The Cost of Living 2013: Hong Kong-Style

The Cost of Living 2013: Hong Kong-Style Roger Wagner / Flickr

Hong Kong is an expensive city to live in by any world standard. Hundreds of studies confirm it and most residents believe it. Sometimes we even seem proud of it, shocking our family and friends overseas with the rents we pay and the cost of fuel or a round of drinks.

 

According to a 2013 global cost-of-living report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Hong Kong is the 14th most expensive city in the world to live in, and is ranked 4th within Asia (excluding property prices). But what exactly makes the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) such a costly place to live, and how do so many manage to cope with the expense?

 

High prices for vehicles and consumer durables all contribute to the high cost of living. Healthcare is also extremely costly (unless you go down the excellent but slow public healthcare route) and all those nights out on the town and entertaining can quickly add up. But it’s the shortage of land and the prices people pay for owning and leasing property that pushes Hong Kong to the top of the charts in Asia.

 

However, all hope is not lost in this pricey city. You’ll soon find your favourite Happy Hour and uncover your own Hong Kong “finds”.

 

Public transport is a real bargain as well as being clean, safe and frequent. Taxis are also reasonably priced making it fairly easy to survive without a car in Hong Kong. Hong Kong people also love to bargain, so never rule out the power of negotiation when dealing with landlords and independent business owners. In fact, it’s often expected. Legitimate bargains, discount and used goods stores exist all over the city and can save you a bundle. But like most treasure, they may require a bit of a hunt.

 

If money is no object, then Hong Kong is an easy place to blow your bank balance. But if you have an eye for a bargain and enjoy the challenge of getting the best deal for your money, then you’re also in good company. The following list provides a general price reference for some everyday goods and services. Keep in mind that the prices listed are mid-range unless otherwise indicated.

 

Voice your opinion and let us know if you think we need to include more items on the list in this thread.

 

ITEMS 2013 Average Price
HK$
2013 Average Price
US$
     
LIFESTYLE & ENTERTAINMENT HK$ US$
     
Dinner for two - mid-range (excl. wine) 600 77
Dinner for two - top restaurant (excl. wine) 1,100 142
Pack of cigarettes 50 6
Cocktail in Lan Kwai Fong 80 10
Bottle of Heineken in Lan Kwai Fong 50 6
Glass of wine 70 9
Pint of  beer 50 6
Set lunch SoHo/Lan Kwai Fong (excl. wine) 95 12
Takeaway Lunch (lunchbox from local eatery) 35 5
Takeaway Lunch (lunchbox from western eatery) 66 9
Sandwich (Oliver's/Starbucks) 35 5
Starbucks Tall Latte 30 4
Big Mac Value Meal 31 4
Movie ticket 70 - 125 9 - 16
International theatre/music event 400 - 1,000 52 - 129
Local theatre/music event 100 - 350 13 - 45
Best-selling paperback novel 135 17
     
     
HOUSING HK$ US$
     
Monthly rent for a 85m2 (900sqft) furnished apartment in Mid-Levels 36,000 - 50,000 4,639 - 6,443
Monthly rent for a 85m2 (900sqft) unfurnished apartment in Mid-Levels 28,000 - 40,000 3,608 - 5,128
Monthly rent for a 85m2 (900sqft) serviced apartment on Hong Kong Island 40,000 - 70,000 5,128 - 8,974
     
     
UTILITIES HK$ US$
     
Water per quarter 400 52
Gas per month 200 26
Electricity per month for a 85m2 (900sqft) apartment 1,000 - 1,500 129 - 193
     
     
GROCERY SHOPPING HK$ US$
     
Meat    
Brazilian previously frozen whole chicken, 1.3kg (supermarket) 32.90 4
US chilled organic chicken 1.3kg (supermarket) 156 20
Australian chilled hormone free whole chicken 1.5kg (specialist butcher) 217 28
Australian beef sirloin steak, 150gm (supermarket) 25.90 3
     
Beverages    
Coffee, ground 227gm 60 8
Twinings Earl Grey Tea Bags, 25pcs 28.40 4
Perrier Sparkling Water 750 ml 17.90 2
Evian Mineral Water 1.5L 19.90 3
Tanqueray Gin, 750ml 268 35
Absolut Vodka, 750ml 179 23
White wine - Sauvignon Blanc, 750ml 59 - 159 7.60 - 20.50
Red wine - Cabernet Sauvignon, 750ml 59 - 169 7.60 - 21.80
Heineken Beer Can, 6-pack, 330ml 44.90 6
CocaCola, 2L 12.90 2
     
Groceries    
Olive oil 500ml 50 6
Fresh baked bread from western bakery 28 - 40 3.60 - 4.50
Whole wheat sandwich bread 8 slices 10 1
Thai brown rice, 1.5kg 25.90 3
Thai white rice, 2kg 27.90 4
Spaghetti, 500gm 12.50 2
Local eggs, 6 pcs 11.90 2
Imported free range eggs, 6pcs 45.90 6
Pasta sauce, 400gm 26.90 3
Instant oatmeal, 800gm 22.90 3
     
