15Jun

Expat Tips: Getting Around Hong Kong

Some things never change. Hong Kong, for instance, is still a metro titan. At its heart is a booming commercial identity that’s the product of a strategic location. It has aged like fine wine through the years and has been fine-tuned to operate for centuries. One cannot discount how its location and routes easily contributed to its transformation as a central hub of Asia. When people say you can travel anywhere from Hong Kong, they mean every word of it.

Here we break down how travel can easily be achieved from Hong Kong to Mainland China through various forms of transport.

Ferries

The ocean has always been the classical route to this city. Even to this day, Hong Kong isn’t short of ferries and boats that could take you just about anywhere. Mainland China is easily connected to Hong Kong through several ports. One can take advantage of ferries from different points such as Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, and even from Hong Kong International Airport.

Turbojet is a popular choice among travellers. It offers 24-hour-transport services that take about 45 minutes for the whole trip. Other options include the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal, Chu Kong Passenger Transport, and the Shun Tak Centre Hong Kong.

Turbojet has ferry services from Hong Kong and Macau that take about an hour from Kowloon. From the same terminal, Chu Kong Passenger Transport also provides transport between Hing Kong and several cities in the Guangdong province and other areas such as the Zhongshan, Humen, and Zhuhai. Passengers coming in through the Hong Kong International Airport on their way to the Pearl River Delta area have the option to make use of the SkyPier ferry services instead.

Air Travel

It’s easy to travel from the Hong Kong International Airport to any international destination. Almost all carriers that are docked there cater to almost all countries. It is also home to several budget airlines such as AirAsia and Hong Kong Airlines, which are good options for flights within Asia. Just be sure to ready for your passport and other documents such as visas and/or your Hong Kong ID card.

Trains

Another option for transport would be the use of trains. From Hong Kong, trains move to China straight through Shenzen and Guangzhou. There will be short stops along the way like in Dongguan. There are also trains available to other specific areas such as Beijing and Shanghai.

Buses/coaches

If trains or ferries aren’t for you, then taking the long road might be the answer. From Hong Kong, there are buses (or coaches) available that cross the border to Guangdong Province (and its cities).

To a lot of people, which makes Hong Kong special is its ability to self-sustain as a business hub. Most of the time, however, people often miss how it is made beautiful by its ability to connect nations even to this day. For example, these are only lists of how Hong Kong can easily link up with mainland China. The routes to all other destinations are plenty and thriving. This only goes to show that Hong Kong is easily one of Asia’s greatest hubs that are here to stay.

For personal and business insurance in Hong Kong, get in touch with us. We help find the best policies for expats.

2Jun

Information on Scoliosis in Kids: Treatment Options in Hong Kong

WHAT IS SCOLIOSIS?

Scoliosis is a lateral (toward the side) curvature in the normally straight vertical line of the spine. When viewed from the side, the spine should show a mild roundness in the upper back and a degree of swayback (inward curvature) in the lower back. When a person with a normal spine is viewed from the front or back, the spine appears to be straight. When a person with scoliosis is viewed from the front or back, the spine appears to be curved.

CAUSES

The causes for 80 to 85% of all scoliosis cases are usually unknown. Boys and girls are equally affected by small curves, but girls are eight times more likely to develop progressive curves. According to recent research, about one in three children whose parents have scoliosis will develop scoliosis. Scoliosis is considered a partially genetic condition; however, exactly which genes cause scoliosis is inconclusive.

MYTHS

Parents should understand that the following factors are not associated with the condition:

  • Carrying school bags
  • Bad posture
  • Unequal leg length
  • Back injury
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Sports activities

TREATMENT

There are 4 big hospitals that specialize in both children and adult scoliosis treatment. Check your insurance provider if these are part of their partner institutions.

For moderate curves in growing children, brace treatment is recommended. Braces will not completely eliminate scoliosis. However, a well-fitted and diligently worn corrective brace can significantly slow or prevent curve progression.

