The Pros and Cons of Working in Macau



Macau’s economy is highly driven by the tourism sector, particularly those that are related to gambling, such as casinos. It had a GDP per capita of US$46,177.53 as of 2015 according to the World Bank data centre, and the Services sector was the main contributor of the region’s gross domestic product.

Pro: Low cost of living

The cost of living in Macau is still remarkably cheap compared to other similar expat hubs in Asia such as Hong Kong and Singapore. The cost of living comparison of Numbeo shows that in all major cost of living indicators such as housing, food, transport, utilities, and purchasing power, Hong Kong and Singapore are significantly higher than Macau.

Macau’s cost of living may be relatively low compared to other prominent cities in Asia. However, it is steadily rising in recent years. The Statistics and Census Service of Macau (DSEC) has released a report saying that the consumer price index has increased steadily this year.

Con: Low salary

According to data gathered by Statista, as of 2016, the average monthly salary in Macau is MOP 17,000 or about USD$2,130. That’s the average monthly salary range of professionals in the health and social welfare, gaming and recreational services, and even finance industry. These are the industries where expats are more prominently hired as well.

If we compare the amount of salary that average to above average professionals are earning in this country to the salaries they can earn in other countries, Macau’s salary range can be quite low. It’s a good thing that the cost of living can be quite affordable in the city, so expats can still live a comfortable life in Macau.

There is no mandatory minimum wage in Macau. However, the Labour Affairs Bureau started to implement a minimum salary for cleaners and security guards in Macau starting January 2016, which is set at MOP30 (US$3.75) per hour. At present, only security workers and cleaners hired by the government of Macau through outside contractors earn a minimum wage of MOP26 (US$3.25) per hour. 

Pro: Work permit applications are straight forward

Residency permits can be obtained for foreign workers through the Corpo de Policia de Seguranca Publica (Public Security Police Force). If you have a work sponsor and all the required documents, getting a residency card (known locally as the ‘blue card’) can be relatively straight forward. Get more information on how to apply for a blue card here.

The employers are responsible for the application of the work permit on behalf of the foreign national worker. The entire process takes approximately two to three months. Upon approval of the work permit application, a letter or certificate of approval will be issued, and the foreign national worker must take this to the Immigration Department to apply for the actual resident card.

Con: Most jobs have a six-day work week

The standard work week in Macau is eight hours a day, or forty-eight hours per week. In general, however, 60% of the employees in Macau work six days a week, with an average of 8.38 hours per day. This goes especially to workers who are employed in hotels, restaurants, and the gaming industry – where most of Macau’s tourists can be found. The majority of the private companies in Macau operate from 9AM to 6PM and have a lunch break of one and a half hours. On the other hand, government offices are open five days a week, from 9AM to 5:45PM, Mondays to Thursdays, and 9AM to 6PM on Fridays.

Pro: Job market for foreigners is high

Aside from being a popular tourist destination, Macau also poses as an attractive place for expats who are looking for greener pastures abroad. Foreign nationals looking to work in Macau will find several employment opportunities in this region, especially in the tourism and gambling sector. With the vast array of casinos, restaurants, hotels and other entertainment centres in Macau, expats are sure to find work that suits their skills. Among the famous casinos in Macau include: 

  • Wynn Macau
  • Grand Lisboa
  • Sands Macao
  • Venetian Macao
  • Galaxy Rio Macao

The main industries of Macau include tourism, gambling, clothing, textiles, and electronics. With a labour force of approximately 330,900, 33.5% of the Macanese population is employed in the “Other Services” sector, while the rest are working in other prominent sectors such as: 

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Casinos
  • Wholesale
  • Retail trade
  • Public sector
  • Construction
  • Transport
  • Communications
  • Manufacturing
  • Financial services

Con: Not a lot of vacation leaves

All workers are entitled to six working days of paid leave every year, and 24 consecutive hours of a rest period for every seven days of work. They are also entitled to eight statutory holidays. Meanwhile, pregnant women workers who have been employed for more than a year in a company are entitled to thirty-five days of maternity leave. 

Pro: Income tax is not very high

Macau has been known as one of the best tax havens in Asia, and it is true that personal and business taxes are relatively lower in the country compared to other prominent cities in Asia.

All residents and non-residents working in Macau are subject to pay income tax based on their salary bracket. The income tax rate is on a progressive scale, starting from 0% to 12%. Below is an income tax table showing the rate and tax amount for every salary bracket:

Taxable income bracket  Total tax on income below bracket   Tax rate on income in bracket 
From MOP  To MOP MOP Percent
0 144,000 0 0%
144,001 164,000 0 7%
164,001 184,000 1,400 8%
184,001 224,000 3,000 9%
224,001 304,000 6,600 10%
304,001 424,000 14,600 11%
424,001 over 27,800 12%

For tax purposes, Macau has no distinction between residents and non-residents. An individual is considered a Macau resident if they hold a Permanent Resident Permit issued by the Macau Immigration Department or an identity card issued by the Macau SAR.


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