Face Off: is Hong Kong an affordable city?

Face Off: is Hong Kong an affordable city?

Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint. This week...


Luxury flats near Kowloon MTR station cost upwards of HK$40 million dollars.
Photo: EPA

Eunice Yip, 17, Pooi To Middle School

Many surveys have ranked Hong Kong as one of the least affordable cities in the world, but I disagree. This is because your expenses mostly depend on your lifestyle. If you go to fancy restaurants and buy brand-name clothes, then of course you would have to spend a lot. But life doesn’t have to be like that.

I admit that property prices are high, but we can buy most of our daily necessities fairly cheaply. For example, food is very cheap at wet markets, and you can cook meals at home. Even if you decide to have a meal at a small restaurant once in a while, it won’t cost you more than HK$50. Then there’s street food,which is even cheaper.

Also, the city’s public transport fares are some of the cheapest in the world. For example, the MTR offers a wonderful service at a very affordable price. Even taxi fares are very reasonable.

People can buy high-quality clothes at competitive prices from many chain stores in Hong Kong. With so many shops offering “buy one, get one free” discounts, we are spoilt for choice.

The government also provides nine years of free education for children, while low-income families receive social welfare payments.

In addition, Hongkongers receive world-class medical care at public hospitals for a very small amount of money.

If you lead a simple life, Hong Kong is still a very affordable city.

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Karl Lam, 16, German Swiss International School

Definitely not. According to the news website Business Insider, our city is the second most expensive place to live in the world, just after Singapore.

For example, school fees impose a huge financial burden on our parents. The English Schools Foundation charges around HK$80,000 per year for primary school students and HK$115,000 for secondary school students. Meanwhile, university students in Hong Kong pay around HK$45,000 per year.

Food isn’t cheap either. According to a global cost-of-living survey, a medium-sized cappuccino here costs HK$40, which is 40 per cent more than in London. And a meal at a restaurant in Central or Causeway Bay could easily set you back HK$100 or more.

From petrol prices (a litre of petrol in Hong Kong costs HK$20, 142 per cent higher than in New York) to the first registration tax (around HK$150,000 for a basic car), most people can only dream of owning a private vehicle in Hong Kong.

But, above all, the biggest problem is the city’s soaring housing prices. For example, the average monthly rent for a three-bedroom flat in the city centre is around HK$44,000. I think these prices are ridiculous, especially given that the average monthly household income in Hong Kong is only HK$23,500.

Considering all these factors, it’s no surprise that Hong Kong has become an unaffordable – and possibly even inhumane – city for the average income earner. It’s difficult to survive in such an environment.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Is Hong Kong an affordable city?


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