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Moving from UK to HK - Loadsa questions!!

  1. #1
    LilyBo is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    Moving from UK to HK - Loadsa questions!!

    Hey guys!

    We are a british family (2 kids age 6 & 1) moving from the UK to HK in May and although I have tried to do as much research as poss, there are still a few things I would appreciate some much needed help on!!;

    Where to live?
    My husband will work in Quarry Bay and we are looking for an active social life (inc rugby!), however, it's quite important that we are somewhere that's fairly family friendly. We have not long returned from living in Beijing so I'm fairly well versed in making new friends and joining playgroups but it would be kinda comforting to know that we choose somewhere not so isolated! I've been checking out QB / Happy Valley (budget HK$40000) but would like to know what experiences anyone has of living in these areas with a young family?

    If we were to live in Pokfulam / Mid levels / south side - what sort of commute time could we expect for my hubby?
    So many

    Do most apartments come unfurnished? This is a permanent move for us and will be bringing our whole lives with us...!

    I have been checking out ESF and want to know if anyone has any experience of applying through their corporate surety scheme.....I have emailed them with some specific questions (and telephoned!) however, answers have seemed a little vague! If I apply for YR2 and arrive in May, will there be enough to fill our time if my son has 2 months off school? Are the waiting lists as such that he won't get a place for the last 2 months of his Yr1?
    Bearing in mind that we currently don't know where we will live, are we assured a place in a school of our choosing or can beggars not be choosers??
    Alternatively, can anyone recommend an international school (pref British curriculum based or british/mandarin bilingual) on HKIsland as an alternative to ESF (budget HK$65000pyear)?

    What to bring / not to bring?
    From previous experience I shall be bringing OTC meds in droves but what about things like nappies....are they at a premium out there (if I have a container to fill, I'll damn well fill it!!!)? Ideas on anything else I need to bring would be most grateful!

    We will be living in a serviced apartment when we arrive for 1 month whilst we apartment search and am keen to make friends asap for myself and my kids.....I see there are loads of playgroups around so guess I'm asking if it's ok to join as soon as I land (may have more questions by then!!)?

    Small business advice
    I have a small jewellery business here in UK which I would like to continue.... I currently import from Beijing and am well aware that I will be especially close to Guangzhou and Shenzhen but what are the markets like in HK with regards to handmade jewellery and the like or do I need to go further afield?

    Wow, I've just taken a breath so huge apologies for all these questions - your help and personal experiences will be gratefully received and much appreciated!

    Many thanks

  2. #2
    dimsum mum is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Pokfulam Hong Kong
    hi sarah...
    i am sure you will get many responses to your let's see what we can do.

    there are rugby clubs all over hong kong. no matter where you settle, there will be a relatively nearby club for your 6yo.

    happy valley is full of young families and is a great place to be. lots of great shops, a fun community feel. i have also heard positive things about quarry bay. yes, you would be able to get something within your budget.

    the commute time from pokfulam to qb would be app 20 minutes. (that's to the highway, after exiting it would likely take a few more to get to office location). midlevels, half that??

    most family sized flats come unfurnished.

    as for schooling, while i don't have experience applying under esf's css, i do think there is a fair chance your son could spend two months in year one before summer break. people are exiting hong kong at odd times, and as you are being flexible, it might work.

    esf works in a cachement system...if you were in quarry bay your son would attend quarry bay esf, however, some schools are more oversubscribed than others, and so you may get a nearby cachement school if not the school in your cachement. normally, esf will make the effort to get your child in the correct area, however.

    rani knows more about this than i do...she's the expert and hopefully will correct me if i've misled you.

    good alternatives -- hong kong academy has an excellent reputation. isf does as well, but i am not sure about the price. kellet has many british students, but i am not sure about their mandarin programme.

    hope this is a good start for you. i think it is a smart move for you to stay in a serviced flat for the first bit, to get an idea of what you like and where you want to be.

    good luck!

