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13/02/2012, 01:24 PM
We're looking at taking a job in Hong Kong around July.
I believe the school year starts in September?
We have no idea apart from minimal recommendations from friends and from me searching the Hong Kong threads here.
So a few questions to start with are
Schools I was originally looking at NIS, Kellet or AIS but someone suggested we look at living in Kennedy Town and recommended the school there which I think is an ESF school?
Is that area of town ok or can you suggest other more family friendly places to look at living?
Family of 5 here 6yr old, 4 yr old and a 1yr old.
Also what kind of salary would you expect to be comfortable living on.
I realise this is not an easy question to answer but as a guide we're looking at a wage of just over 1mil HKD
We have to cover school fees and rent ourselves.
13/02/2012, 02:29 PM
I lived in HK from 1998-2010. Both my children were born in and went to school in HK.
The biggest issue you face is finding a school place for your children. English speaking places are very, very limited and many expats miss out. Schooling will determine where you need to live. Frustratingly, some schools won't even consider your application until you are a resident. You're best to make direct enquiries.
Whilst tax is reasonable in HK (effectively a 15% flat rate), housing is very expensive. Housing for a family, even more so. Also, the cost of international schools is generally equivalent to the cost of an elite private school in Australia (can be up to AU$20k+ per child per year). You should also consider private health insurance. Food is more expensive than Australia, unless you want to eat meat and vege from China.
It is common for expats to be offered housing allowance, school fees and health insurance on top of a base salary and I would certainly negotiate those in addition to your package. You can also often negotiation return airfares to your home. On your figures:
Salary - HK$1m
Tax - HK$150,000 (simplified calculation
Schooling (for 2 children) - HK$210,000 + (see http://www.aishk.edu.hk/page.php?page_id=72)
Housing - a big variable, but I can't imagine you finding anything large enough for a family in any area for less than HK$30k/month = HK$360,000 (and that is really a very small, old flat, in a not very central location)
Health insurance -???? I don't know, both DH's and my companies always paid for this directly
A HK$1m salary doesn't leave much to live on. I recommend negotiating a higher salary or allowances for schooling, housing and health at a minimum. For a family, I'd also recommend a housing allowance of at least HK$50k.
Yes, of course many people can and do live on less. I'm not saying it is not possible, just that your standard of living won't be as high as you may have hoped.
13/02/2012, 02:56 PM
I lived in HK for 5 years (2005-10) and we had an average wage of $1m HK...
Our rent was $25k per month but we were living 40m out of the city in a place called Tai Po but it was a very nice apartment with an outdoor area (approx 1400sft) but living closer to the city I agree you will be paying a minimum of $35k and it will be a pretty basic complex...
My children went to NIS - and I was really happy with the school although I know the school has now changed hands and a lot of the parents I know are not happy there now... but that's all an individual choice. If we were still there I was considering JIS (Japanese International school) or AIS (aussie School) however it wasn't just a matter of which one we chose, but whether our children could get in.
When I applied to AIS, there was a 2 year waiting list and even then there was no guarantee so I would start the enrolment process NOW if I were you.
Your 4 year old will also have to go to school so you'll have to factor that into your fees. I agree with Jane01 that you'll be looking at $200k or so for school fees for 2 kids and then once your 3rd goes to school, tack on another $100k to that.
We did survive on $1m HK but I'm not a big spender. Our son had Occupational THerapy and Speech therapy at HK$1000HK per session (twice a week).
We had a car so you have to factor running costs of that into the budget too (car is cheap but fuel and ongoing maintenance and rego /insurance is expensive).
Our husbands company did not pay for rent, school or health insurance and they were BIG out of pocket costs for us...
In my opinion if you're already going to live in HK you want to live comfortably and I think you should definitely try to negotiate the company paying for school and rent and health inusrance (we tried and tried and tried with DH's company but they just wouldn't budge, in the last year though they did pay our health insurance - or at least part of it, like 4 visit a year to the GP and hospital only insurance).
As JANE01 says, living in HK is expensive - so you may want to weigh up your costs and see if you can live comfortably in HK on that money.
$150k on tax
$200k on school (for now)
$350 - $400k on rent
That's already $700-$750k spent without factoring in electricity, gas, cable tv (and you WILL want cable tv, lol), internet and phone connections, car costs (if you get a car, depending on where you live) and general living costs.
