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Moving to HK -Mid-Levels w toddler?

  1. #1
    SarahHK is offline Registered User
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    Moving to HK -Mid-Levels w toddler?

    Hi moms-

    It's looking very likely that we will move to HK from San Francisco this fall. It's also very likely we will live in a service apt the first few months to get situated but we have a month in HK right now and I'd like to get started on some apt hunting research. We are a young family w 2yo boy and used to living in the heart of cities - SF now, NYC, Washington DC and Atlanta before - I'm not sure that I'm ready for the "burbs" but am wondering if Mid-levels is kid-friendly and taxis easy to get to kid activities? I've found it hard to get around solo w son -especially in the heat but also probably bc it's my first time to HK and we had jet lag, culture shock, etc.

    I guess my questions are:
    1) Are there a lot of mid-level moms or does everyone move out to Pokfulam, RB, DB, NT?
    2) In the mid-levels - what streets/buildings would you suggest? Perhaps good amenities (pool/playground) or close to bus stop/taxi?
    3) Of course the air quality is a huge concern as well and seems that will be a trade-off for living closer to central - is it worth it?
    4) Perhaps housing costs are a factor as well? Would like to spend no more than 60K on 2-3 bedroom... If you had this budget and need for easy commute to the action, do you recommend any other neighborhoods or specific buildings?

    Thanks for your help. I'm distraught by the thought of leaving our idyllic life in SF but always welcome an adventure and hope to turn the challenges into great life experiences.

  2. #2
    starbucks2 is offline Registered User
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    Hi

    Good luck for the move. It is an interesting place to live but like everywhere it has its pluses and minuses.

    I am one of those Mums who moved out to the "burbs" when my toddler turned 2 (and I had a newborn). Prior to that, we lived in Midlevels, Robinson Road and it was ok. We moved to DB for a number of reasons:

    - we were finding it a hassle to find activities for our toddler without having to drive somewhere (we bought a car primarily to take him to better parks and activities ...)

    - he was wanting to assert his independence and we were terrified of him walking down the road without us gripping his hand for dear life

    - smoggy, road side pollution

    - general lack of facilities although we did have a pool in our building.

    We are now in DB with parks and pools and an indoor playroom. Entertaining him is so much easier but it comes at a price given we are now further from town (I work part-time in Central) and DB is not for everyone. He can now scooter, ride a bike, wander to the park with us following behind without the paranoid fear of him being taken out by a taxi or mini bus. Plus we have a low rise apartment block which makes a change from super high rises in Midlevels.

    So now, to answer your queries specifically:

    1) Are there a lot of mid-level moms or does everyone move out to Pokfulam, RB, DB, NT?

    [There are lots of Mums in midlevels. Would suggest you start at one of the playgroups as its a good place to meet people. I used to take my son to Baby Buddies in Sheung Wan which I liked. There are a lot that move out for more space and perceived cleaner air but there are still a lot in the city]

    2) In the mid-levels - what streets/buildings would you suggest? Perhaps good amenities (pool/playground) or close to bus stop/taxi?

    [We liked Robinson Rd, handy for taxis and buses. The number of bedrooms is a bit misleading as the apartments here can fit 3 bedrooms in a tiny flat but we were in 80 Robinson Road for a bit and that has good facilities. Indoor swimming pool and playroom (I think - we didn't have kids then). Also very handy as has an entrance on Robinson Road and Caine Road which makes it super convenient for buses. Otherwise Beauty Court is nice - 82 Robinson. It has an outdoor pool open half the year and apartments are bigger than 80 Robinson. Robinson Road is close to the escalator and Soho restaurants etc. Plus a decent Wellcome and Park n Shop supermarket.]

    3) Of course the air quality is a huge concern as well and seems that will be a trade-off for living closer to central - is it worth it?

    [For us it was not worth it for the reasons above. I think generally air pollution is bad everywhere but what I notice when I come into Central and Midlevels is the roadside pollution from all the taxis and buses. Also the sheer noise of the place! Its amazing what you get used to as we lived in Robinson Road for over 5 years. For us, DB is quieter and less roadside pollution as no cars or taxis and only buses and golf carts (very odd though that is). We don't have a golf cart and find the buses convenient. Ferry can get a bit tiresome but it is worth it for us. It takes me 50 mins from my apartment to work - bus to ferry, ferry (25 mins), walk from IFC to work. When we didn't have kids, DB was a strange place for me and we would have never moved there but our priorities have changed since we had a boisterous toddler around and a newborn in a stroller.]

    4) Perhaps housing costs are a factor as well? Would like to spend no more than 60K on 2-3 bedroom... If you had this budget and need for easy commute to the action, do you recommend any other neighborhoods or specific buildings?

    [People seem to like PokFu Lam and the Belchers is popular (good facilities). We did consider that when we were looking for more outdoor space and less cars. In the end we decided Pok Fu Lam was that bit further from Central with not much more of a gain in terms of apartment space or outside space. 80 Robinson Road is good for facilities and location so would be worth a look. I think the noisy construction of the new-ish building near Caine Road has finished but definitely canvas the relevant neighbourhood for empty construction sites as it is unbearable to discover a new building is going up next door or a block away and have the construction noise for 14 months!]
    Last edited by starbucks2; 06-14-2011 at 04:33 PM.

