maga classes
  • Krav Maga t-shirt

(Take away the Krav Maga stuff and I would have been down to less than 8 USD per week on miscellaneous.)

Final Tally

For the seven full weeks I spent living in Hong Kong, the total damage was 2,391 USD, which works out to approximately 342 USD per week.

I did of course spend more money online during those weeks, but the $342 average accounts for all expenses directly related to my living here in Hong Kong.

(By the way, if you’re wondering how I keep accurate track of all my expenses, I have the MoneyWiz iPhone app to thank for that.)

Other Perspectives

As mentioned, I reached out to some friends and fellow bloggers here in Hong Kong to see how much they spend living here. As you see, expenses can vary a lot depending what part of the city you live in and what kind of place you’re renting.

Beth from Besudesu Abroad

  • 1,800 USD per month for a 600 sq. ft. apartment in the Mong Kok area. The apartment is two bedrooms, one bath, no proper kitchen (just a stove top, no oven or microwave). Located in an estate, meaning there are multiple buildings and they have access to a pool, gym, sports center, etc.
  • Meals in restaurants in that area cost 6-7 USD per person for western food, and more like 5 USD for local dishes.
  • Grocery prices are pretty much the same in supermarkets citywide, fruit and veg generally cheaper at the street markets. Beth and her boyfriend spend approximately 75 USD per week on groceries, though they eat out regularly since they can’t cook much at home.

Beth sent along the following pics:

Beth's living room
Beth’s Hong Kong living room
Beth's Hong Kong kitchen
Beth’s Hong Kong kitchen
View from Beth's balcony
View from Beth’s balcony

Head on over to Beth’s blog to see some great pics from the famous Hong Kong dragon boat races.

James from Plus Ultra

James grew up in Hong Kong and offers the following tips for people moving here.

  • Renting long-term gives you more options as a lot of landlords aren’t willing to rent out for only 1-2 months. Once you get above the 3-month mark you’ll have more places to choose from, though the prices will be about the same regardless of how long you agree to stay.
  • Kowloon is generally much cheaper than living on Hong Kong Island.
  • i-house offers serviced studio apartments in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay for 750-1,150 USD per month, and they accept short-term contracts. Studio Studio have similar units (100-280 sq. ft. studios) in Sheung Wan, Causeway Bay, Wan Chai and North Point for 800-2k USD per month. There are more besides but those two agencies are recommended by friends of James at university in HK.
  • Location-wise, you can’t go wrong with virtually any neighbourhood between Sheung Wan and North Point.

Check out James’s blog for a stroll through the Wan Chai markets in Hong Kong.

That Backpacker Audrey and Nomadic Samuel

  • Paying 40 USD per night for a small apartment in Mong Kok, found via Wimdu. The place has a double bed, a tiny private bathroom, a small desk, a/c and super-fast wifi.
  • Price was regardless of how many people sharing the apartment.
  • Lots of great and affordable restaurants nearby, plus lots of fun markets and performances happening.
  • Short commute to Hong Kong Island.
Audrey and Samuel's $40 view in Mong Kok
Audrey and Samuel’s $40 view in Mong Kok
Mong Kok at night
Mong Kok at night

Thanks to Audrey for the above pics. She and Samuel also post up excellent travel videos on YouTube, like this one showing the epic views from the top of Hong Kong.

Oneika the Traveller

  • 2,000 USD per month for a large, modern one-bedroom flat in Sheung Wan.
  • Bills are paid independently, not included in the rent. Typical bills to pay are water, gas, and electricity.  Water and gas are fairly cheap, only ~40 USD per month. Electricity is more expensive in the summer months due to higher a/c usage, upwards of 90 USD per month.
  • Internet and cable costs about 32 USD per month with PCCW.
  • Mobile costs about 25 USD per month with 3 Mobile.

Be sure to follow Oneika on Instagram for excellent pics of life in Hong Kong.

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33 Comments

  1. Very impressive that you were able to get the costs down this low for what seems like very reasonable standard of accommodations.

    You should do a post of what you do before you actually move somewhere and how you evaluate your leads and potential choices. For a lot of people, including myself, the first few months tend to be the most expensive as we figure out all the ins and outs. It looks like you are a lot better at hitting the ground running.

    1. Hey Vito,

      The above numbers don’t reflect my setup costs (I measured the 7 weeks that I averaged out my expenses for from the first day I moved into the apartment), but they weren’t all that much anyway.

      I arrived on a Saturday and spent the first two nights in a hostel for about $25 USD per night, then moved into the apartment. I make it my priority when I get somewhere to find cheaper and more long-term accommodation, as each night in a hostel/hotel costs quite a lot by comparison. Not having a kitchen makes a big difference, too.

      So my one big tip, and one I actually stole from Benny Lewis of fluentin3months.com, is to put all your time and energy the first few days in town into finding an apartment.

      After that, spend a few hours walking around your new neighborhood and taking note of bargain restaurants and supermarkets.

