Hong Kong is one of the top global cities with a big expat community. It is a great destination for expats with families because it has low crime rate, excellent schools and good career opportunities. Despite being one of the most expensive cities to live in it still can be rewarding for individuals and for families because of the unique experiences in the country. Moving your entire family to Hong Kong can seem daunting but if you plan your relocation early, the transition should be an easy one.
This is a checklist for expats who are planning to bring their families to Hong Kong. These information should ease you into your transition into the country.
Permanent Residence and Dependent Visa
The person who has the initial intent of moving to Hong Kong needs to obtain a long-term visa or permanent residence for themselves first before applying for a Dependent Visa for their spouse and children under 18. For long-term partners you have the option of applying for Prolonged Visitor visa but you must present proof that you have been in a relationship for over 12 months. It is important to note that visa approval may not come at the same time for each family member so plan your time accordingly. You can use the Hong Kong Immigration Department site for more information.
Schools and Nursery
The school year is from September to July. Hong Kong is known for having good schools and expats generally choose international schools for their children. The average citizen spends a total of 16 years for their education and the adult literacy rate is 93.5%.There are also public schools that have English-based curriculums. Do your research if you plan on enrolling your kids to these public schools as there may be some false advertisement that claim they teach in English but instead conduct the majority of courses in Cantonese. It is also normal to see private tutors for students because of the competitive nature of Hong Kong schools. Extra curricular learning is also highly encouraged among children so expect offers for music and art lessons from tutoring schools. This means you will have many options for weekend activities for the children. You can use this Hong Kong Search Tool for schools in Hong Kong.
There are plenty of nursery and childcare facilities around the city. The best thing to do when looking for child care arrangements is to compare school reviews and get recommendations from fellow expats. The annual cost for kindergarten and nursery school can range from HK$10,000 to HK$100,000. Feedback from first hand experience is crucial. There are plenty of forum sites such as AsiaXpat orExpat Forum you can turn to for answers.
One final note is that there are long waiting lists for good schools so have multiple options when applying.
Hiring helpers is a norm for Hong Kongers and many expats adapt to this culture. We’ve written a separate blog about the ins and outs of hiring and choosing domestic helpers.
Finding a Place
We’ve also written a blog on expat-recommended areas throughout Hong Kong along with the average cost of rent. You can read the blog here: Expat Guide: Finding a Place in Hong Kong. However, we also recommended going into the forums for more in depth suggestions.
Living in the city is expensive the cost of medical fees and property will continue to soar. While the country offers world-class health care even in public hospitals, what you need to be prepared for are emergencies. Waiting in a public hospital emergency room could mean not having the immediate medical attention you need especially for your children. We recommend that you get a family insurance policy to take care of your worries in such cases.
We can help find flexible, full coverage insurance policies for expats. You can contact Village Insurance Direct here.