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Is it worth working in Hong Kong

Is it worth working in Hong Kong?

Many workers from abroad dream of living and working in Hong Kong, a financial hub with numerous job opportunities and career growth potential. Today, we’ll talk about the reason for that and outline the work environment in Hong Kong.

Is it worth it to get a job in Hong Kong?

Working in Hong Kong is worth it, especially if you’re looking for a high-paying and challenging environment that also has a good transportation system and countless opportunities, especially from multinational firms.

To fully understand whether or not Hong Kong is for you, we have to discuss all the pros and cons in detail. Let’s jump right in.

What are the advantages of working in Hong Kong?

The primary advantages of working in Hong Kong are competitive wages, numerous opportunities, easy commutes, and the opportunity to participate in challenging yet business-friendly environments.  

These advantages have drawn in workers from all over the world for years. Let’s go over each one in detail.

1. High Demand for Professionals

High Demand for Professionals

Being a financial and trading hub and with numerous international companies setting up offices in the region, Hong Kong never runs out of job offers for both locals and foreigners alike. 

According to Tiger Campus, the fields of finance and technology in particular are flourishing in Hong Kong. 

As such, there is especially high demand for digital marketers, business development professionals, data scientists, cloud solutions and database managers, financial technology experts, cyber security, and AI and machine learning professionals.

2. Earning Potential

Earning Potential

Aside from the number of opportunities available, Hong Kong’s businesses also offer a high earning potential for professionals, especially when compared to other countries and regions in Asia.

According to data from Numbeo, Hong Kong ranks 14th when it comes to worldwide average monthly salary after tax. Hong Kong is ahead of other Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, and even European nations such as Germany and the UK.

The average yearly wage of a person in Hong Kong (USD 48,527) is also higher than the yearly average salary of fresh graduates in the United States, (USD 46,802).

Your starting pay can increase, too, depending on your profession and field. If you work in technology and finance, for example, you can get a much higher entry-level salary.

According to data released by the University Grants Committee, graduates in different fields received significant pay raises in 2022. These fields include engineering, technology, business degrees, healthcare, and humanities. 

The average annual pay for some fields is as follows.

FieldAnnual IncomeAnnual Income (USD)
Average salary of fresh graduatesHKD 281,000USD 35,985
Engineering and TechnologyHKD 229,000 USD 29,326
Business and ManagementHKD 256,000USD 32,784
HealthcareHKD 487,000USD 62,366
EducationHKD 333,000USD 42,645
HumanitiesHKD 236,000USD 30,223

Although these are the average salaries of fresh graduates from Hong Kong’s top universities, these may help give you a glimpse of just how much you can get if you work in Hong Kong. 

3. Great Public Transportation Systems

Great Public Transportation Systems

In Hong Kong, not everyone gets to drive a car to work because of high maintenance costs. However, it doesn’t matter because of the region’s superb public transit system.

According to a study conducted by the think tank Oliver Wyman Forum and the University of California Berkeley’s Institute of Transportation Studies, Hong Kong has the best public transit system in the world.

They cited that the advantages of Hong Kong’s public transport involve its low fares, limited delays and disruptions, self-sustaining financial support system, and crowding and commute speed.

It’s true that Hong Kong’s buses, automated trams, and railway systems can get you anywhere you want to go in a matter of minutes. As such, you will no longer have to dread rush hour traffic and your morning and after-work commutes.

4. Business-Friendly Environment

Business-Friendly Environment

One of the reasons Hong Kong is rich is that it attracts corporations from around the world with its business-friendly environment. This is a place where regulations tilt more towards making business easy than difficult.

As a result, you can get a job from any of the numerous international companies of your choice, or you could light your entrepreneurial spirit and start a business from the ground up yourself. 

Any company you start in Hong Kong would benefit from the region’s low tax rates, inexistent tariffs, and other local policies that would optimize your business’s growth.

In addition, you also have the chance to get into the elusive mainland market, as Hong Kong serves as the primary point of entry for international businesses to get into China. 

What are the disadvantages of working in Hong Kong? 

The disadvantages of working in Hong Kong include the high cost of living, tendency to promote stressful work culture, and strict quarantine measures that are already making some Hong Kongers leave.

1. High Cost of Living

ItemCostCost (USD)
Average monthly expenses for a single person, excluding rent~$8,252~$1,055
Average monthly rent (one-bedroom studio apartments)$12,000 – $20,000 $1,535 – $2,558
Total average cost of living for a single person$20,252 – $28,252 $2,590 – $3613
Monthly minimum wage income in Hong Kong$6,000$767

The human capital firm ECA International dubbed Hong Kong the world’s most expensive city for expatriates to live in for three years straight, even if the region is not too affected by rising global inflation.

The firm took into account the average price of household goods, utilities, rent, and other factors.