  2. Hong Kong is most definitely a relatively expensive city in Asia; however, as you’ve done a great job of highlighting, it’s a city where you can find decent value for your $ spent. Thanks for having featuring us!

  3. Interesting to see the cost of living in Hong Kong if you live relatively frugally, as I’ve always thought it was a very expensive city when I visited.

    I’ve lived in Bangkok for more than 10 years and pay only 10,000 baht a month (around $340) for a very large one-bedroom apartment in a serviced apartment building in northern Bangkok.

    Have lived in the same place for 10 years as I love it so much and it’s so close to the skytrain and underground, and within walking distance to malls, restaurants, cafes and, of course, Chatuchak Market 🙂

    Bangkok, as you’ll already know, though, is far cheaper than Hong Kong. If I live frugally, including my rent and utilities, I can easily live the entire month on less than $900 and I eat very well. Like you, though, I don’t drink, which really does add a lot of money to a monthly budget 🙂

  4. Pingback: No real news: Hong Kong is expensive | bluebalu: Living in Hong Kong

  5. Hi Niall,

    Hong Kong doesn’t seem that cheap! I’ve loved reading your adventures over the last year, In your opinion which city in Asia gets you the most for your money? With a budget of say $1000 for food and living.

    Cheers,
    Will.

    1. Hey Will. Thanks for the comment.

      Out of everywhere I’ve been to, I’d say Chiang Mai is your best bet for cheap yet quality living in Asia. You can live pretty good there on $1000 a month.

  6. Gosh…. many moons back (when HK was still part of the British Empire, wot!) I arrived in HK with US$200 in my hand and three weeks employment on promise. Worked out extremely well as I then got another job at the end of that 3 weeks, lived in HK for a year, moved to Singapore and Malaysia with the same company for another 3 years….

    🙂

  7. I’m curious – what kind of work did you do while you were in HK? Were you employed with a company? I mean, where did you derive your income during your stay there? And did you need a work visa to stay that long?

  8. Those are some outstanding deals on living space–I’ve been doing some investigating, and the prices I find are considerably higher.

    But that’s online. I’m sure once I’m in Hong Kong, I’ll be able to find better deals.

    Quick question though: I hear electronics and clothing–especially tailored suits–are cheap and good quality in Hong Kong. There is also a designer outlet I’ve heard, so you don’t need to buy knock offs to save money.

    But how about things like deodorant and shampoo. Stuff you need for day to day living? Should I bring that from the US, or should I buy it there?

    Is there anything like a Costco in Hong Kong?

    Thanks!

    Brian

    1. Hey Brian,

      I didn’t buy or try to buy any electronics or clothing in HK so I can’t help you there. As for toiletries, they’re about the same price as in the US, so I’d just pick them up once you got there, no need to carry them all the way across the Pacific.

  9. Interesting take on living in HK – i’m currently researching a trip over there atm so i’m grateful to see some of the costings. Keep it up.

    A

  10. Richard Antonucci

    Nail, can you please send me details on where to work a decent paying online job so I can travel just as you are?

    -thanks 🙂

  11. Hello, Niall!
    I saw this some time ago and did not reply. I have lived in Hong Kong, Singapore, throughout Europe…but working as I go as well. It’s so nice to see you travel and that I am not crazy for doing so as I do, like some tell me.

    Anywhooo! Very inspiring. Keep it up. Hope to hear from you!
    Cheers!

  12. Looks like you are pretty expert in personal budget management 🙂
    Usually, while traveling, it is always hard to avoid exceptional expenses that you can’t really anticipate and will hit your budget hard because when they come, you don’t necessary have the same expertise to handle them in a cheap way as you would in a country you well know for years.

    Then sharing a flat while traveling is definitely the best tips to make huge savings. But it requires a specific mindset to be open to different habits and cultures 🙂

  13. This is great stuff. I stumbled upon your video in YouTube when I typed out “how much does it cost to live in Hong Kong?” and your video popped up.

    I have lived here (Hong kong) with my family for almost 20 years now. Lately, I have been contemplating if whether I should go out and about and live a life where I drift around the world.

    Like you, I have little or no interest at the nightlife and I can get by life in a frugal manner. I just do not have an idea on how to do what you do.

  14. Hello Niall,

    I know the post is few years old but I have been offered a job in Hong Kong and the salary would be 2000 euros (which is around 17k hong kong dollars) per months plus 800 euros house allowance. Do you think I would be able to live confortably with that amount of money?
    I would be really gratefull for your help.

    Rebecca

  15. Hello Niall , really nice work and informative videos and details. Do you have any info regarding the average income we can earn in Hongkong?

  16. Nice work guys
    I have a job offer with hong kong airlines ,payment is quit good , but after i noticed the life expense starting from rent that can go up to 3000$ , im having doubts now ..

    Any help is highly appreciated

  17. I will be staying in the Sheung Wan area of Hong Kong very soon! I was wondering if you could share some of the cheap restaurants you went to?

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