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An elite international education consultancy specialising in school and university placements in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and China.

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Expat Living in Hong Kong

Juliet Fairclough, Wright & Wright Founder and Editor of The Good Schools Guide International, recently wrote some insider tips on moving to Hong Kong as a British expat.

Encapsulating a multi-dimensional place like Hong Kong is not an easy task, even for expert expat Juliet Fairclough. It is technically a specially administered region (SAR) of China, but the amount of Mainland Chinese influence changes daily.  Those who have lived here through different life stages often feel like they have lived in several different cities, with both the back-drop and the residents changing at an unstoppable pace.  Boring it is not!

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Life...and lots of it!

The time difference is the first thing that will hit you when you arrive on our ‘fragrant’ shores. For those newly arrived, whether on business or pleasure, the young or the young at heart, this often means hitting the mean streets of Lan Kwai Fong until early hours (it’s still lunchtime in London). Hong Kong really is the city that never sleeps, with nightspots having no legally enforced closing time. During typhoons, many office workers (or anyone without children) excitedly crowd in to these areas for the famous T8 lock-ins. Watch out for your teenagers (don’t worry - it’s incredibly safe)!

For those with young children, wild nights out play less of a role, but readily available (and usually live-in) help means that the good times do certainly continue rolling, earning Hong Kong the other nickname of the ‘city where you never grow old/up’. Lunches for the expat wives during the week are famous, and family brunches in restaurants such as Zuma and all the five star hotels are legendary.

Children, when asked what they like so much about Hong Kong, vote resoundingly for the sea, the weather and the outdoor things one can do on the water. And it is true. So much of Hong Kong’s magic comes from the fact that it is an island surrounded by water.  

Firstly its name, Hong Kong, literally means "fragrant harbour" in Chinese, and while we all scorn the word fragrant now (as you would probably get cholera if you tried to swim in it), it is still a breath-taking harbour, both day and night. One favourite journey is the slow trip across on the Star Ferry for around 20p and nothing is quite so much fun as showing visitors the lights at night from the harbour.

But there are also beautiful (swimmable) beaches where you can usually still swim even in mid-winter. Junk trips with speed boats and wakeboards will be out all year round, without the bother of a wet suit. These unique-to-Hong Kong junks (flat bottom boats) are wonderfully social. They used to be a great treat that came with many people’s jobs, and although that is no longer the case as the days of the real expatriate package die out, they are still readily available to hire, and days on them are always magical for all ages. You can search for junk companies on the internet then head to Po Toi or Lamma for seafood, or venture out further to the famous Millionaires Beach.

However the best kept secret of Hong Kong must be the hiking. Whether tackling The Dragon’s Back on a Sunday and ending up in Big Wave Bay for noodles, burning calories up the famous ‘Twins’, entering the 50K Green Power race or facing the mighty 100K Maclehose challenge, there are hiking and trail running opportunities for everyone. Oh, and did we mention the views…

But back to the beginning. Moving anywhere new is intimidating, strange but wonderfully exciting. The experience will make you appreciate things you have back home but also lead to fantastic new adventures that you will all talk about for years to come. Hong Kong has to be one of the most vibrant places on earth. It is a city with energy, grit, glamour and a huge personality.  

School First, House Second: Where to Live

Unlike those singletons arriving in their early 20s, expats with families rarely live right in the city. Most of the family friendly accommodation is out of town, yet the city is often only ten to fifteen minutes away… ensuring that it really is always accessible. 

Whilst some intrepid souls love living in ‘the dark side’ of Kowloon, there are three key areas that expatriates tend to gravitate towards: the south side of the island including Stanley and Pokfulam; the Peak; and over to the New TerritoriesSai Kung and Clear Water Bay…

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To read the full article visit The Good Schools Guide

  • Juliet Fairclough - Founder & Director, Wright & Wright

    26th March 2019

Juliet Fairclough