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Getting around HK with a stroller

  1. #17
    LeahH is offline Registered User
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    Apr 2007
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    Hong Kong, Mid Levels
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    579
    Don't dread coming here - it's not all doom and gloom! I think the experience totally subjective.

    Compared to London, our life is 100 x more convenient day to day and I think of a much higher quality. May not be the case when you compare to Stockholm, but you may well really enjoy the diversity of life in HK and being in Asia.

    Definitely get a car - it gives you so much freedom. There are some wonderful places to explore in an around HK on and off the island , a lot of beautiful nature spots that you wouldn't expect. A car is so convenient with a baby in tow and as plumtree says, second hand cars are really inexpensive here.

    Really don't worry so much about getting from A to B with strollers and taxis - it's not THAT hard. You get used it and find ways of getting around the problems. Most journey's are super short if you live on the Island and after always leaving an hours travel time in Europe to get anywhere, I am constantly early for everything!

    The whole helper thing is difficult to get your head around if you are not here and understand how it works, but I would definitely consider getting one. Again, it just gives you so much freedom. You can go out with your husband in the evenings (spontaneously!), all the boring bits (cleaning, washing etc.) get taken care of allowing you to focus 100% on the children. Or, your helper can be more a part of the family and take an active role in your child's life and development - bit like an aunt who lives with you! At the very least, you are providing someone with a job who really needs it to send money home to their families.

    From a privacy perspective, it can difficult and depend on the layout of your house as to how comfortable you are with it. There are also 'live out' options, but there are legal issues with that - loads of people do it though, again it's what you are personally comfortable with.

    Most importantly, take you time and pick where you live carefully, it depends on what you and your family like. You can stay very central but still be 5 mins walk from nature and great country parks, or go further out and have more space and a country/village feel.

    I've been here 3 years and would NEVER go back to London, not least because I'm not sure I could cope without my wonderful helper!

  2. #18
    swedishmum is offline Registered User
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    Jun 2008
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    Hong Kong
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    20
    thanks for the advice..so where do you recommend that we live ....my husband is looking at apartments tomorrow:) So far he has looked at Bel-air and is going tomorrow to 118 Tung Lo Wan Road near Tin Hau MTR station. I dont know what is best since ive never even been to HK....I have one child...plan on getting one more during our time in HK. Id like to have lots of company around (as im free during the day) have a nice aparment near kid friendly places (the kids and their needs has prio 1), preferbly close to shops and to the beach.....is there such a place??? maybe we should get a car....ill have to discuss that with my husband once i get there...

  3. #19
    kiwiinoz is offline Registered User
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    Jul 2008
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    Hong Kong
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    140
    We've been here three weeks.. and it does take some getting used to with your stroller. I use a Maclaren Quest as well because it is light-weight and easy to 'pull' up and down stairs... and it seems to take the beating. Most MTR's have disabled lifts, but there still might be stairs to get to them. Places like the zoo are stroller friendly though (very nice surprise).. it's just a matter of discovering the route with ramps. People are friendly, and several have assisted me when I've been stuck in an MTR station with just stairs.. (although I suspect they are the Hk'ers who have lived/studied overseas). It is true however that you get the rude ones who quickly press the close door button on you while walking to the lift, or are able bodied but fill the lift so you have to wait... (although I also had my fair share of those in Sydney as well).
    Taxi's can be a blessing and a nightmare. My son sits on my lap while we use taxi's.. and as uncomfortable with that idea as I am... again, it is generally only short taxi rides so I am getting used to the idea. I haven't had any speeding issues yet, but I have had a taxi driver who wanted to drive through red lights all the time which I was quite upset with... also, make sure you know roughly where you are going as some taxi drivers will try to 'rip you off' by taking you on a much longer route. I have had 2 taxi drivers try that with me so far (I've been to HK several times before, so I know where we should and shouldn't be going with most places on HK Island).
    We don't have a car yet. We are tossing up the idea... there seems to be quite a few carparks here which are reasonably priced (in Australian terms) which may make things like shopping easier. Second hand cars are relatively cheap depending what you are after from what we have seen. Obviously you pay more for your european brands.
    Choosing the apartment is a hard decision because you have so many factors to base it on. For us, the kids were our #1 priority (while staying on Hong Kong Island), so we wanted good sized bedrooms for them, and some facilities either in our complex or close by. The apartment we've got has a playground for the kids in the complex and a swimming pool. A minibus out front leaves every 15 minutes for Causeway Bay... so we're hoping we won't have too many worries. We also set a strict budget on how much we wanted to pay in rent.. make sure your husband has a good agent to do the negotiating for you as they can definitely get the rental price down, or extras (such as a car parking space) included...
    Coming from a house, apartments here were a culture shock. The size of bedrooms and general living space can be quite small. Maids rooms can also be a bit of a shock to realise how some landlords expect a maid to live... but you work out what you think is a reasonable compromise and you go with it.
    We're also undecided on getting a full-time maid. We are going to get a part-time maid service until we make up our minds, although we do have a maids room in our apartment to give us the option of having one when we are ready.
    Hong Kong is fun for the kids... there are lots of different things to do and see aside from the shopping. There are indoor playrooms, outdoor parks, the zoo is free, a trip on a ferry is cheap, trams are challenging (with a stroller), but my 17 month old son loves them as a fun thing to do and once you get used to the MTR and which places have stroller friendly access you can venture virtually anywhere on the network to explore. I've decided not to let the accessibility issues hold me back from going out and exploring, and as such, my maclaren is getting a bit of a hammering... but it is worth it.
    Good luck!!

