From Bangkok to Hong Kong

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2004
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    24

    From Bangkok to Hong Kong

    Esteemed forum members,

    I'm sure you're completely sick of these types of questions- here's another one that hopefully won't put you over the edge...

    I'm facing an internal company transfer from Bangkok to Hong Kong within the next few months and would like to get some feedback on a few topics...

    Salary - I'm looking at a salary of approx HK$750k/yr compared with approx HK$625k/yr in Bangkok. My goal is to save HK$200-230k/yr. Bearing in mind the profile desribed below, is this feasible?

    Accommodation - I've got to pay for housing out of my own pocket... so will be trying to minimize the damage from rent. I'm a single guy and really am looking for something close to the MTR (my office is in Kowloon) - a studio in a nice building would suit me fine- would rather pay for a nicer building rather than for more space I won't use. The housing options seem endless and of the 5 HK residents I've asked so far I've received 5 completely different and sometimes contradicting answers regarding where I should live. Looking around during a quick trip wasn't much help either... as at the rate I was going it looks like I could spend an entire month out every day looking at different places. Any suggestions? Would like to spend as little as possible but still maintain a reasonably comfortable lifestyle. This, by the way, is one thing I'm really dreading about the idea of living in HK especially after having been in Bangkok for the past 5 years.

    Lifestyle - From what I've heard, going out in HK at night can be the biggest money drainer. As such, should I give up all hope of going out and save my pennies for a monthly flight back to Bangkok??? Are there small cheap local restaurants or do people generally cook at home and only eat out on the weekends? If I have to cook for myself I'll probably have to survive on microwave popcorn and instant noodles. Any other big costs? What's life like for someone at this salary level? I'm bracing myself for the worst- a life inside my (tiny) apartment playing computer games.

    Tax - Was pitched on the idea of going to HK partially because the tax rate is relatively low to begin with and (here's where I need some confirmation) it's possible to get my salary down to around 8% by having the company fiddle with housing and whatnot. Is this possible? Again I got conflicting info- one HK resident living in the US told me yes, another expat living in HK told me no way.

    Electronics - I'll be able to bring over my electronics (primarily tv, audio system, computer) as part of the moving costs my company will pick up. Thailand is 220v at 50Hz. Found one website that says the electricity is the same (only the plug is different- easily remedied) but another one says it is 200v, 50Hz. Argh- another contradiction! Looking further I found more websites that say 200v or 220v What's the straight dope?

    Mobile Phone - What's the quickest way to get on the local GSM network- is there a pre-paid phone service available?

    Many thanks in advance for any feedback!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Best regards,
    Farang


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Will definately reply tommorrow ... Sunday's for rest and recovery.


  3. #3

    Join Date
    Apr 2003
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    12,383

    >> I'm looking at a salary of approx HK$750k/yr

    That is a well above average salary for most people in Hong Kong and should keep you comfortable... except for two things.

    1) Your rent. If you can control that, your major fixed expense for the year is taken care of. Make sure your contract includes some housing allowance, either added onto your salary or factored into the contract with a reduction in salary, as rent is usually 90% tax deductible if administered correctly.

    2) Taxes. The first year tax bill includes taxes for the previous year and "provisional tax" for the next year. So, account for a bill of about 30% the year after.

    >> my office is in Kowloon

    You'll have plenty of reasonably priced choices in Kowloon. I'd not worry about it.

    >> small cheap local restaurants

    Yes, there are plenty. Even a pint of beer can be fairly reasonably priced in Lan Kwai Fong ($25 a pint on the low end) if you know where to look.

    >> 8% by having the company fiddle with housing and whatnot

    http://www.gthk.com.hk/Upload/Tax%20Notes/Issue%202.htm

    and

    http://www.gthk.com.hk/Upload/Tax%20...ssue%201.1.htm

    Your expat friend in Hong Kong is sort of wrong in his assumptions.

    >> 200v or 220v What's the straight dope

    Stop going to those useless sites. From the horses mouth ....

    http://www.hec.com.hk/hec/customer/guide_2.htm#2

    >> quickest way to get on the local GSM network

    Prepaid SIM.


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    24

    >>Taxes. The first year tax bill includes taxes for the previous year and >>"provisional tax" for the next year. So, account for a bill of about 30% the >>year after.

    This is going to take some getting used to... Everywhere I've worked has withheld taxes so I didn't have to worry about it. Presumably one gets the provisional tax back if one quits or drops to a lower income before the end of a full tax year? Seems to be a strange system.

