In Hong Kong cars are often viewed as more of a luxury than a necessity, though many affluent Hong Kongers love to splurge on expensive and sporty cars. Moreover, they take great pride in the upkeep of their cars, having them washed daily by their domestic helpers and making sure they are well serviced and maintained. Car detailing services are very popular among the car owners of Hong Kong, as are personalized number plates. In fact, so called ‘lucky’ number plates sell for millions of dollars in Hong Kong. As far as expats are concerned, many expats live here for years without private transport and ever owning a car, choosing instead to depend on the extensive and excellent public transport system.
Although it is generally safe to drive in the city and the road network is relatively easy to navigate, most expats find that driving comes with more hassles than benefits. The biggest disadvantage with being a car owner in Hong Kong is the cost that is associated with it. Cars, and everything to do with them, are extremely expensive in Hong Kong. Parking is also difficult to find in many parts of the city, and many apartments don’t come bundled with car park space. In many apartment complexes you have to pay additional fees in order to secure a car park space.
The typical costs associated with owning a car are as follows:
- Monthly Residential Parking: HK$2,500 (average)
- Licensing: HK$3,929-$11,329 per year depending on engine size for cars operating on petrol and HK$5,389 to HK$12,789 for diesel vehicles (http://www.td.gov.hk/)
- Insurance: HK$3,500 per annum (average) fully comprehensive
- Basic Service: HK$3,000 upwards
- Fuel: HK$18.22/L (Super Unleaded, RON98), HK$17.18/L (Unleaded, RON95) and HK$12.75/L (Diesel) at June 2014 prices.
- Tunnel Tolls: HK$10-$40
Hiring a Driver
While private drivers are not necessary, many business owners and executives choose to employ the services of a driver in Hong Kong as this can lower parking fees and allow them to quickly and easily travel throughout the city. Not to mention, having a driver chauffering you around gives an automatic boost to your status.
Before you employ a driver, you must own a car, which itself is not an inexpensive endeavor even before you factor in the cost of hiring a driver. Domestic helpers are not permitted to drive in Hong Kong unless special permission has been granted from Hong Kong immigration and the people who choose to have drivers tend to employ locals. Salaries for driver generally range from HK$12000 upwards per month with overtime charges and some employers even offering meals or allowances.
The majority of people who employ a driver post classifieds on forums such as geoexpat.com, asiaxpat.com and dollarsaver.com where drivers usually advertise their services. Some domestic helper agencies also advertise recruitment of drivers along with those of maids (see the “Domestic Help” section). However, anyone hiring a driver should always ensure that the individual has the right to legally work in Hong Kong and the appropriate driving license. Once you have hired your driver, you will also need to ensure that you have appropriate insurance to cover an additional driver.