For the very small number of children with severe curves, internal fixation is applied to the spine to correct the curve within the limits of safety. Nowadays, surgery for scoliosis has been made very safe by major advances in surgical techniques.

Get a family insurance policy that covers treatment and therapy for scoliosis. We help expats find the best health covers that include medical insurance for children. Get in touch with us today.

20Apr

The Expat life: Hong Kong Edition

Welcome to expat life.

Life in a new city can feel overwhelming. New people, a new language, new work, and new routines.

Being an expatriate has its own sets of pros and cons. A move to a country like Hong Kong isn’t a full turn from life in the west since it’s one of Asia’s top destinations for expats from the UK and the US. It’s a melting pot of different cultures and it’s one of the most preferred places to establish businesses.

Expat life in Hong Kong parallels no other, an experience that’s exclusive to itself.

Whatever city you’re in, the first step is to brace yourself with changes. It’s good to anticipate that there will be a few ups and downs along the course of your transition. Cut yourself some slack.

The expat community in Asian counties is continuously growing. If you need a hand in learning the ropes, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. It will also be your stepping stone in exploring the urban jungle you’re in.

Want to settle in a place with familiar faces? That’s certainly not a problem. Hong Kong, for example, cradles a lot of its expats in the West Kowloon area. Aside from fellow expats, it is home to a lot of amenities that would easily cater to your comfort.

The Expat Community

Expat communities in Hong Kong range from the outgoing to the insular and close-knit. British and Americans compose mainly form the bulk of the community and they often work in the financial sector. Foreigners from neighbouring East Asia countries are also prominent in the country mostly from Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, India and Thailand.

What Language to Learn

Foreigners with good language skills in both Cantonese and Mandarin are going to have a significant advantage. 89.5% of the whole population speaks Cantonese. We recommend you try to at least learn some basic conversational Cantonese.

Housing and Other Accommodations

Hong Kong is known for having one of the most expensive property prices in Asia and even the world. Expect compact condos and apartments with high rent although there are still areas with more affordable housing.

We gathered the average rent for 2 bedroom apartments popular to expat communities in one of our blogs: Finding a Place to Live in Hong Kong

In the end, there’s really no clear-cut guide on how to ease yourself into the expat life. Change takes time and effort. Don’t let the city intimidate you. Sit back and explore your new home. Everything new is just within the tip of your fingertips.

For expats looking to find the best personal or business insurance, get in touch with Village Insurance Direct today. We help find the best policies for expats.

17Jan

Expat Life: Where to Live in Hong Kong in 2019

The peak of every Hong Kong experience lies in the belly of the beast: in the city itself. But when the day ends, it is best to know the perfect place to settle in.

Hong Kong never falls short of choices when it comes to areas of living. There will be a lot of deciding factors that may either make or break you when it’s time to choose. Budget always comes first, and then the level of comfort that crosses with the number of residents that will stay with you.

Kowloon Tong & West Kowloon

Photo from squarefoot.com.hk

The best place when it comes to families would probably be Kowloon Tong and West Kowloon. They are excellent for expats thanks for the accessible transports that lead to the city’s center. It is also home to different international schools, which would be great if children will be living there too.

Mid Levels

Photo from Engel & Völkers

This is the best choice for someone who highlights leisure as the main component of their stay as expats. The Mid Levels offers excellent routes and access to Soho and Lan Kwai Fong, which are basically areas filled with engagement and nightlife. Like Kowloon Tong, there are also schools nearby.

North Point

Photo from EJ Insights

North Point, by far, is the best choice for expats looking for an expanding community. This is a hidden gem, as most people prefer other areas that are closer to spots of leisure and nightlife. Immersive with Hong Kong spirit, there are a good number of traditional markets and restaurants.

The Peak

Photo from tripleytravelandtours.com

Its name holds what it offers best. The Peak is a scenic place to live in and that’s a given fact. Known to many as an affluent area in Hong Kong, it is impossible to miss as a good choice to live in for expats. The high area is home to various amenities for its residents such as swimming pools and tennis courts. It’s almost as if you never left your house in the West.