  4. #20
    LeahH is offline Registered User
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    Apr 2007
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    Hong Kong, Mid Levels
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    Budget is usually a defining factor, unless your husband is on a package with rental then the world is your oyster! Sadly we're not, so our current search for a new flat is quite challenging.

    To give you an idea, we are in 1080 Sq feet, two bedrooms, large living area, no maids room - with a baby and dog. We fit .... just. For the new place it will be 2 babies, us and a dog (plus we want our helper to live in) so we are looking at 1600-1750 Sq feet.

    You'll get more for your money in Tin Hau in terms of size, but it's quite urban. We looked at some there but I was worried about the air quality.

    Agree with kiwioz that facilites are great, an indoor playroom and pool is so handy with a toddler. But, I think we are going to have to trade off facilities for space as no. 2 is on the way. No way we can get the space we want for our budget, with facilities. Older style low rise buildings tend to have more sq footage but are unlikely to have the facilites - you can be lucky though.

    I'm sure others will comment on Bel-Air specifically, but I think the area is great (Cyberport/Pokfulam). Sea views and lots of green space around - it's where we hope to find something.

    Southside is lovely and close to beaches, but comparitively more expensive and further from town - you'd maybe then need a car for real mobility. Stanley is great but further around the coast still so traffic would be a nightmare.

    Happy Valley is an option, a sort of villagey feel (in parts) whilst still close to town and a nearby tunnel that would get you quickly to the beaches of Southside.

    Then there is the mid-levels - if you go high enough you will be close to nice walks but still very handy for town/zoo/classes. The Peak would be great of course (air good, lots of pre-schools, nice walks etc.), IF you can afford it.

    It's very subjective, we saw 40 flats before taking our first one... Its so eye-wateringly expensive we didn't want to make a mistake. And we were childless then and the dog was our only consideration!

    I'm sure people will post more advice on other potential areas.

    Good luck!

  5. #21
    bekyboo44 is offline Registered User
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    Mar 2006
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    Discovery Bay, Hong Kong
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    737
    Maybe you should look at Discovery Bay if where you live is decided by what is best for your kids.

    Discovery Bay is a haven for children- and people often joke that we have more babies and dogs in DB than adults.

    DB is on Lantau (15 mins by bus from the airport; 25 mins from Central by ferry, ferry runs 24 hrs; we also have buses that run to the nearest MTR station which is a ten min drive away).

    NO cars are allowed on DB- we have our own internal buses and hire cars (taxi vans) but that is it.

    We have-
    Parks (with real grass), countless playgrounds, the beach, two clubs with swimming pools, playrooms, tennis courts etc.
    We also have the plaza where everyone congregates throughout the day.
    We also have everything you might need for day to day living- supermarket, bank, restaurants etc.
    There are also any number of playgroups (formal and informal), activities for kids etc.
    Meeting people with children the same age is so easy- you just go to the plaza, to the park or to the pool and there will always be children there the same age as yours.

    My toddler son spends the majority of his day outside- in the park where he loves to feed the fish, or in the playground or at the beach.
    All of his friends live in our building or the surrounding ones- in our building and the one next door there are ten little ones around the same age as my son (give or take a few months).
    They spend their mornings in the playground and their afternoons at each others houses, or at the pool.

    With no cars traffic here is limited, it's calm, and quiet and rents are cheaper than HK Island.

    It's not for everyone but we couldn't imagine living anywhere else in HK with our kids. (and I've lived in Sheung Wan, North Point, Shatin and Tai Po).

    P.S. Any apartment near Tin Hau MTR station is going to be near a main road and I would say not suitable for a family.

    As for hiring a helper, well I think that being able to have one is one of the biggest advantages of living in HK.

  6. #22
    swedishmum is offline Registered User
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    Jun 2008
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    Hong Kong
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    thanks for all the info...my husband has been apartment hunting today and it seems that Belchers is our top choice right now. He is going to go see some more tomorrow. And it seems that he has become more prohelper since being in hongkong, he was very anti before. Seems like Belchers with a helper would make my life in hongkong pretty easy even with the stroller issues:)

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