Like Tree8Likes

Aussie (Sydney) relo, 2 working prof + 2 young kids, location and other advice please

Closed Thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    3

    Aussie (Sydney) relo, 2 working prof + 2 young kids, location and other advice please

    Hi,

    Great site. Ive been reading for hours but wanted to share some of my personal circumstances and ask a few pertinent questions.

    My wife and I are 2 senior Mngrs (15 years exp), in Software and service delivery, currently nearing final stage on package negotiation with a potential employer in HK.

    Assuming all goes well I wonder what your advice would be on the following:
    - How long did it take you to move over (get visa's, pack up and relo the furniture etc)?
    - Whats the best way to go searching for a place. Come over and rent a serviced apartment for a month or so, other?
    - Employer will be near Central / Admiralty, where would you recommend our family live, Wan Chi, Happy Valley, other?
    - What sort of rent would you pay 3 bed + maid qtrs - im thinking 50-70K p.m?
    - What school would you recommend based on above work / rental loc. CIS, the Aussie one?
    - Our little girl turns 5 this July, so we were planning on enrolling her next calender year, do we need to try and get school place now, are we to late?
    - whats the best way to go about finding a maid, how did you find yours?
    - do HK employers usually package Health Insurance, if not what does it cost?
    - Did you bother negotiating a car lease into the package?
    - Did you negotiate club membership into your package?

    are there any other questions I should be asking :P

    Many thanks in advance folks.

    Hoping to join the in country expat family soon.

    Cheers

    LD


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Sai Kung
    Posts
    8,561
    - How long did it take you to move over (get visa's, pack up and relo the furniture etc)?- i came over in 1995 as a backpacker intending to stay a week, so it won't have any bearing on what it will take for you and your family

    Whats the best way to go searching for a place. Come over and rent a serviced apartment for a month or so, other?-yes, i would definitely say negotiate to have a serviced apt or hotel included in your package for a month in order for you to find a place and get settled
    Employer will be near Central / Admiralty, where would you recommend our family live, Wan Chi, Happy Valley, other?-
    for life with two young kids, coming from sydney, you may want to try discovery bay. it is amazing for kids BUT schooling is hard to come by, as it is throughout the rest of hong kong

    What sort of rent would you pay 3 bed + maid qtrs - im thinking 50-70K p.m?-man, i wish! that's what hubby and i earn COMBINED! you will have no problem AT ALL. in discovery bay, you will most likely get 2000' + garden for that kind of rent.

    What school would you recommend based on above work / rental loc. CIS, the Aussie one?-i would forget about recommended schools and just apply to pretty much everything. there are HUGE waiting lists for all of the international schools, especially P1.

    Our little girl turns 5 this July, so we were planning on enrolling her next calender year, do we need to try and get school place now, are we to late?- it is unlikely that your daughter would be old enough to start p1 in september (remember we are NOT on an aussie school year here ~ only exception is the australian int'l school). our school year starts end august or early september (depending on the school). you need to contact the schools you are interested in and find out when your should try to enroll your daughter, what age she will be accepted etc. i would also talk to your employer to see if they have any corporate debentures that they have purchased. if so, you will be bumped WAY up the waiting list. if not, i would seriously ask them to not only include schooling in your package, but also a debenture.

    whats the best way to go about finding a maid, how did you find yours?- word of mouth or through an agency

    do HK employers usually package Health Insurance, if not what does it cost?-no idea, i've been self-employed for 95% of my time here. public healthcare is sufficient for myself and my family (2 children & hubby) at minimal cost.

    Did you bother negotiating a car lease into the package?-second hand cars here are cheap, leasing is not so common. besides, if you've never been here, driving can be a bit of a hassle. parking, drivers that never signal/indicate, poor street signs etc can make driving a headache if you don't know where you are going.... not to mention occasionally insane traffic. public transportation here is also EXTREMELY efficient, clean, cheap and the popular choice for 99% of the population.

    Did you negotiate club membership into your package? in my 15 years here, i've never been a member of a club...i'm just as happy using the public pool with my kids... at a tiny fraction of the cost.
    MargaretEv and landog like this.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Back in California (finally!).
    Posts
    2,079

    "My wife and I are 2 senior Mngrs (15 years exp), in Software and service delivery, currently nearing final stage on package negotiation with a potential employer in HK."

    Your circumstances are quite similar to ours when we arrived two years ago. Although we are American, we lived in Sydney (Chatswood) for three years prior to relocating to HK. So we were expats in Sydney as well as Hong Kong, and although my wife is originally from Taiwan, the cultural difference between Sydney and Hong Kong is a lot bigger than between California and Sydney.

    - How long did it take you to move over (get visa's, pack up and relo the furniture etc)?

    You need to allow a few weeks or months to get the HK work visas, and then hopefully you will be able to have a global mobility company move your stuff. Usually you will be allowed a few cubic meters of personal goods to be air-shipped, while the rest will have to come via container ship, which will take at least five weeks.

    - Whats the best way to go searching for a place. Come over and rent a serviced apartment for a month or so, other?