Our company didn't pay for relcocation costs nor for travel back to Australia - so that all adds up too...
Also, most expats have a Domestic Helper that either lives in or out of your house. I never had a Domestic Helper but I was definitely in the small minority on that one. They usually cost approx $3500-$5000 a month as well - just something else to consider.
As JANE01 said, its certainly doable as people live there on much less than that but I thought we lived pretty conservatively but we didn't have much money left over at the end of the day...(and I should mention that for the first 3 years we lived on almost half that amount but our children weren't in school, we lived in a unit that was $12500k per month and didn't have a car - so you can live on less but you also live WITH less IYKWIM).
Good luck with the move!
13/02/2012, 03:07 PM
Wow, thanks for the quick replies.
I emailed AIS and have a reply already which sounds like places wouldn't be so much of a problem. (Good news for us)
I'll have a chat tonight with DH and give him a list of things to ask for.
We'll get a relocation package so visas, flights over there, 1 month accommodation etc so I guess that's a start.
Thanks again...I'm sure I'll be back in with more questions soon
13/02/2012, 03:26 PM
FYI, the Australian School follows the same school dates as in Australia - so the school year there is January - December, all other schools are September - June...
13/02/2012, 06:53 PM
And if you live in HK, they should pay you to put up with the pollution. It is really, really bad. Worse than I can describe and it is constant. Maybe 2 good weeks a year, at most. You will rarely see blue sky. It is getting worse, not better.
24/02/2012, 09:15 AM
We've taken the job and have to be there by the end of April.
We will have a relocation agent to help us but can you tell me where NOT to look at housing?
We'd prefer to stay central for a while if possible. Mid Levels, Pok Fu Lam, areas ok? Like I said we really have no idea where to start but if you could tell me where to steer clear of that would be fantastic.
So much to do in such a short time. We're just hoping the visas are done in time.
I'm not sure if this is a silly question but is it possible to have just a cleaner come around, not live in? I've never had any help with our children before so don't think I'll feel comfortable with a live in 'Maid' to start with. I'm definitely open to the idea of getting a cleaner though.
I've found out that our rent will be tax deductible so that's a help.
We managed to up the wage by quite a bit too so we're feeling much more confident that we've made the right decision.
I've decided against the Australian school and am looking at the ESF schools. Unless you can tell me any reasons to rethink that idea? I've done alot of reading of forums etc and from what I can tell they seem like our version of a public school....(an expensive one)
Our children currently go to a private school here in Sydney but we're open to change as long as they're happy and getting a passing education. We figure we can always change if it doesn't suit them.
Thanks so much for your help so far.
24/02/2012, 11:18 AM
I don't have time to give you a full reply right now but you could check out these forums for now, - before I moved and while I was living in HK, these forums were VERY helpful:http://hongkong.geoexpat.com/http://hongkong.asiaxpat.com/
JANE01 - correct me if I'm wrong but you have to attend the ESF school that is in your catchment area as far as I understand. So, if you have your eye on a particular ESF school - then you should aim to live in an area that will allow you to attend that school. My children didn't go to ESF and I don't know much about it, but that was my understanding...
I'll try to pop in later with a more detailed reply...
I can't help much except that I have a friend who works for Renaissance College, which is an ESF school, and she loves it.
Best if luck with your move.
25/02/2012, 12:03 PM
Congrats to your DH on getting the job and this exciting new chapter in your lives.
I live on an outlying island so don't know much about life in Central/Midlevels/Pokfulam, but I think they would be fine as somewhere to stay while you look around. Obviously they are very built up, but so is everywhere in HK. The road to Pokfulam is quite windy (as in it winds around) so if anyone in the family is prone to travel sickness you might want to avoid the south side of HK island.
Yes, it is possible to have a cleaner just come around, but you have to use one of the established companies to do it legally (e.g. http://www.merrymaids.com.hk)
. It is not legal to employ someone else's domestic helper to come around to your place to clean part time, but having said that many people do.
