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Transfer to HK - kids/schools/where to live???

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  1. #31

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    Thanks for all the comprehensive replies.

    with regard to schools, we already assume that top top schools are out - I did email Kellett and they told me they already had 600 applications for year 1... but I was welcome to apply and send them HK$2000 for the privilege!! Response from ESF wasn't particularly useful, just cut and pasted all the information from their website which didn't really help. Will have a look at some of the others schools mentioned above.

    As for cycling, I cycle in central London everyday so am used to a fairly poor standard of driving. I guess the ideal would be to look for accommodation within cycling distance of an MTR station if I am likely to be commuting that way. Otherwise am I right in thinking that there are ferries from places like discovery bay?

    Village lifestyle appeals because it is the least departure from our current lifestyle. I guess the aversion to high rise living is that my understanding is it is more expensive per square meter etc, and I value space over distance to the office (hence living in a decent sized house in the Kent countryside with a longish commute rather than in a shoebox flat within central London!)

    I have been offered the possibility of a short trial period/explore if I want, but it isn't really fair for me to be yanking the kids out of nursery (and my wife out of school, which would have to be unpaid) for a couple of weeks to take them to the other side of the world, as we wouldn't really be able to accomplish much of use.

    The main priority is trying to sort a school place and I should hopefully get more details about the package etc today, so may be in a better position soon

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  2. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firemin
    Thanks for all the comprehensive replies.

    with regard to schools, we already assume that top top schools are out - I did email Kellett and they told me they already had 600 applications for year 1... but I was welcome to apply and send them HK$2000 for the privilege!! Response from ESF wasn't particularly useful, just cut and pasted all the information from their website which didn't really help. Will have a look at some of the others schools mentioned above.

    As for cycling, I cycle in central London everyday so am used to a fairly poor standard of driving. I guess the ideal would be to look for accommodation within cycling distance of an MTR station if I am likely to be commuting that way. Otherwise am I right in thinking that there are ferries from places like discovery bay?

    Village lifestyle appeals because it is the least departure from our current lifestyle. I guess the aversion to high rise living is that my understanding is it is more expensive per square meter etc, and I value space over distance to the office (hence living in a decent sized house in the Kent countryside with a longish commute rather than in a shoebox flat within central London!)

    I have been offered the possibility of a short trial period/explore if I want, but it isn't really fair for me to be yanking the kids out of nursery (and my wife out of school, which would have to be unpaid) for a couple of weeks to take them to the other side of the world, as we wouldn't really be able to accomplish much of use.

    The main priority is trying to sort a school place and I should hopefully get more details about the package etc today, so may be in a better position soon
    Somewhere like Discovery Bay is not within your budget, unless you get an increase in housing allowance, or contribute more yourself. You could look at the villages on South Lantau around the bottom of the island from DB.

    I would caveat all this talk of villages with a word of caution though. As a 6+ year veteran of village life, it can be a great experience, or it can be the worst. I don't recommend it to those not 'hardened' to the Hong Kong way of doing things, and I advise those who ask me about moving out here to start off with something more conventional. Some villages are ok, some should come with a 'No Gweilo' warning. Unless you are in an Expat enclave or gated Estate like Discovery Bay, you won't know what you are in for until you land and put your first foot wrong. Find your way first for a couple of years, especially with young kids, before heading out to the wilds.

    I would class anyone who cycles on the roads in HK as a person with a death wish. If the drivers don't get you first the pollution or heat surely will. If you want to cycle to the MTR, look at Tseung Kwan O / Lohas Park. A flat 'new' town with cycle paths everywhere, numerous sports facilities and parks, cheaper rents, handy to a few international schools, easy access to hiking and beaches.
    shri and hullexile like this.

  3. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firemin
    Village lifestyle appeals because it is the least departure from our current lifestyle. I guess the aversion to high rise living is that my understanding is it is more expensive per square meter etc, and I value space over distance to the office (hence living in a decent sized house in the Kent countryside with a longish commute rather than in a shoebox flat within central London!)
    Village lifestyle in HK is nothing like Kent. NOTHING.

