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Moving to HK and need help with where to live and preschools

  1. #1
    brookemom is offline Registered User
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    Moving to HK and need help with where to live and preschools

    Hi,
    We are Americans relocating to HK by the end of this year and have the following questions about where to live and preschools for our 3 yo.

    We have heard that the waitlists for preschools are crazy in HK. Our daughter is used to going to a full day (9am - 3pm) nursery so I would like to continue have her attending a bilingual school of some sort, full day.

    1. Given the long wait lists, is it better to find a school that can accept her first and then base where we will live around her school? (as we don't believe in long school bus commutes for such a young kid) The worst situation for us would be to move in to a new place, then not have any school options.

    2. Are there reputable bilingual preschools without long waiting lists where she can get in right away?

    3. I have been looking at the Kowloon station area like Harbourside, Waterfront, Sorrento, etc. Are these family friendly communities, and what preschool options are there in this area? I found PIPS and contacted them but have not yet heard back about their wait lists.

    Any insight will be appreciated.

  2. #2
    2010-NewDad is offline Registered User
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    Hi brookemom,

    Sorry I can't help you with all your questions - our little one is too small for preschool so we have not looked as yet.

    However, as to question 3 - we live above Kowloon station and I can confirm it is a very toddler friendly area. The development has an upper ring road which has a lot of speed bumps, and is only used by private cars, taxis and school buses. Any commercial vehicles, minibuses, delivery vans, double decker buses all use the lower (undercover) ring road which keeps the roadside pollution, the traffic and the noise down nicely. There is a decent playground, a few grassy areas and some water features, seats and paved areas which are all nice for children.

    I watch small children kicking a ball around before dinner on one of the grassy areas outside, and can't wait for mine to grow up so we can join them! I would call PIPS on the phone rather than waiting for email - I have found generally most businesses in Hong Kong very poor with email but much better on the phone.

    To be honest, I would start thinking about proper school for your 3 year old as a priority. Waitlists are no joke, and colleagues of mine have had to delay their 5 year old starting proper school until they've been able to secure a place. I would definitely say the choice of where to live should be determined by school places at the moment. Does your employer have some relocation service you can use for up to date local advice?

  3. #3
    Obiwan is offline Registered User
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    Agree with 2010-ND, we live in Kowloon Station too and love this place. Very convenient with Elements Mall, subway, supermarket etc just at our door step. My daughter attends PIPS for playgroup and prenursery and it's really convenient. There is also relatively more safe open space for kids to run around either within the residential complex or in the playground downstairs. If you work in Central, you will be one subway stop away, which we found closer than when we were living in mid-levels. Lots of families here :)

  4. #4
    brookemom is offline Registered User
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    Very helpful advice! Thank you. Out of some of the apartment complexes in that area, which are the most kid-friendly would you say? Harbourside, Waterfront, Sorrento, Cullinan, or the Arch?

  5. #5
    Obiwan is offline Registered User
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    They are generally all kids friendly with good club house facilities. We find that the layout for Sorrento and Waterfront are better than the other 3 though ... You should get the agent to show you all of them and you can decide which one you like best :)

  6. #6
    Obiwan is offline Registered User
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    You should look at schools and decide where you want to send your kid as there is only one here at Kowloon Station, while it is super convenient, may not be to your best liking.

  7. #7
    penguinsix is offline Registered User
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    We live in the Midlevels and had quite a few preschools to choose from, either up on the Peak or down in the Midlevels. We ended up with Woodlands Peak as they had an afternoon Mandarin program. The bus from our place to their was about 15 minutes or so. Yes, there was a wait list, but we were able to get off the wait list in about a month (they took us half day right away, and we waited for a full day slot).

    Unlike the US, generally schools here start at age 4 rather than 5. As such starting this September you'll enter the 4-year-old formal school application process, aiming toward admission in the Fall of 2012 into reception for your 4-year-old. You can wait until age 5, but you will find yourself as one of 100 competing for 5 open spaces rather than the 4-year-old competition which is 1 of 200 competing for 40 open spaces, or something to that effect.

    As such, I'd really aim at finding housing in the general vicinity of your long term school plans rather than one year of pre-school. I think you'll eventually get a space off a wait list at a pre-school near you and would't necessary find accommodation based on just one year in pre-school, if your long term plans are many years over here.

    While you said you aren't moving until the end of the year, please pay attention to school deadlines that are closing this Fall. People have literally had to up and move their families to Singapore or elsewhere simply because they cannot find spots for their kids, so you have the advantage right now of time to get the applications in to the schools.

    Good luck.

  8. #8
    howardcoombs is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by penguinsix View Post
    Unlike the US, generally schools here start at age 4 rather than 5.
    4 is too late for many of the schools, especially for any local and/or multi-lingual schools. We started our bunch at around 2.5yo with PreK at Lingnan.

    http://hongkong.geoexpat.com/forum/6...tml#post239685

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kindergarten#Hong_Kong

    If you are going the international route, then 4 or 5 is still fine; however if you choose to expose your LO to Cantonese and/or Mandarin, dont wait any further. 3 is perfect to pick up extra language.

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