My child goes to an ESF Private Independent School and children of my friends go to ESF schools. Everyone is happy with the schools their kids attend. The problem is getting a place at one of them. Especially for four-year-old, this will be a big problem. Although frankly the six-year-old may have trouble too. There have been more expats arriving in HK recently and demand for places is very high. A lot of local parents also want their kids to go to ESF schools, so there is a lot of competition for the places.
There are a few places springing up catering for children who have missed out on school places, providing age-appropriate classes, so you may be able to sort something out even if a school place is not immediately available. At the moment ESF are finalising offers for August 2012 admissions. For my child's school, first round offers have gone out and been accepted/rejected, and second-round offers are now out. I think they may have been due back yesterday.
At ESF schools, your children go into a grade based on year of birth. For the academic year starting August 2012, if your oldest child was born in 2005 then they will go into P3. If your middle child was born in 2007 they go into P1. If s/he was born in 2008, they will go into K2 at a kindergarten.
My cousins moved here last year with two kids aged 8 and 6. They eventually got a place at a non-ESF school for the older child, but the younger one did not get a place. After 6 months she got a place at her sibling's school when one became available (as a sibling you get priority on the waiting list at most schools).
Just be aware that it could be a protracted process to get your kids into school. This makes it difficult to know where to live. You can try ringing ESF to ask if any schools might have places and what their catchment areas are.
Feel free to PM me if you would like to ask any other questions.
Good luck with the move - always a stressful time!
25/02/2012, 12:51 PM
There's really not an area to "NOT" look at housing... everyone has different ideas and feelings on where to live in HK - and where some people live may not be what others like... I know where I was living in Tai Po, there's not a lot of expats there, I liked it but a lot of my friends said they'd never move there... where JENAYDS lives there are A LOT of expats... it really comes down to personal preference so its really hard to tell you where to live... I personally don't like the city - too busy and noisy for me, but other friends of mine love it! We moved 3 times in 5 years while living in HK and its not unusual for people to move often. You mentioned Mid-Levels and Pok Fu Lam, a lot of expats do live there but they are both expensive areas - do you know what your housing budget will be as that could easily dictate where you live (it certainly did for us!)
JENAYDS has given you a wonderful rundown of the ESF schools and now that she's said that I remember a number of my friends having issues getting their kids into ESF schools... its just such a different system to Australia - and there are "interviews" the children have to have before being accepted also (that applies to ALL schools, not just ESF). I know one of the main reasons I didn't go with ESF was that as JENAYDS mentioned, it is strictly you go into the specific year for your age group. As my son was born in September 05 he had to go in a specific grade but he was just not ready - he was a slow talker and just couldn't keep up with the other children so I asked if he could stay back a year - start school a year later and instead of being one of the younger kids, he could be one of the older kids but they wouldn't allow it, that's why we went to a private school and he was able to stay back a year and he flourished... best decision I ever made for him. School is tough in HK, we came back to Oz when he was 5 and he was so far ahead of the other children in his pre-primary class (and he was a year behind the class he was MEANT to be in HK!) We had friends that moved from QLD to HK when their son was 7, they tried ESF but their son just couldn't keep up, they were so far ahead in HK from what he was learning in Oz... so she also went to a private school so he could go in a year lower so he could keep up with the school work... just something to keep in mind when moving there.
DITTO to what JENAYDS said about the cleaner. As we didn't have a domestic helper, it wasn't allowed for me to ask other people's helpers to just come and clean my place a few hours a week and I thought MerryMaids was too expensive so I just cleaned myself - our units were always fairly small, 3 br, 2 bathroom and I didn't work so I just did the housework myself, just like I did / do here in Oz.
RE: the visas being done in time. I don't know if things have changed, but you don't need to have a visa in advance of entering HK. You get a visitors visa upon entering HK and you're allowed to stay for 3 months. Then you can get your residents visa (your husband would get a work visa and then you would get a dependants visa) while you're already there, when that's approved you just need to leave and re-enter HK to activate it - we would just take a short trip to Macau or Shenzhen to do this - which was just a 1 hr boat ride or bus ride out of HK and spend the day there and then come back but you shouldn't need to have visa in hand before entering HK (although you WILL need the resident visas to get your children a place at school).
Congratulations on the job and move - (and increasing the income!!
27/02/2012, 11:08 PM
Steady on ridgeback, I don't actually LIVE in DB LOL....!
