Moving to Hong Kong

Old Nov 1st, 2006, 11:18 AM
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Moving to Hong Kong

To Cicerone, or anyone else who can help:

My husband & I are thinking of retiring in Hong Kong in about 10 years. We are looking at Silvermine Village behind Mui Wo on Lantau Island. Do you know any websites where we can get more information like real estate listings?
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Old Nov 1st, 2006, 06:29 PM
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Are you thinking of renting or buying something? Some places to start looking would be below; of course it will impossible to predict now what housing prices will be in 10 years for renting or purchasing a flat. If you are thinking of buying now that certainly doable, but I think Lantau will be quite developed in 10 years because of Disney, the bridges, the MTR, the airport and the new towns that have been built and are planned. It may not be the quiet place and the bargain that it currently is in terms of lower overall living costs. You might want to take a look at the Hong Kong Planning and Infrastructure Exhibition Gallery (http://www.info.gov.hk/infrastructuregallery/eindex.htm, the museum is in Edinburgh Place in Central) to see what the government may have planned for Lantau long-term. (What they plan for the Kowloon side is amazing.) You may want to also consider retiring further into the New Territories or even over the border in the PRC proper, that is where many Hong Kongers are buying retirements flats. I assume you have looked into the long-term visa issues or you already hold a Hong Kong permanent ID card.

One other thing to consider is the air pollution issue, which is not improving at all, and unless they really start to work on this, I don’t know if you will want to retire here in 10 years.

Anyway, for a start, get a copy of The South China Morning Post and see the listings for rental and sale flats there. Take a look at their classified ads for flats; this section is especially large on Saturdays and Sundays If you live in a major city, you should be able to buy a copy, or your library may have back issues or can borrow them from another library. You can also look at classified adds on line. Go to their website at classifiedpost.com, scroll to bottom, choose “Property”, a page will come up and you can choose the location such as "Residential – HK Island– To Let"

Also try this site, which is my realtor, to get an idea of what real estate prices are for rental and sale flats, they don’t currently have any on Lantau, but do have some in Sai Kung: www.habitat-property.com/.

Some others I used when initially searching for a flat last year are:

http://www.hongkonghomes.com/hong_ko.../eng/index.htm
http://www.landmarkasia.com.hk/
http://www.cbre.com.sg/hkpropertylist/bylocation.asp

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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 05:40 AM
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Thanks for the quick reply. My husband is from Hong Kong so we are being told that we can retire there with no problems. He can keep his Canadian passport and even apply for free medicare though I'm told we would want additional insurance.

I will look at the links you supplied. Thanks! I did find one real estate website but there was nothing for the Mui Wo area. Lots for Sai Kung though which is a beatiful area but further from Central. (which may be a good thing)

I was surprised to hear that many Hong Kong people are retiring across the border in PRC. On our recent trip, we fell in love with the Guilin area and made a comment about retiring there instead but we both felt HK would be more "western" than PRC.

Thanks too for reminding me about the air quality. I had forgotton about that and wonder if there are areas in HK better than others. My sister-in-law has family in Yuen Long and swears by it. We have gone there twice for shopping but I felt it was just another city. Maybe nearby in a village would be better. It's still only an hour by bus to TST.

Thanks for the help. We are just in the planning stages right now. We weren't even sure we could afford it until we spoke to some locals in Silvermine Village who told us houses go for about $1M HK. It looks like our house is worth about $4M HK so we thought if we bought something smaller, we could live on the difference plus our retirement savings.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 09:35 AM
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Betty:

I enjoyed your TRs.

Obviously you have done some serious research on this move as medicare is so important to retirees. There have been quite a few Californians who have moved to China long term for business and retirement, experiences are mixed. If possible, before you sell your curent house, try renting for a year in China. My sister-in-law's parents are china-born and lived in Toronto since their college years. They retired a couple of years ago, sold their Toronto house and bought a flat in Guanzhou. They felt miserable the 1st year, sold the flat and moved to Wuxi. After the 2nd year, they are having 2nd thoughts about the move -- too far from family/friends in the west, being treated by locals as "foreigners", etc.

