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

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  1. #31

    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    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.

  2. #32

    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Sarcasm - because beating the crap out of people is illegal

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

    Edwardstorm likes this.

  3. #33

    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    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

  4. #34

    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Original Post Deleted
    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.

  5. #35

    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.

  6. #36

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    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

  7. #37

    Join Date
    Aug 2016

    I recently moved with my family from London. We came in January this year and had our schools sorted before the move in August.

    Youll need to get the total package from the company to assess if it's worth your while. HK can be very lucrative but it all depends on the package. The tax rate is low but that can be easily negated on housing and education costs.

  8. #38

    Join Date
    Jun 2004

    Overall OP as many have said...depends on the school but still:

    - 30 K housing
    - School paid
    - 42K monthly income
    means roughly around 90K a month for the family (assuming ~ 8/9 k per kids for school)

    It's OK, not in the top bracket but OK.

    Make sure (you may have mentioned but I read quickly only):
    - they also give you a flight back home every year (else that eats your budget)
    - they provide good medical (some stuffs are super expensive here...yes a local system is good but dentists etc can cost you an arm and a leg for example).

    As for housing, of course if you can increase it all the better but for 30K and depending on where is the school you can look at (and since you don't mind up to an hour commute):
    - Ma Wan
    - Gold Coast Area
    - Discovery bay
    - Some areas of Sha Tin and Ma On Shan
    - Tsuen Kwan O
    - Tung Chung / Tsing Yi
    - Sai Kung / Clearwater bay if you are after the village style kinda thing
    some other places I may forget -- point is pretty much everywhere in HK you will find areas that are close to some school and are "affordable" for your budget.

    These are just some areas, there are more for sure.
    For Example Ma Wan if you manage to get your Kids to ESF Tsing Yi and you work in central, it becomes a great place as commute will be short for all of you and living environment is great if you fancy a beach, a few resto and a nice pool. if you are into nightlife, fancy bars and high end entertainment it will be hell.

    What I mean, is that you can do what you want in HK.

  9. #39

    I haven't read the whole thread but I wouldn't move OP. It's an incredibly challenging situation with children.

    If the company can guarantee places at a good quality international school (close by) and pay for a decent size apartment, then it's a different story.

    Every year I have friends and colleagues move back home because they can't afford school for their kids who are born in Hong Kong or they get fed up with the pollution etc .

  10. #40

    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    will you and your wife consider owning a car, makes a big difference especially when you have kids

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