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Moving to HK from London with 2y.o. kid

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  1. #21

    When we moved here almost 2 years ago, we were told that many expats start off in Mid-Levels and then move out afterwards. We took a serviced apartment for 2 months while waiting for our furniture to be shipped over and also to give us a chance to look at a few areas. The main Mid-Levels area was too crowded for us and also not great for public transport. I had this notion of being able to draw my bedroom curtains in the morning and look out onto the sea, so we also considered Repulse Bay and Stanley but they were rather touristy. We were very tempted by Tai Tam, but ended up just off Kennedy Road which is Wanchai/East Mid-Levels. We really like it there as it has open views and is low enough to be able to walk to Admiralty and Wanchai MTRs in 10 minutes and an even shorter walk to all the buses on Queen's Road East and trams on Johnston Road, as well as being very easy to get a taxi.

    We had a superking bed back in our home in London and assumed it wouldn't fit in a HK apartment, so we put it in storage. As it turned out, our apartment has a large master bedroom and would have easily accommodated it after all, but I would say that is unusual.

    It would be good if you could get more certainty on what your husband's employer is able to offer regarding accommodation, as it is expensive here. To give you some idea, we lived in quite a nice part of SW London, and pay over twice the amount of rent for our apartment in HK compared to the rent we receive for our house back in the UK.

    Mat likes this.

  2. #22

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    I suggest you have a look into Discovery Bay. It is a straight 25 min. commute to Central and your husband can likely walk to his office from the Central ferry pier. Meanwhile in DB you would have a lot of space to take your small children/baby out for walks, visit the beach, and be much closer to nature and the countryside. There are also tons of families there and it would be very easy to meet new people and other moms so that you don't feel isolated (maybe someone else can comment on the kindergarten situation there?). If your husband has a budget of around $70k/month for housing, then you could get a whole house there and yes, you would have space for a king size bed and bedside tables. Even apartments there can be more spacious. Many pilots live in this area, and Cathay recently decided to cut their extremely cushy housing allowance, so with some luck the prices will go down!

    I don't have kids, but from my experience as a trailing spouse, I found it pretty easy to meet new people and make friends here in Hong Kong -- much easier than it was for me in London. Everyone is in the same boat, and distances aren't as far as in London.

    There's a good website called Hong Kong Moms and some facebook groups, as well as facebook groups for your specific neighborhood where you settle, so there will always be people out there to help (e.g. lend you a drill) and offer advice as you need!
    http://www.hongkongmoms.com.hk/

    It's just my opinion, but I think the schools here are a bit harsh for kids as it's a very competitive environment. It's something you can think of later down the road and maybe just plan to come to HK for a few years. But I'm a big advocate of language learning for small children, and I think if you can have an opportunity for your children to become native speakers of either Cantonese or Mandarin that would give them a massive advantage in life, not just because of the added cognitive development, but also I think the relevance of being able to speak Mandarin in the workplace is becoming increasingly important.

    KNB likes this.

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Char Siu King:
    Frees parents up not to be parents. Hong Kong style.
    Moving out of Hong Kong has been an eye opener in that respect for me. Almost no families employ helpers here (less than <1%, probably less than 0.1%). Have been more surprised than I thought I would be to see the differences in how children act & behave here compared to Hong Kong. Could be partly cultural but I suspect parents doing the parenting has a lot to do with it.
    Skyhook likes this.

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBrit:
    Moving out of Hong Kong has been an eye opener in that respect for me. Almost no families employ helpers here (less than <1%, probably less than 0.1%). Have been more surprised than I thought I would be to see the differences in how children act & behave here compared to Hong Kong. Could be partly cultural but I suspect parents doing the parenting has a lot to do with it.
    Sorry off topic, if you are where I think you are, I think it's cultural.
    Mat and HK_Katherine like this.

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBrit:
    Moving out of Hong Kong has been an eye opener in that respect for me. Almost no families employ helpers here (less than <1%, probably less than 0.1%). Have been more surprised than I thought I would be to see the differences in how children act & behave here compared to Hong Kong. Could be partly cultural but I suspect parents doing the parenting has a lot to do with it.
    I'd say the pervasive highly competitive and materialistic attitudes in HK have a lot more to do with why children act a certain way here, than helpers. I'm from a culture where helpers are extremely common (developing country so labor is cheap) and kids are raised to deeply respect (fear?) all adults and bratty spoiled children are rare.
    Mat, HK_Katherine and z754103 like this.

  6. #26

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    One thing worth noting - in most of Hong Kong, pretty much everything is family-friendly. Maybe not Central/Admiralty during the workday, or LKF at night, but pretty much everywhere else. The idea of public transit not being kid-friendly is crazy; only thing I can think of is minibus drivers being gruff w/everyone, kids included.


  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elegiaque:
    Sorry off topic, if you are where I think you are, I think it's cultural.
    I've seen four year old's being fed by helpers, six year old's being pushed in buggies by helpers and even a 7-8 year old boy being carried by a helper not much taller than him. Not sure of this is cultural or just children being lazy when helpers do everything for them.

    I think most helpers are afraid to chastise the children they are looking after also, which must contribute to the bratty behaviour.

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBrit:
    I've seen four year old's being fed by helpers, six year old's being pushed in buggies by helpers and even a 7-8 year old boy being carried by a helper not much taller than him. Not sure of this is cultural or just children being lazy when helpers do everything for them.

    I think most helpers are afraid to chastise the children they are looking after also, which must contribute to the bratty behaviour.
    I think it's important to discuss helpers and child rearing here, as there's never been any other threads on this topic.
    HK_Katherine, z754103 and Mat like this.

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Loblaw:
    I think it's important to discuss helpers and child rearing here, as there's never been any other threads on this topic.
    I guess you missed this part of the opening post

    Can anybody in the similar family situation please share their experience and advise on how HK is family friendly? In London our son is supposed to start nursery next year, what are nurseries like in HK? Are there any available playgroups/children centres/soft plays?
    Like it or lump it, helpers are a big part of the scene looking after children here.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBrit:
    I've seen four year old's being fed by helpers, six year old's being pushed in buggies by helpers and even a 7-8 year old boy being carried by a helper not much taller than him. Not sure of this is cultural or just children being lazy when helpers do everything for them.

    I think most helpers are afraid to chastise the children they are looking after also, which must contribute to the bratty behaviour.
    That is the parent's choice of how their children are raised. I've also seen grandparents and parents pushing 5 year olds in buggies and spoon feeding big kids. I cannot believe anyone who has lived in HK for more than a few years hasn't noticed that this is a cultural practice common among local families. I have a few friends who are clashing with local in-laws over stuff like this.

    OP has nothing to worry about regarding a helper if she is a good manager and makes her wishes clear. There are also classes run by Western-oriented clinics/childcare centers that train helpers on how to take care of children while also encouraging their independence.
    Mat likes this.

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