But it's true that where I live is apparently 35% expat (not just 'western' expats but also Indians and other nationalities). It's very pleasantly diverse and I like the area.
It's also true that the school system is much 'further ahead' of the equivalent age grade in Australia. My four year old has just passed his interview for P1 admission this coming August. They need to be able to confidently communicate in English, know the alphabet (both letters and the sounds the letters make), count to 20, recognise numbers out of order, write their name, follow directions, behave appropriately towards peers etc etc. In P1 they learn to read - full on read, it's amazing the difference between the beginning of the year and the end of the year. Going into P3 most kids will be up to reading early chapter books (ones with short chapters).
If you feel your kids will need some catching up, I highly recommend ABC Reading Eggs (http://readingeggs.com.au) to help them progress at their own pace. It did wonders for my first son when he was 4 and needed some catching up before P1.
Having said all that, teachers are used to kids coming in from other schooling systems and being at a different level, and they do differentiate for them. But it will definitely be easier for your kids if they can catch up as much as possible before August.
27/02/2012, 11:21 PM
I also recommend this book:http://www.amazon.com/Hong-Kong-Complete-R...e/dp/9768182792
Useful chapters on things like leases and so forth, that normal tourist books don't cover.
28/02/2012, 12:51 PM
WOW thanks so much for the replies so far. It all helps.
We're now seriously thinking about Yew Chung International School. Do you know anything about the school? From what I can tell it's not a 'popular' choice with the expats. Not sure why though other than the bilingual component. I'm actually drawn to that so for us that's a non issue. It is also on the pricey side but there's very little in the way of deposits etc so it works out roughly the same as the other private schools.
We already have reading eggs but to be honest dd is NOT an academic so we're not too fussed about that side of things either. She has some learning difficulties so whichever school we chose she'll be bottom of the class most probably. We're happy as long as the school can accommodate her.
We have a relocation agent as part of our 'package' so they'll actually find us an apartment/house according to our budget in the areas we specify to them so I'm just trying to get a feel for different areas. Good to hear we can't really go wrong in that regard. We have a top TOP budget of 40k for accommodation that we've worked out we're willing to spend and from our searches on the net we can find some decent looking places in the low 30's so we *should* be right.
I love to have all these things organised so it's so hard not being able to see things in person. Luckily we do get a month in a hotel when we land so we do have some time to get our bearings.
We're still looking around Kennedy Town, Sheung Wan, Mid Levels West etc so we'll see what comes up when I finally get to speak to our relocation guru.
Thanks again for the help.
28/02/2012, 02:49 PM
oh JENAYDS - I'm so sorry... of course you're in TC, I was referring to DB as you might have guessed... of course TC isn't over run by expats... my bad! lol
SHELLEY05- I'm not familiar with that school at all.
I'll second the Reading Eggs - my son came a LONG way from using reading eggs - it has helped him immensely (and also saved my sanity as I didn't have to sit down with him all the time to help him read, when it would get too frustrating for me, I'd pop him on the computer to do RE and it was fun and repetitive and he was reading in no time - I'm a huge fan!)
um... with regard to school again. Its not just going to be a matter of which school you decide to pick as your children will need to go through an interview process (some more difficult than others). Keep your options open! The Chinese language classes were actually quite a problem for me when choosing a school. Luckily at our DS's school he didn't need to do much in the way of Chinese until K3 so he was just learning basic words and characters in K1 and didn't need to do any Chinese writing. I was concerned for him as he was already struggling with the English language - doing 2 x sessions of Speech Therapy and 1 x Occupational Therapy per week plus attending school 5 days a week, I was so worried he didn't even have a good grasp of the English language, reading and writing yet and now I was going to confuse him with Chinese!
Luckily this wasn't a concern for us as we left HK before he needed to get really serious about Chinese but learning the symbols and language (and pronunciation!) is difficult (in my opinion). I don't want to scare you off but I just want you to be prepared that school is pretty full on but also learning Chinese on top of that is going to be challenging...
Of course living in HK it is obviously very important for children to be learning Chinese (well, not Chinese, but Mandarin is what they were teaching at my DS' school)... so I do agree with children learning the language but its certainly not an easy subject for expat children to learn - especially coming from a foreign country and not having been exposed to the language before.
