Top Personal Finance Tips for Aussies Moving to Hong Kong
Welcome to the comprehensive guide for Aussies moving to Hong Kong! This blog aims to navigate you through the intricate details of managing your finances in a new country, ensuring a smooth and well-informed transition.
Understanding the Financial Landscape in Hong Kong
Currency Differences and Exchange Rates
Hong Kong uses the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD). As of now, 1 Australian Dollar (AUD) is equivalent to approximately 5.312 HKD (X-Rates, Dec 24, 2023). Navigating the exchange rates is crucial for financial planning. To get the best rates, familiarise yourself with currency conversion services that offer real-time rates and minimal hidden charges. Remember, exchange rates fluctuate, so keeping an eye on the latest trends can help you make informed decisions.
Some of the key platforms such as Wise, OFX, Pay2Home and others can often be much cheaper ways to transfer money than relying on the international banks. The banks may often state that they don’t charge any fees, however the costs to you will usually be included in the spread, which is the margin they charge on the exchange rate.
Banking in Hong Kong
When it comes to banking, Hong Kong offers a plethora of options. Opening a bank account might require some paperwork and proof of residency. Choose banks that offer services tailored to expats, like multi-currency accounts and international money transfers at fair rates (Wise.com). Comparing different banks based on their fees, customer service, and online banking facilities is advisable.
Cost of Living Adjustments
Housing and Utilities
The cost of living in Hong Kong, especially housing, can be significantly higher than in most Australian cities. It’s important to budget accordingly. Look for housing options that balance affordability and proximity to work or schools. Also, utilities like electricity, water, and internet might differ in pricing structure from what you’re used to in Australia, so factor these into your monthly budget.
Food and Daily Expenses
Everyday expenses in Hong Kong can vary widely depending on your lifestyle. Local markets and eateries offer more affordable options compared to dining at expat-frequented restaurants. Learning where and how to shop for groceries can greatly reduce your daily living costs.
Navigating the Tax System
Hong Kong Tax System Overview
Understanding the tax system in Hong Kong is crucial for managing your finances effectively as an Aussie expat. Hong Kong is known for its relatively simple and low tax rates compared to many other countries, including Australia. Here’s an overview of the current tax rates in Hong Kong for the fiscal years 2022-23 and 2023-24:
Hong Kong’s salaries tax is charged at the lower of the net chargeable income at progressive rates or the net total income at a standard rate.
The standard rate remains at 15%.
The progressive rates for salaries tax are as follows:
- First HK$50,000: 2%
- Next HK$50,000: 6%
- Next HK$50,000: 10%
- Next HK$50,000: 14%
- Remainder: 17%
Allowances and Deductions
Personal allowances for the fiscal year 2023-24 include a basic allowance of HK$132,000, a married person’s allowance of HK$264,000, and a single parent allowance of HK$132,000.
Deductions include self-education expenses (up to HK$100,000), home loan interest (up to HK$100,000 for a 20-year entitlement period), and elderly residential care expenses (up to HK$100,000).
For corporations, the tax rate is 8.25% for the first HK$2 million of profits and 16.5% for the remainder.
For unincorporated businesses, the tax rate is 15%.
The standard rate for non-corporate owners is 15% for 2023-24.
These tax rates and allowances play a significant role in your financial planning and decision-making while living in Hong Kong. It’s important to understand these rates and how they apply to your income and investments.
Tax Obligations for Australian Expats
As an Australian expat living in Hong Kong, it’s essential to understand your tax obligations both in Hong Kong and Australia. Here’s a summary of the current tax situation:
Australian Non-Resident Tax Rates for 2023
As an Australian non-resident for tax purposes, you are subject to different tax rates than residents.
For the fiscal year 2023, the tax rates for non-residents are:
- 32.5% for incomes up to AUD 120,000.
- 37% for incomes between AUD 120,001 and AUD 180,000.
- 45% for incomes above AUD 180,000.
Non-residents are taxed on their first dollar of income, as the tax-free threshold for residents does not apply to non-residents.
Australian Tax Filing for Expats
As an Australian expat, you may still need to file tax returns in Australia, especially if you have income sources or investments there, such as rental properties or business interests. The need to file a return in Australia primarily depends on whether you have taxable Australian property or income.
Understanding the “residency test” is crucial. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) uses several criteria to determine tax residency, including the “183-day test”, which considers your physical presence in Australia and your intentions regarding residency.
Continuing with our comprehensive guide for Aussies moving to Hong Kong, let’s delve into the diverse world of investment opportunities available in this vibrant city.
Investment Opportunities in Hong Kong
Local Investment Options
Hong Kong is known for its dynamic financial markets and offers a plethora of investment opportunities. The Hong Kong government is set to relaunch the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES), which requires a minimum investment of HKD 30 million in various permissible assets such as equities and debt securities. This scheme aims to attract high-net-worth individuals by offering them residency in exchange for their investment in the region’s economy.
For those interested in the property market, Hong Kong’s property investment volume is expected to rise. After significant price corrections and interest rate increases, investors are now cautiously hunting for bargains, making it an opportune time for investment.
There are a number of local investment platforms that allow Australian expats to invest in local and international stock markets, unit trusts and more. However, many Australian expats may choose to retain their Australian based investment platform to manage their investments.
