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Old 23.11.2010, 10:36
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Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

We are debating over pros and cons of moving to Honk Kong with 3 kids next year. We have limited info on a life in HK besides that it will be easier because of English spoken, warmer climate, more international schools. Has anyone actually moved there from here? And, maybe couple words on the experience.

Thank you!!
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Old 08.12.2010, 11:16
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

I stayed Hongkong 1 month for project before.
Air pollution is quite serious there.
It is not due to Hongkong itself but it comes from China since
bunch of fatories near Hongkong.
People in Hongkong knows they have nothing to control this pollution
and 25% population are considering immigration due to air pollution.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6768977.stm

Please take a trip to HK, before you simply settle down there.
As a father, I definitely don't want to recommend HK for living place.
Shopping? it is quite nice place.
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Old 08.12.2010, 11:26
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

We are planning to live in the very south like Stanley or Repulse Bay. is it much better there? I also heard that Honk Kong International School is great.
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Old 08.12.2010, 11:28
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

I used to live in Hong Kong. Repulsve Bay is definitely a nice place to be.
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Old 08.12.2010, 11:29
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

What would you say about Stanley vs Repulse Bay?

Thanks a million.
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Old 08.12.2010, 11:51
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

I used to live in Central...and I've been to Repulse Bay once or so. Stanley seems more touristy and more interesting than Repulse Bay. Repulse Bay is really getting pushed by its marketing department...but I can't really give you a definite answer. Either way, the move to Hong Kong will benefit your kids because they would live in a very dynamic and multicultural environment. It's a very safe place with excellent education and certainly a better climate. Also, it is fairly easy to escape the hustle and bustle of the city as it is riddled with botanical gardens and other random islands.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...s_of_Hong_Kong
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Old 08.12.2010, 11:58
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

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We are debating over pros and cons of moving to Honk Kong with 3 kids next year. We have limited info on a life in HK besides that it will be easier because of English spoken, warmer climate, more international schools. Has anyone actually moved there from here? And, maybe couple words on the experience.

Thank you!!
I heart Hong Kong. One of my fav cities in the world.

Pollution aside, its vibrant, cosmopolitan and there is always something to do at any time of the day.

Due to it being an expat haven in Asia (besides Singapore), English is widely spoken but Cantonese is still the every-day language. Pick up a few words and the locals will love you. Its a combination of East meets West. High rise buildings dominate the skyline but look out onto the sea, and you'll still see old Chinese junks about. Absolutely magical. Climate wise - there are four seasons but winters are mild compared to Europe, but summers are heaving. Typhoons are common but nothing to be worried about.

Repulse Bay is an awesome area to live in. I would also consider the mid-levels (near the escalator) on HKG island if you want something right in the heart of things. My aunty lives in the Peak - real green but a tad bit inconvenient for those younger-at-heart.

I wouldnt hesitate!
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Old 08.12.2010, 12:00
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

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Pick up a few words and the locals will love you.
..lol, I went there from the mainland speaking Mandarin..and people looked at me like I were an Alien.
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Old 08.12.2010, 12:02
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

Thank you all. the pollution is scary, but any advice on housing? What to look for and what to avoid? Any practical pointers?


So appreciate your input.
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Old 08.12.2010, 12:38
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

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..lol, I went there from the mainland speaking Mandarin..and people looked at me like I were an Alien.
It is a posh place... and while I do not know how to say this carefully... your Dickies', well, it isn't 1991 anymore...
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Old 08.12.2010, 13:05
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

Yes I moved from here to HK in 2005 with 2 kids and had another there! We lived at Repulse Bay which was great. Stanley is also a fantastic place and I think if I had my time again I would choose to live there! My girls went to German Swiss International School as we knew we were coming back! If you want to know anything pm me your email!
Ps I loved living in HK!
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Old 08.12.2010, 13:23
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

I lived in Hong Kong with two dogs, not kids. This was 15 years ago and I imagine everything has changed two or three times since then - so my comments are probably not all that helpful...

But I just wanted to say - do it!

I loved Hong Kong - those were some very, very happy years. The city has a buzz that is addictive, it's alive in a way that CH/ZH can never be. We chose to live farther out, on Lantau Island where we could have a house and garden for the mutts. So I had the best of both worlds - quiet (well, Hong Kong quiet) and green, with an easy ferry ride into the bustle of the city.