I noticed that school you're interested in is in Kowloon Tong - another thing to consider is how you will get your children to school each day. Does the school have a bus service or are you planning to get the MTR (underground train) and take your children to school each day. Its quite a trip to Kowloon Tong from the areas you're looking to live in (Mid-Levels, Sheung Wan etc). I would gauge the majority of children catch the bus to school in HK but it depends how long of a commute you want your children to have too... some of the children in the area where we first lived (Tuen Mun) were travelling on the bus for an hour TO and FROM school and I wasn't prepared to put my 3 year old on a bus for that long... so we moved closer to the school and before we moved, we got a car so it only took 30minutes for me to drive him there instead of him spending 2 hours on a bus each day.
I know this is a LOT of information we're throwing at you and I hope we're not overwhelming you too much because I remember very well how overwhelmed I felt when moving to HK and how much info the girls in HK were giving me and they may as well have been speaking Chinese for all it helped at the time, lol It wasn't until I arrived in HK and was actually living there that things started to make sense and I could put their advice into practise (and I didn't have school aged children then either so I really admire you moving there with 3 kids)!
Fire away if you have any further questions.
28/02/2012, 07:03 PM
An expat friend of mine applied for her daughter to go to Yew Chung for P1 starting Aug/Sept 2012. Her daughter was born here and went to Cantonese preschool and for the last 6 months, English preschool too. She has also had Mandarin tutoring. She passed the first interview and was called back for a second interview. Not sure if they've heard the result yet. But apparently they may not even have places anyway as they have some kind of feeder kindy where the kids get priority and they didn't know yet if all of those kids would go on to P1 and take all the available spaces. So I honestly don't know why they were wasting everyone's time with so many interview rounds.... but basically it is to make sure that whoever they take are the best and brightest. Yew Chung is bilingual (Mandarin/English from what I understand) and I think your kids would struggle hugely coming from a non-Chinese background. If your daughter has learning difficulties I think it would be exceptionally difficult and I would really urge you to reconsider.
It's also worth being aware that ESF Private Independent Schools (Discovery College, Renaissance College) don't really have a lot of learning difficulties support. They have some, but not a lot. 'Normal' ESF schools have access to therapy support services via the ESF Therapy Centre which "provides access to Educational Psychology, Speech & Language Therapy as well as Occupational Therapy".
Please also be aware that while the native language of Hong Kong is Cantonese (with the written form using traditional Chinese characters), the Chinese language taught by most international schools is Mandarin (with the written form using simplified Chinese characters). This is because Mandarin is more 'international', being the official language of China and not just a southern dialect, like Cantonese is.
I have to go now, will check back later.
28/02/2012, 07:22 PM
I used to live in Discovery Bay. I was there about 3 years ago now and lived there for just over a year before moving to Vietnam.
I would choose to live there again if I went back. I made some awesome friends and can't wait to go back and visit this year.
We looked in alot of units in the mid-levels and then started looking further out of 'town'. Finally went to DB (even though everyone said it was awful there) and just loved it. You definitely get more space for your dollar. We lived in a 3 bedroom garden apartment.
If you have a relocation consultant, you might as well have one visit to DB and you can see if its for you or not.
Also in regards to a helper/maid, for my time there in HK, most maids of expats worked part time for other people. Yes, its illegal but basically everyone did it.
28/02/2012, 08:46 PM
DB is popular with expats but the English-medium schools are heavily oversubscribed. Please don't choose to live there without being very aware of this difficulty.
Discovery College's website lists the primary school waiting list numbers:
Current (as of 01 January 2012) waiting lists for primary:
Year 1 (children born in 2006) - > 110
Year 2 (children born in 2005) - > 110
Year 3 (children born in 2004) - > 170
Year 4 (children born in 2003) - > 150
Year 5 (children born in 2002) - > 180
Year 6 (children born in 2001) - < 10
There are a max of 120 in each year group so basically everyone would have to leave before a child with no priority status (sibling etc) would get a place.
Discovery Bay International School doesn't list their waiting list numbers on the website but I wouldn't be surprised if they were similar.
Discovery Mind Kindergarten is opening a lower primary school in DB in August 2012 so that might be an option. No idea what the waiting list is like for that.
There is also the thing I mentioned before for kids without school places, called something like Discovery Bay Academy.