    You want to be in an area that has more expat/international people. Even if that means a high rise or a large estate. Reasons:

    1) English speaking neighbors which will help your family make friends
    2) international shops where you can buy things you are used to eating/using at home
    3) proximity to international/English playgroups, preschools, and schools
    4) more Westernized medical care

    What you don't want is your wife having to drag the kids all over town to have play dates or attend school and activities. I know people who save money and have a big house in the New Territories but they are constantly traveling to HK Island because there aren't any English playgroups or English-speaking doctors in their area. Another issue I've seen is that the public hospitals are a lot harder to navigate and a lot more, um, "local" in their practice the further into NT you go. Many expat women use a friend's address to give birth at Queen Mary (on HK Island) because of bad experiences elsewhere.
    shri and civil_servant like this.

  4. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firemin
    I guess the ideal would be to look for accommodation within cycling distance of an MTR station if I am likely to be commuting that way.
    Quote Originally Posted by Firemin
    Village lifestyle appeals because it is the least departure from our current lifestyle.
    Quote Originally Posted by Firemin
    I have been offered the possibility of a short trial period/explore if I want, but it isn't really fair for me to be yanking the kids out of nursery (and my wife out of school, which would have to be unpaid) for a couple of weeks to take them to the other side of the world, as we wouldn't really be able to accomplish much of use.
    Statements 1 and 2 really make me think you should re-consider Statement 3, as you don't seem to have any idea about Hong Kong. I wouldn't worry about a couple of weeks unpaid leave and your 1 and 3 year old missing a couple of weeks of pre-school. Moving over here is a life-changing commitment and it sounds like you have no idea about what you are letting yourself in for.

    Come here, have a look round the types of places you will be able to afford. See if there is anywhere that closely matches your Kent village life. If not (and there isn't) - then see if there is anywhere that you could see yourself living.

    Worry about schools later - your child is three - you'll be able to find somewhere, no matter what happens. I would suggest having your wife on-board is more important and a fact finding trip would be a great way to allay (or reinforce!) some of her inevitable concerns. Either way, forewarned is forearmed.
    Last edited by TheBrit; 11-10-2016 at 02:55 PM.
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  5. #35

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    One thing about some of the newer apartment buildings, you can find ones with swimming pools, gyms, and playgrounds/playrooms.

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  6. #36
    bdw
    bdw is online now

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firemin
    Response from ESF wasn't particularly useful, just cut and pasted all the information from their website which didn't really help.
    If my experience from 6 years ago with ESF is anything to go by, they are particularly unhelpful in your situation. They require applicants to live within the schools catchment area before you can even join their waiting list, and when you tell them 'I live overseas but will move to your catchment area if you accept me' they will just say sorry and tell you to get lost. So you really need to 'gamble' not knowing how long each ESF schools waiting list is and pick one school and then actually rent a flat in that area before you can even join the waiting list.To me it is a completely flawed system and ESF must simply be not interested in catering to expats moving to HK. My info may be outdated now so anyone is free to chime in and comment if ESF is actually reasonable to deal with these days.

    Other international schools are a lot more helpful in assisting people relocating to HK. Some even go so far as to give higher priority to applicants living outside of HK at the time of application

  7. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBrit
    Statements 1 and 2 really make me think you should re-consider Statement 3, as you don't seem to have any idea about Hong Kong. I wouldn't worry about a couple of weeks unpaid leave and your 1 and 3 year old missing a couple of weeks of pre-school. Moving over here is a life-changing commitment and it sounds like you have no idea about what you are letting yourself in for.

    Come here, have a look round the types of places you will be able to afford. See if there is anywhere that closely matches your Kent village life. If not (and there isn't) - then see if there is anywhere that you could see yourself living.

