17 July 2019
There are many bargains in Hong Kong, if you know where to look. Photo: Bloomberg/Reuters
There are many bargains in Hong Kong, if you know where to look. Photo: Bloomberg/Reuters

Hong Kong is world’s most expensive city? Have another look

In survey after survey, Hong Kong stands as one of the world’s most expensive cities, especially when you talk about home prices.

No wonder a growing number of Hongkongers are thinking of emigrating to foreign shores because they simply can’t afford to have a home sweet home in the city.

And many of those who stay put have accepted the fact that they have to allocate half of their income to buying or renting a home.

But not everything is expensive in Hong Kong. Ever wondered why it’s called a shoppers’ paradise? One of the biggest reasons is that some of the highly sought after branded consumer goods are cheaper here than in other major cities.

Just skim over Deutsche Bank’s latest Mapping the World’s Prices report, an annual survey of living standards and prices of goods and services in 50 major cities, and you will realize that Hong Kong is quite competitive in many aspects.

Top of the list is Apple’s iPhone. Did you know that the selling price of iPhone 8 in Hong Kong is the second lowest in the world? That’s right: only US$5 above the cost of the handset in the United States.

Says Deutsche Bank: “If you’re an Apple addict then it’s best to wait until a holiday to the US, Hong Kong or Japan to upgrade. Brazil, Greece and Denmark are bad places to casually walk into an Apple store as they have the most expensive iPhones in the world.”

One reason for this is that there’s no sales tax in Hong Kong. And probably more importantly, retailers here are keen on convincing mainland tourists to buy their iPhone upgrades in the city, thus giving a hefty discount, although iPhone 8 is far from being a hot-selling item either here or across the border.

For the fashion-savvy, it’s heartening to note that many a branded apparel can be had more cheaply in Tsim Sha Tsui or Causeway Bay. In fact, Hong Kong ties with Tokyo and Mexico as the fourth least expensive place for an H&M or a Zara dress, just behind Jakarta, Manila and Istanbul.

The survey forgets to mention another formidable brand whose prices are quite competitive, and especially so in Hong Kong: Japan’s Uniqlo.

Bargain hunters also ought to check out the city’s sports shops, where one can get a pair of Nike or Adidas shoes for about US$77, the ninth least expensive for this item in the world. Well, it’s much cheaper in India, where the shoes can be had for only US$56.

It’s no secret that many Hongkongers are shopaholics. Their problem, though, after splurging on all the bargain items, is to find enough space in their shoebox flat to store them.

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EJ Insight writer

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