Why Move to Hong Kong?

I mentioned in a previous post that I plan to move my family to Hong Kong. The natural question that arises is: Why? The answer has little to do with personal finance. In fact, there are two ways to make decisions that involve money. First, we could ask, “how does this decision affect my money?” This is the perspective of personal finance. Or, we could ask, “how does money affect this decision?” I believe most “real-life” decisions are made from the latter perspective.

My wife and I have made many of our decisions, as outlined previously, based on their impact on our finances. But there are many decisions where money is secondary. Some examples are: programs for our children, including pre-school and swimming, family vacations and outings, food and activity and community involvement. What do all of these things have in common? I would call it “quality of life,” but it’s difficult to be precise with such an abstract idea. These are decisions that affect our health, either physical, mental or social.

At the (still young) age of 33, I don’t yet have the answers to the big questions in life. One such question is how to be happy. (It may be a secret.) I suspect that the answer is not the same for everyone, which works out well, since there are seven billion of us, all trying to be happy. People wiser than I have suggested that happiness comes from finding meaning in life. Randy Pausch suggests that happiness is found in fulfilling your childhood dreams, and in helping others fulfill their dreams. It may be that we each have a purpose, or calling, in life. It may be that when we live in alignment with our purpose, our life has meaning and we are happy, despite life’s daily struggles.

After getting a taste for living and working abroad, in France and Switzerland, it has been my dream to continue living overseas. When I lived with my wife in Taiwan for two years, we were happy. I had no revelation that this was my purpose in life, but I certainly enjoyed learning the language and the culture and being involved in the education of young children. In moving overseas again, why choose Hong Kong? My wife’s mother is from Hong Kong and she still has family there. What makes it even more appealing is that Hong Kong (in my mind) is like a blend of East and West. While it is exotic and Chinese, it is accessible to English speakers and offers some familiar culture and opportunities in the large ex-pat community.

Moving to Hong Kong also fits with my goals for raising my children. I want my children to be exposed to how others live. I want them to identify with our family, and with Canadians, but I also want them to see all human beings as valuable and worthy of respect. So when we were casting about for how to create meaning in our lives, my wife and I settled on becoming teachers (which takes care of the money) and moving to Hong Kong.

I can’t explain clearly why I believe that becoming a teacher in Hong Kong will make me happy. I suspect that it coincides with my calling in life and I know that, so far, working toward this goal is satisfying. What one goal, big or small, would improve your quality of life? Have you found your purpose and, if so, how did you recognize it?

10 thoughts on “Why Move to Hong Kong?”

  1. It is interesting to read this because I’m moving from Brazil to Canada.

    Just like you, I really like getting in touch with different cultures, learning different languages, although I really like my country.

    Good luck to us.

  2. Have the opportunity to work abroad is priceless. I’ve always want to do that, just don’t have the opportunity. All the best!

  3. My family is in much the same position right now. We have always been very careful with our money, buying only what we truly need and saving the rest. People often thought we were weird for not indulging more, however it has paid off for us.

    My wife, my 9 month old daughter and I have just moved to Paris for the next 4 months. My wife has a small baking business on top of her day job, and her dream has always been to become a pastry chef. So when we realized we had saved enough money, she enrolled in the Cordon Bleu cooking school. We now live a stones throw from the Eiffel tower, she walks to school daily along the quaint little Parisian streets, while my daughter and I search out interesting things to photograph (a hobby of mine) and markets to find incredibly fresh produce for dinner!

    We would like to stay longer term as we love the culture, and would love for our daughter to learn more about it, but unless we find employment, we won’t likely be staying longer than our designated stay.

    Was it the best thing to do financialy? No! But we’re happy, and that’s what matters most!


    Feel free to follow along

  4. Marlon, thank you for sharing. Canada is a wonderful country, with many advantages. It has so many different regions, that I’m sure you’ll be able to find someplace suitable.

    b foot, I agree that it’s priceless. I believe everyone gets an opportunity sooner or later, and we need to be ready to grab it.

    dabcan, you sound really happy in Paris. It’ll be hard to come home. It seems like you realise there’s more to life than money. Who knows if your wife’s baking business won’t take off as a result of your trip… Best of luck!

  5. Well, I am actually giving up my CRA job and moving back to HK in July. I guess the taxes and my future kid are the main reason I am moving. Beside, I was born there. 🙂

    Anyway, drop me a line when you are there. Which area of HK are you going to live in?

  6. I am small town guy with a great job in Toronto. I love my job, but I hate the big city. I’d be happier in a quieter setting if only I could find something meaningful to do.

  7. John, thank you for the kind invitation. We are thinking that we’ll be near Aberdeen, since that’s where the Canadian International School is. Taxes are definitely lower in Hong Kong, probably due to a much higher population density than Canada.

    Steve, it’s been really important to me to find something meaningful. Keep looking, and I hope you’ll find something that keeps you happy.

  8. Did you do a test drive of HK? I’m sure, with family in HK, you have better remote access to things like real estate agents, school fees, and other information it could be hard to find online. Have you run projections?

  9. John, probably near Aberdeen, where the Canadian school is, maybe Ap Lei Chau. It’s too early to say.

    Maeiae, I’ve only visited once, for a week. Having lived in Taiwan, I think we’ll adjust fine. I also plan to visit a few more times before taking the leap.

    As far as costs and projections, I have looked at it. If we teach, our children go to school for free, which could be a large cost. The salary only needs to cover housing (the largest cost) and lifestyle. Being financially independent means we won’t need to save for the future.

  10. I feel inspired with all your comments, I too may have a chance to move back to HK where I grew up. I guess it won’t be so hard if I was single but with 3 kids, it seems like a scary task. I feel scared of the culture in Hong Kong and how it would be to raise the children there. I know I would miss all the wonderful friends, places, food and space here, but at the same time I believe it would be an amazing experience for my family.
    How is the Canadian school in HK? I am considering homeschooling, which I found out is not legal.

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