For locals and foreigners, the cost of living in Hong Kong is quite high. A single person could spend up to HK$ 8,252.33 monthly, excluding rent. At a minimum, you can expect to spend anywhere from HK$ 12,000 to HK$ 20,000 on rent alone, according to InterNations.

Smaller apartments in Hong Kong can still be quite expensive, as some are offered at HK$ 5,000 a month.

As such, it comes as no surprise that a study found that many expatriates say that it was easy to find housing but they consider the prices to be unaffordable.

Hong Kong bus companies also recently applied to raise fares due to higher operating costs and falling passenger numbers, which could add to your burdens.

Unless you have a job that pays high enough to cover the high costs of rent and other expenses while still being able to set aside cash for savings and recreation, then you might want to think twice about moving to Hong Kong to work.

2. Stressful Work Culture

Stressful Work Culture

As per a report by InstantOffices, Hong Kong’s workers are the third most overworked in the region, with only 28% of respondents saying they are happy with their jobs.

Hong Kongers spend an average of 41 to 42 hours at work per week, with only an annual leave count of 7 days.

However, there are some studies saying that over half of the respondents spend over nine hours or more working each day while others found that some workers put in more than 50 hours a week. 

Employees taking their work home is also commonplace in Hong Kong, leaving many Hong Kongers unhappy and with no work-life balance.

One of the factors that influence this workload is the inexistence of laws setting a statutory limit to daily working hours. 

Like many countries and regions in Asia, Hong Kong also emphasizes respect for seniority within families and companies. 

With these in mind, you might want to reconsider working for a company in Hong Kong if you are uncomfortable with the idea of working long hours or if you would dislike having little to no voice compared to your seniors.

3. Strict Quarantine Measures

Strict Quarantine Measures

ECA International also noted that Hong Kong’s strict pandemic rules are making the region more unattractive for expatriates

As of the moment, group gatherings in Hong Kong are limited to 12 people. Restaurants and other establishments are also required to cap table seating and banquets.

People are also required to wear masks in public spaces, except for specific activities such as exercising and taking photos.

If these rules are violated, you could be fined thousands of Hong Kong Dollars and imprisoned for a minimum of six months.

As such, Hong Kongers and expatriates alike are moving out of the region, with the latter returning to their home countries or going elsewhere.

If you are okay with strict rules regarding the pandemic, you should be fine working in Hong Kong. 

What jobs are in demand in Hong Kong?

The most in-demand jobs in Hong Kong are primarily in the service sector. These jobs include professions in banking and finance, commerce, technology, and sciences. 

We can summarize all the fields and the jobs within each field in the table below.

FieldJobs and Professions
Banking and Finance• Business development
• Finance technology
• Insurance
• Accountancy
Science and Technology• Data science
• Cloud solutions
• DevOps
• Information technology
• Cyber security
• AI Engineering
• Software development
• Life Sciences
Commerce• Digital marketing
• Analytics
• Supply chains
• Property
• Human resources

How do you apply for a job in Hong Kong?

To get a job in Hong Kong, foreigners would have to get a confirmed job offer, apply for a work visa, and accomplish the necessary forms, especially if they have a special set of circumstances.

Getting a work visa in Hong Kong is not an easy task, as you need an employer who would be willing to sponsor your entire application process.

Often, employers seek someone with a graduate degree and the professional experience required for the field alongside other requirements.

It is essential to note that getting a work visa and permit in Hong Kong can be quite tricky and arduous. Oftentimes, you would have to have exceptional qualifications, background, and experience before you could get accepted.

Once you accomplish your requirements, Hong Kong’s immigration department will then evaluate the files, the salary and working conditions, and the lack of workers within Hong Kong that could fill the position.

Hong Kong prioritises giving its residents jobs first, so they have to see if there really is a lack of employment in the field foreigners are applying for.

However, remember that these are just the bare minimum requirements for a work visa in Hong Kong. For example, you might have a different set of requirements if you intend to bring your family to the special administrative region.

What are the kinds of work visas available in Hong Kong?

Work visas in Hong Kong include those from the General Employment Policy, Technology Talent Admission Scheme, Immigration Arrangement for Non-Graduates, and more, depending on the employee’s situation and intent. 

The most common type of employment visa available is under the General Employment Policy (GEP). Other types include the technology talent admission scheme, immigration arrangements for non-local graduates, and more.

Under the GEP, people planning to move and work in Hong Kong should have a confirmed job offer with their employer serving as their sponsor. These are usually just available for a certain amount of time.

The technology talent admission scheme is for professionals with an impressive background and speciality in specific technological fields, such as AI and machine learning.

The immigration arrangement for non-local graduate schemes offers an employment visa for people with a degree from Hong Kong. This visa allows graduates to stay and look for local employment.

Expatriates might be eligible for the quality migrant admission scheme, which offers foreigners work in Hong Kong in fields related to finance, legal, and others. However, there are usually only 4,000 slots for all of these fields.

Other work visas would include those who wish to train or invest in Hong Kong.

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