    Assuming you intend to all come over at the same time (we staggered our move for a number of reasons) try to work out, with your employer, an arrangemenet for a serviced apartment for a limited period - one to three months. You will need to take the better part of a week to look around, get used to the property market, and find a place to live. Additionally, you may wish to make the move during the summer, which is the worst time of year, but at least your kids won't be missing school

    - Employer will be near Central / Admiralty, where would you recommend our family live, Wan Chi, Happy Valley, other?

    That depends on a number of things. HK is a pretty convenient city, so it is easy to get to Central from anywhere via subway. However, the mid-levels, while very expensive, are even more convenient - everything is a five minute, A$3 taxi ride. If you want to be further out, I sort of like Pok Fu Lam; it has some nice, newer developments, and is a little cheaper. It is about a 15 minute taxi ride though. Many people like Happy Valley also, and it is probably easier because it has subway access. Be warned though -- getting there in a taxi during any busy time of day is frequently very difficult because of the racing club...so if you live there you will want to be close to the subway.

    Kowloon is also good if you live near a subway station and is generally more affordable.

    - What sort of rent would you pay 3 bed + maid qtrs - im thinking 50-70K p.m? I think this is realistic. You should be able to find something reasonable for that.

    - What school would you recommend based on above work / rental loc. CIS, the Aussie one?

    Schools turned out to be a bit problem for us: we couldn't get priority anywhere and our employers were no help (they may be able to help you). CIS and HKIS are both good but there is always a waiting list. We ended up sending both our kids to an ESF school, Glenealy School (let me know if you don't know about the ESF [English Schools Foundation] schools) which is a fine school -- I think generally the academic standards are a bit higher than we experienced in Australia which is mostly a good thing. We actually waited until our kids were ensured spaces before signing a lease...we obviously didn't want to ship them to the other side of HK. Although I certainly have compliants, I am very pleased overall by the ESF schools -- good quality and a reasonable price. Although teaching is in English, the Mandarin program is quite good also (our kids also have a tutor for Mandarin). As you might expect, your kids aren't going to learn Mandarin in HK unless they are enrolled in a class.

    - Our little girl turns 5 this July, so we were planning on enrolling her next calender year, do we need to try and get school place now, are we to late?

    There are waiting lists everywhere but you may be able to get her into a "Level 1" i.e., kindergarten, at an ESF or other school. She is the same age our youngest was when we arrived.

    - whats the best way to go about finding a maid, how did you find yours?

    We went to an agency but if we were to do it again we might just go to Geoexpat or another web site. There is a very efficient regulatory system for helpers in HK, and it works quite well. Just take time to know the rules and regulations. I would check into your candidates references carefully. Many helpers, epecially the Filipinas, are college educated and can be very helpful with homework, etc. Others are barely literate. So it depends on your priorities. Generally speaking, you are able to trust any helper you hire with your kids lives -- they are pretty devoted, generally.

    - do HK employers usually package Health Insurance, if not what does it cost?

    Health insurance is frequently mandatorily covered by employers. Even if you don't have insurance, HK has a great medical system and many competent doctors, and prices are reasonable. There are many convienient clinics downtown and it is easy to get an appointment.

    - Did you bother negotiating a car lease into the package?

    No. With all the expats coming and going in HK, it is very easy to buy a car cheaply.

    - Did you negotiate club membership into your package?

    That is probably a good idea, especially if there aren't many recreational facilities wherever you eventually decide to live. Many employers have deals with the clubs where there is a reduced 'entry fee' and a reasonable monthly payment. You may be able to get your employer to spring for the initiation fee, or they may have a 'rotating membership' available.

    That's all I can think of for now.

    Last edited by Freetrader; 08-05-2010 at 02:50 PM.
    MargaretEv, landog and LibertyRose like this.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    3

    guys very very helpful thanks!

    FT funny, we were heading to SFO but pulled the plug and this this opportunity came up

    Ill keep you guys posted on progress, and return with any further questions along the way.

    Thanks again guys


  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    7

    Just popping in to say hi - but not offer any help.

    We will be moving from Syd to HKG a few months after you. We have 2 boys (currently 5 & 8) so I am asking all the same questions you are. Your questions are great and the answers provided have helped me too - Thanks.


  6. #6

    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Gold Coast Marina
    Posts
    17,934

