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Family Life and Childcare for Expats in Hong Kong

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: July 2013

Family life in Hong Kong

As an international financial centre, Hong Kong is well developed but the living cost here is also very high. If you want to buy a property in Hong Kong, you normally need to pay around HK$100,000 for one single square metre.  Rent of the property is also very high; a flat of 50 square metres can cost you HK$10,000 per month.  

Therefore, life in Hong Kong is not easy. The average monthly salary in 2012 was HK$13,400. More than half of Hong Kong Residents are living in public houses or flats under the Home Ownership Scheme (HOS).  Furthermore, the size of the properties they live in is normally less than 50 square metres. Only about 3% of the residents live in a property of more than 100 square metres, which can be called a luxury property.  

The family size is becoming smaller in the last few decades. In 2012, the average household size was 2.9 persons. A typical family includes husband, wife and a child. Both husband and wife need to work to support the family.  You can find more data about families in Hong Kong here https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/so20.jsp

Childcare in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, childcare services can generally be categorized as following:

  • Nursery schools, which are for children of less than two years old;
  • child care centres, which are for children of between two and three years old; and
  • kindergartens, which are for children of between three and six years old.  

All of them are called pre-school education and need to be registered with the Education Bureau (EDB) and display their certificates in a conspicuous place within the school premises. The maximum ratio for qualified teacher to student is 1:15.

In Hong Kong childcare services are all privately run businesses. Charges are set according to their own costs, although they need to be approved by the EDB and display their charges in a conspicuous place within the school premises.  The costs can range between HK$10,000 and HK$100,000 per year. Furthermore, the EDB sets up costs for occasional childcare service.  A one-day occasional childcare service costs HK$64 and a two-hour session costs HK$16. Each extended hour of service will cost HK$13. 

The pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme (PEVS) provides fee subsidy to parents for school fees of pre-primary education for their children. For more information, you can visit https://www.sfaa.gov.hk/eng/schemes/pevs.htm#a.  

The Kindergarten and Child Care Centre Fee Remission Scheme (KCFRS) is on top of the PEVS and grants fee remission for parents who need further financial assistance.  Parents need to pass the means test and even the social needs test if they apply for the whole-day fee remission.  You can get more information here: https://www.sfaa.gov.hk/eng/schemes/kinder.htm

Kindergartens accept applications for admission from each September. You need to get an application form from the school. Sometimes you need to physically queue to get a form from some well-know kindergartens. You need to check what documents you need to provide for the application but generally it includes your child’s birth certificate and duplicate, you and your spouse’s ID, several of your child’s photographs and adequate immunisation certificates.  Your child may also need an interview before admission.  

There are many kindergartens all over Hong Kong. Some may accept PEVS voucher. You can find one close to your home and check if they accept voucher here: https://www.chsc.hk/kindergarten/.

Kindergartens normally open six days a week. Opening times are listed below:
Monday to Friday:                                           8 am – 6 pm
Saturday:                                                             8 am – 1 pm

Such hours may be extended to 8 pm between Monday and Friday and 3 pm on Saturday.

For more information about kindergarten and kindergarten-cum-child care centres, you can visit Hong Kong Government website here:

https://www.gov.hk/en/residents/education/preprimary/schools/choosingakindergarten/.

 

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