Microeconomics

A Surveyor in Hong Kong

Text: Jenny Roth
Photo: Jenny Roth

Bell YT Chan is 39 years old, married and lives in Hong Kong, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in surveying and geoinformatics in 2005 and now works for the geophysical marine survey company EGS.

Income, basic cost, retirement provisions

Bell earns the equivalent of €5,400 (£4,900) a month. He pays €150 towards his health insurance. He has to pay 5% of his salary into a pension scheme, with this figure matched by his employer. Bell’s pays about 10% income tax. He is paying off the 46 sq metre flat he bought three years ago, at a rate of €2,400 a month. He is also supporting his parents financially. This all leaves him with only a few hundred euros at the end of the month.

What does work mean to you?

I spend about 70% of my entire time working. That is a great deal, but it allows me to support myself and my family. And it gives me quality of life.

What is the most important thing in your life?

That would probably be money. It seems as if everything ultimately depends on it.

What would you change about your life?

I would like to have a bigger apartment, or a house. And I would like to travel and see the world.

What are your biggest problems and how do you deal with them?

Working takes up a lot of my time, which doesn’t leave much time for the family, friends or myself. I have made up my mind to knock off work every day at 5.30pm.

How do you give yourself a treat?

I have not given myself a treat for a long time [but] I love Lego and am trying to expand my collection.

What do you want from the future, and what are you doing to achieve it?

I would like to get my licence as a surveying technician and a higher academic degree. That is the goal I am working towards. I have already completed half of the two-year training programme for the licence. At the same time, I am doing a master’s degree and have registered for the final exams.

What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about earning a living for one year?

Travel! And my first stop would be Machu Picchu.

Hong Kong is famous for its films. Do you enjoy them?

I love Hong Kong films, but only the old ones like Election. They are always about gangsters, and the stories have this unique style. Old kung fu films made in Hong Kong are fantastic too.

Hong Kong

Population: 7.37 million
Currency: Hong Kong dollar (HKD) (9.3 HKD = 1 euro)
GDP per capita: €38,190
Human Development Index:12th place
(Germany: 4th place out of 188 countries)

Current average costs

1 litre petrol: €1.68
100g of beansprouts: €0.40
1kg of pork: €7.80
1 cinema ticket: €9.60
1 egg: €0.35
1 packet of cigarettes: €6.60