  3. #3
    SarahHK is offline Registered User
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    Thanks so much for this helpful feedback. After reading your post and googling DB, I can see why it's popular and it's our on our list now too. Looks pretty nice. I'm realizing how the cities I've lived in might be more "livable" day to day so perhaps considering the burbs and keeping an open mind is best. HK has electric energy - but perhaps fresher air and safety may need to trump access and feeling in the heart of everything. We've all got the "HK cough" which sort of freaks me out. Thanks again.

  4. #4
    howardcoombs is offline Registered User
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    Living in DB and commuting in is like living in Poughkeepsie and working in NYC.
    Its not just a suburb, its a completely different world.
    Clearly thousands love it, but personally I avoid the place except for a few hikes that start from there. Its just not Hong Kong.

    You have a fair budget to play with, you should also consider a good compromise : Happy Valley. Lots of green, lots of families, very good transport links, close to many schools, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, wetmarkets, supermarkets, doctors, and everything HK has to offer. You can be on a beach in 15 minutes and 15 minutes will also put you in Ocean Park.

    HC

  5. #5
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    while after living in hk for 6+ years, we LOVED the move to DB, including my local husband! we moved away 4 years ago to sai kung and while i like sai kung, i really miss db. i miss the ease of making friends/meeting people/ things to do with the kids/the ferry ride (yes, i miss the ferry! i was able to relax and have quiet "me" time built into the day, now i drive everywhere and i get none of that.)

  6. #6
    nino is offline Registered User
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    I second happy valley, though I've never lived anywhere else in hong kong with kids. I've found it to be fairly convenient for transportation. The transportation downsides are you have to take a bus or tram out of the neighbourhood to reach the mtr and there are only a handful of big buses to chose from (only one of which goes to central that i can think of) along with mini buses which can be full during rush hours and the tram which is slow and not air conditioned. Taxis in the morning can be difficult to come by.

    That said, it has indoor and outdoor playgrounds, a library, family friendly restaurants and is very walkable. There are several supermarkets and a wet market. It is near-ish a public swimming pool (a few stops on the tram). Really feels like a neighborhood, and because of the race course, it feels quite open and green. Also, it is close to several hospitals.

    There are two or three serviced apartmentsin the neighborhood, so you have lots of options to try.

    It's also very dog friendly!

  7. #7
    starbucks2 is offline Registered User
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    I have also heard of the issues with Happy Valley transport at peak times. A friend lives there and says the buses are very full and taxis's impossible to get in the mornings.

    HC - DB is less "local" if thats what you mean by it not being Hong Kong. Having said that, there are lots of Chinese people there as well as lots of other cultures and that is one of the things I like about it. It is diverse in its culture. Also, having lived in HK for 8.5 years, I like that in DB I can finally have a change from the high rise buildings and close proximity living. As I said in my post, DB is not for everyone but it is certainly easy with children and the commute is not that bad. I also find that the DB "haters" are usually the ones that have never even lived there ... that certainly was me before I moved here.
    Last edited by starbucks2; 06-15-2011 at 07:50 PM.

  8. #8
    kiwiinoz is offline Registered User
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    There are lots of mums in Mid-Levels. As well as playgroups, many of the apartment complexes have playgrounds where you should meet lots of mums and kids as well. The YWCA is close by (with lots of kids programmes) and there are quite a few places on Caine Road as well.
    The main roads to perhaps consider would be Robinson Road and Conduit Road. You would definitely find something in your price range/requirements. Buildings to look at might be "Palatial Crest", "Grande Panarama", 31 Robinson Road (don't know it's name sorry) or "Robinson Place". All have pools (although some are only open 1/2 the year), playground, clubhouse setups. Many complexes also have shuttle buses to take you to Central/Admiralty.
    I find the pollution bad everywhere in HK. It doesn't matter if you are in Mid-Levels, Discovery Bay or Sai Kung.
    We wanted to be close to where hubby works, so there was no question for us to be in Mid-Levels. He is 15 to 20 minutes from home (walking) if we need him. I can walk to Sheung Wan, Central, even over to Admiralty and Wan Chai. There are supermarkets close by, Soho and LKF are easy walking distance too with lots of restaurants. There are parks here, including the Zoo (it's uninspiring but free), or if you're feeling adventurous you can walk to the Peak. There are lots of mums here with a variety of attitudes and opinions, as is true of most other places in HK.
    There is a very good network of buses and green mini buses through Mid-Levels servicing Pokfulam, Central, Admiralty all the way over to North Point.
    Having said that, look around. Visit Discovery Bay and see what you think. If you want the 'burbs, then that is definitely the place to look. You certainly get more square foot for your buck than on most of Hong Kong Island. From what friends who live there tell me they have a very close knit community. For me, it is like going to a beach town - totally not Hong Kong, but a great place to get away from the "big city" for the day.
    Similarly, there is a large mum community in Pokfulam. Most people seem to look at Bel Air out there.
    Happy Valley is a great locale. It has a lovely mix of ex-pat and local culture, as well as some great facilities for the kids, although it is further away from Central.
    All the localities have pro's and con's. You just have to figure out what your priorities are and go with that.

    Good Luck!

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