    Worry about schools later - your child is three - you'll be able to find somewhere, no matter what happens. I would suggest having your wife on-board is more important and a fact finding trip would be a great way to allay (or reinforce!) some of her inevitable concerns. Either way, forewarned is forearmed.
    Thanks for the reply. I agree with you somewhat but unfortunately knowing my work I doubt a trial of more than 2 weeks or so is likely and I don't think we will accomplish enough in that time, and my wife is actually of the opinion we should just dive straight in and not bother with a long winded trial! Having said that I can try and broach it with work and see what happens.

    Also to clarify my earlier statement - I meant village life seems more like the life in the uk than high rise city centre (not the same!) - I don't actually love in a village but quite a large town (although clearly nothing like HK).

    You are right though, in that I don't have any real idea of what it is like, hence my almost never ending list of questions. The nearest experience I can draw on is a small stint I did in our Dubai office a few years ago, where my wife and (at the time one) son came too, but I can't really draw many comparisons between the two cities.

  8. #38

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    First of all, a great adventure awaits you. As long as you are willing to accept things are different and embrace the way of life here you will have a fantastic time.

    Kids international/ESF school, yeah, probably the hardest nut to crack. Unfortunately can't help you there. I have a ten year old, she speaks fluent Mandarin, Cantonese and English and is enlisted at a local school.

    Where I live there are many with kids in the same age group as yours, some go to international schools, some to ESF schools and some to local schools. Going to school in Hong Kong almost always translates to kids having to commute (a bit), many schools have school bus services but still, its not a quick walk to school.

    As for living quarters, concur with the comments above...Village life here is NOT comparable to the UK or anywhere else in Europe. I would strongly recommend to first get into a "normal" estate. Before I moved to Asia I had always lived in a village and never in a high rise, that changed when I first moved here and still living in a high rise (and loving it). I did explore housing options in various villages over the years but always decided against it.

    What we felt was the most important was the living environment and place for our kid to play and roam around on skates and her bicycle. We moved to Ma Wan (Park island) because of the fantastic facilities, the fact that there are no private cars on the island, a 25 minute ferry ride to Central/Sheung Wan and a 30 minute shuttle bus to the Airport (as I fly a lot). For us living here is like being on a permanent vacation. The madness of Hong Kong seems very far away from here and in that sense it reminds me of the villages I used to live in, except its all high rises.

    Anyway, as suggested by others: first explore HK for a few weeks, forget about commuting to work with your bike for now (I walk everything, MTR, Ferry and sometimes taxi/uber which are both dirt cheap). Be prepared that most likely the kids will have a bit of a commute, simply because you can't be sure where you will get a place.


  9. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firemin
    Thanks for the reply. I agree with you somewhat but unfortunately knowing my work I doubt a trial of more than 2 weeks or so is likely and I don't think we will accomplish enough in that time, and my wife is actually of the opinion we should just dive straight in and not bother with a long winded trial! Having said that I can try and broach it with work and see what happens.
    If your wife is completely on-board, that is a huge advantage. A good attitude goes a long way, but it can still be a lot of culture shock - and if you are stuck out in a NT village somewhere the culture shock is compounded in my view. You do get a lot more space for your money, but you also get a lot of other less desirable stuff too.

    I have young children too, and we accept a smaller living space in a high-rise for the better facilities it gives us - a great outdoor pool that is usable April to November, a big play room for the rainy summer days, a bit of garden/green space to run around in and a generally child-safe environment.

    I've known a fair few people moving to Hong Kong who thought they fancied NT village life until they actually visited an NT village.. then they beat a nasty retreat to Park View, or Mid-Levels, or Kowloon/Olympic.

  10. #40
    Mat
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    Quote Originally Posted by kimwy66
    Somewhere like Discovery Bay is not within your budget, unless you get an increase in housing allowance, or contribute more yourself. You could look at the villages on South Lantau around the bottom of the island from DB.
    .
    Not quite.
    Siena two 1126 sqf (gross) so OK for a family of 4 - 25K:
    Centadata - Discovery Bay

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