I have been asked a million times what is it like living in Hong Kong with little kids. My answer is always the same; it depends on where you live and how old your children are. For us personally, we could not have asked for a better place to bring up our primary school-aged children, and here is why.
There are many sides to Hong Kong, and for those living in this vibrant city, you can understand the diversity that each area brings. Whether you choose the bright lights of mid-levels or the big open spaces of Lantau Island, Hong Kong has an area to tickle everybody’s fancy. There are many things to love about Hong Kong, and raising kids in this exciting, vibrant city is one of them.
The benefits of living in Hong Kong with children
There are so many excellent international schools in Hong Kong that you are a bit spoilt for choice. International schools are an excellent foundation to start your child on this cultural journey. They begin to learn and appreciate a deeper understanding of other cultures (much more than what a book can offer). The teaching staff have come from all parts of the world, which brings a great variety of teaching strategies, coping mechanisms and another perspective to learning.
The only downfall here is that the school will dictate where you live, waiting lists for entry are lengthy and expensive debentures are used to skip lines.
I love how children are encouraged to be proud of their heritage, and because of this, multiculturism works here. Children bond over simple things and during these times growing up have taught my children more than any politician or protester will ever do in the future. My children have introduced me to some amazing parents, who I can now consider good friends.
Hong Kong is one of the safest countries in the world; it makes the top ten list almost every year. I loved the luxury my children had in Discovery Bay, where they would play outside until the lights came on. Everyone lived so close that playdates were a regular occurrence. The children were often running around with constant supervision with the freedom to explore and discover like we once did as children. So for this reason living in Hong Kong with little kids was great.
It is safe to say, if you live in Asia, you probably have some paid support. For most, family support is not an option, so with partners working long hours and frequently travelling the help of nannies, foreign domestic helpers and drivers are the norms. An extra set of hands when you are performing life’s duties is a welcomed advantage when living abroad.
Life in Discovery Bay, Hong Kong
Discovery Bay (DB) is a little unique, for starters, not everybody lives in a highrise. There are high rises sure, but you also have other options such as low-rise apartments and freestanding houses.
Everything is within walking distance in Discovery Bay, there are options for buses, golf carts and DB’s version of shared taxi service. For this reason, playdates and after-school activities are easy to get to with or without an adult in toe.
AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES
For such a small area, there are a lot of choices for after-school activities. Whether it is football, rugby, arts and craft, music or language lessons, you will find a plethora of things for your child to attend. There were times when the kids would have before school activities, after-school activities and then head out to another event after that.
OUR LIFE IN HONG KONG
When our kids were little, living in Hong Kong with little kids was the perfect option, their time there was every kid’s dream. Playing out until the sun came down, having the room to explore and discover. Living amongst those who end up feeling more like cousins than friends, where you feel comfortable and safe in the compounds of their homes.
Our life was always busy, a concert here, a tournament there, a party thrown in or a weekend junk trip just for the fun of it. There is always something to do in and around the island. Whether you choose to hike to Tigers Head or head over to Disneyland, Hong Kong is full of adventure.
LIVING IN HONG KONG THE PROS AND CONS
So far, I have given you the pros to living in Hong Kong (specifically Discovery Bay), but there are some things that you need to consider.
1 Can you keep your children grounded? If you have the answer to this, then well you are onto something. It is probably the hardest part about living in Hong Kong, reminding children that this is not the real world, that life outside of this bubble is not as safe. That not everybody goes on vacation every school holidays or receiving the latest gadget. This question was my constant internal struggle with the kids growing up; you want them to fit in, but not give them everything. Did I succeed? Who knows? Only time will tell.
2 Can your children still relate to family and friends from home?– We consistently went home and made an effort to catch up with family every time we did. I always do it to this day; close family ties are what ensures your family sticks together, and family to me is everything. We often had family come to visit, which the kids loved. When the family came to visit, it allowed the kids to show them their home, and what Hong Kong has to offer. I believe some of my family felt like Hong Kong was their home too.
3 What about secondary years? –Once kids reach secondary school, life in Hong Kong changes. They grow out of Discovery Bay, so this can be a problem. Life becomes a little more complicated when they become teens. Many families opt to send their children to boarding school, and this is for many different reasons. However, for us, it started with my son’s sporting career. There were much more options for my son to improve in his particular sporting choice in Australia.
4 Is air quality a problem? – I am not going to lie; pollution can be severe during some parts of the year. There have been no cases where the schools have been closed down like other countries, but it has occurred where the kids can’t play outside. It does take a little while to get accustomed to it, and strep throat and other nasty viruses hit you like a tonne of bricks. I have no new information, and I have not conducted any research. So I am unaware of what the long-term effect of what toxins such as heavy metal could do to you, so I am not able to answer this question.