Don't mean to be negative or disencouraging, DH and I are having similar discussions as you and your DH, and there is a lot to be considered.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 09:56 AM
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Betty:

Don't you have to be back in Canada every 6 months in order to maintain your health care status in Canada?

I also am considering retirement locations (well in 10-15 years time), and believe that Hong Kong is just too expensive, too hectic (and now, the third factor, the poor air quality) to be deterring factors. The 4th one is the health care which one enjoys in Canada. To maintain that I'll have to fly back to Canada once every 6 months, and the cost of that would be quite high.

However, I was told by relative in Hong Kong that government hospitals are fairly well run in Hong Kong these days. They are very different from the "old days" of 20-30 years ago. Also, the government hospitals are at a fraction of the cost of the private doctors and hospitals.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 10:23 AM
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Does medicare in Canada cover dental? Not in the U.S. My friend's local dentist opened a clinic in China, doing so well he's considering living there long term.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 10:40 AM
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No. The health care covers doctor's visit, hospital stays and operations.

It does not cover dental care or eye prescriptions. However if there are eye problems like cateract etc., then the operations are covered by health care and so it's 100% free.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 11:34 AM
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Jahnmango: To answer your question, yes you have to return to Canada every so often to retain your gov't medical insurance however, as I stated in my previous e-mail, we are being told that since me husband was born in Hong Kong, he can return and be automatically covered by HK insurance and I would be covered too as his wife. We also know that we would need to buy additional insurance for stuff like for dental and prescription drugs, etc.

Shanghainese: Thanks for your comments. I think the plan is to sell our place and come rent in HK until we find the perfect location and house to buy. You're right that we (me?) may go nuts and want to return. As for family, I have 3 single sisters (2 in Toronto and 1 near Boston) but my husband's whole family includng nieces live in Hong Kong.

We thought it would be expensive until we started looking at small villages behind Mui Wo on Lantau Island. $1M HK is very doable. I'm not familiar with Waxu. I'll have to do an Internet search on that. I also mentioned in my previous e-mail that we fell in love with the Guilin area during a tour in September. Maybe that is a better choice (cheaper and better air). We are outdoor people but I worry about me not speaking the language. I plan to start taking lessons so I'll be somewhat fluent in 10 years but do I take Cantonese or Mandarin?
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 12:15 PM
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Betty

As far as I know there is no such thing as medicare in Hong Kong (I could be wrong). If you are a Hong Kong resident, you have access to government hospitals and doctors, and so you pay a fraction of the cost of private doctors and hospitals.

Of course if you are employed, then your company can get your private medical insurance. But there is no universal health care like that in Canada.

My mom (and brothers/sisters) still live in Hong Kong, and she has high blood pressure, gout, enlarged heart etc. etc., and every month the cost of her presciptions is about Can$700. There is no subsidy for that.

One of my sister has macular generation. She consulted a private doctor (opthalmologist) who told her an operation would cost HK$70,000. She then checked with the government hospital, which told her that the same operations would cost HK$2000.

In Canada, you do not pay a dime as long as it is a government-approved procedure and it is done for medical reason (not cosmetic).

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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 12:16 PM
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sorry ... typing too fast. I meant "macular degeneration"
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 02:26 PM
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BettyInTo: Instead of permanently moving to HK or other Chinese Cities, perhaps you can purchase a house there. Treat it like vacation home and 3-6 months there each year.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 05:21 PM
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Betty:

Forgot to note that Wuxi is in Jiangsu province, an hour and a half by car west from Shanghai with Suzhou in between the 2 cities. It's on the banks of the beautiful Lake Tai with the Grand Canal running thru the city.

I like j 4tay's idea altho might rent a furnished flat so one can stay in different cities for different periods of time!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2006, 05:02 AM
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Thanks for the info everyone. As I said we are just in the planning stage. My thought would be to rent a cheap apartment here in Canada that doesn't require any outdoor upkeep and no one knows when you are not there (not like a house). Then travel for months at a time to different places. My parents and Aunt & Uncle use to go to Florida for about 5 months over the winter.

