Possible move to Hong Kong - need advice

(7 Posts)
JoshandJamie Thu 08-May-14 19:41:21

Hi

My DH hasn't officially been offered the job yet, but he has been shown what his package would be should he get through his final interview (they are very keen on him). His office would be in Causeway Bay.

I have been taking a look at schools and areas to live and I want to cry already. The property is all so insanely expensive and it seems impossible to get into any of the international schools unless you have a huge debenture you can chuck at them (which we won't).

So advice that I need:

Schools
I was ideally after a school that followed the British curriculum so that should we move back, it's not too much of a drama. Also, my boys (aged 8 and 10) might find it more familiar given all the other change they'll be going through. Happy for them to do IB too though.

But Harrow and the Kellett School seem to be the only British Curriculum ones I can see. Am I wrong? I like the look of the Hong Kong Academy in terms of ethos but it doesn't seem to offer any sport and I have two very sporty boys. Any advice on which schools are best? I know it's almost luck of the draw where you can actually get in, but it would be good to start off knowing which ones are good.

Areas to live
I know this will largely depend on which school the kids end up at. But in an ideal world, this is the kind of place I want to live: close to the sea/ability to get the kids into sailing, have 'fresher' air, greenery, but also some life like shops, restaurants etc plus must be commutable to Causeway Bay and ideally have a sense of community/other expats I could meet. I don't particularly want to live in a high rise - would far prefer a village type house or something on the ground floor so that my two boys can run around.

I have looked at Clearwater Bay as it seems very nice but not much happening. Would I feel isolated? The places on the south of HK island like Repulse Bay etc are ludicrously expensive and mainly seem to be high rise buildings. Discovery Bay seems nice, if a little safe and possibly a pain if you want to get onto HK Island (longer commute for DH) but there are over 800 kids on the waiting list for the school.

Any suggestions on good friendly places to live? If you live in HK, where do you live and what do you like about it?

Frankly any advice is greatly appreciated. I feel like I don't even know where to start.

CherryLip Fri 09-May-14 17:58:37

Hi. I am in HK arriving last September but that was when my youngest went to Uni! I am under the impression that the shortage of school places is a big problem here. I hope one of the known HK posters will be along soon to help.

CharityCase Sat 10-May-14 12:49:40

Hi there. I have lived in HK for 5 years and I have 2 DC who are 4&2.

Firstly, housing- if you want a garden/ terrace, unless you have an enormous budget (like 140k per month) you won't be able to live on the island. As you've seen you can get houses in CWB (and further north in Sai Kung) for less than half that, and they are the big expat hubs off the island, as well as Disco Bay. However, as you rightly point out, CWB doesn't have much going on, and you'll need at least 1 car. Sai Kung is a town so there's more happening, but it's further to the island and there's no MTR anywhere near so you have to bus, then MTR. You could survive in SK without a car but it wouldn't be ideal. Disco Bay is like marmite. People either really love it or run screaming- it's very "manufactured" but it's great for kids as it's traffic free. However, it would be a massive PITA for the school commute if Nord Anglia is your choice (see below). Re. housing, my overall comment would be that you need to manage your expectations because HK housing is always a compromise. No-one lives in as nice a house as they would have in the UK. Avocado bathroom suites live on. All my friends who have more than 2 DC have them sharing bedrooms, and many who have 2 DC. Only 5% of HK housing stock is more than 1,500sq ft and it therefore commands a premium. Also, re high rise, some of the easiest communities in HK to integrate into are within the tower developments like Bel Air, Bamboo Grove and Park View. Bamboo grove would be very convenient for Causeway Bay, and not terrible for Nord Anglia. Therefore, don't write them off. Most have some outside space, albeit communal.

In terms of schools, Nord Anglia is a new British curriculum school opening on Kowloon side in September. I believe they still have spaces. The downside of it is that it's a for profit school. However, the group has a very good reputation (British School in Shanghai etc). I'd be surprised if HKA doesn't do sport as they have an amazing new campus up near Sai Kung. However, it's really hard to get into. You may get places at Kellett in the higher years- call them and ask- it's usually only reception that's a crush. Ditto Harrow. Kellett offers a choice between capital contribution and debenture I believe. Harrow is debenture only and it's something like 600k per child (refundable)

Causeway Bay is relatively easy to get to from most places. It's on the MTR and there are tonnes of buses.

If I were you, I would nail the school thing first and then figure out where to live based on commutability to school and Causeway Bay. Your DC are likely to be able to go to and from school on a school bus which will offer door to door service (or close to it).

HTH

JoshandJamie Sat 10-May-14 14:34:37

Than you CharityCase - that is awesome info. I hope I can pick your brain some more as this evolves!

tigerlatic Thu 15-May-14 14:57:52

We're also moving to HK in August! Our DC are enrolled at NAIS so we're looking at Sai Kung/CWB. Does anyone have advice on estate agents? Which to use? Any tips?

CharityCase Thu 15-May-14 15:55:29

Post on FB on HongKong Moms re estate agents (I think there might also be a sai kung moms page). I had an awesome one but she moved to Singapore :-(

Camilla12345 Sun 17-Aug-14 19:28:07

Hi can you join me to the Hong Kong moms Facebook page as we are moving in October from uk. I clicked join group but not been accepted yet
Thanks

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