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8 things to consider for family relocation as an international school teacher in Hong Kong

Relocating to a new country is an exciting, yet daunting prospect. When you’re an international school teacher with a family in tow, the challenge increases. Hong Kong, with its vibrant culture, world-class education system and bustling city life, is a popular destination for many. However, there are several factors to consider to ensure a smooth transition for you and your family. Let’s delve into the eight key things to consider for family relocation as an international school teacher in Hong Kong.

1. Finding Suitable Accommodation

The first step in your relocation journey is finding a place to call home. Hong Kong is known for its high-rise apartments, but the city also offers a variety of housing options to suit different needs and budgets.

Consider the proximity to your school and other amenities such as supermarkets, parks, and healthcare facilities. If you have children, the distance to their school is another crucial factor. Remember, Hong Kong is a bustling city, and commute times can be long during peak hours.

Also, bear in mind the cost of living in Hong Kong is high. You may need to compromise on size or location to find something within your budget. It’s a bit like trying to find a flat in London; you might not get the spacious garden flat in Kensington, but there are plenty of comfortable options in other parts of the city.

2. Understanding the Education System

As an international school teacher, you’re probably already familiar with the education system. However, it’s essential to understand how it works in Hong Kong, especially if you have children.

The city offers a mix of local and international schools. Local schools follow the Hong Kong curriculum, while international schools often follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the British curriculum. The choice between the two depends on your child’s needs and your long-term plans. It’s a bit like choosing between a traditional British school and an American-style international school back home.

Remember, competition for places in international schools in Hong Kong can be fierce, so it’s advisable to start the application process as early as possible.

3. Navigating the Healthcare System

Healthcare is another critical aspect to consider when relocating. Hong Kong boasts an excellent healthcare system, with a mix of public and private hospitals.

Public healthcare is heavily subsidised and provides high-quality care. However, you might experience long waiting times for non-emergency services. Private healthcare, on the other hand, offers faster service but at a higher cost. It’s a bit like the difference between NHS and private healthcare in the UK.

As an expat, it’s advisable to have comprehensive health insurance to cover any medical expenses. Some international schools offer health insurance as part of their employment package, so make sure to check this with your employer.

4. Adapting to the Local Culture

Adapting to a new culture can be challenging but exciting. Hong Kong is a melting pot of Eastern and Western cultures, offering a unique blend of traditions and modernity.

Respect for elders and authority, the importance of family, and the concept of ‘face’ (maintaining dignity and respect in social situations) are integral parts of the local culture. On the other hand, Western influences are evident in the city’s architecture, fashion, and food scene. It’s like a fusion of traditional Chinese values with a modern British city vibe.

Understanding and respecting the local culture will help you and your family integrate more smoothly into your new surroundings.

5. Learning the Language

While English is widely spoken in Hong Kong, especially in international schools and the business district, learning some Cantonese can make your life easier and enrich your living experience.

Being able to communicate in the local language can help you navigate the city, understand the culture better, and even bargain at local markets. It’s like learning French when living in Paris; it’s not necessary, but it certainly enhances the experience.

There are plenty of language schools in Hong Kong, and some international schools even offer Cantonese classes as part of their curriculum.

6. Preparing for the Climate

Hong Kong has a subtropical climate, with hot, humid summers and cool, dry winters. It’s quite different from the temperate British weather you might be used to.

Preparing for the climate means packing the right clothes and being ready for the occasional typhoon in summer. It’s a bit like swapping your London umbrella for a Hong Kong sun hat.

Also, air conditioning is prevalent in Hong Kong, so it’s a good idea to carry a light sweater when going indoors during the summer months.

7. Exploring the City and Beyond

While Hong Kong is famous for its skyscrapers and bustling city life, there’s much more to explore. From hiking trails and beautiful beaches to outlying islands and historical sites, the city offers a wealth of outdoor activities.

Exploring the city and beyond can help you and your family feel more at home and appreciate the beauty of your new surroundings. It’s like discovering the hidden gems of London beyond the iconic landmarks.

Public transport in Hong Kong is efficient and affordable, making it easy to explore the city and its surroundings.

8. Joining Expat Communities

Finally, joining expat communities can provide a valuable support network during your relocation process. These communities offer advice, organise social events, and provide a platform to meet people who are going through the same experiences.

It’s like joining a local club or society back home; it’s a great way to make friends and feel part of a community.

There are several expat communities in Hong Kong, both online and offline, catering to different nationalities and interests.

In conclusion, relocating to Hong Kong as an international school teacher is a significant move that requires careful planning and consideration. By taking into account these eight factors, you can ensure a smoother transition for you and your family, making your Hong Kong experience a memorable one.

Enhance Your Teaching Career in Hong Kong with iQTS

As you embark on your journey to Hong Kong, ensure you’re fully equipped to meet the high standards of international schools. The IQTS at UWE offers the International Qualified Teacher Status (iQTS) Programme, designed to elevate your qualifications and connect you with a global network of educators. With the iQTS, you’re not only increasing your chances of securing a position, but you’re also paving the way for career advancement, higher salary prospects, and a deeper understanding of international curricula. Don’t let isolation or underqualification hinder your potential. Make Your Next Step towards professional development with the flexibility to balance your work and studies. Join the iQTS programme and become part of a thriving community that supports your growth every step of the way.

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