"Hidden Costs" in Hong Kong. Looking to relocate for 2-3 years. Where to start?

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    5

    "Hidden Costs" in Hong Kong. Looking to relocate for 2-3 years. Where to start?

    Hi,
    My current employer is offering me an expat assignment in HK for 2-3 years. I'll be offered "standard" relocation package (if such thing exists..:-)..), but I want to do some investigation on my own about "hidden costs" of living in Hong Kong. My background - US citizen with wife and 2 kids (12 months old). I will be given visa to work there. Company has AP Office there as well. Not sure where the paycheck will be coming from - US or HK (does it matter???).

    I wanted to know what I should be asking for in my package. What costs should be negotiated to be paid by the company? Some questions I have are:

    1. What is the estimated transportation cost in HK per month assuming you don't take a cab every day but use subway for the most part? DO I NEED A CAR?

    2. Medical costs for my family - free or I have to pay? Any idea how much? How is the service compared with USA? Hospital care?

    3. Appartment should be supplied. Any recommendation for good locations? Any hidden charges there? Any taxes? Any prices ranges? Should I negotiate for the company to cover all expenses so I don't see a bill or is it benefitial to get a reimburcement checks (Any US Tax advantages there?).

    4. Implications to US Income taxes/SS Taxes/other taxes? How does it work with US taxes? I think US IRS Publication 54 tells more about it. Anything outside of that publication?

    5. Monthly food costs. Any ideas? Estimates for a family of 4? I've read horror stories about people who left to work in UK or Japan and where at home they used to spend $150-200 per week on food (including going out) now cost them about $500-1000 for the same type of food/type of restaurantes. Does it apply to Hong Kong?

    6. Day care for kids? Any estiamted costs from anyone? Do they have public daycare? Is it a good idea to use one if it exists?

    Regards and thanks for your comments in advance.

    I need all the help I can get since I have not made my decision about moving yet.


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2003
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    12,385

    Would recommend you start here.

    http://www.geoexpat.com/forum/showthread.php?t=247

    (We're working on an FAQ which should cover most of your questions.... good timing!)


  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jul 2004
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    3,488

    Too many questions at a time.. Only FAQ/ Guide/ Digest can answer all of these... Just kidding... you may wait for one as mentioned above. Meanwhile, just to have my own opinon on couple of them.

    (1) Trans cost depends on where you live and where you work... considering most remore scenario and assuming you take subway root, it should be somewhere HK$1000/ month. Usually less than that..... Public transport is fairly efficient in HK... For most cases you dont need car although having one is a matter of personal choice...

    (2) Your whole family would be eligible for Govt medical services at nominal charge (HK$ 100 per visit) and their service is good, if not excellent. However, in certain non-emergency situations you may have to wait long and might opt to go for private doc, which is expensive... Most expats prefer to have medical insurance for that reason, i guess....

    (3) For apartment selection, you may search all related threads on this website. Im sure you will get enough confidence how to go for it..

    (4) Normally you have to pay tax at US as well as HK but for specific scenario you may consult legal expert...

    (5) Food cost varies according to your selection especially for outside.. But, be assured, over all you wont find it expensive even at home.

    (6) This is going to be a mega cost for you. There are subsidised daycare centers run by Trust/ other non-profit organization and they are good but frankly speaking i hardly see any expat child over there... You may go for private options especially those run by western groups.. The cost should range anything between HK$3000- HK$5000 / month.


  4. #4

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    Apr 2003
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    Just a quick note. People don't do day care in Hong Kong. The common practise is to hire a live in domestic helper.


  5. #5

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    5

    Dear All,

    Thanks for your answers. I appreciate it.

    Regards,


  6. #6

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    5

    I have a question about domestic help/day care.

    If the person you are inviting to care for your children is a foreigner (US or other country resident), do they need to apply for special visa from Hong Kong for a long term stay?


  7. #7

    Join Date
    Apr 2003
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    If you're paying them, they technically need a visa.

    http://www.immd.gov.hk/ehtml/hkvisas_5.5.htm

    Virtually all of the domestic helpers in Hong Kong are of asian origin, with the majority from Phillipines and Indonesia. You usually don't invite them, you employ them.


  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Midlevels / USA (MD) / London
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    I'd strongly recommend a thorough reading of the IRS publication on going overseas. The 12 month rule is worth noting, and you should also pay attention to the housing allowance / housing expense credits.

    Our biggest food cost is milk, as we try to buy milk from Australia rather than the local dairies. It runs about US $12 a gallon. Produce is quite a bit cheaper than the US (eventhough much of it comes from the US--go figure).

    You really can get just about anything here that you find in the US. My only recommendation is speciality items (do you have a very specific brand of toothpaste that you like, for example). If you have big feet (like me) I'd recommend getting your shoes back in the US as the selection of larger sized shoes (+12) is rather limited here. They have them, just not as many or the selection as you might find in the US.


  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jul 2004
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    1. What is the estimated transportation cost in HK per month assuming you don't take a cab every day but use subway for the most part? DO I NEED A CAR?

    If you live close to the subway or bus stop, you don't need a car. Most people in HK don't have a car.
    http://www.mtr.com.hk/eng/homepage/e_customer_index.php

    Any recommendation for good locations?
    http://www.gohome.com.hk/english/home.asp?

    Monthly food costs.
    http://www.wellcomehk.com/

    Day care for kids?
    It costs US$200-400 to employ a SE Asian maid.
    Many maid agencies can help you with this.