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New Territories Hong Kong query please?

(16 Posts)
Mummysaysno Thu 02-Jun-11 11:07:12

Hi, I was wondering if anyone out there has any information on the NT, in particular the areas of Fo Tan and/or Tai Po.
We have three children, I'm a SAHM, and plan to move late August.
I would be really interested to hear about what life is like there, particularly to keep me busy in the day when the kids are at school(!). Any good weblinks would be helpful, as I can't seem to find out that much online at the moment.
Thanks so much in advance!

Xiaoxiong Thu 02-Jun-11 11:16:04

Very quiet, very far from town (by HK standards) and only recommended if you're planning to do a lot of walking in the hills up around Plover Cove or on Tai Mo Shan.

I grew up in Shek O on the south side of the island and Tai Po/Fo Tan etc were considered places you'd only go for the weekend. Sai Kung was about as far as anyone lived full-time and even that was considered the back of beyond. My parents moved up to Sha Tin and it was hugely inconvenient for them coming home in the evenings after going to dinners in mid-levels/south side.

Most of the international schools are on HK island, and even if your kids aren't going to school down there every day, they might have a lot of travelling from Tai Po and Fo Shan if they do anything extracurricular outside school (eg. music lessons at the APA, drama clubs, sports clubs at the cricket club or jockey club etc). A lot of other stuff is in Central like banks, doctors, dentists etc so you will probably find yourself trekking back and forth a lot.

Mummysaysno Thu 02-Jun-11 11:19:50

Thanks for this. Are there areas in NT that you would recommend? I'm a complete novice to HK so trying to get a good understanding in a short amount of time!
Thanks again.

Xiaoxiong Thu 02-Jun-11 11:54:09

Is there a reason you are looking out there? Work/schools? Or just cost?

piemaker Thu 02-Jun-11 12:26:38

Hi there, I live in UK but originally from HK, so any questions feel free to PM me

Mummysaysno Thu 02-Jun-11 12:36:07

Yes - we are moving with DH work, but I have my eye on a couple of schools in NT, because there are places at this short notice!
I am really interested in very honest opinions - about what life would like to live here...
Thanks!

Xiaoxiong Thu 02-Jun-11 15:57:31

Well if the schools are out there then likely you will be a bit more integrated with other families from school (depending on the type of school).

I assume you are English or another non-Chinese nationality and don't speak any Cantonese (or even any Mandarin)? Generally not an issue in HK in the areas with more expats but sometimes can be a problem when you get out of town a bit. I was surprised visiting my parents in Shatin how many people out there didn't speak much English (and I speak Chinese). There are expats in the NT but nowhere near as many as if you lived in Midlevels or the south side of HK island.

I think if you're looking for more a quieter, more rural lifestyle with gorgeous nature around you and more space for your money, and you're not bothered about slotting into the existing expat community, the NT has a lot to offer. Adopt a couple of curly-tailed HK street dogs, which will get you walking in the country parks - it's like nowhere else on earth, and the last thing you expect from HK. Some pictures of a hike beginning in Fo Tan here (you see what I mean about it being rural and quiet!), and another hike to Tai Mo Shan here.

However if you want to take taxis everywhere, you like the hustle and bustle of what most people think of as Hong Kong, you're going to be involved in any kids' extracurriculars or join any of the country clubs (the only ones in the NT I can think of are the Yacht Club at Hebe Haven, Beas River riding school at Sheung Shui and the HK Golf Club in Fanling) and you don't like travelling up to an hour to get in and out of Central, the NT can be a pain.

Final point is that my parents found it quite difficult to get around in the NT without a car, and that was just the two of them - with kids I would think it would be essential - and the running costs for cars in HK can be steep.

Finally I would check out [hongkong.geoexpat.com/ Geoexpat]] - probably more useful information for you - I just grew up there, never had to raise kids in HK myself smile

Xiaoxiong Thu 02-Jun-11 16:02:33

PS When I say "kids extracurriculars" I mean for older teenagers - when we were little we didn't go into town as much as we mostly did things at school, but as we got older most of our social life was geared towards Causeway Bay, Sheung Wan and Soho. Also starting from around 7 or 8 my brother and I were very involved in music at the Academy of Performing Arts in Wanchai so spent most Saturdays there - would have been a nightmare to lug instruments in from the NT, we were always driven from our house on the south side. My brother also did lots of drama which rehearsed mainly in Repulse Bay or Tai Tam (south side of HK island).

