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Will we ever leave Hong Kong?

  1. #17
    NewMommie is offline Registered User
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    Thanks everyone for the replies. I feel SO much better knowing that my situation isn't unique (not that I thought it was, but I was only hearing my husband's side of the story 99% of the time, so I felt like my opinion on this was somehow 'wrong' if that makes any sense...)

    To answer carang, I actually do have a good job out here, and because I am an expat, I get an expat package and therefore make more. Of course, it's not enough, even with my husband's expat package, to get a reasonably sized house with a backyard and an easy commute. Seeing what you say about Sai kung, however, I will definitely look into that and other options; what I saw seemed unaffordable with a long commute, but maybe I need to look around more. My career actually gets used against me too; my husband argues that I wouldn't be able to get as good a job if we returned to the U.S. either...of course, with the baby on the way we are also discussing me taking some time off in his/her early years, because I don't exactly have a job that translates well into the family planning stage we are in. (Any of you notice that HKers seem to all be workaholics, with a minimum 12 hour workday?!)

    I think aussiegal and some others had it right too; I guess ultimately I feel like I have no say in the matter and maybe that is really what is getting to me more than whether HK is a fundamentally good or bad place for our family. But hearing all of you give tips on the good pts of HK help, and so do your encouraging words and personal stories. I'm going to try to talk to the husband this weekend...not to come up with a solution, but just to let him know that my opinion needs to be considered, not dismissed, and that if we decide to stay in HK, it's because WE decide to, not HE decides to. I think that is the best thing I can do for me and for our growing family.

  2. #18
    Matty is offline Registered User
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    I always fine it interesting that people here couldn't bear the thought of the commute from Sai Kung.
    From Sai Kung town it's literally 50 mins to get to Central, and I'm talking about taking a minibus and MTR.
    You could live 10 mins closer in certain parts of Clearwater Bay, and of course you could drive if you wanted..

    I personally don't know anyone in Sydney that works in the CBD and has less than a 30 min commute. Mine used to be 45.

    I think we get used to the HK way of everything being 5mins away.

    NewMommie, I hated HK for the first few years, and counted down the days til we could go back to Australia.
    Circumstances have kept us here for 9 years, (it was supposed to be 2) and since moving to Sai Kung last year, I now know that if we have to stay indefinatley, I'll be happy.

    Good luck, I hope you and your hubby can reach a compromise.

  3. #19
    babymommy2 is offline Registered User
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    Carang,

    for me the reason I wouldn't be able to work is that I am an RN and when I looked into it, many years ago, maybe it has changed, but then for me to get a liscense I would have to sit exams again, I would have to be fluent in Cantonese. I work in public health( and have for aver 10 years, I likely could not pass hospital related nursing exams) and have a perfect job teaching prenatal classes only 2 evenings a week leaving me to be pretty much a stay at home mom. It is not much but it keeps be liscensed, keeps my foot in the door, so that I can work more when my children are older. If I am in hong kong I throw that away, will loose my liscense at home from lack of hours, Nursing in HK is totally different and I from what I have learned, do not practise and are not treated at all in the same way as it is in canada.
    That is just one issue for me, there are others.

  4. #20
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    hmmmm, interesting. thanks for elaborating. my best friend is a pilot and has put in an application with cathay. his wife is a little concerned about what she will do. she is an OR nurse in canada.

    she's ok with taking exams, but not with chinese. i wonder what the requirements would be for working in matilda? they must be the same, but is there any way that she could do the exams in english?

  5. #21
    Matty is offline Registered User
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    I have an of Aussie friend who is an RN and has no Cantonese.
    She sat the exams and works at Matilda.

  6. #22
    aussiegal is offline Registered User
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    Matty, I guess everyone comes with their own experiences and makes judgements on what is acceptable to them. We came from Sydney and were spoilt having only a 10 minute commute into the city. For us a 50 minute commute would be intolerable if it were something we thought we might be stuck with doing for a long time. Doing it for a year or two is one thing but indefinitely,wow, think of all the time you lose when you could be with your kids or family. A 30 minute commute to Sydney is one thing but a 50 minute commute here, well that adds 40 minutes extra to time away from family every day and given that most of us have husbands that already work long hours I'd not want to do it for long.

    We currently live on the Southside but will probably move to CWB shortly. We are not going to enjoy the commute but as I said, i know we won't be here for more than another 2-3 years so I can live with it particularly as we'll be able to get a nice backyard etc.

    I also agree with Carang's earlier comment about going home. We used to go home only at christmas for 3 weeks. Now we've bought a house we can go back to (instead of living with parents which is difficult at the best of times!) a few times a year and stay 6 weeks at a time. I hope that this will make up for a lot of the things I miss about home until we can return there permanently one day. But again, it's not ideal as it means being away from my husband for quite a long time so just the kids can have a more normal life with the chance to play on grass, breathe clean air etc. In HK more than anywhere else I've lived i've found it's a real question of priorities and compromise. It's just not possible to have it all here. Even the super wealthy don't get to breathe clean air and see blue skies! Though of course they can buy just about all the other things I miss- big houses, big backyards etc.

