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What's a reasonable relocation package for a single person, esp housing?

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    8

    What's a reasonable relocation package for a single person, esp housing?

    Hi all.

    My employer would like me to relocate to HK from the UK, and has asked me to find out what would be typical/reasonable.

    Research is throwing up a wide range of examples, none of which really map to me. I know this is almost 'an impossible question' but I'd really appreciate any feedback or guidance appropriate to my situation.

    The role is Technical Product Manager for an HK based seed-funded startup.

    My current UK salary is 6500 ? US$8500

    No dependents, just me.

    Part of the role will include regular travel back to the UK every couple of months or so. I've made clear that I both want to keep, and am bound into, my UK flatshare. So HK accommodation needs to be covered to the extent that is typical for HK expat accommodation allowances. 15% of salary has been mentioned, but HKD$10? accom looks pretty cupboard like to me!

    Broadly, what should I be expecting or asking for, or what range would be considered 'normal' in terms of

    • Accommodation? incl Utilities?
    • Relocation one-off set-up allowance? and/or incentive?
    • Repatriation if it all goes wrong
    • Salary (I'm assuming no change here, but what if anything, is typical?)


    Anything else, in particular, I should be thinking about? (Other than assistance with sorting housing and local back accts etc) I understand HK state healthcare is fine.

    Any tips, ranges, examples, thoughts, etc greatly appreciated.


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Posts
    313

    I would not move to Hong Kong for that salary and package.

    Would give up the frequent flights back for more housing allowance if you do. And London housing is actually a lot nicer than Hong Kong - this should tell you something.


  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    8

    Thanks. What would be a minimum housing allowance do you think for a single person? The flights are pretty important to get me to go at all, but also useful for the company. I'm comfortable with the base salary while the startup gets off the ground.


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    739

    get hold of a couple of the reputable cost of living surveys HR depts typically use, and map using those the basic costs you need covered. e.g. if you live in 800 sq foot flat in UK in decent middle class area, what would HK equivalent be, etc.

    When discussions about relocation got v serious, I paid out of pocket for one of those, to help me negotiate. Economist and Mercers do these types of surveys, for example. You want to choose one that HR will take seriously and is a market standard, otherwise they will just try and discredit your source.

    How much time will you spend in the UK? Enough for you to get caught in UK tax net? If so, your disposable income here will be lower than local equivalent so will need to adjust. 15% salary is unrealistically low for your pay range.

    Get them to give you good health insurance, with international cover, and ideally that covers pre-existing illnesses unless you're completely free of any of those. Almost no personal health insurance covers those, but corporate ones may.

    If you're keeping up enough of UK link and proof of residence, you will be fine for NHS when you go back - flipside is risk of getting caught in UK tax net. And if you ever give up your UK proof of residence or get defined as non-resident for NHS purposes, you'll need insurance coverage in case anything happens when you're back visiting.

    HK public health is ok, but very weak GP coverage. Many people use private GPs. Also getting similarly squeezed to UK NHS as govt strangles system through long term underfunding, so being able to supplement with private coverage can be v helpful. Leverage your company's bargaining power.

    Repatriation - make sure this covers relocation costs whatever the reason for ending your employment. Ie even if they fire you, ideally even if they claim it's due to your misconduct.

    Vacation days - local employees can have fewer days than UK norm. Think about what's important to you, and negotiate. If you think you won't take many, then get a higher salary, or some clause that says you'll be comped for unused vacation days.

    Pension/tax free savings in UK - you won't be able to contribute to ISAs etc if you're not resident for tax purposes. If you spend a lot of time abroad, you'll end up with much less tax sheltered assets long term. Plan! Weigh up whether you want employer to contribute to UK pension (or similar offshore arrangement). The local public pension scheme (MPF) is mandatory but flawed.

    Last edited by z754103; 12-02-2019 at 11:22 PM.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    8

    Thanks for all the useful info. I will be careful to ensure I'm not UK resident for tax purposes (already looked into that). The company is pretty small still, and most employees are indirect, so there isn't a lot of 'bargaining power' for healthcare etc. The flipside is close personal relationships - I'm sure they want to do the right thing by me but want some sort of evidence of what is normal/typical in the market. Not sure I can justify EUR 675.00 for a cost-of-living survey.

    Do you have an idea of a reasonable minimum housing allowance for a single professional coming from London?


  6. #6

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    NT
    Posts
    4,046

    Where is your HK office going to be located at, Plenty of apartments for rent for a single professional but dont expect to rent 1000sq/ft as that will eat away more than 50% of your salary. Look at renting an apartment for up to 20K max, If I was you I would look at 10-15K, maybe even flat share 10-15K per room in a larger apartment.

    6500 per month is way doable for a single guy.

    Mrs. Jones likes this.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    8

    Hi. Thanks. Good to get some numbers!

    The office is in Sheung Wan. I'm thinking Kennedy Town for the convenience, or perhaps Mui Wo for the sq ft. Any thoughts on those?

    I only need a single bedroom, say 350 ? 400 ft ?. Flat sharing isn't something I'd want. I ain't so young... :-p (UK is different, people I've known forever and am very close to)

    I can only see ~150 ft for HK$10? which seems unreasonable, at least on Hong Kong Island.


  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    ???
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    27,283

    You're coming to work for a startup.

    From the startup founder's perspective, they need to be as lean as possible - no room for people who want allowances and fancy shit to be honest.

    The company's culture should really be focused on making sure everyone is aligned to keeping the runway intact - a single expensive employee can f' things up pretty quickly. Would you rather work six months for a startup that has a short runway or would you rather work for a couple of years and see things through?

    Think about what you're giving up and think about the risks and rewards of working for a startup and make your decision.


  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Posts
    1,531

    Yes, what Shri said- especially if you have any kind of equity position- stock options and the like. I worked for relatively low pay at a start up but it paid off at the IPO...

    15k housing allowance is fair and if you want more can pay 5k out of your own pocket. I work in Sheung Wan and come from Peng Chau where I have a great flat for 13k (almost 500 square foot, rooftop, awesome view). So up to you whether to live near work or take a ferry (a relaxing commute). Mui Wo is doable as is Lamma, DB, Cheung Chau, etc. I usually take a bus from the ferry in the morning, walk back to the pier at night. Sometimes walk both ways, about 20 minutes.
    Regarding medical- insurance is not that expensive in HK so I don't think the company would have a problem with that.


  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    5,648

    No need to live on Hong Kong Island. There are loads of other options.

    If you can state where you'll be working then people can provide you with other convenient options.


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