How to live a frugal life in Hong Kong

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20th July 2023 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong is known for being one of the most expensive cities to live in Asia. However, with some smart strategies, it is possible to enjoy everything this vibrant city has to offer on a budget. Here are some tips for living a frugal life in Hong Kong.

Buy Secondhand Goods

One of the best ways to save money in Hong Kong is to buy secondhand goods. The city has a thriving market for pre-loved items if you know where to look.

Facebook Marketplace and Facebook groups are treasure troves for finding used furniture, homewares, electronics, clothes and more being sold by locals. Items often go for a fraction of the original retail price. Be sure to thoroughly inspect anything before purchasing and arrange to pick up items yourself to avoid steep delivery fees.

Carousell is another popular app where individuals sell their used belongings. The platform makes it easy to chat with sellers, negotiate prices and arrange payment and delivery. Higher-value goods like phones and cameras tend to sell quickly, so set up alerts for items you’re interested in.

Charity-run thrift shops are another economical source for secondhand wares. The Salvation Army operates 17 Family Stores across Hong Kong and Macao selling donated clothing, furniture, books, toys and other household items at low prices. Shopping at these stores also helps fund programs assisting the needy in Hong Kong. Items are neatly organised by category, making browsing for treasures easy.

Meanwhile, you can also also shop for cheap cosmetics at Camel Paint Building in Kwun Tong, along with wine, craft beer, camping gear and pretty much anything else you can think of.

The Salvation Army Wanchai Road Family Store

Buy Fruits and Vegetables Strategically

While eating healthy in Hong Kong can feel expensive, there are ways to cut costs on fresh produce. Wet markets typically offer the best prices on local fruits and veggies. Go near closing time and request discounted prices on items close to perishing.

Supermarket chains like Wellcome or ParknShop run daily discounted produce promotions. Check in-store ads and stock up on items on sale that week.

Some grocery stores like Qdama offer significant markdowns in the evenings on items close to expiration. Be sure to cook or consume such produce quickly. It may come as a surprise to some that the vegetables sold at Qdama outlets, such as pumpkins, cabbages, and kale, are priced lower than those found in the local wet markets.

Qdama

One of the best ways to save money while grocery shopping is to shop at Green Price, the sustainable supermarket chain. Green Price sells products nearing or just past their ‘best before’ date to reduce waste and offer affordable options to citizens. Here are some tips on how to save money while shopping at Green Price:

  1. Make a List: Before heading to Green Price, make a list of the items you need to purchase. This way, you can avoid impulse buying and only buy what you need.
  2. Check the Expiry Dates: While shopping at Green Price, make sure to check the expiry dates of the products. Green Price only sells goods within three months of their ‘best before’ date. This is to ensure that the products are still safe for consumption.
  3. Compare Prices: Just because the products at Green Price are sold at a lower price, it doesn’t mean they are always the cheapest option. Make sure to compare the prices of the products at Green Price with other supermarkets to ensure you are getting the best deal.
  4. Buy in Bulk: If you find a product that you use frequently at Green Price, consider buying it in bulk. This can help you save money in the long run.
  5. Use Electronic Price Tags: Green Price uses electronic price tags that indicate the product’s origin, market price, and expiration date. Once expired, the tags automatically update to ‘expired’ and adjust the price. Make sure to check the price tags before making a purchase.
  6. Donate Unused Food: If you end up buying more than you need, consider donating the unused food to local organisations. This way, you can help reduce food waste and help others in need.
Green Price shop in Central

Explore Cheap Meal Options

Dining out in Hong Kong can burn through your budget fast. Luckily, cheap eats abound in this foodie haven if you know where to look.

The city’s dai pai dongs and cha chaan tengs serve quick, tasty local fare starting from around HK$25 per dish. Opt for rice and noodle plates over pricier meat entrees. Hawker stalls, often tucked away in office building basements, offer huge plates of Singaporean and Malaysian specialties starting under HK$50.

Fast food doesn’t have to mean unhealthy. Most convenience stores and bakeries like A1 sell fresh sandwiches, salads and bentos for under HK$25. Chains like Fairwood and Cafe de Coral offer mix-and-match value meal sets. Grocery store delis and bakeries are great for grabbing discounted sushi, sandwiches and salads nearing expiration.

Take Advantage of Free Entertainment

Hong Kong offers an abundance of free cultural activities if you know where to look. The city’s world-class museums like the Museum of Art, Science Museum and Heritage Museum offer free general admission on Wednesdays.

Free guided walking tours like those offered by Walk in Hong Kong are a great way to explore local history and architecture. Public libraries host free exhibits, concerts and workshops almost daily. Following local bloggers, magazines and event sites helps you discover free film screenings, markets, carnivals and street performances happening each weekend.

The extensive hiking trail networks across Hong Kong’s islands provide free outdoor entertainment with sweeping city views. Be prepared and pack sun protection, proper footwear and plenty of water. Easy family-friendly routes include Hong Kong Trail sections and Dragon’s Back on Hong Kong Island as well as High Island Reservoir and Pak Tam Country Trail in the New Territories.

Join Dining Membership Programs

While gorging at Michelin-starred restaurants may blow your budget, joining loyalty programs lets you indulge in world-class cuisine through discounts, gifts and special events.

OpenRice’s free membership levels offer privileges like priority event bookings, review post approvals and exclusive members-only activities. You accumulate points and unlock tiers by posting restaurant reviews and photos. Higher levels qualify you for review editing privileges, profile badges and sponsored opportunities.

Watch for member-exclusive promotional offers through sites like Chope and Eatigo that can unlock significant dining discounts if you book at off-peak times. Restaurant reservation platforms want to fill seats during slow hours and reward active reviewers.

Recycling Waste

Recycling is an important step in waste reduction and environmental protection. By recycling materials such as plastics and papers, we can reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and conserve natural resources.

In addition to recycling, there are also opportunities to exchange recyclable items for free items such as kitchen towels, toilet rolls, and macaroni. The government’s “GREEN$ Electronic Participation Incentive Scheme” encourages citizens to participate in recycling by rewarding them with points that can be redeemed for these items. The government also offers a “Home Recycling One Stop Shop” where citizens can drop off their recyclables and exchange them for reward coupons.

Other recycling tips include supporting “Food Wise Eateries” that reduce food waste, avoiding the use of plastic bags, and utilizing the “GREEN$ Mobile App” to track recycling points and redeem rewards. The website also provides educational resources and FAQs on waste reduction and recycling.

Living frugally in Hong Kong comes down to being strategic about where you shop, optimising deals and not being shy about buying used goods. Prioritising free cultural activities and outdoor entertainment over paid options saves money too. With so many bargains to be found, you can definitely thrive in Hong Kong on a budget.