I think the ESF school for DB's geographical area is Bradbury: http://www.bradbury.edu.hk/admissions
This really is a serious problem - a friend of mine has a lovely girl who is a complete delight and is a native English speaker. She applied for six schools for P1 entry in Aug 2012 and didn't get an interview for any of them because she didn't have any priority status at any school. She is a very bright little girl and would have passed the interviews without a problem, but she didn't even get an interview because the lists were so long and kids who were siblings or had other priority status were above her in the lists.
I know we are collectively going on and on about this, but you really need to be aware and have a plan of what to do if school places are not forthcoming. How significant are your daughter's learning difficulties? If they cause significant problems with reading and writing I'm concerned she may have trouble passing the interviews. I would just hate for you to go to all the hassle and expense of moving countries only to have it turn into a bit of a disaster. Forewarned is forearmed and all that!
Gotta go again.
29/02/2012, 03:58 PM
hmmm ok. I've put our applications for Yew Chung and will do the same for ESF. Problem is we still don't have an address. I'll have to have a look around. We were hoping to avoid heavy 'expat' areas if we can. Might try to give ESF a call.
We don't have passports or visas yet either so that will slow down the process I'm sure.
To be honest there's no point in us stressing over the schools. It doesn't matter where dd goes. I know they like 'bright' students over ones that require extra help but I'm not going to coach dd to make her seem something she's not. I'll just be happy if she gets a place somewhere she can be happy to learn. She has a sensory processing disorder/dyspraxia diagnosis. And with that comes a lot of anxiety for her so we like to keep that at a minimum. If that means she doesn't do well in the interviews and misses her place I'll home school and get tutors to help out.
Thanks for all the advise though it really is great to know what we're dealing with
Yew Chung seems great as eventually they'll have to learn the language (Mandarin) anyway. There is a high percentage of Mandarin speaking children who go to the school with the majority of teachers being from Australia, N.Z and Britain so it sounds like a great balance. We'll see. Worst thing that can happen for us is the children aren't happy and we try a different school. Yew Chung also has a very low deposit so nothing to lose really.
Chances are we'll not get a place anyway from what you're all saying it'll be a miracle.
I'm more concerned about these passports and visas at the moment...nightmare!!!
Thanks again Ladies
01/03/2012, 11:01 AM
Great, as long as you are prepared for that scenario (homeschooling with tutors) then something you can live with should work out. Homeschooling is technically illegal here - all school-aged children are supposed to be enrolled in school. However the only prosecutions under that law have been of local families who had petty arguments with their schools and refused to send their children. Expats homeschooling for a good reason are not pursued. There is a homeschooling network here you could link up with if it came to that.
Let us know if you have any more questions, and good luck with all the nightmare packing/garage sales/storage/shipping!
21/03/2012, 09:50 AM
Long time no see or hear. Emma will be starting primary school in September!!! Can you believe it? We are putting her in the Lutheran Academy here in Yuen Long. Lessons are 80% English and 20% Mandarin. School fees I'm not exactly sure but I don't think they're more than $4000 a month. It's a Driect Subsidy School which could be another option for Shell.
21/03/2012, 12:34 PM
HI RACH! xxxxx
Yep, those kids of ours are growing up way too fast!
D in Grade 1 and M in Kindy 3 days a week.
I know Emma's a champion at school - is she speaking Mandarin fluently yet?
And how's Master Charlie enjoying school?
Jack must be growing quickly too - how is he going?
Are you working?
SHELLEY05 - How are you progressing with your move to HK??
22/03/2012, 12:41 PM
Emma finishes kindy this year. She doesn't really like Putonghua but Charlie loves it! Jack is growing seriously quickly. He's over two now. I look at my sig and laugh. That seems so long ago. Emma has lost five teeth and only two have grown back so she's all gummy. Not much excitement going on here. Just same old thing. We're off to Pattaya for the summer break, I can't wait. Yeah I'm back at work. I'm a much nicer person to be around when I'm working. How's things going with you guys?
29/03/2012, 12:30 PM
So sorry I just saw new replies to this. I haven't checked back for a while.
Things are going great guns here, looking forward to just getting there though. We're taking a preplanned road trip to QLD from SYD before we fly out so have to have everything organised a few weeks earlier. So much to think about my poor little brain is feeling the pressure.