  3. #3
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Sai Kung
    "the commute time from pokfulam to qb would be app 20 minutes. (that's to the highway, after exiting it would likely take a few more to get to office location). midlevels, half that??"

    commute ALWAYS depends on time of day...

    personally, i would also look at sai kung. it is VERY family oriented, a lot more laid back than the island, still an easy commute from quarry bay, ESF school in the area (Clearwater Bay), NOT highrise living, lots of outdoor activities....
    should be VERY easy to get 2100', with private garden, possibly a communal swimming pool, minimum 3-4 bedrooms for $40k.

    all in all, you get more bang for your buck in sai kung (or even discovery bay ~ but that's a more difficult commute to quarry bay)

  4. #4
    plumtree is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Hong Kong
    This is a bit off point, but are you thinking of getting a car? Second hand cars are not expensive in HK; the most expensive thing is finding a parking space. Some apartments come with one, so just something to bear in mind. It really improves your quality of life, allowing access to the New Territories, or from the NT to the island.

    You'll be able to tell more once you're in the service flat, but I think Happy Valley is a good choice. Not sure what busses there are from HV to QB, but it's 15-20 minutes by car, maybe a bit longer in rush hour.

    OTC meds definitely! Bring your anadins and Boots stuff as it's hard to get the stuff you're used to here! I think nappies and other things are easy to come by here but others may have other suggestions.

    I think you should be able to find playgroups to join when you land. Many of them do a trial class before you commit to a package.

    Jewellery- it really depends on what sort of jewellery there is. There should be a market, especially at the pre-Christmas fairs, but you could always start an internet business if need be?!

  5. #5
    cwbmum is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Clearwater Bay
    Hi I have sent you a PM

  6. #6
    southside852 is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    The Southside

    The southside of HK is great and extremely family oriented. We moved here from London as well. There is less pollution and there are tons of Brits, Australians, Americans, French and Chinese living here. From Repulse Bay it is is about 15 minutes into Central and from Stanley/Tai Tam areas it's about 20-25 minutes. Playgroups are easy to join, but if are looking for a structure one rather than getting together with mums in your building/area, they are indeed mostly in Central. The southside has Tutor Time, Woodlands, PEKIPS and classes at the clubs like American Club, Hong Kong Country Club and Cricket Club. Full serviced buildings come unfurnished. Major ex-pat high-rises are: 109 Repulse Bay, The Manhattan, Pacific View and Park View.

  7. #7
    joshsmum is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Hong Kong
    If you've got room in your container, then yes I would stock up on the nappies that you like. Nappies are readily available here, but I find the quality varies. I find the Huggies from Parknshop aren't that absorbent (esp. for overnight), so for night time I buy Pampers from Bumps to Babes (baby store) which are imported from the UK and quite expensive!


  8. #8
    aussiegal is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    I prefer the nappies here personally!

    Southside, Repulse Bay, Tai Tam, Stanley would be out with your budget but I've heard great things about Happy Valley. I agree you should check out Sai Kung and Clearwater Bay, per Carang's suggestion especially as this is a pretty definitive move for you and I'm sure after all the moves you've had recently you'd like to feel a little settled for awhile at least. I know lots of people who started off somewhere central only to move out to the New Territories within a year or two to make the most of the space, fresher air, lower rents etc. We ourselves are thinking about doing the same. It might seem like far away but Quarry Bay is actually really close because of the Eastern distributor. The ex-pat community there is apparently pretty good so you shouldn't have any trouble feeling a part of things quickly.

    Schools here are really expensive so it will pay to have a good idea where you want your 6 year old to go and to consider areas based on school preference.

    I think you also need to ask yourself how you want to spend your days - i.e. living in a cramped apartment or in a more spacious villa/village house, potentially with garden out in the New Territories. How do you feel being surrounded by people all the time? Living in Quarry Bay, Happy Valley etc I would always feel surrounded and would be desperate to get away! Going to Sai Kung etc feels like a trip to the countryside. Far more relaxing lifestyle. It's all personal preference of course so disgard if you are a city, city person!

    Good luck.
    Last edited by aussiegal; 01-26-2009 at 12:22 PM.

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