Hong Kong - where to live?

(9 Posts)
tigerlatic Tue 01-Apr-14 20:56:35

We will be moving to HK in August and need to decide where to live. Our children will be going to school in Lam Tin. We have three kids so need space! I'll be a SAHM with our 2 yr old so would like to be somewhere with other expat SAHMs. Any thoughts?

CharityCase Wed 02-Apr-14 06:14:19

Couple of questions

- Any preference house vs. apartment?
- Do you drive? Will you have a car?
- What's your budget?

Firstly, space is relative. Only 5% of HK housing stock is units over 1500 sq ft, and you pay a big premium above that. A typical HK house (known as a village house) is 3 floors of 700 sq ft each, but the measurements are weird, so it feels a lot less. Be prepared for less space than you had in the UK. Look for units advertised as "high efficiency" if you're looking at apartments.

That said, given that space is a priority and your DC are going to school in Kowloon, it's worth focusing your search over there because you get more sq footage for your $.

Clearwater bay/ Sai Kung have a lot of expats and are the "no brainer" locations to look at near Lam Tin. However, I wouldnt move there without a car, possibly two as very limited public transport/ none once you leave the main road. Houses go for around HK$60-250k per month depending on exact location, size and level of loveliness. There's a lot in the 60-80 range. However, manage your expectations- most village houses have very little in terms of garden, especially at the bottom of that range.

A less "obvious" area, but with an increasing number of expats is Shatin. This is cheaper and better connected by public transport. It's not close to the beaches. It's got some nice villa developments around it, but again you'd probably need a car.

Sorry cant be more help but I live in mid-levels (which is a possibility, depending on budget and school bus routes) so not that familiar with NT beyond those areas.

eastendfareast Wed 02-Apr-14 06:37:18

Great advice from Charitycase. Sai Kung and Clearwater Bay both offer a lovely lifestyle, and would work with your school choice. The only thing is that you may miss out a bit on the real Hong Kong experience of the hustle and bustle, and convenience, but you trade that for green views and beaches.

If you do get a car, there are good deals on second hand vehicles as they are not popular with locals and driving here is relatively straight forward although the standard of driving is pretty crap.

If you are on Facebook, join a group called Hong Kong Moms - there are thousands of members and you can have pretty much any question answered. Also have a look at The HK Hub - has loads of info on moving to and settling into HK.

Even though you will be a SAHM, definitely consider getting a helper. This will really make the lifestyle here feel worth the move. Helpers generally come from the Philipines and Indonesia and provide childcare, housekeeping and general duties and are a godsend with kids. Minimum wage is only just over HK$4,000 per month, although you will need to pay more if you want someone very experienced.

When we moved here my helper was brilliant at helping me get over the transition - she knew where to shop, understood how HK works, and also speaks Cantonese which is very very useful!

Good luck - pm if you have questions.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Wed 02-Apr-14 10:33:46

really depends on your budget and wether you want to be on Hong Kong Island or not.

In any case, I'd say get a car, you will likely be in an area removed from public transport if you want a house.

clearwater/sai kung sound like a good plan. Lots of lovely people there.

Yes do come to the Hong Kong moms group. VERY helpful bunch!

Aha eastandfareast think I may have figured who you are in RL!!! Eeeeek first time that's happened in 11 years! Are YOU the Hub?
If yes, PM me and I'll come out too ;-)

MasterOfTheYoniverse Wed 02-Apr-14 10:37:37

yes, do get a helper. No brainer, no guilt trip, don't even hesitate for a second.
the HK moms facebook page is usefull for that as there are always recommendations from families leaving HK. They usually try and secure a new job for their helpers before they go and usually a good sign that your prospective employee left a good impression and is familiar with a western lifestyle.

tigerlatic Wed 02-Apr-14 12:55:13

Thank you. We don't have a big budget - prob up to 30k a month. A car is something we're thinking about. Or maybe there'll be a school bus. Thank you for teh info about a helper. Would be great to have someone help with the cleaning and be available for some babysitting! we wouldn't want a 'live-in' helper though. Great advice about accomodation and what to expect. We'd also want an English speaking Scout group for our DS and a tennis club for me!! Thanks for the info about the facebook page - I'll join when we've told everyone we're leaving. we don't want to tell everyone yet as it's not fair on the DC...

CharityCase Thu 03-Apr-14 04:03:55

Anything other than live-in is illegal unfortunately, although people do it-more critically FT live out adds $2k to your monthly costs because you have to pay their boarding fees, or you can pay part timers $60/hr (still illegal but again, not uncommon). PT can be unreliable though, especially if they're someone else's FT helper who is allowed to do a bit of PT on the side.

There will probably be a school bus- most schools have them, but not from all areas, so worth checking with the school now where they currently bus from, and also what it costs (some of them are reasonable, some are, er, not).

Re housing, $30k is not going to get you a house unless you move way out into the NT where you will def need at least one car and there may be fewer expats. Where is your DH working?

tigerlatic Fri 04-Apr-14 16:59:17

Thanks for the advice. We need all the space we can get for our three DC so no room for helper! I think we will get a car. Sai Kung is looking popular though not sure what we can afford. I've been looking on squarefoot though it's so hard to tell about properties looking on the internet with their measurements and sometimes bizarre photos. And lots with buckets of paint left in the room!! My husband is working Kowloon too.

eastendfareast Sat 05-Apr-14 02:12:35

Are you coming over to view properties? You should aim to come and have a look around a variety of areas to see what you can get for your money, but to be honest, $30k is not going to get you a lot of space regardless of where you live so I think another conversation with your husband's employer to improve housing budget would be sensible. You would need around $50k minimum to get a decent space in Sai Kung but it would probably still not be finished that well in terms of bathrooms and kitchen.

Also most places have a separate helper room, which is generally very small but means you should have space to have someone live in. Don't go down the live out/part time route. It's illegal and immigration do crack down and fine employers and deport helpers so the risk is not worth it.

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