Repulse Bay & Stanley

Photo from Saville HK

The lack of easy access to an MTR line is perhaps the only foreseeable setback from living in this area. Other than that, everything else is a win. Between the two areas, Stanley is a more affordable choice. Nonetheless, both areas offer excellent facilities including a number of banks, shops, and restaurants. It is the choice for those who dream of living closer to the beach. Who knows, this might be the best choice for you.

Happy Valley/Jardine’s Lookout

Photo from Savills HK

These two areas provide the best range for people who are still looking for the best place to live as it offers a vast type of accommodation. The choice is at your fingertips: Be it a simple apartment to luxurious townhouses. Happy Valley is also a growing community as a lot of expats have chosen to live there as well. Jardine’s Lookout offers a magnificent view as it is higher up the mountain. It offers a sense of exclusivity with its various facilities.

Wan Chai

Photo from Discover Hong Kong

Last on the list brings this article to a full circle. If you want to live in the heart of Hong Kong, then Wan Chai may just be the place for you. This area is located in the central part of Hong Kong and is jam-packed with amenities that are maxed out for your purpose. There are plenty of restaurants, shops, and hotels and every other form of entertainment that’s meant for you.

For help on property insurance or renter’s insurance, get in touch with Village Insurance Direct today. We help expats find the best covers for your needs.

 

14Nov

Successful out-of-country childbirth

Giving birth in a different country requires plenty of preparation. Expats living abroad with their families need to ensure that there is a system is in place for a safe delivery to avoid unexpected expenses and inconveniences during such an intense period.

You can read more about the expense side of childbirth in our blog Expecting a Baby in Hong Kong.

The one plan to rule them all

“The best offence is a good defence” is the key to avoid as many of possible worst case scenarios. At this point, your answer to medical emergencies should always be preparedness.

The most crucial first step is to have a birth plan drafted out at the start of your pregnancy. This includes:

  • Getting to know your hospital of choice ahead of time
  • Familiarizing yourself with your new doctor
  • Knowing what you are looking for is a hospital

Hong Kong has one of the best healthcare systems in Asia and finding a hospital that suits your needs is relatively easy for many expats. Public and private hospitals provide excellent services so it’s usually a matter of preference and expense when it’s time to decide.

Choose your obstetrician wisely. If you have health insurance that covers pregnancy and childbirth, double check to see if they cover the hospital that you’ve chosen. Check the hospital’s proximity to your home and find alternative routes for different traffic conditions.

Common Complications

We do what we can to make sure the child is in good health during pregnancy. However, there is always the possibility of complications. Common issues to prepare for include:

  • Umbilical cord issues
  • Perineal lacerations
  • Abnormal fetal heart rate
  • Amniotic cavity problems
  • Failure to progress

C-section birth may be required during these situations and making sure you’re financially covered for this major operation is also a crucial part of the birth plan. Check with your expat health insurance provider if they cover this emergency expense.

On new territory

Pregnancy and childbirth make one of the most intimate and unforgettable experiences of life. The logistics leading up to them could be just as complicated as it is memorable, but it’s all worth it in the end.

We help expats find the best health insurance that covers maternity in Hong Kong. Get in touch with us for inquiries.

18Oct

How cancer burns through everything including your savings

Cancer takes more than lives. It also goes after a hefty amount of your savings.

In just a span of two years, half of all US cancer patients breeze through their funds, accentuating a total of $92,000 in twelve months.

This is all detailed in a new study called “Death or Debt? National Estimates of Financial Toxicity in Persons with Newly-Diagnosed Cancer” which was published this month. According to its findings, these heavy costs are mostly of risk to be shouldered by the elderly and those without insurance, among others.

Killer expenses

In the US, cancer comes second to heart disease as the undisputed title-holder of the most notorious killer.