  7. #23
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by carang View Post
    shenzheniffer,

    you COULD live out in sai kung, get a cheaper place and buy a used car. we've done it.

    we are paying less than $20k for 2100' home. 5 bed, 4 bath, garden, 2 car parks.

    we bought an el cheapo car ($8000) and i use it to commute daily to tsing yi. it still works out to be MUCH cheaper than most places. it takes me 45 minutes door-to-door.

    ideally, i would love to live a little closer to work, but that is just not in the cards. i would rather be on the road an extra 20 minutes per day and enjoy the space we have.

    it is a trade-off though.
    I think it's very interesting that people in HK tend to be a bit more open about money than where I'm from. So, having said that, let me just be really open here and hopefully without facing much judgment. From another post, Cara, I think I remember you saying that your house cost around $14K/month rent? Is that right? I don't have the post right here so I can't remember correctly.

    My husband makes 20K/month which is actually a decent wage here in HK for a local HK person who does not work in Central, own their own business or work in the financial sector. I have a friend who worked for one of the top newspapers in the city full-time with a byline and an editing position and she only made 10K/month. She worked at least 50 hours/week and many times more (she worked so much it was like she just disappeared or something). I recently went back to work but I work part-time so my wage is a bit hard to factor into the equation sometimes. But, let's just say we were trying to get by on 20K and rent a 14K apartment, plus drive our car and eat, pay utilities, buy diapers and save money. 6K in HK doesn't equal much.

    Now, I'm thinking that there are cheaper places in Sai Kung if you settle for less room. Is that right? But, if you're settling for less room, then what is the payoff of living so far away. It's not that Sai Kung isn't beautiful and a desirable place to live, because it is. But, can you see what I'm saying. It's really not do-able for some people.

    These are just the facts. Many expats here are making at least 20K month (if you're a NET teaching with the government program the lowest starting salary is 22K, I believe but it goes up substantially from there, for example). On top of that salary, receive at least a housing allowance. Everyone's situation is different but if the largest wage-earner in the home is bringing in a salary that is comparable to the "normal" salaries in HK and/or the wife does not work, moving out into the country to get away and facing a higher rent rate for a bigger space with more green and then the added stress of transportation can actually put a real, tangible stress on a family's finances.

    The cost of buying a car in HK is relatively lower than anywhere else--plus the quality of cars is better because most people don't drive their cars until they're run into the ground in the first place. But, as a expat friend who has lived in HK for 25 years and raised his children here told us, the cost of licensing, insuring, registering, maintaining, parking and putting petrol in a car in HK equals out to the same amount of money you would spend if you took a taxi everywhere you went in that car. So, if you can afford to take a taxi everywhere you would drive a car, then having a car is affordable. I'm just talking the financial aspect of owning a car--not the convenience factor. Personally, we cannot afford to take a taxi very often anywhere. I don't think we are out of the norm as far as "normal" goes here in HK (but expat "normal" may be different).

    Anyway, thank you for letting me indulge my napkin back calculations here.

  8. #24
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    we pay just less than $16K.

    when i say it is cheaper, of course it is all relative. we moved here from Db, where our last flat was $21k.

    we have NOT always paid that much. when i came to hk (i was 22 yrs old at the time and knew NO ONE), I worked 5 jobs just to make $15K... so i KNOW what living on a shoestring budget is like. from my $15K i had to sent $6K back to canada to pay for student loans.

    when i say living in sai kung is "cheap" of course it is all relative. but you can still get a flat in a village house around here for about $5k, maybe less. you don't HAVE to have a car, we do for where we live. i got by just fine for 12 years in hk without a car, and i've lived/stayed about everywhere... including: clearwater bay, hung hom, jordan, sha tin, mid-levels, jardine's lookout (crashing on someone's sofa!), kwun tong to name but a few. petrol costs a bomb, but we don't pay for parking where we live, licencing costs depend on the size of the motor, but can be as low as $3k per year. insurance depends on the make of the car. for us, if i don't drive to work, it would take me over 2 hours to get there. that is because i live REALLY far out. to drive takes me 45 minutes. if i lived closer to town, my rent would go up. granted i wouldn't need the car so much, but the rent would go up (for the same square footage) to the point that there is no way we could afford it.

    the other thing for us is that we run a dog boarding business from our home. the dogs live with us in our home, not in kennels in the back garden. we started this in an $6K flat in db (864')... we rapidly needed more space for the number of bookings we were getting. so, we moved to a larger garden flat in db (961') with a small garden. but again, with 2 kids, a helper, hubby & I + 12 dogs or so, we very quickly realised that we needed more space. we could not afford db and so ended up renting in the country park in sai kung. we are again running out of space. but our problem is that the sizes of the houses won't get bigger unless we look at doubling our rent (minimum). neither of us can get our heads around paying $30k/month... to us, that seems ridiculous.

    but, thanka, my remarks were mostly directed at those who ARE getting huge allowances and still complain that they can't get what they want.... you should read some forums, "i've ONLY got a $75K housing allowance and i can't find ANYTHING decent!" makes me wanna smack 'em upside the head!

    ps> if you are interested, i can have a look around for something in your price range...what would you be willing to spend on rent and i'll see if i can find anything closer to town with a roof or garden area...the flat woudl be 700'...

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