We can't really do much here as the packers come in and do it all for us. (bliss) And the relocation agents will 'help' us find a place to live when we arrive so all we can do on that front is ask people about the suburbs etc.
I'm not liking the fact that I have to leave all this to someone else though. I like to have things all preplanned to a degree so it's less disruption for the kids. They're fine though. Super excited about watching movies on the plane again. (the best bit about moving to a new country apparently)
One question for you I did have is about the rentals. Someone has mentioned that the price on the ads are negotiable up to 20% Is this correct in your experience? We've had to tell the relocation people what our housing budget is and obviously there is a huge difference in what you get for your money. Eg. 32-34k or 37k I understand this may depend on the individual landlord but did you find they're willing to negotiate with things like that? Any other hints/tips for us in finding a place?
I hope you're all well. Thanks for thinking of us. And thanks for all the help so far.
31/03/2012, 09:09 PM
For DB real estate, this is a middle-of-the-road agency (not the highest, not the lowest: http://www.kaman.com.hk/
For everywhere else, www.gohome.com.hk - but the listing are not updated very often.
Yes, rental is negotiable, but HK is in a property boom, so don't expect too much.
Be aware that if your children go to YC, that it is a very academic, competitive school environment: you may want to consider getting your children some after school language tutoring.
As for schools in general - let us know how you get on. Generally speaking, parents tend to have their children on several waiting lists, so when one place it taken, half a dozen waiting lists get affected.
If you are not too concerned with curriculum, I would also look at the Japanese Int.School, Canadian Int. School, and The Harbour School. Harbour has very small class sizes and a very individual approach to education.
ESF operate a two tier system -
1. government subsidised (but fee paying) schools, bound by catchment area. Apply to ESF head office as soon as you know where you will be living.
2. private independent school, with no catchment - apply as soon as you step off the plane (if not before).
I lived in HK 1998-2011; the last seven years of that in DB. I think it's a great place for children, but as jenayds has pointed out, school places there are like gold dust. You might be happy with the more space/more travel compromise if you children have to commute to school.
07/05/2012, 02:04 PM
Well we are in our second week here in Hong Kong and I LOVE it so far. We're living in Causeway Bay and I wish we could stay right where we are.
We're probably looking at living in Mid-levels though. We've been out to Disco Bay and I wasn't too taken by it at all. Way too many 'expats'. We're trying to integrate as much as we can and that would totally be the opposite.
We have an interview at Yew Chung tomorrow so we're looking forward to hearing what they have to say.
I have also emailed 4 other potentials including a more 'local' school Li Sing Tai Hang school which is English Medium as well.
I'm just keen to get the children settled into a nice routine again. They've adjusted really well to the crowds which was surprising to me. I thought they'd freak out especially our eldest who has the sensory issues. She likes to explore and is pushing me to go down new streets all the time. It's great as we're finding all kinds of great local restaurants and noodle bars.
Our son is suffering with the humidity though which is a shame but he'll get used to it. Poor thing.
I love it...I'm from CQ so am used to the heat and actually find it comforting.
I'm so relieved that we all like it here...just need to find a house.
10/05/2012, 03:57 PM
Oh great news! I was wondering if you'd made it. The last couple of days, the weather has been glorious.
15/05/2012, 06:14 PM
Yep made it ha ha Our internet is hit and miss here at the serviced apartment though so I haven't been able to pop in much.
We've found a house and are FIRST on the waiting list at a brand new school for little Miss so we're chuffed. On the waiting list at Yew Chung and still have a great chance of getting in. We have another interview next Tuesday.
We're going with Disco Bay which goes against our idea of integrating with the locals as much as possible but we've found a great place for the right price. And well....the school is there
Hope you're all well.
19/05/2012, 11:41 AM
Is the new school the DMK one?
Look at St. Margaret's Primary School as a back up - bus and train from DB. Local school, but very good with expats and one of the more open minded local schools.
19/05/2012, 11:44 PM
Yes it is. D M Preparatory School. We'll check out St Margaret's too, thanks for the tip.
Really the only thing that bothers us is the lack of outdoor space but we are are fairly outdoorsy family so I'm sure we can more than compensate for that.
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