    >>http://www.gthk.com.hk/Upload/Tax%20Notes/Issue%202.htm
    >>http://www.gthk.com.hk/Upload/Tax%20...ssue%201.1.htm

    Will need to study those links, thanks!

    >>You'll have plenty of reasonably priced choices in Kowloon. I'd not worry >>about it.

    Heard that Kowloon was not the place to be for a young single guy who doesn't really know anyone. Was recommended to stay in Happy Valley... Any particular concerns about staying there?

    >>Yes, there are plenty. Even a pint of beer can be fairly reasonably priced in >>Lan Kwai Fong ($25 a pint on the low end) if you know where to look.

    That's great to hear... I had the shock of my life when I had lunch at an American diner style place near mid-levels while apartment hunting. Had cheese sticks, an (admittedly enormous) club sandwich, and a coke... HK$230! Almost fell off my chair after I did the math.

    >>Stop going to those useless sites. From the horses mouth ....
    >>http://www.hec.com.hk/hec/customer/guide_2.htm#2

    Amazing how much disinformation there is out there, eh? It looks like I'll have no problem bringing over my electronics from Thailand to HK- just need to worry about getting a plug adaptor which isn't hard to find.

    Cheers!


  5. #5

    Join Date
    Apr 2003
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    12,383

    >> Heard that Kowloon was not the place to be for a young single guy

    Would not worry about that comment too much. Virtually anything in Hong Kong is a hop, skip, two MTR stations and a taxi ride away. You just have to make a decision on your daily travel (i.e. to/from work) or your social travel (happy hour).

    >> cheese sticks, an (admittedly enormous) club sandwich, and a coke... HK$230!

    Where was this? Yes, things can get pricey, specially if you stick to certain areas and need your burgers every day.

    If thats what you're going to be eating everyday, yes you're in trouble. Our normal lunch would be about $35-50, dinner around the same or slightly more, depending on where we ate. These are mid levels prices.


  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    24

    >>Would not worry about that comment too much. Virtually anything in Hong >>Kong is a hop, skip, two MTR stations and a taxi ride away. You just have >>to make a decision on your daily travel (i.e. to/from work) or your social >>travel (happy hour).

    I suppose you're right... Best to try and find a place that isn't too old/dirty/etc that I can be reasonably happy with. What's confusing about HK is that there are so many different places to live- and the process of looking for places appears daunting.

    >>> cheese sticks, an (admittedly enormous) club sandwich, and a coke... HK$230!

    >>Where was this? Yes, things can get pricey, specially if you stick to certain >>areas and need your burgers every day.

    Can't remember the name of the place. It was in Wanchai no far from the mid-level apartments I was looking at- was taken there by our president's driver. Was themed like an American diner but had a plasma screen tv on the wall. Now I know how they paid for that plasma screen!

    >>If thats what you're going to be eating everyday, yes you're in trouble. Our >>normal lunch would be about $35-50, dinner around the same or slightly >>more, depending on where we ate. These are mid levels prices.

    Hey that sounds much more like it, and in fact not so far off Bangkok prices for non-Thai food. Can't beat a HK$4 bowl of noodles by the street, though.

    Thanks for all the feedback... sounds like HK is more reasonable than I first thought.

    Cheers!


  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Hong Kong
    Posts
    580

    Er, not sure you get much for HK$4, even in a taipaidong


  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    24

    >>Er, not sure you get much for HK$4, even in a taipaidong

    That's the cheapest one can eat here in Bangkok... though people from outside provinces think noodles are a rip-off at that price as it's HK$2 outside the big city.


  9. #9

    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Kowloon-side, between work and pleasure
    Posts
    185

    Sounds like you may have heard horror stories! I think it won't be so bad ;-) With good management of the rent, as Shri says, you'll likely be able to meet your goal.

    Where will you work on Kowloon side? Hong Kong not good for a young single guy? S'pose it depends on what you are looking for. But, I haven't heard that. In fact, I think it may be a bit more challenging for a not so young guy who's here on his own ;-)

    I would say you can eat for under 100 HKD easily...or can splurge on dinner for two at 2000. Lots of choices. I regularly have lunch in Kwun Tong (where I work) for $32.

    Good luck, and enjoy!
    J


  10. #10

    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Hong Kong
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    4,925

    A bowl of noodles here is around $20


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