Hong Kong has nearly 7.5 million people, which is about a million less than New York or London; two legendary cities for single life. Is it a great place to date? Like the answer to many questions in Asia: Yes, it is and No, it isn’t! Hong Kong presents single Western men with quite a few dating challenges, especially if they’re a bit older. These challenges are related to culture, expectations, and the interests of women in this Chinese territory. Can you get a date? Sure! In a separate article, I’ll tell you where. In this article, I’ll help you adjust your own expectations.
The population of Hong Kong is just around 48:52 males-to-female. That means around 3.8 million girls and women. But Hong Kong is also aging. The numbers do shift younger and more-female when you include foreign domestic helpers (some 350,000 women but just 6,000 men*). Half of these may potentially be unattached and available. That seems pretty positive, but you need to consider:
- Social factors including parental pressure for women to marry by 30
- Cultural differences as, in the past, dating or marrying a foreigner was frowned upon
- Many Hong Kong women are career-centric—over all else
- Women who studied overseas or work in foreign companies are often more open to dating a foreigner
*If you’re a stats geek like I am, Hong Kong does not disappoint. Some of these figures are from this great statistical report (pdf) on Hong Kong women.
Social factors: Hong Kong women are pressured to marry by 30
Most Asian parents expect their children to do what they say. A Hong Kong Chinese woman is often expected to marry by around 27, and 30 at the very latest. If she doesn’t get married by then, her immediate family and general society see her as a sheng nu, or “leftover woman”. This is changing though, and statistics don’t lie, as the median age of first marriage for Hong Kong women is now around 29. That said, the pressure is real, and 29 isn’t exactly over-the-hill.
So how does this affect dating? Well, it means that many Hong Kong women form long relationships with local men when they’re 18–21. This is often during their university days or earlier. It also means that if they reach 24 or 25 and they’re still single, they’re probably very keen to find a future husband. If the woman doesn’t marry in time, she may be stigmatized by her family and peers. If you’re a young, foreign professional around 25–35, you’ll be a prime candidate and in strong demand. Enjoy yourself.
If you get over 40 and you’re single, then the same age-related standards come into place on you. Unless you’re quite rich, look like an actor, or you’re just naturally great with the ladies.
The biological clock of women in Hong Kong is ticking. And women are under a lot of pressure from their parents to date and marry. So keep it in mind if you’re dating a women in her 20s.
Cultural differences: Dating or marrying a foreigner used to be taboo
Hong Kong is a modern, progressive city that blends East and West. But it keeps many traditional Chinese values as well. Most Hong Kong women hold such values. They’re comfortable dealing with foreigners on the surface, but conservative underneath. Confucian values are often part of that.
As with many interracial relationships, there can be cultural misunderstandings and differences. Most can be sorted out once clarified or explained. However, even a generation and a half ago, Hong Kong women dating foreigners were looked down on. If they couldn’t find a local guy, it was thought there was something wrong with them.
Even worse, some narrow-minded parents categorically forbid their daughters to date or marry a “foreign devil” (gweilo).
Yes, this has changed as society has liberalized. But most Hong Kong girls will still need their parents’ approval before they gets serious with a foreign man. Otherwise, it’s kept secret.
Many Hong Kong women are career-centric
At a glance, this may seem to contradict the idea of a woman having to get married in her 20s, and in some cases it does.
More and more Hong Kong women are highly educated at least with a 4-year degree and often more. If they’re postgraduates, this obviously takes them well into their 20s still focused on their studies. Whether they climb the corporate ladder or pursue medicine, law, or another post-postgraduate field of work, these women are focused on their careers. For them, the time available to pursue a serious relationship before they’re officially a sheng nu can be very limited.
Generally, Hong Kong people are very ambitious. And to an extent, Hong Kong girls are even more driven than men.
Some researchers point out that many Asian men tend to marry women “one rung” below their own academic or business capabilities. As a result, there are few Asian men willing to date or marry a high-flying MBA or PhD Hong Kong woman.
So that part is good news for you if you like strong, accomplished women who have some life experience.
Women who have studied overseas or work in foreign companies are more familiar with foreign men
Daughters of well-to-do Hong Kong families usually study overseas for their postgraduate degrees. The common destinations are the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK.
Greater interaction with foreign cultures has meant these women are more receptive to dating and marrying foreign men. Indeed, many Hong Kong women have met their husbands-to-be while studying abroad.
There’s also a large number of multinationals (MNC’s) using Hong Kong as a base to gain a foothold in the huge China market. Most offer better salaries and other employment terms compared with local companies. For many well qualified Hong Kong women returning to the city for work, an MNC is the first choice. The opportunity for an overseas-educated Hong Kong woman to meet an eligible foreign man is very real.
As an alternative to local Hong Kong women, there’s a large pool of single women from other Asian countries
If you’re not looking for a high-flying, well-educated, driven Hong Kong women, there’s an alternative. As mentioned, there are 350,000 female foreign domestic helpers. And many foreigners take this route to find an Asian wife. I can’t find specific data, but it’s quite possible that more foreign men date and marry Filipino or Indonesian women than local Hong Kong women.
For many foreign men, this is an easier choice, foreign domestic helpers are there for the work, and typically to send the money back home to support their families. Even if they have a good amount of education, they can still make a lot more taking care of Hong Kong children than they can back home as a teacher or office worker. These women do not generally do enjoyable work, can face poor treatment from their employers, and would welcome an escape.
Therefore, for these ladies a foreign man cam be a prime catch. You only have to go to the Makati Bar and Disco or other similar bars dotted around Wanchai, to see for yourself. Meeting a single Asian woman there is almost guaranteed.