Expat Macau

Macau is one of the more interesting places in China. Located extremely close to the bustling city of Hong Kong, Macau also has its roots in colonial rule, but in this case it was the Portuguese that ruled Macau for 400 years. Macau once again became part of China in 1999 and since then it has continued to grow as one of the largest tourist attractions in all of China and the key spot for those in Hong Kong to come to relax on the weekends.

Macau has always been an exotic location that expats have flocked to and many expats stumble upon Macau, once in Hong Kong. Macau is definitely a little more relaxing and green compared to Hong Kong and those that are looking for a slower pace of life, less crowds of people and one of the best gambling in the world, Macau can’t be beat.


The climate of Macau is the same as Hong Kong, since they are so close to one another in proximity. Expect a subtropical climate that can be seasonal in temperature. For instance, the summers can be brutal, climbing high into the 90’s for both the temperature and even the humidity. During the summer months expect an occasional typhoon and plenty of rain; on the other hand, the winter time which lasts from January to February can be quite cold. Temperatures can sometimes hover around 40 degrees. For those seeking a short term visit, the best time of the year for Macau is the fall time. During this time, the temperatures are comfortable and the air is not as humid.

When packing, make sure you take the necessary clothing to fit the season. During the summertime it is perhaps the best time of year to wear clothing that breathes easily and dries quickly. Cotton is usually your best bet. While most expats usually buy their clothing once in Macau, make sure you are at least prepared for the season that you arrive.


Macau is considered a limited democracy. It is part of China; however, it enjoys for the most part its own autonomy. In 1999, the Portuguese government handed over control to China. China has a policy of one country, two systems, which is similar to Hong Kong. This allows Macau to stay relatively the same as it was for the next 50 years, at which time the local government will likely be replaced via the Chinese Government.

While China does not have an exemplary record on human rights, for the most part, Macau has not been impacted by its relationship with China. You can learn more about the government of Macau at the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao S.A.R. Government.

Another site to find detailed information regarding the government of Macau is the through the U.S. Embassy in Hong Kong or the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C..

Tax System

The tax system is very similar to that of Hong Kong. While there are many different taxes that are collected, most expats will only pay several types. Macau has a territorial tax policy in place which means your income is only taxed for what is created in Macau. If your income is derived by other sources than those that reside in Macau, it is non taxable income. For income tax there is a tax structure that goes from 2% to 15% of your income. Corporate tax rate is similar from 3% to 12%.

Besides income tax there are also property taxes, franchise taxes, inheritance tax, professional tax, etc. You can find out more information at Macao Taxation.

It is also helpful to check out the IRS website for tips on filing as an expat.

Medical Care

Medical care in Macau is very high quality and similar to what you would find in the West, as well as Hong Kong. Most doctors and staff speak English and no matter what your illness or injury, there is a hospital that specializes in the care you need. For the most part credit cards are accepted. If you have a health insurance plan from a Hong Kong employer, you should be ok as well. For those that have health insurance from the states, you might want to research whether or not your insurance is taken at any of the Macanese or Hong Kong hospitals, clinics or doctor offices.

Real Estate

Purchasing real estate in Macau is extremely straight forward and easy. However, be prepared for sticker shock. Most residents live in government housing which are usually small tenements that lack the creature comforts that we are all used to back home. If you are looking for a small apartment for an investment, expect New York City prices and then some. You can easily spend a million dollars plus on a one bedroom and in many cases two million dollars for a 3 bedroom. Most expats either rent or stay with friends.

If you are looking to save a little on real estate in Macau, look to live on the fourth floor of any building. The Chinese (Macanese) are very superstitious and the word four (sei) is very close to the word for death). Using this tip can save several thousand dollars or more.

As far as apartments go, finding a decent apartment can be time consuming and cost extremely high prices. Before coming to Macau, make sure you plan your stay very carefully. Because of the high prices of both Macau and Hong Kong, many expats who come to Hong Kong looking for fun and adventure, leave very quickly due to the excessive cost of living.


Shopping in Macau is extremely similar to that of Hong Kong. While many people visit Macau to get away from the manic bustle and crowds of Hong Kong, you can find plenty of relaxation, shopping, nightlife and leisure activities on Macau. One of the biggest draws on Macau are the fantastic casinos. The casinos are extremely glitzy and although there are far less casinos on Macau than Las Vegas, the amount of money wagered per bet on average is 10 times that of Las Vegas. Visitors that come to Macau for gaming are truly serious and if you are looking for the best gaming capital in all of Asia, it is Macau.

On Macau, you can find luxury shops, moderate priced items for sale in western style malls and small markets that sell almost anything at a rock bottom price. Entertainment is also a draw. There are plenty of luxury hotels that sport world class spas. There are plenty of recreational activities such as tennis and golf. If you are looking to meet the locals or hang out with your fellow expats, there are plenty of bars, clubs and lounges to keep you occupied. Macau is truly a great place to relax and enjoy Asia.

Cost of Living

The good news is that Macau isn’t quite as expensive as Hong Kong; the bad news is that it is still one of the most expensive places in Asia. Macau is for a certain type of expat, mainly for those that have a large bank account or a well paying job. While it is feasible to teach English or do odd jobs and make it in Macau, life will be tough. Expect the majority of your expenses on housing, food and entertainment. Shopping can also be expensive, but bargains can be found.

Map of Macau