The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong might be fizzling out, but its richer residents have started to look for alternatives, writes WSJ wealth editor Wei Gu in the Wall Street Journal. High home prices, costs of living and pollution add to their worries.
Immigration demand has been subdued in recent years after a rush to leave the city in the 80s, prior to 1997, when the U.K. gave Hong Kong back to China. But it has crept up in recent years due to skyrocketing home prices, high costs of living and pollution.
Eugene Chow, an immigration lawyer at Chow Kong & Associates, said some of the unhappy middle class people are looking for a way out. “A client told me he didn’t want to raise his children in this increasingly polarized society,” said Mr. Chow.
According to calculations by Hong Kong Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, the cost of raising a child from birth to college graduation in Hong Kong averages about 5.5 million Hong Kong dollars (US$710,000) for a middle-class family. (A recent calculation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that the average cost for a middle-class family to raise a child up to college age was $245,340.
Hong Kong’s average home price is equal to 14.9 times gross annual median household income, making it the least affordable city globally in a Demographia survey.
“Lot of frustration has been built in Hong Kong, Occupy Central sparked interest even more,” said Denny Ko, an immigration lawyer at PrimAsia Metropolis Immigration Consulting Ltd, adding that Taiwan has been an attractive destination for middle class Hong Kong people who want an easy place to live nearby.
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