(Although I understand that there is a Disney World on Lantau now... how bizarre is that? I just cannot imagine such a thing on my sleepy(ish) island. Has anyone lived on Lantau recently? I'd really be interested in hearing how things have changed.)

We moved to HK for my husband's job, but I soon found work in China and so commuted with HK as my home base. Hand on heart, life was far easier in HK (and in China) than in Switzerland - I simply found the cultures more welcoming. Although reaching conversational fluency in Cantonese is very difficult, you will quickly pick up enough of the bare-bones basics to get by. I found people helpful and supportive as I blundered about with my laughable Cantonese and Mandarin, not at all censorious when I made mistakes as often happens here.

Life's too short to pass up an adventure - do it!
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Old 08.12.2010, 13:30
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

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It is a posh place... and while I do not know how to say this carefully... your Dickies', well, it isn't 1991 anymore...
What are you trying to say...Dickies aren't posh?!
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Old 08.12.2010, 13:34
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

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(Although I understand that there is a Disney World on Lantau now... how bizarre is that? I just cannot imagine such a thing on my sleepy(ish) island. Has anyone lived on Lantau recently? I'd really be interested in hearing how things have changed.)
Not recently - but 5 years ago. It is indeed not the Lantau I remember - even then. I use to make regular (quarterly) trips to Hong Kong to visit my aunt whom I am very close to since I was 15 and a trip Po Lin Monastery on Lantau for a vegetarian lunch with her was always compulsory. Lantau has come a long way - not necessarily in the good sense.

mazule, sorry, really cant help you there as I have no experience in property search in HKG. But just remember that space is premium in this densely populated place - especially HKG Island and Kowloon, and even recently, the New Territories. Everyone lives on top of each other in super tall buildings.

Having 3 children means you have to consider that issue - unless you have deep pockets - even more so, if you want to hire an ah-mah (or domestic helper) which is quite the norm with expats in Hong Kong, to help you out.
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Old 08.12.2010, 13:46
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

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What are you trying to say...Dickies aren't posh?!
What I am saying is that you simply did not try hard enough to blend in... you know: local clothes instead:

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Old 08.12.2010, 14:11
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

How cool! We're moving there next April... can;t wait! we lived 4 years in Shanghai before moving to Bern. There will be many things I will miss from here..the freedom my 6 year old has had to play outside with the other kids whenever she wants.Having friends in the neighbourood she can play with whenever..the fresh air, the nature..everything so close to each other, not having to commute etc.. My kids will have to start school a 7.40 ( even my 3 year old ) and they will have to spend time on school buses instead of walking to school just like here. But HK is going to be great, I have quit a few friends working there with children and they love it.

My 2 kids are going to go to the Swiss German school. If you need advice about school, I have 4 friends teaching at different schools there and I am now looking at teaching vacancies myself, there is already so many more opportunities for me as a teacher there than here..I'm going to be able to work again ! ANd thanks to our future helper bye bye ironing, washing.. we will be able to go out again just between adults ....

Now for the location, we don't know yet but it will have to be closer to the German school and easy enough for my husband to commute to Zhenzen in China...

Have to say, that it is the scariest move for me ( and yet i've kept on moving) because I 've felt very guilty for my kids and my parents. I have not break the news to my mom yet.. anyways. I feel better, because we will not change school system again..now my oldest has gone through kindy in the swiss system.. she will stay in this system.. and since the decision has been made.( my husband got appointed this Monday) we have spent the last 2 days at looking at an apartment to buy so we can come back here every year... the plan is to settle back here in Bernin 3/5 years time if my husband is still happy to work with his company..I so hope so!
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Old 08.12.2010, 14:15
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

Our futur school is telling me many families live in Stanlet , repulse bay and Tai Tam but is recommanding Pok Fu Lam as it will be easier for my hubsand to commute to Zhenzen.. Does anyone know this area?
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Old 08.12.2010, 15:10
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

Some places in Pok Fu Lam are great! Cyberport has great apartment buildings with fantastic facilities! It is closer to Central than RB or Stanley making the commute to Shenzen quicker but when I lived in RB many people I knew would commute to Shenzen from there! Think you are talking 15-20 mins difference.
I am so jealous of you guys I would love to move back to HK and as mentioned above having a helper again
Mid levels could also be an option, close both to Central and GSIS but very built up. The great thing about RB and Stanley is being near the sea and the air being Slightly less polluted!
You will have to accompany your husband to Shenzen sometimes , there is a fantastic shopping centre in Lo Wu for bargains galore and tailor made clothes for peanuts! I was supposed to return to HK for a visit in April but the damn volcano put paid to that
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Old 08.12.2010, 15:39
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

Well, i am getting excited. i am in teh process of applying to Honk Kong International school. Hope they have space. i heard that many schools have long waiting lists. Any advice on good private schools in English? Also, I soooo hope for an expat forum there !!!! Is there such thing?