Maintaining Australian Investments
While exploring local investment opportunities, it’s crucial not to neglect your investments back in Australia. Maintaining a diversified portfolio that spans across different geographical locations can be a wise strategy to mitigate risks associated with market volatility in a single region.
Insurance and Healthcare in Hong Kong
Health Insurance Necessities
Healthcare in Hong Kong is of high quality, but it can be expensive. It is advisable to invest in a comprehensive health insurance plan that covers both general and emergency healthcare needs. Compare different plans to find one that best suits your requirements and budget.
If you’re considering maintaining your Australian private health insurance, you should speak with your insurer and ensure that they’ll actually cover you whilst you’re living abroad and any restrictions they may impose.
Other Insurance Considerations
In addition to health insurance, consider other forms of insurance such as life, property, and liability insurance. These will provide an added layer of financial security and peace of mind during your stay in Hong Kong. Again, it’s important to consider if you plan to retain your cover in Australia, or consider securing new cover overseas. Many expats choose to secure their cover in Singapore given the cost-effective nature of the insurance policies in Singapore, which can also be held in Australian Dollars (AUD) and provide global cover.
Planning for Retirement
When planning for retirement, Australian expats in Hong Kong face unique challenges and opportunities. Understanding and navigating the retirement schemes available in both Hong Kong and Australia is key to ensuring a secure financial future.
In Hong Kong, the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) is a compulsory savings scheme designed to provide for the retirement of residents. Similar to the Australian superannuation, it mandates contributions from both employers and employees, typically amounting to 10% of the employee’s income. The MPF not only offers tax-deductible contributions but also a range of investment options. Although it lacks the same level of portability as the Australian super, there are provisions for transferring benefits under certain conditions, such as permanent departure from Hong Kong.
For Australian expats, continuing contributions to their superannuation while working abroad is an option. However, it’s crucial to understand the different rules and potential tax implications in both countries. Contributions made from Hong Kong may not enjoy the same tax benefits as those made in Australia, and the tax treatment of superannuation withdrawals can vary based on your residency status. Super funds offer various investment choices, and selecting these should align with your risk tolerance and investment horizon.
The importance of saving for retirement while working abroad cannot be overstated. Early and consistent saving in retirement funds, whether it’s the MPF, superannuation, or both, is fundamental for long-term financial security. Diversifying retirement savings across different countries can help mitigate risks associated with currency fluctuations and economic instability. Understanding the cost of living and retirement lifestyle expectations in both Hong Kong and Australia is crucial for accurate retirement planning.
Finally, given the complexities of cross-border taxation and retirement planning, it is advisable for Australian expats in Hong Kong to seek professional advice. A financial advisor who is well-versed in both the Australian and Hong Kong systems can offer invaluable guidance. Regularly reviewing and adjusting your retirement plan to align with changes in personal circumstances and the regulatory environment is also recommended. This proactive approach ensures that your retirement planning remains on track, paving the way for a more secure and comfortable retirement.
Conclusion and Next Steps
As an Aussie expat in Hong Kong, you’re embarking on an exciting journey that presents both unique opportunities and challenges, especially in managing your finances in a new environment. You’ve learned about the importance of understanding the local financial landscape, from currency exchange rates to banking systems. We’ve explored cost of living adjustments, including housing, utilities, and daily expenses. The complexities of the Hong Kong tax system and its implications for you as an expat have been addressed, along with insights into local and Australian investment opportunities.
Moreover, we’ve touched upon the crucial aspects of insurance and healthcare in Hong Kong, and the significance of planning for retirement through schemes like the Voluntary Provident Fund (VPF). These insights aim to equip you with the knowledge to make informed financial decisions during your stay in Hong Kong.
However, this guide is just the beginning. The world of expat finance is intricate and constantly evolving. Personalised advice tailored to your unique situation can make a significant difference in your financial success and peace of mind.
This is where Ally Wealth Management comes into the picture. As the trusted financial advisers for Australian expats in Hong Kong, Ally Wealth Management understands the specific challenges and opportunities you face. Their team of experts specialises in providing bespoke financial advice that aligns with your individual goals and circumstances.
Whether you’re seeking guidance on investment strategies, tax optimisation, insurance solutions, or retirement planning, Ally Wealth Management is equipped to offer you comprehensive and personalised support.
To take the first step towards securing your financial future in Hong Kong, Ally Wealth Management is offering a complimentary initial consultation. This no-obligation meeting is an opportunity for you to discuss your financial objectives and concerns, and to understand how Ally Wealth Management can assist you in achieving your goals.
Finally, you can download our full Relocation Guide for Aussies in Hong Kong here.
Ally Wealth Management is the trusted ally in finance for Australians at home and across the globe. As both Australian expats and residents, the founders of Ally have a unique understanding of the common personal financial challenges faced.
Book your complimentary appointment with our team at Ally Wealth Management to discuss how we can help you to achieve your financial goals.
Ally Wealth Management Pty Ltd is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Sentry Advice Pty Ltd ABN 77 103 642 888. Sentry Advice holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) No. 227 748.
General Advice Warning: The information contained herein is of a general nature only and does not constitute personal advice. You should not act on any recommendation without considering your personal needs, circumstances, and objectives. We recommend you obtain professional financial advice specific to your circumstances.