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Hong Kong. Come and talk to me(18 Posts)
We're relocating to HK next summer with two kids (ages 5 and 7). We've got school places sorted, school buses to everywhere and a good allowance for housing. Where would you live in HK if you had your pick of any area? We'll both be working in Central. I like Pokfulam but open to suggestions. People keep mentioning DB but I'm worried about the ferry and going stir-crazy! Kowloon would also be good commute-wise.
Great news about school places by the way!
I'd definitely base home choice on proximity to school- some of the bus routes are crazy long (90 mins each way), and also, the buses often don't cater for after school activities, so if you need your helper to get a taxi to do pick ups, you ideally want to take the tunnels out of the equation (because taxi drivers don't like driving through the tunnels- don't get me started on that one!) and obviously also not be a ridiculously long way. I'd only live in DB if you have DB school places.
We live in Wan Chai/ east mid levels, which I like because it's convenient and I like an urban setting. The south of the island (repulse bay, stanley, tai tam) is a popular choice for expats(more chilled/ beaches etc) but I find it a bit suburban and a long drive to central when the traffic's bad, which it often is. Shouson Hill is quite a good compromise I think. PFL is nice- Bel Air is super popular but there's better value in the colonials (especially the university owned ones). Main downer is that there's nothing there other than houses really. Off the island, Clearwater bay and Sai Kung are expat- central but not an easy commute to central- you need at least 1 car.
Thanks! The school is on the Gold Coast which makes Stanley and Repulse bay too far (IMO) on the school bus. After school activities are included in the regular school day, if this make sense, so I'm hoping we won't have to rely on taxis as buses leave the school after ECA everyday.
We like the facilities at the Bel-Air, even though public areas seem to have been designed in the 'junior dictator' style :-) (ie very blingy). We also looked at the university-owned ones, you do get a lot more space for your dollar but the ones we saw were a bit depressing in terms of decor and facilities. I guess we'll have tough choices to make.
We don't drive, which I think rules out Sai Kung and CB.
I haven't looked at Shouson Hill or Wan Chai yet - will have a look. Thanks for the suggestions!
I wouldn't go for Shouson Hill or Wan Chai either if the school is in Gold Coast. I think you have to rule out most of South Side and all of Eastern HK Island.
PFL may be ok commute wise as it's closer to the Western tunnel. Kennedy Town a bit more convenient. Less green, bit more urban, but a newly popular area which is now on the MTR.
There are lots of developments on the GC itself where you will get more space for your money. Kowloon Tong could work as well.
Shouson hill is just as good as PFL distance/traffic wise.
The only problem our friends have with Harrow ( if that is the one) is that the after school activities/late buses somehow don't work out, especially for the younger kids. So depending on their ECAs you may well have to do a fair few pick ups.
Why not live close to school?
If you're both working in Central with children at Harrow Int my personal view is try to get a driver and live on Lantau or some nice Country Park house. Your driver can take you both in early morning to Central and your helper can do school bus for the children. Better that than a loooong ride HK island to GC for the children every morning. It'd also be great after events in Central in the evenings to go home by driver. Would be difficult to combine with any Clubs but you could probably do without if you can do team sports etc via school and enjoy all the outdoors in NT.
Okay, I hadn't given serious thought to a driver. We don't even drive in London and not planning to get a car in HK - would the driver have his own car or would we need to buy one? Also would the driver live in or out?
I'm not super keen on living in the NT - DH and I are both quite urban (especially DH, who is relocating because of my job so I also need to factor his preferences in) and I'm worried the holiday resort vibe in the GC will drive us both nuts within weeks.
Maybe Kowloon (TST/Olympic/Kowloon Tong) would be an alternative to the island?
The school bus from PFL to Harrow is about 45 minutes according to bus schedule. This looks long on paper, however at present DS (4) walks 40 minutes to school every day, so I'm thinking this would actually be a lot less tiring for him?
Many thanks for all the suggestions - I'm processing everything and it is all massively helpful. Please keep challenging me!
You would have to buy a car. Most drivers live out, some live in. I don't know anyone (apart from much older very wealthy people) who have a driver even though it's very affordable to do so in HK. If you don't want to drive and prefer urban areas anyway, I'd live somewhere more urban with good transport links. Taxis are cheap and plentiful as well.
If you want to live HK side, I really would recommend Kennedy Town. It's right on the edge of the urban connurbation that stretches along the north shore of the island. There are lots of new developments there and it's packed with restaurants, bars and shops, both local and western style. I'd choose a building with good facilities for your children. The Belchers (yes, that really is the name) springs to mind. It's right on the MTR and just a few stops to Central. I think The Sail also has spacious flats. Getting a bit further out towards PFL, Mount Davis Rd might suit.
Scenic Villas in PFL is also a good family building. Lots of facilities for children and lots of families living there. Spacious flats, but I'd only want a fairly recently renovated one. There's a small supermarket on site. As a pp mentioned, PFL is really just housing and it's less convenient re transport. With kids at Harrow, I would only look at Kennedy Town, PFL and then maybe the very western parts of Sheung Wan/Sai Yin Pun on the island, but I'd be afraid of traffic for the latter two. I'd want as easy access as possible to the Western tunnel.
