Big, busy and costly, the idea of living comfortably in Hong Kong whilst you study may seem out of the question. But whilst it might be impossible to experience Hong Kong on a shoestring, living modestly is definitely doable. There are ways to enjoy the city without starving or having to sacrifice your social life.
Note: 1 HKD = 0.79 GBP = 0.13 USD
Tuition fees and housing prices vary depending on your host institution and whether you want to live on campus or not. On-campus housing is generally considered the cheapest student accommodation option, with prices ranging on average from HK$5,000-HK$20,200 per semester. Pricing for off-campus student housing and rental costs via external agencies varies depending on property size and location, with things getting cheaper the further north you go. Other areas considered of moderate price include Southern Kowloon, Tin Hau, Fortress Hill and North Point.
Public transport in Hong Kong is notoriously cheap. Hong Kong Island’s double-decker tram system costs HK$2 per trip, no matter how long the journey. A tram anywhere is HK$2.30 per ride, whilst a Star Ferry from Central/Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui ranges from HK$2.50-HK$3.40. To go from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui on the MTR, Hong Kong’s metro network and commuter rail, is HK$9, and costs just HK$13 to get from Central to Kwun Tong. The minimum taxi fare for a trip less than 2km starts at HK$20, and increases by HK$7.90 per km.
Food & Drink
You can save a lot of money by buying food from a supermarket and cooking most of your meals at home. Whilst eating out can also be cheap, the basic cost of food staples is even lower. On average a 1kg of white rice costs HK$17, 12 eggs HK$22, and a 500g loaf of fresh white bread HK$13.90. A kilo of apples is around HK$21, a kilo of oranges HK$22, and a kilo of tomatoes HK$22.59. A kilo of boneless, skinless chicken breasts will only set you back around HK$46 and 150 grams of Australian sirloin steak is just HK$25.90. For 500ml of olive oil you’re looking at HK$50, and 500 grams of dry spaghetti is just HK$12.50. You can buy 400g of pasta sauce for only HK$26.90 more.
Costs of eating out vary depending on how fancy you want to go, with a dinner for two at a top-range restaurant being roughly HK$1,100, minus the wine. At the other end of the spectrum, a takeaway lunch box from a local eatery is about HK$35, and a takeaway lunch from a western eatery HK$66.
Unsurprisingly, drinking is also a lot cheaper if you do it at home. A .5 litre bottle of domestic beer is around HK$11.50, and a .33 litre bottle of imported beer HK$14.49. The same beers at a bar or restaurant would be likely to cost HK$30 and HK$25 respectively. A mid-range bottle of wine from a supermarket would range from HK$59-169, whilst a glass in a restaurant would be about HK$70. A cocktail in Lan Kwai Fon will set you back around HK$80.
Social activities don’t necessarily have to burn holes in your wallet. Sitting down for a coffee in a café will cost you around HK$30, an hourly rental of a tennis court on the weekend around HK$53 and a movie ticket for an internationally released film HK$75.
An incredibly tech-savvy city, mobile phone plans are also quite cheap. Most major global providers operate in Hong Kong, with an average local mobile-to-mobile calling of HK$0.28 per minute. A basic 2g package from 3 starts at HK$28 per month.
Many household supplies can also be very affordable if they have been made on mainland China, and so flown in cheaply. If you aren’t bothered by the ‘Made in China’ label, you’ll pay about half the price of internationally imported items.
Now that you know a bit more about living in Hong Kong, why don't you find a course in Hong Kong today!