3 Pros and Cons of Living in Hong Kong

All added together, I’ve lived in Hong Kong for roughly 2 years: half a year when I studied abroad a few years ago and currently 1.5 years working here. My feeling about Hong Kong changes back and forth between positive and negative every day. But overall, I’d say the pros outweigh the cons and I’m enjoying it here. My take on what Hong Kong feels like is it’s a very cramped city that’s expensive and people aren’t exactly that friendly. But if you know your way around, life isn’t too shabby. So here’s my list of pros and cons of living in Hong Kong:


1. Gateway to Asia

Hong Kong isn't the hub for many of the Asia HQ of large companies for no reason. You can reach so many destinations with a flight for just a few hours. It also helps a lot for personal holidays, because you can just hop on a flight and spend your weekend over at another nearby country. Just last year alone, I was able to travel to 4 places (Taiwan, Phuket, Seoul, Osaka) on a budget money wise and time-off from work wise. In fact I've prepared a map of popular places you can go to that are within a radius of a 5 hour flight from Hong Kong:

Taiwan:1.5hr, Ha Noi: 2hr, Boracay: 2.5hrs, Phuket: 3hours, Seoul: 3.4 hours, Kuala Lumpur: 3.75 hours, Singapore: 4hrs, Tokyo: 4 hours, Bali: 5hr, Guam: 5hrs

2. From dirt cheap to exceptionally luxurious 

People talk about how Hong Kong is so expensive to live in, but in reality you just need to figure out where to find things. You can get really cheap food at the more local places (HK $30 for a lunch box of duck rice or BBQ pork rice!) and then you have the Michelin star restaurants. For 2014, there are 5 restaurants awarded with 3 Michelin stars, 13 with 2 Michelin Stars, and 44 with 1 Michelin star. See the full list here

Besides food, you can also get very cheap to outrageously expensive clothing. You can find cheap clothing in Mong Kok. New Town Mall, exit D2 in Mong Kok is good for woman's clothing, handbags, and shoes. You can bring a HK $500 note and come out with 10 items easily. And then you have the row of expensive brands like Versace, Chanel, Gucci, Prada in every major mall. Hong Kong is a very name brand obsessive place. 

And lastly, transportation. The cheapest ride on the London Tube costs roughly HK$30, whereas the cheapest Hong Kong MTR ride is $4, and it rarely exceeds $12 per trip. On the more expensive side, there are so many Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Aston Martins, Porches, Maseratis that people aren't even surprised when they drive past. I've even seen a Bugatti in a car dealership once.

3. Junks in the summer 

Don't even get me started on Junk trips in the summer. I wrote a whole blog about what Junks are: A Complete Guide To Junks In Hong Kong. A junk is a combination of a boat, the beach, music, and drinking. And because summer is so long in Hong Kong, junk season stretches from April all the way up to October, that's 7 months of summer! This is also a good alternative to traveling to a beach holiday destination in a foreign country, because it's cheaper, quicker to organize, and easy to get to. 


1.  Pissed off and rude people in your face 

I don’t know if this has to do with how crowded and the pressure that people have living in Hong Kong, but pedestrians are pretty rude. You already get bumped into constantly, but when you bump into someone, they not only don’t say sorry but some even get mad at you! And in reality, a lot of people in Hong Kong don’t’ know how to walk. They change directions all of a sudden without looking where they turn (and they run into you). They read their cellphones while they walk so they walk really slowly. They stop in the middle of an intersection, right at the exit, or a bunch of other restarted places and expect other people to go around them.

Taxi drivers are another source of pissed off and rude people. Not saying that all of them are, I’ve met really nice ones before. But I’ve had more than a dozen instances where they were absolutely rude and unreasonable. For example: refusing a ride because of the time or the distance, pretending to not understand what you’re saying, not taking HK$500 notes, and a lot more. There was once when the sun was really bright and my friend was sitting in the front seat, so naturally she put down the sun blocker thing, and the cab driver snapped and shoved the sun blocker back up and yelled at her “don’t fucking touch my stuff”. Obviously we reported him, hopefully he had some consequences. And another thing which is very dangerous is that they drive like mad monkeys. They swerve, cut other cars, change lanes constantly. Also when they turn, they almost never use the turning light, which is confusing and dangerous for pedestrians.

Restaurant waiters are the last source of the top 3 rudest types of people. The customer service is the worst in the world, especially in the local restaurants. They ask you “what do you want? (to order)”,  “we don’t have this, choose something else!” “So do you want A or B? Which one?” “Stand outside and wait (for takeout)” and when the order comes to your table, they don’t tell you what it is and just slam the dish down and walk away. And don’t even think about complaining about the food or demanding a refund. There’s also certain restaurants that constantly get your order wrong or just forget you ordered entirely.

2. So crowded that you breathe people's body odor 

Hong Kong's density is 6,650 people per square km. If everyone lived at the same density as Hong Kong, the entire human race could fit in Egypt! And Hong Kong Island itself where most expats are located has a whooping density of 16,000 people per square km, one of the highest in the world. Just imagine rush hour when it's 30 degrees Celsius outside. Not too pleasant, is it? Even though the whole system is air conditioned, people still come in smelling horrendous. 

3. Most expensive rent 

This leads to the third point, not only is Hong Kong very crowded, the rent is also the most expensive in the world and apartments are like the size of an American master bedroom's bathroom. Most people can't even afford rent, let alone buying houses. Around 30% of Hong Kong's population live in a public rental estates. And the HK $819 Million property is on the Peak is the most expensive  is the most expensive property in the world in terms of square feet (HK $175,735 per square foot). In terms of office space, Hong Kong also comes first, beating New York at second and London at third.

After all the cons, it does seem like Hong Kong is pretty miserable. But in all honesty, none of those things are life threatening (except for the cab drivers, but that you can avoid by being more careful when crossing). In fact Hong Kong is the 3rd safest place to live in with a crime rate of 16.57 (just behind Japan and Taiwan). Source. So I don’t mind dealing with the downsides but enjoying the amazing things you get from living in Hong Kong.



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