But unlike heart disease which has a pool of research and funds dedicated to it, the cost of cancer treatment, for any country is financially unfathomable. Annually, 1.6 million new Americans are diagnosed with cancer. From this, 600,000 barely finish treatment and die.

The healthcare system credits to spending $87.8 billion yearly for patients. Specifically, unfinished treatments resulting in death leads to a $130 billion cost.

A huge portion of treatment expenditure still falls on the patient. The American Cancer Society along with the Cancer Action Network reports that as of four years ago, findings revealed that patients still shouldered a total of $4 billion on their end just for seeking cancer treatment.

Crunching beyond the numbers

The core of the study took 9.5 million patients and 16 years to see completion (1998-2014).

Setting aside the statistics, the medical study delineates the kinks that needed to be worked out when it comes to medical budget and productivity.

The journal is an updated study from the same set of authors from five years ago and is published in the American Journal of Medicine. Initially, in the study’s first findings, it revealed that cancer, specifically, breast cancer, accounts for 33 million sick days among the US working citizens annually.

The update to the study echoes a more heartbreaking revelation: half of the cancer-afflicted patients within their study have started and been easily sunk into bankruptcy due to treatment expenses.

This brings a new reality to the table: that the economy pulls a really tensioned string even to cancer patients who struggle with the cost of treatment.

When toxicity seeps to your finances

A big danger lies in the fact that the risk for financial toxicity goes greater with cancer treatment. After years of fluctuation in the economy, one would think that the financial burden on the patients would’ve lessened but has so far remained consistent.

Grant Skrepnek, one of the paper’s writers believes the results were “shocking,” seeing as to how figures have reached higher levels, which he has seen in his 20 years in cancer research.

Despite the advent of immunotherapy, which is pegged as a vital tool for the possible elimination of cancer, Skrepnek believes that it also has downsides, such as its ability to hamper predictions for cancer trends.

Jennifer Singleterry believes otherwise and sees a bigger threat in short-term healthcare plans.

Singleterry, a senior policy analyst from the American Cancer Society is concerned with the coverage of these health care plans, which have a limited coverage and “caps” – which hurts finances as it doesn’t include cancer treatment.

She adds that dependency to these short-term plans will only be harmful to those afflicted will illness, who will be left with even higher insurance premiums.

What this ultimately reveals is another layer of fear added to cancer: first the diagnosis, and now the financial horrors.

Village Insurance Direct helps expats in Hong Kong find critical illness insurance. Contact us for inquiries.

 

5Oct

Is C-section the way to go?

In this day and age, Hong Kong stands strong in offering a lot more than tourist attractions and sparkling history. On par with many first-class countries, it prides itself with an excellent healthcare system. For both its residents and expats alike, it has become the place of choice for maternity and childbirth, owing to the structure in its services.

The Hong Kong health system, like many others, is categorized into two: the public and private sectors.

Being a Hong Kong resident with an “identity card” provides you with numerous benefits, including full utilization of their public health system.

Some say that it gets trickier and more complicated when it comes to foreigners, but there’s always no reason to feel lost and left out. Local or not, there’s nothing a good preparation can’t solve.

Adjusting to a childbirth in a foreign country is the first step. As mothers near their delivery, the next logical step is to figure out whether a C-section or classic delivery setup is the way to go.

Crunching the hard digits

In general, the World Health Organization suggests a 10-15% rate in C-section deliveries vis-à-vis a country’s healthcare status.  Since last year, numbers of C-section deliveries have been steadily increasing around the world. Currently, the Dominican Republic holds the top spot with 56.4%. According to this October 2018 research, Hong Kong currently has a Caesarian birth rate of 35%. It stands toe-to-toe with other countries like Turkey and Brazil, who each report rates of over 45%.

The good versus the bad

It is the expectant mother’s choice as to how she wants to have her baby delivered. However, in some cases, it is the doctor’s call whether to perform the surgery or not, particularly when the necessity arises in the situation.

