I’ve posted this in here because it’s more to do with money than anything else.
Let’s say you’re weighing up three options. I’m trying to form an opinion on local-hire expats for a headhunter friend of mine who’s got a candidate in Shanghai at the moment earning RMB27k and paying RMB7k rent. The candidate speaks good Mandarin and has 8 years HK experience (but no permanent HKID card), 3 years’ Shanghai experience, and only business-trip experience to Taiwan, all in Taipei. Likes it though, but is afraid it might be a career dead-end. The industry is professional services related to investment analysis. More report writing and research, not selling dodgy expat pensions or the like.
HK$50k, which is NT$214k, or RMB44k a month. Paying no more than HK$20k for rent, which will probably mean living on an island. Not interested in a wee box in Mid-Levels and frankly who can blame him? Working in Central. After-rent income HK$30k, or RMB26k, or NT$129k. The possibility of an extra HK$10k a month in performance-related bonus paid annually.
RMB30k, leaving RMB23k after rent. This amounts to HK$26k, NT$111k. Not much of a raise, but a better company. Staying in his circle of contacts. Inflation is rampant in Shanghai, but then the RMB is rising. But he pays on-shore domestic Chinese tax. I have no idea how much this is as I, er, was paid, um, in Hong Kong when I lived there. But I reckon it’s taking about RMB3k a month out of his wages.
NT$150k a month gross, with NT$30k spent on rent, leaving NT$120k. This is HK$28k or RMB25k. No bonus. Working for a foreign company, but at a higher management level with opportunities to eventually run the Taiwan operation for more money. But may mean no return to China for several years, and there is a worry about being sidelined and missing the Big China Boom. This guy has a few expat friends in Taiwan so will likely not die of loneliness. On the other hand, he is likely to be flying back for social visits (weekend piss-ups in other words) to Shanghai which will eat into his income. Am I correct in assuming that the quickest way to get to Shanghai now is the bendy “direct” flight at around NT$20k return? He’ll be doing that socially once a month most likely. Crikey. NT$40k a month. Jeepers. He’s dreaming. Anyway…
The main question is, would Taiwan’s cheaper cost of living mean a greater disposable income?
No intention to own a scooter or car. Taxis everywhere. Likes a nice western style apartment. I told him NT$30k wouldn’t do it. More like NT$40k. But I suspect he could live on NT$100k and put the rest in the bank. He’s not saving in Shanghai, and I doubt he would on HK$50k in HK either. This is mainly because he is a complete beer monster (I know the guy well which is why I’m trying to help). Can we assume beer is still cheaper in Taiwan? It’s about NT$240 a pint in the pubs in Shanghai. On the other hand there is the issue of missed opportunity by removing himself from the Shanghai/Hong Kong circuit. Oh yes, and he will have to give up his maid.
Any thoughts from those who’ve worked in these places? I am especially interested in this question because I might be making a similar choice soon. Although I have a closer connection to Taiwan, I’d be very tempted to try and up the HK salary and move there. It would terrify me to come back to Taiwan and risk a huge pay cut. In this guy’s case the Taiwanese operation thinks NT$200k is a fortune and he can’t get it up any higher. But it’s less than US$70k a year which is what I would have said is a benchmark figure for that role in Asia generally, looking at it from the point of a regional hiring manager. He doesn’t want expat terms as he has no kids.
It’s got me thinking though. I’d quite like to come back to Taiwan, but the pay is likely to be dreadful. Dammit.