Mummysaysno Thu 02-Jun-11 16:46:10

Tyelperion, thank you so much for your message - a lot to think about, and some good places for me to check out. Thanks for taking the time!

TheBride Fri 03-Jun-11 02:03:50

I would add that the areas of Clearwater Bay and Sai Kung are where the NT expats are concentrated. Sai Kung is lovely, and la little town in its own right. Clearwater Bay is also very pleasant, but is more like a residential suburb that provides a quick train commute (MTR) into Central (But you have to drive to the station- 5-15mins depending whereabouts you live- CWB is one long road). Both have pretty good beaches. Have you called CWB ESF school?

The other thing is that HK Academy (which is a lovely school- currently on a temp site in Kennedy Town on the island) are building a new campus up at Sai Kung, opening in 2013. I went on their open day- the ethos of the school is wonderful, and they are going to have an amazing set up in Sai Kung.

There are also quite a lot of expats around Shatin. I don't really know that area though (only go there for the horse racing).

I agree with what Tyel says about parts of the NT being quite a way from the island, BUT it is a LOT cheaper and it depends on how much you're going over there. If you start off living in the NT, it's likely that you'll make friends out there and not socialise so much on the island. That said, I have friends who live in CWB who come to the island a lot, and say that they just factor it in to their night - it's easy to get a cab to drive you back. If you're driving, on a clear run, CWB is only 25 mins from Central.

You definitely need at least one car if you're living out there.

On the club scene that Tyel mentioned, unless you're getting a membership as part of your package or one of you is a competitive sportsman at a reasonably high level (so would qualify for a sporting membership), take that out of the equation because the waiting lists are insanely long now and individual debentures ridiculously expensive. I know no-one who is self funding a club membership.

The main benefit of NT is the cost. HK$60k per month will get you a pretty grotty 3 bed with no facilities on the South Side of HK island, but a house in CWB/ SK.

Xiaoxiong Fri 03-Jun-11 10:55:30

Well that shows my age TheBride - my parents have been members of the American Club, the Yacht Club, the Helena May and the China Club as long as I can remember, so I had no idea it was so competitive now! Thanks for giving Mummysaysno better and more up to date info than I've got, my info is pretty out of date but didn't want to see her post go unanswered.

As a side note I loved growing up in HK and I always thought I would raise my kids there. I would still move back there in a heartbeat if DH gets a comparable job to the one he has here in the UK. Also if you're worried about schooling, when I came to the UK for A-levels I was a year ahead of everyone here (was at CIS).

TheBride Fri 03-Jun-11 12:05:03

Yeah, your parents got in at the right time. Just to give you an idea, an individual debenture for the Aberdeen Marina Club is currently HK$2.3m. Yes, you can sell it when you leave, but you're still out of pocket to the tune of £200k while you're a member.

Xiaoxiong Fri 03-Jun-11 13:34:31

2.3 million shock shock shock

If there was a hyperventilate emoticon I would put that in too!!

Mummysaysno Sat 04-Jun-11 09:11:28

Oh my goodness! The club membership is nuts! I guess I'll have to put that to the bottom of my list at the moment, or my head starts spinning!
Thanks so much for these messages - more and more looking forward to getting there!
(and we're stuck in the whole business of school applications and trying to share information we're hearing, with three kids running around!!)
Thanks again!

MuffinTumMum Sun 05-Jun-11 05:28:19

Hi. I live in HK but do not know NT that well. Would just say from my experience get the school places sorted and the rest will follow. We looked at hong lok yeun int school and really liked it. Also had some dealings with the head of Japanese int school and was very impressed. Wherever you end up will be great. There are pros and cons to all the different areas but actually HK is so small that once here and settled it all evens out! Let me know if need any more Info. have visited just about every school and area when we came to have a look prior to move out here! All the best!

Mummysaysno Sun 05-Jun-11 11:47:16

Thank you - I think I will pm you!

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