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Hong Kong(9 Posts)
We have the opportunity for a 2 year secondment through my husbands job. Has anyone done this, what do you think of HK? Has it been easy to meet people, how big has the culture shock been? We'd be going with the kids, aged 3 & nearly 5 ( oldest in reception) What are the schools like? (Job would pay for international schooling, accomodation etc)
I'd love to hear from anyone who has done this Thanks
currently in the process of moving to HK
Only 2 things I have to say:
- make sure you properly survey your housing options. By any standard, even with an allowance, rents are sky high.
- Put your name down on the waiting lists for schools NOW. By the time you make up your mind about wether you are going and start setting things in motion IT WILL BE TOO LATE TO SECURE A PLACE. This should be your N.1 priority when you talk to HR and relocation agents if you are offered any in your package.
PS: it is a great fun city.
Many people start off in serviced apartments so that they can have a proper look round at the different areas once they arrive. ESF schools(follow British curriculum) won't confirm your child's place until you've actually arrived and your child will be offered a place according to where you live.
A lot of people with young children choose to live on the south side of HK island and if you're in an apartment, will meet a lot of people in the same position as you. Be prepared for much smaller living space. If you really cant bear the thought of restricted space, you might want to consider Clearwater Bay on Kowloon side.
Some people find it a huge culture shock. I didn't and my sons had a blast growing up here.
I've lived in HK for a year - am married and have just had my first child here. I absolutely love it and we plan to stay long term. In answer to your questions
- I have personally found it very easy to meet people. I used to live in Dubai and found that quite cliquey and difficult, but HK has been great. Other expats are very inclusive generally and many Chinese people speak fluent or very good English so you're not limited to only other expats. However, to be fair, most expats I know do tend to socialise in an expat circle. The English speaking department at the YWCA run a number of great courses- I did basic Cantonese, tennis and the "At Home" courses and met some great women through those. I also shamelessly followed up "friend of friend" contacts and found everyone very welcoming.
- I didnt find it much of a culture shock. There are some peculiarities but generally it's quite easy to settle in. Public transport and taxis are easy to use and cheap, everywhere is signed in English and Chinese, and there is quite a heavy western influence in a city which is still unmistakably Chinese.
- Second what other posters have said re schools and rents (add food to that). For rents, take London and double it and be prepared to downsize. Which school you go for depends on where you live and which curriculum you want to follow. Having just researched them myself, I personally like the look of the Canadian, Kellett and German Swiss schools. ESF is also a very good option.
- If you have children, and especially if you're planning to work, you will want to consider getting "help"- i.e. a full time, live in housekeeper/cook/childminder. Not everyone has one, but the childcare options that exist in the UK simply dont exist to the same extent in HK, and there can be an assumption from employers and friends that you will have a helper and therefore can easily drop child A at X because the helper can drop Child B at Y and dont have to take a day off to wait for the plumber.
Thanks for your replies, all very helpful.
Any thoughts on the poor air quality....?
I'm a chartered accountant, with no cantonese, I've heard getting work would be impossible without fluent cantonese..is this true. However I would only want part time work, does HK do flexible working etc?
Do the HK Chinese welcome expats, I worked in Bermuda a few years ago and expats were tolerated rather than liked.
Im excited about going, just slightly concerned that I know so little about it. I think we will be given the chance to visit before we sign on the dotted line but we have to be fairly sure its what we want before we let his employer spend the cash to send us out there.
Any thoughts much appreciated
The air quality is not great- no two ways about it, although it's not as though you really notice it except on the really bad days. Some areas are worse than others- southside is better than Central for example. Its a combination of traffic pollution due to old diesel powered buses and a lot of idling, and industrial pollution blowing across from China.
Re work, I am also a CA. How easily you find work depends a lot on your previous experience and seniority. If most of your experience is in financial markets middle or back office, then lack of Cantonese is not an issue. If you're looking for roles in commerce/industry, it is harder as there is more need to be able to converse with mainland colleagues who may not speak English. If you're very senior- FD level- this may be less critical. However, the real issue you will have is finding part time work as there is very little about and any PT roles tend to go to existing employees who then ask for a PT role - I've never seen a PT role advertised and I did look when i first arrived, before I got pregnant. This is largely due to the availability of cheap childcare which means employers are not that flexible re working parents and have no legal requirement to be. An alternative for you might be to do FT roles but do contracts so you do 6 months on/ 6 months off or similar.
This is useful for checking API daily. Roadside stations can often be much worse than general stations, as you might imagine.
Emma, i am a chinese lady from HK married to a British hushand and now living in the west of scotland. I miss HK but i truly love the UK..scotland is my home now.
HK is a great city to live,i know i am a bit biased...:O) a lot of chinese can speak English so you wouldn't have to worry about your lack of cantonese.
Wish you all the best and hope you will have a lovely time in HK.
You will love it! I lived there for 3 years- the HK Chinese are mostly very friendly and it is a very safe city. You can go to Bangkok for a long weekend and pop down to samed island. Great schools as the discipline problems are not what they are in many uk schools. Good luck with the move. You could always live on an island like Lamma which is 30 mins across from HK island- you can have an idyllic life out there if you are not working.