I will miss chocolate though, but not 60sfr fisher price toys
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Old 08.12.2010, 15:55
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Re: Has anyone moved to Hong Kong from Switzerland with kids?

We did the opposite and came here from HK. I LOVED HK, but for the complete opposite reasons that I love it here.

It's dirty, smelly, crowded, muggy and constantly noisy. But it's such a vibrant and interesting place. It is a place where you can stay in your expat bubble and live very comfortably, or you can venture more into the oriental experience.

The pollution is VERY BAD. Don't underestimate it. There are days where the kids are kept inside at school due to pollution. If anyone has asthma or skin problems, then they will be worse in HK. Also, the doctors will prescribe antibiotics and medicines more readily because the humidity and pollution make illnesses worse (I had 6 sinus infections in one year until I listened to my doctor and took medications).

The expats are very very welcoming - we made friends really easily and quickly, and have lifelong friends from our time there. The chinese are more reserved but if you make the effort you will also get to know some locals. This is easier with the younger generation.

There are alot of international schools BUT (and it's a big BUT), there are also long waiting lists. HKIS, for example, is one of the best but it is very hard to get into. They firstly give priority to siblings, then corporate debenture holders (ask your company if they're providing this), then private debenture holder (very expensive - can be worth more than Fr.200,000 - but is refundable upon leaving), then children coming from an American system, then AMCHAM members children, then the rest of us. Other schools can be similarly difficult to get into.

Note that the German Swiss International School might be easier to get into if you're looking at the German stream (they also have an english stream which is also very difficult to get into as it is also one of the best). BTW, alot of schools test kids before accepting them (GSIS does). Even 3 year olds are tested at some schools.

There are also many ESF schools which are partly private, partly govt funded. They are cheaper than private schools and work like a public school - they have to accept your child if you are native english speakers, live in their catchment area, and they have space. They are mostly good schools, but check on the number of native english speakers. They fill classes with chinese and other nationalities who want their children to have a private education. Some schools have too many non-english speakers, which results in the teachers spending alot of time on the language, and explaining work in simple terms.

Regarding where to live. There are expats all over the place (although fewer in some parts of the New Territories). Stanley is nice and yes there would be slightly less pollution there than in Central or the Mid-levels, but it's still not good. I would work out schools before deciding where to live. Otherwise your kids could be spending over an hour on the bus. (BTW, not all the pollution comes from China. HK has alot of old trucks and cars that spew out black fumes.)

We lived in a highrise and I also loved that. I missed the space and backyard, but our high rise (over 300 flats) was like a ready made suburb. We always met people with kids in the common areas and that's how we got to know people so quickly. The building had a big outdoor area (over 200m long) where the kids could meet and ride bikes/scooters, etc, and the parents sat outside chatting. We also had a pool, 2 outdoor playgrounds and one big indoor play area with a climbing jungle. If you have younger kids this is a haven. HK gets alot of rain, combine it with the pollution and heat, and there can be alot of days when you don't want to go out. This was a lifesaver for entertaining the kids on those types of days. We also had a gym, squash court, function rooms (for birthday parties, etc), etc.

Most people have a live in "helper", which is great but it takes some getting used to. Nearly all flats/houses have a separate area/room for the helper.

I could write so much more as it is a fantastic place, but PM me if you have more questions or want more info.

Someone asked about Pok Fu Lam.....apart from Cyberport (huge development with lots of new flats and shopping centre, etc) it's a slightly cheaper area of HK as there is a cemetary there and the chinese don't like living near a cemetary. You get more value for your money, but again I would pick a school first. We have a friend in Pok Fu Lam and it takes her 7 year old son over an hour on the bus every day to and from GSIS. He gets on the bus at 6.20am every morning!!!!

Last edited by OZHK; 08.12.2010 at 15:58. Reason: left detail out
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