Hong Kong is a fascinating city. Formerly a British colony, this autonomous territory and Special Administrative Region of China is a place that marches to the beat of its own drum. It’s an exciting meld of Eastern and Western cultures. It’s a shiny, lit-up metropolis set in the midst of and in striking contrast to beautiful green mountains, sparkly, dreamy seascapes, and sandy beaches. It has so much to offer to anyone, and kids are no exception. Growing up in Hong Kong gives kids a unique life perspective enriched by a mix of culture, international friendships, and a lot of fun.
My family and I just recently moved here, and ever since we touched down it's been an amazing learning opportunity for all of us. Best of all, my kids are having a blast. Sure, the move across the globe was especially difficult on them, but one of the most amazing parts about calling Hong Kong our new home has been the fact that my kids have benefitted greatly from the culture, the customs, the food (seriously, the food), and the education available to them here. It's been a unique opportunity for sure, but every day is a reminder that life in Hong Kong has been especially good to my kids.
Here are but 10 ways kids benefit from growing up in Hong Kong.
1. They Grow Up With A Strong Sense Of Independence
Hong Kong was ranked the 11 safest city in the world in 2015, ranking sixth in the category of personal safety, according to Business Insider. And it generally has a low crime rate. Sure, you can never be too safe, especially when it comes to your kids, but it’s not uncommon to see 12 or 13 year old kids riding the bus, MTR (subway), or even a ferry to another island on their own. Kids grow up feeling safer with a sense of security, which is also supported by their secure-feeling and thus, more relaxed, trusting parents.
2. They're Exposed To So Many Different Cultures
Kids in Hong Kong grow up surrounded by Chinese culture with a hint of British influence, and they're constantly surrounded by exciting international flavor. From the food, to the customs, to the fact that they can celebrate New Year’s twice a year, kids in Hong Kong grow up openminded and appreciative of differences. Depending on what part of the city you live in, you can sometimes hear up to a dozen different languages spoken in one day. And kids here are more likely to be bilingual, even multilingual, because Cantonese and English are commonly spoken on the street and Mandarin is taught in school. There’s a reason Hong Kong has recently been branded as Asia’s World City.
3. The. Food. Is. Unreal.
Kids growing up in Hong Kong are lucky little turds. (And I say that with all the love in my heart.) They live in a city that has some of the most vibrant and exciting food scenes in the world. Amazing restaurants line every street. But even if you forget the restaurant scene, the street food in Hong Kong is insane. From fish balls to noodles to delicious waffles, the street vendors serve up some seriously good eats. My kids have been able to cultivate some adventurous taste buds here — and it's amazing!
4. There's So Much To Explore
When the crowds have jostled us one too many times, and the non-stop pace of the city has started to wear us down, we've left Hong Kong on holiday to visit other pats of Asia. And I've been constantly amazing that there are so many awesome places to visit in close proximity to Hong Kong. They're easy to get to (which, when you have kids, is priority number one) and they're affordable. Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia — they're all in reach!
5. It's So Easy To Get Around
As my son gets older, the more I've been thankful that the public transportation system here is great. You can pretty much get anywhere in the city and the surrounding islands by way of bus, mini bus, tram, MTR, or ferry. It’s cheap, easy and (relatively) efficient.
6. You're Constantly Moving
Kids in Hong Kong are constantly on the move. In fact, being active is a big part of Hong Kong culture. Working out together is a common form of socializing. Adults and kids alike are frequently out running, cycling, playing tennis, or doing yoga on the beach. And the more senior lot, who prefer less strenuous activity, can be seen gracefully performing Tai Chi in big open spaces around the city. With all the school and club sports, hiking and running trails, sub-tropical weather and outdoor beauty coupled with all the daily walking from place to place, there is so much encouragement to be active.
7. They're Always Surrounded By Beauty
Hong Kong is a stunner of a city. Not only does it have an impressive commercial center where a mix of modern and old buildings jut into the sky at varying heights like a vibrant garden of skyscrapers, but the lush green mountainous surroundings and outer islands have made it so easy for me to understand why it’s called the “pearl of the Orient.” No one can argue that the view from Victoria Peak, which looks out over the glowing city and casts its sparkle into the waters of Victoria Harbor, is one of the most spectacular in the world.
8. They Get Their Own Octopus Card
Kids don’t carry cash or wallets in Hong Kong. Nope. Here, all they need is an Octopus card and the will to swipe. Actually, you don’t even need to swipe, you just hold the card up to the reader until you hear the familiar “doot” sound, and just like that, your son or daughter can pay for public transportation, snacks from 7-Eleven, a Big Mac, and even your coffee when he or she ever so kindly (with strong encouragement) makes a Starbucks run for you. DOOT! DOOT!
9. It's A Great Place To Learn
Although deciding on what school your child will attend and then getting them into that school can be stressful, frustrating, and insanely competitive, parents can rest easy that their children are getting a solid education in Hong Kong. Though there are nine years of compulsory schooling, most kids also attend three years of kindergarten before attending primary school. Yep, three! That means that most kids in Hong Kong start going to school at the age of 2. Whether it’s a government school, an English language education subsidized school, or a private international school, Hong Kong is an exciting place to learn.
10. You Can Hire A Celebrity Tutor
OK, remember how I said that education in Hong Kong was super important? Well, it's so important that tutors are considered celebrities here. And what better model for your kids to see than someone who's all about learning?!