The cost of living in Hong Kong for a single person is INR 2,81,918-4,69,864 per year, making it one of the most expensive cities in the world to live as an international student. The tuition fees for most courses is INR 8,45,755-24,90,279 per year, so altogether this puts a lot of pressure on the student to budget carefully.
Formerly a British colony and now a Special Administrative Region of China, there are a lot of restrictions on working while studying in Hong Kong, even though the government allows international students to stay 12 months to look for work after study in Hong Kong, as per the Immigration Arrangement for Non-local Graduates. The simplest way to pay for your living expenses is then through scholarships for international students in Hong Kong.
Cost of Living in Hong Kong: Travel Advice
The first main expense you will make is for your travel to Hong Kong, the airfare from India being INR 12,000-24,000. It is suggested that international students arrive in Hong Kong at least 1-2 weeks before the semester commences. Go through immigration and customs at the Hong Kong International Airport in Lantau with the following documents:
- Valid Hong Kong student visa
- Letter of acceptance from the university
- Address and contact details of institution and accommodation
You will also have to fill and submit an Arrival Card, that will be handed out on the flight, at the Immigration counter. The easiest way to get from the airport to your accommodation is to take an Airport Express train, whose tickets can cost anywhere from HKD 6 to 115.
Hong Kong Travel Restrictions
As of now, only Hong Kong residents are allowed entry into the country. A Hong Kong Identity Card with a C code is accepted, if you already have a valid study visa. Any international arrival must:
- Submit a health declaration form online.
- Undergo compulsory quarantine for 14 days.
- Take a Covid-19 test, if necessary.
International students just beginning their first year of university generally might not be able to go to Hong Kong, but they may attend the online classes conducted by most universities in the meantime.
Hong Kong Transportation Costs
Owing to a well-connected public transportation system in Hong Kong, it is quite easy to get around the islands and manage your travel costs. The most common types of Hong Kong transportation are given below:
- MTR (Mass Transit Railway) connects a number of stations not only in Hong Kong, but also at borders connecting to Mainland China. It is the cheapest transportation in Hong Kong, and the most efficient, with the minimum fare for an adult single journey ticket being HKD 4.
- The Light Rail is another transit system like the MTR, having ticket prices of HKD 4-6.5.
- Buses are the next most common mode of transport in Hong Kong, available 24 hours a day. The starting ticket price is HKD 2.7.
- There is also a double-decker tram system, which has a low ticket fare of HKD 2.6 regardless of the length of the journey.
- Public light buses, or green or red minibuses, are used to get around inner parts of the city, and you can expect a fare of at least HKD 7.
- Since Hong Kong is made up of over 250 islands, ferries are very useful to get to the outlying places. An average cruise should cost you HKD 2-3. There are also ferries to Mainland China, but you will need a Chinese visa if you plan to go there.
- Hong Kong has quite a few LPG-powered taxis that charge you a basic fee of HKD 24 with a per kilometre charge of HKD 6-8.
Getting an Octopus card is the easiest way to make your travel more efficient and reduce your cost of living in Hong Kong. All throughout the region, MTR, buses, minibuses, ferries, trams and even some taxis accept payment via the Octopus card. It is similar to a debit card or a metro card, where you top up with money which gets deducted every time you pay. You can purchase a standard Octopus card for a deposit of HKD 50, at customer service centres at MTR, Light Rail or CityBus stations. Now it is accepted even at retail outlets, self-service machines, hospitals, etc, hence it is a must-have when living in Hong Kong.
Moving to Hong Kong from India
One of the first things you have to do as an international student in Hong Kong is to get a Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID). Registering for this smart card actually gives you resident status in Hong Kong, and besides, it can be used to facilitate various services. You must apply for the HKID within 30 days of arrival, by going to the Registration of Persons Offices and filling out the application form. You must take an appointment at the office and arrive on the decided date with these supporting documents:
- Passport or entry permit in Hong Kong
- Any previous identity card
- Original birth certificate
The application process is completely free for new arrivals in Hong Kong and all you need to do is follow the directions provided.
