ASK THE EXPERTS
Moving to Hong Kong with Children – TIPS
Lets get this straight – KIDS are NOT BOXES.
Our Locations team is a varied and vibrant mix of nationalities but one thing we all have in common is KIDS – all ages, from 3 to 23, all stages and we know what it means to move them from one ‘location’ to another.
They have emotions, attachments and physical as well as spiritual and psychological needs.
Our panel of staff members are not just Real Estate Agents but parents:
So we asked them for a few tips to help you. Now one would think with a diverse range of nationhoods we would get a diverse range of advice – well true to the addage that dictates that same advice is good advice, we have chosen to print it all – and its very consistent.
If you would like to contact any of us for further guidance or a chat over a coffee or even a skype before you embark we are here with open arms.
We know its not easy but a move to Hong Kong could very well be one you never make again – we all came for ‘two years’ once a long time ago!!
Stuart is a ‘trailing spouse’ in the nicest terms. A stay at home Dad of two very active kids ( 4 and 6) who runs a tight ship and keeps up with the daily routine of swimming lessons, school runs and home management along side a new career in Real Estate. A former banking professional Stu found it was possible to change direction while taking care of his family (Reach Stuart)
Relocating to HK with kids as a trailing spouse was at the same time a daunting yet exciting experience for me. A new city, a new culture and a very new role for me as a stay at home Dad
How did I survive ?
Luckily HK is set up for trailing spouses of either gender and if you embrace the change and accept the challenge ( which is certainly not easy at times) then it can be a very rewarding time of your life.
The best thing I did was join a sports club which gave me (and more importantly my family) access to an immediate social network, a place to come to to relax and let the kids run free and also the chance to indulge one of my passions / obsessions in cricket ! Clubs of all shapes and sizes in HK are one of the best ways to meet people and to get involved in HK life and by the time you leave HK you may well have made friends for life through this experience.
Even if joining a club is perhaps not an option for you personally , getting your children involved in sporting activities through the various clubs in HK is just as good and great for the kids to mix with other HK rug rats and to help them make new friends. My two children are both HKCC Gappers through the cricket season (every Saturday morning) and budding rugby players for Valley Fort which has the added bonus of training at the PLA army base in Stanley on occasions with curious Chinese soldiers watching on !
Involve yourself in your childrens school / pre-school life and you will be surprised how many other people you will find who are going through or have been through exactly what you are experiencing. I made two of my best friends in HK (and since) just by dropping my kids off at their pre school and hanging around for 10 minutes afterwards chatting with other parents.
The more you make the effort to get involved in HK life, be it through your children school life, clubs or whatever the more you will get out of it which will make your time in HK well worth the experience.
A self confessed power machine of a mum to two boys, Nikki works hard to perfect her role as a mum, a professional Real Estate Agent and a sportwoman participating in HK’s top level of Dragon Boating. A Psychologist by training and a pharma sales leader, who better to ask about transitioning family than a person who never stops working on it even when settled? (Reach Nikki)
Sport – all sports are on offer in HK.
For children and adults!!
Try some of these…..
Mini rugby clubs in all areas of Hong Kong, for girls and boys
Many football schools, APSS and Brazilian Football Academy, start from five years and up to older boys and girls with competitive squads.
Cricket, try the gappers at the HKCC, early on a Saturday morning.
Sailing, learn to sail from age of 6 years at RHKYC
Netball and Hockey at HKCC
Multi sport - offering swimming, gymnastics and much more
Horse-riding in Pokfulam and the New territories
Karate – taught at HKFC, Aberdeen Boat club, Country Club
Hong Kong is not just the city, take a look at the green centre when you look up from the city! All of the green area contains kms and kms of hiking trails! Beautiful green lush paths with gurgling streams and gushing water falls. Stunning flowers and wildlife. All levels of hiking area available, to tough climbs which reward with the view when you get there, to concreted trails, suitable for pushchairs.
Further explore hiking options and even camping on beautiful isolated beaches of the outlying islands.
Embrace your new home as a jumping off point for travel.