    - How long did it take you to move over (get visa's, pack up and relo the furniture etc)?
    * Anything from a couple of days to a couple of months.... you can, for example, come over for 'meetings' before actually starting work if you are keen to get going and before your visa arrives. However, if you want to do it properly, then allow at least 8 weeks for visa once the application is submitted. That should be plenty of time to arrange a removalist to deal with all your stuff.
    - Whats the best way to go searching for a place. Come over and rent a serviced apartment for a month or so, other?
    * Yes. Stay in a hotel for a couple of days to find a serviced appartment, then a month in a serviced appartment gives you time to suss out locations and get everything organised. It can be done faster but if you want to get it right, this is probably the best approach.
    - Employer will be near Central / Admiralty, where would you recommend our family live, Wan Chi, Happy Valley, other?
    * Entirely depends on what lifestyle you want. I work in Admiralty and live in the Gold Coast (what, never heard of it? not surprised, it's a fair way away!). I do this because I'd go crazy in the middle of the contrete jungle that is Hong Kong Island .... on the other hand the bus commute would drive others crazy! I'd start a whole separate thread on this is I were you and list your desires.
    - What sort of rent would you pay 3 bed + maid qtrs - im thinking 50-70K p.m?
    * You'll get something very nice for that in a good location. I guess what jumps to mind when I see that amount is "why"? You can also get something perfectly acceptable for alot less, and save a packet - but that's personal preference (and yes, to be clear, I could pay that much if I wanted to, this is not an opinion from a student or something!).
    - What school would you recommend based on above work / rental loc. CIS, the Aussie one?
    * No comment - not my area of expertise.
    - Our little girl turns 5 this July, so we were planning on enrolling her next calender year, do we need to try and get school place now, are we to late?
    * No comment - not my area of expertise.
    - whats the best way to go about finding a maid, how did you find yours?
    * Word of mouth. Do you know anyone leaving who recommends theirs? That's probably the best way to get someone good. Otherwise the agency approach is fine, but nothing beats a personal recommendation.
    - do HK employers usually package Health Insurance, if not what does it cost?
    * In my opinion, that the level you clearly are, then yes, I'd say it should be part of the package. As to cost, no idea (mine is part of my package!).
    - Did you bother negotiating a car lease into the package?
    * A car is more of a hindrance. Take the cash instead and use public transport/taxis - far more flexibility. The only reason to have a car in HK is a) if you live in an outlying district or b) if you need a status symbol.
    - Did you negotiate club membership into your package?
    * No but that shouldn't stop you trying. Can be a good way to find friends etc. At minimum could you try getting Amcham or Australian association membership? Its not expensive but gives good networking/entertainment benefits.

    landog likes this.

  7. #7

    Hi all,

    We are also in the same position as the op and MargaretEv.

    Do many people live in Clearwater Bay and travel to the Aussie School and what is the travelling time?


  8. #8

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    3

    thanks Movingin07, appreciate your candid perspective.

    Things are progressing slowly, but I am making progress

    Yes Ive been to the GC a few times, really nice.

    MargaretEV & Croquet King - keep me posted on your progress (either in this thread or PM).

    Would be fun to hook up once we all get there. I understand though (or at least in my case) the need for anonymity until a certain stage so as not to put at risk any employment processes etc.

    I think Ive kind of settled on Happy Valley, but will do the survey from a serviced apartment for a month or so as suggested. Ill buy a 2nd hand car once we have settled in. ideally kids will go to either HKAIS or CIS.

    Im not sure if we will bother shipping the furniture... But storage isnt cheap either... still tossing this one around.

    cheers


  9. #9

    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    6

    We are an Australian family relocating from Switzerland to HK. We will be sending our kids to the Australian School. My husband will be working in Wanchai but we plan to live in Sai Kung. Can`t offer much advice as we haven`t arrived yet but I would say get your school applications in ASAP. We had no luck getting a place at the ESF schools (even with a Corporate Surety application) and other schools I rang laughed at me. But we did eventually get places at the Australian School.

    Good luck!


  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    4

    We are Aussies with 2 pre school children who have moved here 6 weeks ago. Both professionals but I'm currently not working. Here's my perspective:
    1. How long to move etc? As PP have said, a few months should be plenty, may be able to do it quicker but that is a reasoable time frame. Our stuff took about 4-5 weeks to be shipped (from melbourne)
    2. Where to live, how to find. definitely get a serviced apartment or hotel (apartment easier with kids) and have a look around, as the best place is so dependent on your priorities and is different for everyone. We had pretty much settled on our preferred area before we arrived (had been to HK) but then changed our mind once we had a look around and really happy with our choice.
    3.Rent Yes you will get something pretty nice for that, again it will depend on your priorites ie. new vs space vs location etc
    4.Schoos Best thing to do is pick some you are interested in and check them out as part of your decision as where to live (it will be one of the priorities) As PP have said, they are very hard to get into particularly the early years and so you might decide to live somewhere because of this. For example, the Australian school is in Kowloon Tong which ruled it out for us because we are living southside on the island and it is too far away. We checked out Kellett, French International, Canadian International, Chinese Intern and ESF. All have massive waiting lists, check with your potential employer if they have debentures (this is a whole other story in itself but feel free to PM if you want some detail on our research! All schools have different ages and processes for starting, very confusing)
    5. Maid Word of mouth is good and pretty easy once you decide where you are living as so many are leaving all the time. I did try an agency and did get some good options but ended up going through recommendation.
    6. Health insurance, car, club V common to be included in package for corporate roles, definitely would ask for this and club membership as per PP thoughts. We get both, didn't have a choice of club but v happy with what we were given (Aberdeen Marina Club which is close to us and has great facilities). Wouldn't bother with car though, we do have a car but bought second hand (very easy to do, it is only 2 years old with v low km) and cos of tax situation here not particularly worth it unless you want something swish or you think it's a good way to increase overall package.

    hope this is helpful, good luck with your move. We are loving being here!!!

    landog likes this.

Closed Thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast