Living in Macau as an expatriate

Caffeinate Your Macau Expat Journey: Find Essential Info and Connect with Expatriates Today

Image of Macau

Macau, also known as the Las Vegas of Asia, is a special administrative region of China located on the southwest coast of the Pearl River estuary. It is a small but densely populated region, known for its vibrant gambling industry, rich cultural heritage, and fusion of Portuguese and Chinese influences. Macau is a unique destination that offers a diverse range of experiences, from bustling casinos and luxurious shopping malls to historic sites and traditional markets.

Tips for expats in Macau

Visa requirements

Expats who wish to live and work in Macau must obtain a residence visa, which can be sponsored by an employer or a family member. The visa requires a medical examination, a criminal record check, and a valid passport. The visa application process can be lengthy and complex, so it is recommended to consult with a local immigration lawyer or agent for assistance.

Language resources

English is widely spoken in Macau, especially in the hospitality and tourism industries. However, Mandarin Chinese and Portuguese are also official languages of Macau and are used in government, education, and business. There are many language schools and resources available in Macau, such as the Institute for Tourism Studies and the Macau University of Science and Technology, that offer language courses and cultural immersion programs for expats.

Cost of living for expats in Macau


The cost of housing in Macau can vary greatly depending on the location and size of the property. A room in a shared house can cost around MOP 3,000 to 5,000 (USD 375 to 625) per month, while a one-bedroom apartment can range from MOP 8,000 to 15,000 (USD 1,000 to 1,875) per month. A two-bedroom apartment can cost between MOP 12,000 and 25,000 (USD 1,500 to 3,125) per month, while a three-bedroom house or larger can cost upwards of MOP 25,000 (USD 3,125) per month.


The cost of groceries in Macau can be higher than in mainland China or some other Asian countries. However, there are many local markets and supermarkets that offer competitive prices for fresh produce, meat, and seafood. Imported goods and international brands can be more expensive. A basic lunch or dinner at a local restaurant or food stall can cost around MOP 30 to 50 (USD 3.75 to 6.25).


The public transportation system in Macau is efficient and affordable, with buses and ferries connecting different parts of the region. A single bus ride costs around MOP 6 (USD 0.75), while a ferry ride to Hong Kong can cost around MOP 160 to 300 (USD 20 to 37.50) depending on the class of service. Taxis are also widely available, with a starting fare of MOP 19 (USD 2.37) for the first 1.6 kilometers.

Climate in Macau

Macau has a humid subtropical climate, with hot and humid summers and mild winters. The average temperature in summer (June to August) ranges from 28°C to 33°C (82°F to 91°F), while in winter (December to February) it ranges from 15°C to 20°C (59°F to 68°F). The region experiences a rainy season from May to September, with occasional typhoons and thunderstorms. The best time to visit Macau is from October to December, when the weather is cooler and drier.

Job market in Macau

Macau's economy is heavily reliant on the gambling and tourism industries, which provide employment opportunities for both locals and expats. Other key industries include hospitality, retail, real estate, and construction. The job market in Macau can be competitive, with many employers preferring candidates who speak Chinese or Portuguese. However, there are also opportunities for English speakers in international hotels, schools, and businesses. The unemployment rate in Macau is relatively low, at around 2% in 2021.

Healthcare in Macau

Macau has a well-developed healthcare system, with both public and private hospitals and clinics available. Public healthcare is heavily subsidized by the government and is available to all residents, while private healthcare offers more advanced facilities and shorter waiting times. The region has a high standard of medical care, with many doctors and specialists trained in Hong Kong, Portugal, or other Western countries. However, some medical procedures and treatments may not be covered by public healthcare and can be expensive in private hospitals. It is recommended to have international health insurance for expats in Macau.

Transport in Macau

Macau's public transportation system consists of buses, ferries, and taxis, which connect different parts of the region. The bus network is extensive and covers most neighborhoods and attractions, while the ferry network connects Macau to Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and other destinations in China. Taxis are widely available, with a starting fare of MOP 19 (USD 2.37) for the first 1.6 kilometers. The public transportation system is reliable, affordable, and easy to use, with many signs and announcements in English and Chinese.

Safety in Macau

Macau is a safe and secure destination for expats, with low crime rates and a strong police presence. The region is generally free from serious crimes, such as violent assaults or robberies, and petty crimes, such as pickpocketing or theft, are relatively rare. However, it is always recommended to exercise caution and common sense, such as avoiding dark or remote areas, keeping an eye on personal belongings, and being aware of one's surroundings.

Neighborhoods in Macau

  1. Taipa

    Taipa is a scenic and historic neighborhood located on the eastern side of the Macau Peninsula. It is known for its picturesque streets, traditional architecture, and cultural attractions, including the Taipa Houses Museum, the Museum of Taipa and Coloane History, and the Hac Sa Beach. The neighborhood also offers a wide range of dining and shopping options, from local markets to international brands.

  2. Cotai

    Cotai is a modern and vibrant neighborhood located on a reclaimed land between Taipa and Coloane. It is home to some of Macau's largest casinos, hotels, and shopping malls, including the Venetian Macau, the Parisian Macau, and the Studio City. The neighborhood also offers many entertainment options, such as live shows, theme parks, and cinemas.

  3. Coloane

    Coloane is a tranquil and charming neighborhood located on the southern tip of Macau. It is known for its pristine beaches, scenic hiking trails, and traditional fishing village. The neighborhood also offers a variety of restaurants and cafes, serving local and international cuisine, as well as a number of boutique shops and art galleries.

Attractions in Macau

  1. Ruins of St. Paul's

    The Ruins of St. Paul's is a 17th-century Catholic church and college that was destroyed by fire in 1835. The remaining façade, featuring a grand staircase and intricate carvings, is one of Macau's most iconic landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  2. Senado Square

    Senado Square is a historic public square and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in the heart of Macau's old town. The square is surrounded by colorful Portuguese-style buildings, narrow streets, and traditional shops selling souvenirs, snacks, and tea.

  3. Macau Tower

    Macau Tower is a 338-meter-tall observation tower and a symbol of Macau's skyline. The tower offers panoramic views of the region, as well as a variety of entertainment options, such as bungee jumping, skywalk, and restaurants.

International Schools in Macau

  1. The International School of Macao


    The International School of Macao is a private, non-profit school that offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum to students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. The school is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and has a diverse student body, with over 50 nationalities represented.

  2. Escola Internacional do Porto


    Escola Internacional do Porto is a private, Portuguese-language school that offers the Portuguese national curriculum, as well as the IB Diploma Programme, to students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. The school is accredited by the Portuguese Ministry of Education and has a strong focus on language learning, with English, Chinese, and French offered as additional languages.

Useful expat resources in Macau