The next most important thing is to open a bank account in Hong Kong. This greatly brings down your cost of living in Hong Kong, as it ensures that you no longer need to keep exchanging foreign currencies. To open an account, you will need documents like:
- Student ID card
- Proof of residence in Hong Kong
- Passport + Student Visa
A local bank account is quite useful in making transactions with the university you study in, and also enables you to receive money in HKD from any scholarships you receive in Hong Kong. It is advisable that international students carry with them around HKD 3,000 to pay for their initial expenses, as it usually takes some time to complete the process of opening a bank account.
You may also purchase health insurance in Hong Kong, though it is not mandatory for students at most institutions.
Cost of Living in Hong Kong: Student Accommodation
Finding accommodation in Hong Kong is no easy task, considering how expensive a location it is to live in. Rent is quite high in the city, and even on university campuses. Still, international students need a place to stay, so the best way to manage the situation is to find budgeted housing.
On Campus Accommodation in Hong Kong
Not all universities guarantee on-campus accommodation, but there is a growing trend among institutions to offer housing facilities for international students in order to attract them to study in Hong Kong. Public universities in Hong Kong generally offer non-local undergraduate students a room at one of the Residence Halls for at least the first two years of their study. Many universities also have special residential complexes for postgraduate students.
In Residence Halls, the individual rooms can be single-seaters or double-seaters, with shared facilities like bathrooms, living areas, and kitchen/canteen available for all residents in a floor/block. Most rooms are same-sex sharing ones, and are fully furnished and air conditioned. You will, however, have to bring items like bedsheets, pillows and blankets.
Cost of Living at Top Hong Kong Universities
The top universities in Hong Kong ask for rent in two installments for the whole year, that is the fall and spring term. The on-campus housing costs in Hong Kong is usually in the range of HKD 5,000-15,000, the rent varying based on facilities included. Most of the housing packages also include extra compulsory fees for meals three times a day.
|University||Accommodation (per year)|
|The University of Hong Kong||HKD 15,105-27,490|
|The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology||HKD 14,953-24,677|
|The Chinese University of Hong Kong||HKD 12,830-15,900|
|City University of Hong Kong||HKD 15,400-30,800|
|Hong Kong Polytechnic University||HKD 12,741|
Off Campus Accommodation in Hong Kong
Off-campus accommodation in Hong Kong is harder to find, and is also more expensive. If you are unable to secure a spot on campus, in most situations the university would in some way help you locate a suitable student housing facility in Hong Kong. You can check with the university’s Residence Office or Student Affairs Office and see if they have any tie-ups with external companies or landlords that may get you a room at reasonable costs. The expected rent for off-campus accommodation in Hong Kong is HKD 8,000-15,000 a month. Private rental accommodation could come in the form of:
- Youth hostel - HKD 4,000-5,000 per month for a room
- Apartment - HKD 6,000-12,000 per month for the whole piece
- House - HKD 20,000-30,000 per month for the whole piece
These prices are for fully furnished property that have all the necessities like air conditioner, television, washing machine, gas stove, etc. Many landlords may ask you to pay 2-3 months’ rent in advance initially, so come prepared.
Cost of Living in Hong Kong for International Students
The cost of living in Hong Kong for a single person is HKD 8,172 per month, without rent. The living expenses in Hong Kong for an international student include:
- Food - HKD 205 per day
- Sports activities - HKD 176-200 per month
- A movie ticket - HKD 50-130
- Basic utilities - HKD 1,745 per month
- Internet - HKD 140-180 per month - you can cut down on living costs by using free wifi that is available in most public places in Hong Kong
International students are not allowed to work in Hong Kong full time, and part-time work has a lot of restrictions, but they can take up study-related internships, part-time jobs on campus and summer vacation work. The ‘No Objection Letter’ you receive when your visa is approved will provide details of what kind of work you are allowed to do in Hong Kong.