I first relocated to Hong Kong as a professional nanny 11 years ago, and I cannot express how fast that time has passed. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought my life would bring me here from the US and that I would end up calling HK home. And while life here has not always been easy, I have absolutely no regrets.
I moved to Hong Kong with former employers – so I relocated with an existing job. This can make difference. Relocating to not just a new city, but also a new country and starting a new job at the same time is a serious decision to make. But if you do your research and decide, when fully informed, to go for it, it could be one of the best decisions of both your professional and personal lives.
When considering a relocation, keep in mind that it will be stressful, it will be a challenge; but also know that you’re up for it. Do your due diligence on your potential employers and on Hong Kong. Only go with an agency you know you can trust and who will support you in your move. Connect into online expat and professional networks to gather as much information as possible and arrive with a positive mindset.
A little about Hong Kong:
For many people, especially English-speaking Westerners, Hong Kong will be one of the easiest places you could relocate to. The public transport is brilliant, the majority of people here speak enough English for you to be able to communicate, and there is enough cultural similarity for it to feel like a not-totally-foreign city. Remember it was a British Colony for 150 years! Having said this, there are apps for translation, and it is nice to learn at least a little Cantonese so you can communicate in local shops and with taxi drivers. You may be laughed at, (because you won’t speak it perfectly) but your efforts will be appreciated.
Living in Hong Kong:
Renting apartments is always exciting. But be aware that living spaces in HK are small! Walls in the newer apartments can be paper-thin. A big consideration will be where it suits you to live – which will be influenced by your employer’s residential location, your charges’ school/day care, your required routine and connections between.
This is not to discount your personal preference! What activities and hobbies do you have? What lifestyle do you prefer? You need to look at areas that are reasonable for you to get to work, that are conducive to your needs and wants. Personally, I reside in a very busy, highly over-populated area but I am right by public transport that minimises my commute.
Cost of living in Hong Kong:
Hong Kong is expensive in many ways – accommodation and groceries especially. Many people shop daily for what they need and as a single woman , I find it generally cheaper to eat out rather than buy all of the ingredients to cook daily. I am fortunate enough to eat meals at work, so that helps.
Rent is especially expensive. Remember to stay within your means here! Don’t get sucked into the “keep up with the Jones’ “ mentality. There is always the option to share flats, sometimes with other nannies. However, be aware that spaces are so small here that sharing can be tough – especially with someone you do not know well.
Make your flat your “home” and somewhere you want to be of an evening. I race home every night to a place I genuinely love. Even though it’s in an old building and could not be accused of being glamorous, it’s within my budget and offers me loads of space. But as it’s strategically placed for public transport, I feel like Hong Kong is at my fingertips.
I look back on what I have had to do to get me to where I am calling Hong Kong home and I do not regret any of it. There have been moments of frustration, confusion and homesickness. But these all pass, and I have never looked back and wished to have made a different choice. My advice is to take the leap and give it a go.
Written by Sara L. Jewison, a professional nanny of more than 20 years experience who has lived and worked in Hong Kong for over 11 years.
Parental Choice would love to help if you are a professional nanny or qualified childcare professional, and you would like to find out about career opportunities in Hong Kong.
We can also help if you are a family that needs a highly-qualified, accredited and referenced English-speaking, Western Nanny to work for you in Hong Kong.