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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.
Health and 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.
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 healthcare 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 densely populated, and many families live in high-rise apartments that are significantly smaller than the houses they might have been used to back home. As a result, expats may find that cramped living quarters affect the quality of their daily lives; a rainy day and a small 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 comes at a premium.
In the New Territories and outlying islands, there is a bit more flexibility in terms of living space. Here 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 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, 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 such as Disneyland and Ocean Park, and expat parents won't ever run out of things to see and do with their children.
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.
►Not sure what to get up to on the weekend? Read See and Do in Hong Kong for a few ideas.
"My advice: take the time to find the suitable schools and syllabuses for your kids by visiting the schools during open-days. Then see if your kids are really enjoying going to school and not struggling with the amount of homework. Your kids have to be happy at school!" Edouard from France share more in his interview.
"The kids love it here. It is safe for them to get around town and I rarely see them in the holidays as they are out with friends at Ocean Park." Read our interview with Lindsey from the UK.
Are you an expat living in Hong Kong?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Hong Kong. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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