Cost of living comparison: Hong Kong vs. Bangkok, from a Thai person living in Hong Kong
Cost of living comparison: Hong Kong vs. Bangkok, from a Thai person living in Hong Kong
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September 10 • 3 min read

For anyone who might have been thinking about emigration and overseas retirement – Planto recently featured an article comparing the cost of living between Hong Kong and Taiwan. This month, Planto’s Founding Member – Apinun Narkhan, is going to compare costs of living in the two cities. 

Having spent many years in Hong Kong and Bangkok, I find that both cities are vibrant & full of opportunities and things to explore – but how do income and costs of living compare? Lets find out!

House rental

UBS’s 2018 Prices & Earnings reported rental cost for standardized 2 furnished bedroom or 3 unfurnished bedroom apartments in Hong Kong to be US$3,947 (~HK$31,000) and Bangkok to be US$766 (~HK$6,000), that is about 5 times cheaper than Hong Kong.

To put this into perspective, lets take a look at a few apartments in Asoke, a prime shopping/office location intersected by both MRT and BTS trains. Fully furnished, 2 bedroom apartments (~600sqft) in this area which are within walking distance from both train stations generally cost around HK$8,000 to HK$9,000 per month!

Food and beverages

Instead of referring to any survey or benchmark, I will drive right into cost comparisons between specific dishes!

Everyday food

Kra pao, or stir fried minced pork with basil leaf rice – a very common Thai dish that you can find anywhere in Bangkok typically cost around THB35 – THB 40 (HK$10). In Hong Kong, BBQ pork rice or 2-choice rice can easily cost HK$30 – HK$40.

Noodle

Pad Thai is probably one of the most well-known Thai dishes globally – in Bangkok a plate of Pad Thai typically costs between THB40 – THB60 (~HK$15 – although this could also goes up to HK$40 or HK$50 with a serving of large river prawn). In Hong Kong, I typically pay HK$30 – HK$40 for 港式乾炒牛河 at local eateries without drinks.

Milk tea

For many (including mine), life is dull without bubble milk tea. If you are a fan of Thai milk tea, you can have a cup of milk tea (with or without bubbles) from a popular Thai chain, Cha TraMue for about HK$10. In Hong Kong, there are a wide range of bubble tea options like Sharetea, ComebuyTea, and Ten Ren which typically cost around HK$20+ per cup.

Dessert

The price of coconut ice cream in Bangkok and soft serve in Hong Kong (for example Mister Softee) are surprisingly similar (around HK$7-8) so we will move slightly up scale for dessert – shibuya honey toast, my absolute favorite.

When it comes to honey toast, AfterYou is a must-visit in Bangkok (its popularity is justified by its IPO status with HK$3bn market cap). A classic honey toast at After You cost about THB 200 (~HK$50), this is sufficient for 2 people. In Hong Kong, we often see long lines in front of TeaWood cafes, honey toast there cost about HK$78, not much higher than Bangkok’s price.

Public transportation

In Hong Kong, my 20-minute journey to work on the MTR costs HK$8.5 when I pay with Octopus. A similar train ride on Bangkok’s BTS would cost about THB44 (~HK$11), which is more expensive than Hong Kong! 

On the other hand, taxi’s starting fare in Bangkok is THB35 (~HK$8), this is cheaper when compared to HK$24 in Hong Kong.

Income

JobsDB reported average fresh graduate salary in Hong Kong to be at HK$16.9k. While in Thailand, JobsDB quoted average fresh graduate salary to be between THB25.2k to THB29.9k (~HK$6.3 – 7.5k), close to 3x lower than Hong Kong. However, unlike Hong Kong where finance and banking jobs pay the most – jobs like business consultants and lawyers are the best paying jobs for fresh graduates in Thailand.

Verdict and other considerations

CategoryWhen compared to Hong Kong, Thailand is …
Housing5x cheaper
Food2x – 4x cheaper
Transportation1x – 3x cheaper
Salary3x lower

If you are considering emigration, the cost of living is definitely lower in Bangkok, but getting 3x pay cut will mean your absolute earning/saving amount will decrease as well – this could impact your future if you decide to move back to Hong Kong or a more expensive city. Other considerations to keep in mind include Thailand’s country personal income tax rate as well as emerging country’s cost inflation which tend to be higher than developed economy in a longer run.

If overseas retirement is in your mind, saving up in Hong Kong for retirement in Bangkok is also an option. Extra considerations apart from costs, language and cultural differences are healthcare quality and getting long-term visa. For long-term visa, you can obtain investment visa in Thailand by for example buying an apartment worth THB10million (~HK$2.5million), in this case your family will also be eligible to apply for visa as well.

Personally, I have had the privilege of working in Hong Kong while spending most of my holiday time in Thailand – this has been extremely economical. In a long run, I am looking to return home and enjoy early retirement there!

If you have any questions about emigration consideration or retirement saving feel free to have a chat with us on Planto app’s livechat or email us at hello@planto.hk!


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