Think 45mins PFL to GC sounds right in the morning as school starts early. Suspect that it would frequently take longer coming home and the further from the tunnel you are, the greater chance of sitting in traffic for a long time. Usually the western tunnel is pretty clear as is the western highway up to GC, but traffic is really slow once you hit the urban areas in HK.
There are developments above Kowloon Station and at Olympic which you should check out. Both are on the Tung Chung line which would take you to HK Station beneath IFC in Central. As they are both on the West Kowloon corridor, it's fairly convenient by road to GC. I'd say that both areas are a little sterile at ground level, but have good shopping centre facilities, supermarkets, cinemas and the kind of restaurants you find in shopping centres (some of which are very good in HK). Both places are within fairly easy reach of 'traditional' Kowloon as well.
I grew up in pfl in a university flat and it was brilliant - lots of outside space, had an idyllic childhood really, playing all day at the reservoir etc, not sure if that would still happen.
Pfl doesn't have a huge amount as pp have said, we used to walk to Chi Fu for supermarket and get the bus to the university sports centre. It never bothered me but we went to school much much closer and a lot of my friends lived very close by.
If you're very urban people you might prefer something a little busier although given how good public transport is it wouldn't bother me and I love city living!
Thanks! I hadn't thought of Kennedy town. Will take a closer look.
One more question - what to pack in container? I'm told bedding/sheets are expensive and hard to find. Anything else I should stock up on before we move?
You can order hour stuff from places like next so no more expensive than T home!
We live in Kennedy town. Have been here since September this year. This is our second time living in HK.
I can't help u about a school commute to the Gold Coast, but I know lots about K town. We chose to live in an old building. More room that way, we felt. And not so high rise, as I have awful vertigo! K town has, as mentioned, a brand new mtr and is very quick into central. We don't have a car. We don't need one ( but I do miss it). Bus routes are plentiful, and k town is the end of the tram line. New builds can have gym and pool facilities. But watch out as many have out door pools and they close in the winter months. If u have pets, old builds can be easier to rent. K town has a nice mix of local and expat. Heavier on the local at the mo, but this is changing.
K town has everything you will need. Apart from clothing. Traditional market, supermarkets, complete with waitrose essentials range. Some of it anyway. All HK supermarkets have western food available and there are plenty of delis too. Be warned, it's very expensive to shop western. There are Drs, dentists and hair dressers too. But be careful about prescription meds. We use a private gp service ( ot&p in central) and our lovely dr suggested the victoriA pharmacy in central as fake meds can make their way onto the island. I use IKEA for cheap bed linen, but there are plenty of other places. There is a Laura Ashley in city plaza, if that's your thing. Gap is here too. And Zara, and h&m.
What to pack in a container? Depends on how much space you can afford and whether your furniture will fit into a HK flat! We took no furniture. Went to IKEA. Do u have a furniture allowance?
Took toys, books and clothes. Crockery too, although we'd had to buy more in IKEA so now we have too much! Extra clothes. We took bed linen but. No pillows or duvets. IKEA again, but you can spend anything you like.
Didn't take mattresses, but I have friends who did. I appreciate a Good mattress is really important. I don't like IKEA mattresses so we bought from Seahorse, a local HK supplier who make to order. Foam only. Sealy mattresses Are here and am sure others too if you want to spend more.
Also watch out for kitchens with no oven. Or strive to find one. Table top ovens are readily available.
K town is also close to cyberport, which is a bit further out, but before bel air. There is a cinema there which is really handy.
Fwiw, we were in wan chai serviced apartments when we arrived and I found it too busy and polluted. Kids would come back from the playgrounds black with pollution.
Pfl and k town are very handy for hku sports ground. Also, cyber port has a good park.
Will you be getting a club membership as part of your package? That will be a real bonus. They can be hard to get and the waiting lists are years long. You can work around this of course, if you don't. All depends on what you like to do as a family. Some residences offer outside memberships and HKU at sandy bay, v close to PFL have memberships too, but watch out for those outdoor pools closing! Finally, Kennedy town now has a fantastic public pool. Outdoor with a kids splash and play area. Sadly, they have closed it til March 2016 as they are constructing phase 2, the indoor pool. Will be fab when ready, but need to find another pool til then.
Sorry, they closed the k town pool til March 2017! Ouch.
Wow thanks so much citychick, this is really helpful! I think we'll have a budget around 100k for rent, which means we should be able to get a fairly large place. We live in London and our house isn't big, so I think our current furniture will fit. We don't have a furniture allowance but firm will pay for shipping.
Kennedy town sounds quite appealing. I like the proximity to central, and mix of western and local. I'm back in HK in 6 weeks time so will try and have a look.
I will also look into club membership.
Well, if you have 100k HK dollars per month PFL might get you something nice and big with sea views. K town residences like the Belchers ( nearest mtr is HKU, but it's all walkable) and other upscale places would be a good place to look, I would think.
Would your husbands job have corporate memberships at a club? If not, it's very popular for residences to have clubhouses offering the same facilities as the traditional HK clubs. There are plenty of traditional clubs in HK. Also note that if you or your husband have university clubs u are members of, be sure to check out reciprocation a between clubs, although not sure how that would work when you are living here...worth a look though.
With the budget that you have, sounds like you will enjoy being here. You need a LOT of money to have a good quality of life here. And we came over from sw London. I was warned by friends already here, but it was still a shock. I feel I had better value for money in the UK.
Swings and roundabouts though.
hTH and good luck!