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How to deal with the haves and the have nots

  1. #9
    mummymoo is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Hong Kong

    smglobal I think what you are seeing is a real "face " thing in HK. That's what's going on with the overt signs of wealth, the handbags, cars, holidays....ect. Its quite imbedded in the local culture here that you are either successful or you are not, there seems to be no middle road. Sad but true. So the folk here use these 'sign's to indicate worth. For example, my secretary who makes around 12K per month recently was toting a limited edition LV bag that I'm guessing was 18K (HKD). All the other PAs/Secs were envious +++. I thought it was totally insane she would waste her hard earned cash like that but I'm a believer of "to each their own".......but the effect on others was pretty interesting.
    I just think that you need to be strong and keep to your core values. Never lose sight of them. Be comfortable in your own skin and surround yourself with like minded people. When I first came to HK I put up with a lot of rubbish because I was new in town and just thought that was how everyone is here, but as the years have passed, I have realised that you do not need to surround yourself with these shallow types, they will make you unhappy as for them, their own happiness is the product of someone else feeling less better about themselves (cutting you down to make themselves feel important/superior) . There are like minded people out there, you just need to find them as I have.
    I have a unique problem that is similar to yours in a way, in that I'm trying to raise my brood with a sense for the things I find valuable in life, good friends, great books, "life adventures' like cooking together, traveling together.....without the materialism and I can almost achieve this, as I have surrounded myself with like minded friends and their families. My problem is my husband's family is local HK Chinese, and his parents are very materialistic and do not support the values I try to imbue my children with. My husband is not materialistic but I think he finds it hard to manage his folks. His mother tells my four year old 'you're a rich little girl' (it used to be a rich little baby) which I find offensive in the extreme. They keep telling my two that they are rich (it's now permanently imprinted in their brains and I can't weed it out) and can afford ANYTHING that the two children want. They point out their less richer pals (but never their richer ones......). This is a problem I can not solve.
    So I think for you, choose your friends and their families wisely. It's easier to do than you can imagine and life will become more wonderful and less stressful for you when you find a few families to finally 'nest' with. Just remember, it only becomes your problem when you let them get to you. Keep to your core values. Good luck and God Bless.

    as72 likes this.

  2. #10
    Newbie_hk is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2010

    Be content with what you have. Your situation certainly seems comfortable by the average local standard. I also cringe at materialistic culture in general. I avoid bringing my daughter for "leisure shopping" . We just go to the mall to buy what we need, grab a coffee then leave. Like the others , I tell my kid she cannot have everything she wants even if she says "classmate X has so many princess stuff".

    My husband & I have come up with a mantra every time we are undecided to buy or think its too extravagant: is it a must have or a nice to have? More often than not, it makes you rethink if you really need something.

    It does help to surround yourself with friend & family who have the same values as you. At the playground, the two mothers that I've become close to nodded in agreement when I told them I was relieved that none of us were the high maintenance, materialistic type of wife/mum.

    as72 likes this.

  3. #11
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Quote Originally Posted by nicolejoy View Post
    ... for a reality check, you can make friends with some locals and I know compared to them, OUR rent is more than their income so we must seem equally as extravagant...
    Very good point right here!

    My thoughts are: When you were growing up were you given everything you wanted? Did you grow up in a wealthy lifestyle? I'm sure some people on this forum did. I did not. So, I don't feel bad one bit having to say "no" to my children for things that we can't afford or aren't willing to spend money on. In my family we got new clothes once a year when school started. I remember wearing shoes that had holes in them. During that time it was difficult because other children had newer clothes than me. But, looking back, I learned that "stuff is just stuff" and the valuable things in life can't be bought with money.

    I feel blessed in some ways that we are definitely on the "lower income" side of the "expat" community (although my husband is local so we're not exactly truly expats). When we first came back to HK my husband made 10K/month--which actually is a pretty standard starting salary for many employees in HK. We know people who have started out at 8-6K/month. We had to live with my in-laws at first and then moved out because we needed to but our rent was really high at that time. Nothing like being pregnant with your first child, paying your rent and then wondering how you're going to take public transport to and from work and eat for the rest of the month. But we've never been homeless or hungry so we really are blessed. There are a lot of people in HK who can't say the same thing.

    It's not always easy as we never get those trips that you're talking about--this year will be the first time I have been back to my home country in four years and the first time my son has seen his grandfather (my father) since he was an infant (he's now in kindergarten). My employer is paying for our tickets otherwise it's doubtful we would be going anywhere. Before last summer when my in-laws paid for the family to go with them to the Philippines I hadn't been out of Hong Kong on a holiday in three years.

    But, for the very reasons you mentioned--the "keeping up with the Jones'" thing that is rampant in the expat community in HK (whether spoken or unspoken)--I find it really hard to relate to most expat families I meet (especially the ones who make a lot of money). I remember once talking to an expat mother who lived on HK Island (someone from Geobaby) and talking about meeting up for a playdate. I mentioned that I lived in the New Territories and she was like, "Oh, just take a taxi..." fare would be at least 300-500 HKD or more from where we live and to her that just seemed like a drop in the bucket. That's when I took a step back and just said, "Yes, we're just living in different worlds it seems." The lifestyles in HK are many and varied.

    So, if you're hanging out with people who make you feel jealous and miserable, then look for more down-to-earth people who don't. There are people I simply won't spend time with--not because they're bad people but I definitely don't need any fodder to throw myself a pity party--I know myself so I just spend time with people who I understand and who understand me. You can always opt out of the "comparison game" and I felt a lot healthier and happier once I did!

    You have to know yourself and know your family and what your priorities are. If your priorities are saving and living a down-to-earth lifestyle then it really shouldn't matter what other people are doing. That's the beauty of being an adult is you can choose. :)

    Good luck with your adjustment to HK!
    AmyH likes this.
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

  4. #12
    Sarah_Lotus is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Hong Kong
    The median monthly domestic household income in Hong Kong for 2010 was $18,000.
    That means that 50% of the population live in families where the income is less than $18,000 a month. In fact only 12.5% of the population live in families where the income is over $50,000 a month and only 3% of the population live in families where the income is over $100,000 a month. These facts makes me feel rich even if I do have to be careful with how I spend money.
    thanka2 likes this.

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