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More and more Hong Kong elderly people who had chosen to retire on the mainland are moving back to town. The advantages of life on the mainland versus Hong Kong, in terms of lower living costs are dwindling fast.
With mainland prices on the rise and life expectancy on the upswing, many Hong Kong transplants find themselves in a crossfire, with their savings unable to keep pace with the cost of living.
The Census and Statistics Department revealed in early 2011, that 115,500 Hong Kong elderly, aged 60 and above resided on the mainland. That represented 8.6 percent of the population in that age group.
The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU), which has three consultation services centers in Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou to assist Hong Kong citizens, said the number could exceed 150,000.
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Spacious living areas and cheaper living costs inspired tens of thousands of Hong Kong elderly to head back to the mainland after the handover. The government, in fact, encouraged them to live in the north.
Yeung Yin-bun, 77, expected to live a comfortable twilight life in a 500-square-foot apartment he shares with his wife in Panyu. His savings looked handsome in 2002.
The cost of living has gone up drastically in recent years, due to inflation and appreciation of the yuan. Yeung recalls 2,000 yuan was more than enough to satisfy all his expenditures when he first moved to Guangzhou. Now he has to pay double.
However difficult, Yeung insists on staying on the mainland unless his health deteriorates. “I worked hard and devoted a lot to Hong Kong until I retired so that I could live freely and comfortably. With the money I have, this could only happen on the mainland,” he remarked. But the money is likely to be drained within a decade and they may need to move back in the city.
These elderly basically receive no help from the governments on either side of the border. In 1997, the Social Welfare Department launched the Portable Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme to provide them with the means to retire in Guangdong or Fujian provinces.
But the recipient is required to be receiving it in Hong Kong for a year before being eligible to move back to Guangdong and invoke the portability scheme.