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How many square feet of office space in Central can you rent on your salary?

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Hong Kong is the world’s most expensive city to live in and home to the world’s hardest working workforce. Now, there’s is a new addition to the city’s resume as number one in the world – the world’s priciest office market.

At US$303 (HK$2,363) per square foot per annum, the office rent in Central is the highest in the world and 40% higher than the number two, London’s West End, which charges US$213.85 (HK$ 1,668) per square foot, according to CBRE’s Global Prime Office Occupancy Costs report.

According to Hong Kong’s Census and Statistics Department, the top 20% earners in Hong Kong make HK$30,000 a month, meaning the city’s top earners are able to afford approximately 13 square feet of office space in Central. If you are a middle of the pack earner in Hong Kong with a HK$15,500 monthly salary, you get around 6.5 square feet.

A recent local salary survey found pay raise levels in Hong Kong are at a six-year low, with employees getting on average a 3.5% raise.

It is true a low pay raise can be a disaster for many members of the working class who are “brick slaves” hoping for some breathing room on their mortgages. But as CBRE’s report shows, like many employees, business owners are “brick slaves” themselves, having to shell out a huge amount of money to rent office space.

Top 10 Most Expensive Office Markets (In US$ per sq. ft. per annum)
1. Hong Kong (Central), Hong Kong 302.51
2. London (West End), United Kingdom 213.85
3. New York (Midtown Manhattan), U.S. 202.79
4. Hong Kong (West Kowloon), Hong Kong 190.02
5. Beijing (CBD), China 183.10
6. Beijing (Finance Street), China 170.29
7. Tokyo (Marunouchi/Otemachi), Japan 161.76
8. New York (Midtown-South Manhattan), U.S. 156.19
9. New Delhi (Connaught Place – CBD), India 153.89
10. Shanghai (Pudong), China 133.82

Source: CBRE Research, Q1 2017.

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