I like the idea of different places but yes we'd be paying for double "rent" if we did that. Someone also suggested selling our house and buying a big RV to travel all over North America. But where does the big TV go then. <g>
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Old Nov 3rd, 2006, 12:52 PM
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Betty:

East coast snowbirds fly to Florida in winter, perhaps the Beijing millionaires will go to Hainan Island?

Oh boy about missing the big TV in the RV, how about all the other worldly possessions? Our friends travel 3 months each in spring and fall, summer in Washington state and winter in Arizona. Gave away all their possessions (we received some beautiful pieces), kept the photo albums, some jewelry, casual shoes, a warm coat and a suit each. The RV is spacious and comfy but not much storage space.

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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 04:42 AM
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Interesting topic. My answer to the original question is "NO" to Silvermine Bay/Mui Wo.

With the opening of the MTR to Tung Chung (and now the cable car to Ngong Ping), along with the operating history of First Ferry which operates the Mui Wo line, ferry service to Mui Wo is not going to get better, only worse. Large 3-level ferries that have run the route for decades have been replaced by smaller 2-level vessels and second-rate catamarans that aren't that fast but cost more.

The village of Mui Wo is pretty dead these days with not much going on. The Silvermine Bay beach has never been really "swimmable".

If you want to an "island" experience, it's better to try Yung Shue Wan area of Lamma Island. Ferry service is more frequent and the trip shorter. Or spend more and go to Discovery Bay.

If you just want cheap, then even Cheung Chau or Peng Chau are better alternatives than Mui Wo, with much more lively villages - more restaurants, more stores, etc...
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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 05:09 AM
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Thanks for your comments rkkwan. We know that Mui Wo is not as lively these days because of the MTR, etc but that's a good thing for us. I know that the ferry service has been reduced because tourists are not going via ferry & bus #2 to Po Lin but we see that as a good thing. We don't plan on using the ferry to Central that often anyway.

I am surprised that you suggested Cheung Chau as being cheaper. We did a walk around the west (?) loop with all the rocks which was beautiful and actually found our retirement home IF we won the lottery <g>. I thought since it was packed with expats it would be more expensive.

I don't like Peng Chau but that was my impression from 10 years ago. Maybe things are better.

We thought the area behind Mui Wo was good. A small village that's quiet but close enough to Mui Wo for shopping etc. Also close to Central if we needed it. We like the idea of a big island for hiking, etc. We wouldn't swim at Silvermine Beach (yuck) but would take the bus to the two beach areas along bus #2 route. Can't remember their names off hand.

We also thought it would be handy to be near the airport too. Close but not too close. Yes Lantau is getting much more developed but on the other side: airport, Tung Chung, Disney and the Mui Wo side seems to be quieter. We also saw on the news that they are thinking of closing the local school because most kids are expat kids who go to private schools. Obviously schools are no interest to us but I like to hear that there are alot of expats. We don't like the idea of Disocvery Bay at all. We want a small village versus a high rise complex.
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Old Nov 12th, 2006, 08:14 PM
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Betty - Seems like you're give it a lot of thoughts and your information and impression are indeed correct. Based on what you say, I do think Mui Wo may be quite suitable for you guys.

Anyways, I went around Lantau two days ago and I took the ferry from Central to Mui Wo. [Long trip report later.] They are contructing a new road that's gentler wider to Tung Chung. In the future, the bus trip to Tung Chung MTR or airport will be much shorter than currently, from Mui Wo.

The more popular beaches on Lantau are all on the south side. Pui O is just a few minutes from Mui Wo, and Cheung Sha ("long beach") is a little further away, but nicer. Basically all buses out of Mui Wo (#1, #2, #3, #4 and so on) will get to Pui O, and most will get to Cheung Sha too. You're not limited to ride the more expensive #2.
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