Teaching English in Hong Kong

Teaching English in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Overview

Main Cities/AreasSalary range (USD/month)
Hong Kong Island, Kowloon,
New Territories, and Outlying Islands
$500 – $2000

Hong Kong is a vibrant and exciting place to live and work. An efficient transport network and first-class infrastructure make it one of the most popular destinations in the region for those seeking an orderly and secure place in which to live. Recently, however, it has become less safe due to protests and political unrest.

Teachers’ salaries in Hong Kong are often very attractive indeed. Unfortunately, this is necessary because of the extortionate rental prices across the territory.

Given that English is supposed to be a national language the level of spoken English in Hong Kong is actually fairly low in general.

There are plenty of opportunities for experienced teachers but many employers prefer to employ those who already have Hong Kong residency as the process is much easier. Sadly a workaholic mentality pervades and stress levels can be high sometimes.

Flag of Hong Kong - Wikipedia

Typical Requirements and Tips

Degree?TEFL Certification?Experience?
NoYes1-2 Years

Experienced teachers are advised to research the Primary or Secondary NET (Native English Teacher) scheme and apply well in advance at the appropriate time. The usual deadline is January for an August start date. Inexperienced teachers are advised to get some experience elsewhere first!

When searching for accommodation, make sure you negotiate with your agent or landlord. If they know you are a teacher with limited funds they may be willing to lessen their financial demands. Many agents seek two months’ rent as a deposit and half a month as a fee. Given that accommodation is so expensive, this can be a huge sum in total.

When in Hong Kong, check out the jobs section of the SCMP (South China Morning Post).

If you have not been offered a job before you arrive in Hong Kong then not only will you face a rather tough search for a well-paid position but you will also have to wait many weeks for your work visa to be issued after you have signed a contract. Given that accommodation costs are so high, you will need some savings to help you through this lengthy period.

When your visa does arrive, you will normally take a ferry to the gambling mecca of Macau and back again the same day to re-enter with your work visa.

The cost of accommodation in Hong Kong is incredibly high. Unless you are sharing you will find it very difficult to live on Hong Kong island. The cheapest places to live are Lantau, Lamma and the furthest reaches of the New Territories. Thankfully, electricity, water and gas are all priced rather low. Transport is also very cheap – including taxis.

Eating in is cheap but eating (and drinking) out can be very expensive unless you know of special deals.

Income tax is paid on an annual basis and it is the employee’s responsibility. This means you need to budget and make sure you save enough over the year so you can pay off the hefty bill when it arrives. It also means you need to fill in a tax return form.

Pros and Cons of Teaching in Hong Kong


  • Excellent infrastructure – daily tasks can be accomplished easily
  • Very cheap and efficient transport system
  • Lots of opportunity for professional development


  • Difficult to find a job unless you are already in Hong Kong and takes at least a month to arrange your work visa
  • Ridiculously high accommodation costs
  • Rising unrest