Survey: Expat women increasingly unhappy about the Hong Kong lifestyle

The South China Morning Post has reported that in a female expat satisfaction survey by expatriate networking website InterNations, Hong Kong has become significantly less popular (falling from 12th to 29th place in the rankings) with expat women in the past year because in part due to grueling work hours.

Hong Kong ranked a dismal 53rd out of 191 countries or jurisdictions in the work-life balance category, with only 5% of expat women saying they were completely satisfied in this area, compared with an average of 17% worldwide. Hong Kong does have the longest working hours in the world, with employees typically clocking more than 50 hours per week (according to a 2016 survey by Swiss investment bank UBS).

Another negative factor was the city’s high cost of living, with 72% of expat women polled suggesting Hong Kong was too expensive. However, one American expat who owns a global public relations business and who lives in Sai Kung with her family, said the survey results did not reflect her own positive experience of living in Hong Kong. She commented:

“I love Hong Kong. If you’re happy to live in some of the more traditional ‘gritty’ neighbourhoods, and really experience the local flavour of eating in casual restaurants, it’s not so expensive. But many expats won’t live that lifestyle.”

Nevertheless, a spokeswoman for InterNations told the SCMP that most expat women surveyed in Hong Kong are increasingly unhappy with their lifestyle. Meanwhile, the president of the American Women’s Association in Hong Kong said the survey results were “not a surprise;” but she thought they could be partly explained by increasing numbers of “trailing [expat] spouses” who face financial pressure to find employment too.

However, the SCMP also noted that the InterNations survey findings contrast with a HSBC bank survey of 10,000 expat women last year. That survey found that expat women considered Hong Kong to be the best place in the world to advance their careers.

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