Dairy Products    
Australian fresh milk 1 litre 35.90 5
Local fresh milk 1 litre 22.90 3
Plain yoghurt 100gm - 125gm 8.90 - 12.90 1.15 - 1.65
Imported Cheddar Cheese 250gm 49.50 6
     
Fruits & Vegetables    
Fuji Apple, per piece 3.90 1
US Strawberries, 454gm 29.90 4
Mixed salad leaves, washed, 270gm 46.90 6
     
Personal Care    
Multivitamins 100 tablets 245 32
Pain & fever medicine - Panadol, 20 tabs 51.90 7
Tampons, 1 box of 20 39 - 43.50 5 - 5.60
     
Baby Needs    
Enfamil Stage 1 Milk Formula, 900gm 294 38
Wyeth Illuma Stage 1 Milk Formula, 900gm 499 64
Bellamy Organic stage 1 Milk Formula, 900gm 329 42
Newborn Diapers (Pampers) 40pcs 45 6
Newborn Diapers (Huggies)  35pcs 50 6
     
Source: ParknShop, Marketplace, Pacific Gourmet, Great Food Hall    
     
     
COMMUNICATIONS & BROADBAND SERVICES HK$ US$
     
PCCW Landline per month 110 14
Netvigator 100M basic home broadband plan 398 51
Now Broadband HD TV 123 - 242 15.85 - 31.20
Mobile Phone - 2G basic package, 1,000 mins, Hutchinson 3 88 11
Mobile Phone - 3G basic package, 1,200 mins, Hutchinson 3 138 18
     
     
PUBLIC TRANSPORT HK$ US$
     
Minimum taxi fare for 2 km or less 20 3
Taxi: Central to Stanley 130 17
Bus: Central to Stanley 11 1
Taxi: Mid-Levels to Central 32 4
Minibus: Mid-Levels to Central 6.20 1
Escalator: Mid-Levels to Central FREE! 0
Tram (anywhere) 2.30 0
Star Ferry (Central/Wan Chai to TST) 2.50 - 3.40 0.30 - 0.45
MTR: Central to TST 9 1
MTR: Central to Kwun Tong 13 2
KCR: TST East to Lo Wu (China border) 39 5
     
     
CARS HK$ US$
     
Car Luxury: Mercedes S65 AMG 2,915,000 375,644
Car SUV: Hyundai Tucson 208,000 26,804
Car Compact: Mazda 2 159,900 20,606
Car Registration Fee 1500cc - 2500cc 5,794 747
Petrol/gas, unleaded, per litre 17 2
     
     
EDUCATION HK$ US$
     
Pre-school (half-day) per annum 48,000 - 123,600 6,186 - 15,928
International primary school per year 66,100 - 155,700 8,518 - 20,064
International secondary school per year 98,000 - 180,200 12,629 - 23,222
     
     
HEALTHCARE HK$ US$
     
General Practitioner at local neighbourhood private clinics 120 15
General Practitioner at expat private clinics 800 103
Specialist 900 116
Eye Test (free at opticians) FREE 0
X-ray 320 41
Dentist (Check-up) 600 77
Physiotherapist 650 84
     
     
WELLNESS & PERSONAL CARE HK$ US$
     
Monthly gym membership 300 - 1,200 39 - 155
Yoga - drop-in classes 250 - 300 32 - 39
One hour massage at spa 600 77
Pedicure and manicure at spa 350 45
Facial at spa 600 77
Standard men's hair cut 300 - 800 39 - 103
Standard women's hair cut 400 - 1,000 52 - 129
     
     
ELECTRICAL GOODS HK$ US$
     
Samsung 32" LCD TV 5,680 732
Samsung 42" LCD TV 7,680 990
Philips DVD Player 339 44
LG Blu-ray Player 690 - 2,500 89 - 322
Panasonic Refrigerator, 219L 3,380 436
Whirlpool Washing Machine, front load, 5.5kg capacity 3,390 437
Panasonic dehumidifier, 15L 4,380 564
Mobile Phone - Samsung Galaxy S4 5,898 760
Mobile Phone - iPhone 5 32GB 6,388 823
Mobile Phone 3G - Samsung Galaxy S III mini 2,800 361
     
Source: Fortress, SmarTone, Apple    
     
COMPUTERS HK$ US$
     
Dell Inspiron 14z Ultrabook [2.7 GHz, 8GB DDR3 Memory, 14.0" HD LED Display] 5,800 747
Lenovo IdeaPad G400 [4GB Memory,14" HD Display] 5,498 709
MacBook Air [2.6 GHz, 256 GB flash storage, 4GB memory, 13" Display] 9,988 1,287
     
Source: Fortress, Apple    
     
CLOTHES HK$ US$
1 pair of Levi's 501 900 116
1 dress in a chain store (H&M, Zara, Esprit etc) 450 58
1 pair of Nike trainers 760 98
1 pair of men's business shoes 1,500 193

 

If you want to do your own further research, here are some of the sources we referred to:

Groceries: Great Food Hall, PARKnSHOP, Marketplace, Pacific Gourmet, Wellcome
Housing: squarefoot.com.hk, gohome.com.hk
Public Transportation: MTR, Citybus and NWFB, HK Tramways, Star Ferry
Electrical goods: Fortress, price.com.hk