C section deliveries are beneficial for mothers who are unable to bear the stress of the labor process. It is also recommended if more than one baby will be delivered. The procedure helps minimize the risk of having the baby contract a disease from passing through the vaginal area.

However, it also offers a balanced number of downsides. Mothers who opted for the surgical process tend to stay longer in the hospital for recuperation. There is an increased risk of pain or infection following the surgery and soreness is almost guaranteed. Staggering levels of blood loss may also provide low levels of Hemoglobin.

The rates

As an invasive procedure, C-section deliveries generally cost way more than vaginal births. Rates within Hong Kong vary with different hospitals, ranging from standard HK$ 17,000 to pricey lengths such as HK$ 141, 000 for high-tier private hospitals. As of June 2018, for example, the fee for a C-section surgery in St. Paul’s Hospital in Causeway Bay starts at HK$ 18,000 versus their fee for a vaginal birth which starts at HK$ 15, 000.

Ultimately, the choice rests upon the mother’s shoulders. There may be slight differences between private or public hospital settings but one thing remains the same: This is Hong Kong, and both options carry a high standard when it comes to medical care.

Village Insurance Direct provides expats in Hong Kong with health insurance that covers maternity expenses. Contact us for more information.

30Sep

Expat Guide: Everyday Hong Kong

The thing about Hong Kong is that it never catches a wink of sleep. Like New York City, it feels alive 24/7: a bustling zone of commerce in the morning and an alluring city of lights at night.

Cradling a population of 7.5 million people, it is home to some of the world’s luxe suites and soaring skyscrapers. With an identity aligned with finance, it is a common sight to see many professional expatriates treading about among the city’s vast urban landscape.

According to a report from NBC last June, Hong Kong ranks first in the list of the five most expensive cities for expats, knocking off Luanda from the top spot. However, numbers still show that despite the rising prices of property, tourists and professionals still flock the island metropolis.

Familiar faces in the neighborhood

Despite being known to be a bit further from the main island, West Kowloon is a suburb famous for its growing number of expats in recent years. It is home to a number of suitable amenities including modern housing complexes and shopping centers. It is also the location of Kowloon Tong, a known affluent district in the area.

For both single travelers and couples, the “Mid-Levels” is another popular spot. Unlike West Kowloon, it is in close proximity with Hong Kong’s nightlife areas such as Soho, which makes it ideal for those who constantly seek relaxation and casual fun.

Similar to relaxing sunsets which can be viewed from Kowloon Tong, the Mid-Levels proud itself with a scenic view of the Victoria Harbor.

The area is also suited for families who have moved to Hong Kong to study. Several educational institutions are conveniently situated in the area like the Ying Wa Girls’ School and King’s College.

Useful Basic Phrases

Appropriate cultural know-how is also important while staying in Hong Kong. Communication and values are two of the most important facets of culture. When it comes to linguistics, it is a handy skill to learn Cantonese to aid one’s English as it is spoken by a vast majority of its residents. Try to learn some basic phrases such as “néih hóu” (hello), “dòjeh” or “ng-goi” (thank you) to supplement your daily conversations with the locals.

Whether in business or in personal life, Hong Kong insulars and Chinese people value the custom of “mianzi” or face. This Chinese concept rests on the idea that people should be mindful of their actions and words, so as not to embarrass themselves and others and “lose face” through shame.

Maintenance of interpersonal relationships is crucial, particularly when it comes to work or business. Once a matter is settled upon by two people, it is necessary to cultivate socials. This is reflected by their concept of “guanxi” or connections. New settlers in Hong Kong start with no “guanxi” and are given the task of expand their network of people quickly.

Hong Kong’s charming variety should be enough to cater to the different priorities of every islander or tourist. With its and busy streets and global mark, it is sure to maintain its spot as a city for expats.

INSURANCE NEEDS FOR EXPATS

Whether you’re starting a business in Hong Kong or working as an employee or moving here with your entire family, Village Insurance Direct can help you find insurance cover for your needs. We help find full coverage insurance for expats living in the city. Get in touch with us today.