Fantastic opportunity to travel to countless, close by children friendly destinations, to embrace culture, food and the people.
Fantastic experiences for children of all ages..
But first start with Hong Kong!
Others to visit, best make your list now and with around 21 days of public holidays a year to add to the school holidays, you have plenty to time to make the trips!!!
And a little further a field
And even Australia and New Zealand….
Taking a more relaxed approach because she was brought up in Hong Kong, Maeve has a strong educational and sports ethos and is now transitioning some of her children back to a Boarding School while maintaining a very active role in her DB community and her childrens schools. Don’t be deceived by Maeve’s calm exterior – she works 24/7 at networking and keeping her kids involved and has some top tips to share about balance. (Reach Maeve)
Travel as much as you can - HK is an ideal geographical position to see the best of Asia. It can be so exciting for our children to experience new cultures first hand and often retain more than in the classroom!
Eat local Asian food - be it Cantonese, Peking, Shanghai, Thai, Indian, Sri Lankan - we call our children 'Asian babies' as they far prefer Asian fare over Western.
Take to the outdoors - HK is 70% country park and there are so many wonderful hiking trails and beaches to explore. By foot, junk, ferry or Sampan.
Camping - obviously avoid the very hot seasons (although some of the safari style tents have portable aircons) - but too often in HK, our children don't learn how to be hardy creatures - learn how to collect appropriate firewood, how to build a fire, campfire cooking, working with untreated water etc. Experience real nature and all it has to offer - in terms of bird life, the wandering water buffalo on lantau and sai kung - and experience clear clean waters of the New Territories.
Visit the busy Hong Kong markets and regularly attempt a few words of Cantonese with the street sellers.
Meet other families & children throughout HK by joining extra curricular activities of interest. HK has many sports clubs and weekends can be packed full with team practice and regular tournaments - be it football, rugby, swimming, netball, hockey, tennis, ice hockey. Non sporting activities in the arts - creative writing, painting/drawing/sewing/knitting, theatre & singing groups - also create a wonderful opportunity for our children to meet a diverse range of friends.
You may think that coming to the end of expatriate journey of 24 years with children in Hong Kong, Megan could be a little out of touch – well with 16 year old twins doing A levels, and a son graduating from NZ university and now in the job market its never dull but in a different way. Megan attests to the sanctity of Hong Kong as a safe and enriching place to bring up a family in a time tested multicultural environment with all the benefits of a cosmopolitan lifestyle. (Reach Megan)
EMBRACE Hong Kong by encouraging varied experiences. Enjoy the festivals, and get out and see the different areas Hong Kong has. Islands, mountains.
My kids have grown up tramping and camping in the hills of the New Territories, the beaches of Saikung and eating at the Dai Pai Dong food stalls of the remote villages. I never let my children turn their noses up at local food – it will stop them from starving if they go to university and know how to eat ‘Asian’ Also please help them to learn Cantonese – a few words. My twins now love using it.
Finally have a helper by all means but know the difference between a maid and a slave and respect your helpers – get your children early on to make their own beds and cook a meal with you, do the dishes as a chore and share a laugh with your domestic staff. They can’t take a helper home with them so they may as well take home respect for people from other countries who work and care for them.
A long time expatriate Mum of three boys Sandra has special needs as her key area of expertise as she has fully invested her time in HK in supporting her own children with differences. A strong advocate of the rights and responsibilities of parents with children who are needing support you know Sandra is on your side if you need her advice.
American Wendy has a grown up family including one member of the HK Sevens team so we could reiterate that sport is a significant part of successfully parenting kids in HK but maybe its not for all kids - if your kids are not the sporty types you are in the right place for Music, Drama, Art, Language, and Technology – a tech geek paradise awaits. (Reach Wendy)
Don’t forget to take it one day at a time and do not be afraid to reach out to us or any other parents you meet. We won’t all think the same way but we will all have the same goals – to make a family transition into a positive experience. We have all done it, and we know its ok to feel a bit down in the dumps as it makes the high points seem so much higher.