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

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  1. #1

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    Oct 2016
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    Thumbs up Transfer to HK - kids/schools/where to live???

    Hi

    I have very recently (as of yesterday) been offered the opportunity to transfer to my firm's HK office (from UK) and, having only spent a few days in HK en-route to a holiday in NZ 6 yrs ago before we had kids we have no idea where to start looking for accommodation and schooling etc!

    It'll be me, my wife, and 2 sons (aged 16mo, and 4yrs[in Nov]). We don't really know what we want/can afford at this stage - a figure of HK$30k per month has been mentioned as a housing allowance, but is that likely to get us anything half decent? Unfortunately everyone else in the HK office is single/without kids so they all live in apartments close to the office so can't really advise

    Reading up it seems competition for school places is quite fierce and also requires debentures (bribes?)! We'd obviously be looking at an English language school, and I guess we need to start looking ASAP for the eldest son (who would start school in the UK in Sept 2017) - or are we potentially too late. Given the timings, would we be best placed looking for a school first, then finding accommodation nearby?

    Also, with regard to family areas, where is nice/affordable? We are moving from a 4bed detached house so it'll be quite a culture shock, and we realise we won't get anything nearly as large, but is a three bedroom apartment/house (not in a high rise) a realistic aspiration? We'd like nearby amenities for the kids (parks/pools etc) as well if possible. I currently work in London and have approx 1.5hr commute in by bike/train so distance from the centre is not necessarily an issue, but ideally I'd like a commute of less than one hour if possible.

    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated at this stage?

    Last edited by Firemin; 10-10-2016 at 05:12 PM. Reason: clarification

  2. #2

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    Find schooling first, then locate suitable housing.

    What is budget do you have for housing?


  3. #3

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    Oct 2016
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    Thanks for the reply - sorry it wasn't clear in the preceding post but I understand (informally) that the company will pay up to $30k per month.

    As I know nothing about the cost of living either I don't know what spare cash we will have available to top up that amount if required. The normal procedure at my company is to provide you with roughly the same take home pay as in the UK, which I guess would be around the $500k pa mark. If anyone can provide a rough indication of utility / food bills etc for a family of four that'd be really useful for planning.


  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firemin
    Thanks for the reply - sorry it wasn't clear in the preceding post but I understand (informally) that the company will pay up to $30k per month.

    As I know nothing about the cost of living either I don't know what spare cash we will have available to top up that amount if required. The normal procedure at my company is to provide you with roughly the same take home pay as in the UK, which I guess would be around the $500k pa mark. If anyone can provide a rough indication of utility / food bills etc for a family of four that'd be really useful for planning.
    Personally I wouldn't be making the move with 2 small children unless there was a significant gain to be made financially. As you live in a 4 bed detached house in the UK, I am going to assume you have a reasonable quality of life. 500k will not get you the equivalent lifestyle here, and there are other downsides to living in Hong Kong which have to be factored in.

    As for rough cost of living, there was a post on this somewhere, possibly not up-to-date but would suffice for rough.

    For schooling, if you can get in ESF would be one of the cheapest - $100k per year plus $38k non-refundable levy.

    Edit: Here's the 2014 Cost of living, doesn't seem to be a more recent one https://geoexpat.com/articles/hong-k...of-living-2014

  5. #5

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    Oct 2016
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    Thanks for the further replies. The schooling costs are also paid for by the company (although I don't know if there is a maximum limit), so essentially we are only looking at outgoings (bills/food/socialising etc) out of salary, and that 500k was post tax (i.e. about $625k gross.

    Assuming we can live comfortably there are some financial gains to be made (e.g. mortgage in UK paid for whilst we are away etc)


  6. #6

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    Feb 2011
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    Your biggest problems are:

    1) your children school places, there isn't enough space and you don't want your kids on a 1 hour bus to/fro school everyday, do you?

    2) what is the wife going to do? Happy wife is a must!!

    I wouldn't let them pull the tax savings crap on you. Get the same salary as in UK plus some allowances. Try to get 40-45k monthly for housing, you can get a 3 bedroom at The Arch, Kowloon station for that. Get a furniture allowance, it's expensive here and if you leave in one year you will lose 95% of those costs. You won't be having a car on that budget. Make sure your annual leave is sufficient.

    Where are you working? People can chime in with housing options. Also you will need a helper which is $4310/month plus an upfront fee of about 10k plus her customised bed (5-10k).

    I wouldn't move on that offer, given all the costs involved, you're looking to lose on this one. What is your commitment in UK as well. Housing, debt, car, etc.


  7. #7

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    Also, you are taxed on housing allowance, school fees, and all that jazz.


  8. #8

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    It's doable HKD 500k NET if company pays ALL taxes, school fees and increases housing allowance to 45k.

    Where will you be working?


  9. #9

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    Oct 2016
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    Office is at Queens Road Central / Sheung Wan. As said, I don't mind a commute for me, the eldest currently catches the school minibus to/from nursery, although that is only a 10-15min ride depending on traffic, probably wouldn't want any longer than that.

    Wife is a secondary school teacher, anticipation would be once the eldest starts school she will probably look for a job, but she only works part time at the moment anyway. Hence the need for somewhere with stuff to do with the kids.

    Don't know whether I get a furniture allowance, my impression was that they pay to ship over furniture/belongings we would need and pay to store those that we don't.

    UK financial commitment is low - 800pm mortgage is all the debt we have outstanding (we live in quite a cheap area for housing) and work guarantee to cover the payments and/or any shortfall between mortgage and rental income whilst we are away. Both my and my wife's cars are owned outright (i.e. no finance).

    I have been told there is no car allowance but I am tempted to try to get my personal car shipped over (it's electric [Tesla] so I understand is free from registration duty etc, and HK seems to have a good charging infrastructure).

    I doubt they will budge much on the housing allowance but I want to be prepared to negotiate so any examples of suitable places to live would be good to use for bargaining (in some way it is an unknown for them as I am the only person with children to have ever been offered a transfer).

    I have already mentioned to work that the schooling is the make-or-break for the move (i.e. no school no move)


  10. #10

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    Tesla charging is typically full and not likely your building would allow a modification to charge your car. But maybe you could get lucky.

    Don't forget your HK $4,000-5,000 per month car parking fee.

    imparanoic likes this.

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