Kids and Family in Hong Kong
Moving to Hong Kong with children can certainly seem like a daunting enterprise. The city brings to mind images of hurried businesspeople, crowded subways and tall buildings, and it may initially seem like a nightmare to bring little ones to such a hectic place.
That said, Hong Kong can be an extremely friendly and safe place to raise a family. While expat life in Hong Kong can be frenzied, foreigners will be pleasantly surprised by how kindly their children are treated. Strangers always seem to have a minute to help a child tie a shoelace, find a misplaced umbrella, or reach a snack.
Add this friendly attitude to the many opportunities the city offers, and it’s hard to deny that Hong Kong is very much a child-friendly city.
Safety for expats with kids in Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s notable safety record is one of its most attractive features for those with kids. Violent crime is rare, and parents can feel fairly relaxed about letting their children out to play. Older children who are able to navigate the public transport system independently can do so without excessive safety concerns on the part of parents.
Food is also generally safe to eat in Hong Kong. The tap water may be tainted by old pipes, so some families opt to buy bottled water, while others simply invest in a water filter.
Hong Kong is one of the healthiest places in the world in terms of life expectancy and infant mortality rates. Public and private hospitals enjoy low waiting times for emergencies, and patients can expect a level of care similar to that of Europe.
That said, air pollution, particularly that coming from mainland China, can affect visibility, mood and health. Skies can often be clouded for days or weeks at a time. Parents of children with asthma or other similar conditions will want to speak to their doctor about how to best manage their child’s illness while in Hong Kong.
Family-friendly housing in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is very densely populated, and many families live in high-rise apartments that are significantly smaller than the houses they had back home. As a result, expats may find that cramped living quarters affect the quality of their daily lives; a rainy day and a little house is not the best combination.
On the island, it is fairly uncommon for families to have a garden as most living is done vertically, and personal space is sold at a premium.
In the New Territories and outlying islands there is a bit more flexibility in terms of living space. Housing costs tend to be lower in these areas (though there are signs that this is changing), and there are options to buy or rent homes with large gardens and beautiful views of the sea. The New Territories is much more rural than Hong Kong Island, and some expats choose to settle in this area as an escape from the busy city life.
Education in Hong Kong
There is no shortage of good schools in Hong Kong, although many reach enrolment capacity very early in the year. Expat parents should begin to research their education options as soon as they know where they’ll be living.
Entertainment for kids in Hong Kong
From rural nature hikes to delicious street food, ferry rides, junk trips, trams up to the peak of Mount Victoria, museums and picnicking and camping in the New Territories, Hong Kong boasts countless fun and educational activities for kids, both on and off the island. Add to this Hong Kong’s ever-popular amusement parks like Disneyland and Ocean Park, and expat parents will be hard-pressed to run out of things to see and do with their children.
And once they've conquered all the most commercial attractions, there are still tons of options for expat kids in Hong Kong. Most parts of the city have youth sports leagues, public (swimming pools, playgrounds and mother’s groups.
Should the children eventually tire of what Hong Kong has to offer, international travel is also relatively inexpensive and easy when Hong Kong is an expat's point of departure.