The global Quality of Life Index, carried out by Centre for Future Studies, examines British expatriate opinions and attitudes on lifestyle, employment and financial status. The Nat West sponsored 2014 report comments on “the rise of the Far East with China, Singapore and Hong Kong soaring up the league table.”
They note that “in 2013, the number of work visas issued in Hong Kong to UK citizens jumped 45 per cent to 3,907. This number marked a record high. British expats in Hong Kong are attracted by low taxes (74%), efficient public transport (58%) and the widespread use of English (92%). The downsides, however, are a shortage of international schools (34%), overcrowding (73%) and air pollution (94%).” No real surprises for anyone already resident!
Author: Marion Udall, Editor
ECA International have recently released their survey results revealing the Asian markets where expatriate staff receive the highest pay packages.
According to their survey results, middle managers in Hong Kong on expat packages receive the 5th highest pay in the region. Local salaries were the second lowest in Asia, but the benefits were the highest. If benefits are excluded, Hong Kong drops to 15th place.
It should be noted that ‘expat’ terms usually only apply to internal transfers or to new hires above the middle management level. Most new hires at this level will be on ‘local terms’ even if the candidate resides abroad. See our related articles on applying for Hong Kong jobs and Hong Kong employment contracts.
The 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, (‘Pisa’) tests are run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. These two-hour tests in maths, reading and science are taken by 500,000 15-year-old pupils.
The resulting international league tables are used to compare standards in different countries. Individual pupils don’t get results, it’s education systems.
As reported by the BBC:
- The table-topping Asian education systems, such as Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong, are not just beating everyone else, they are accelerating further ahead.
- Vietnam has a higher standard of education than the United States. Think how unlikely that once would have seemed. Think of the turn of history’s wheel.
- South Korea’s children are the least happy at school, as well as being among the highest achievers.
- The happiest schoolchildren, according to data gathered alongside the tests, are in Indonesia and Peru. These have among the worst results in the world.
- The UK’s results have failed to show any real sign of movement and are flat-lining.
- If the US state of Massachusetts had been ranked like a separate country it would be one of the best in the world. The mediocre US national score conceals a wide divergence between states.
Author: Marion Udall
ESF, the largest provider EMI (English as a Medium of Instruction) education in Hong Kong attracted the attention of the media twice this week.
In a welcome development, it was reported in The Standard that ESF is to open a new Kindergarten in Tung Chung that will have capacity of 360 students. With a waiting list as large as the total ESF capacity for Kindergarten places, this will go some way to relieve the chronic under-supply.
A less than complimentary edition of ‘The Pulse’ aired on RTHK this week highlighted the facts around the CPI-busting increase in fees and charges at Discovery College in Discovery Bay.
Following the Education Board’s U-turn in approving increases of 53% 2013-2017, it was highlighted that this is already leading to a disturbingly high student withdrawal rate at Discovery College.
Whilst students and their families may currently have the option of ‘voting with their feet’, the loss of the ESF subvention (subsidy) and the willingness of the EDB to approve fees of this magnitude is likely to severely limit cheaper EMI alternatives over coming years.
The show repeated concerns that have been the subject of a previous blog: Hong Kong to be less attractive for Expat managers? Please refer to our schools page.
- Hong Kong remains a popular Expat destination amongst respondents, who are prominently (58%) aged under 34 years
- 38% of the Expat respondents were aged aged 35-54 and 4% over age 55
- In rankings by ‘Economics’, ‘Expat Experience” and ‘Raising Children Abroad’, the latter category is top
- More than half of respondents thinks quality of childcare and education is better in Hong Kong than in home country
Many expats moving to Hong Kong fail to consider all the financial consequences of their move.
If you are transferring your employer may meet some of your direct costs, but what about the:
- First month, when you are in a serviced apartment, eating out, paying for ad-hoc child-care and using a laundry service
- Setting up a new home with curtains, fixtures, appliances and possibly furniture
- Deposits for housing and school places, possibly with the cost of a debenture
- First tax bill you receive in Hong Kong, which will be both retrospective for salary earned and forward-looking for the forthcoming tax year
Also, have you considered the:
- Loss of earnings, if you leave your employer without a new job and no Government ‘social security’
- Loss of family income if your spouse can’t find work in the expected time-frame, or at all, or of the expected nature
- Impact on your country-of-origin financial planning, taxation, insurances (are they valid in HK?) and investments
- Additional cost-of-living expenses such as club memberships, increased entertaining and ancillary schooling costs (Mandarin tutor, trips, laptop)
- Cost of repatriation when you leave Hong Kong
There will also be the unexpected family flights to attend occasions such as family weddings or Christmas. If your country-of-origin home is rented out, you’ll be staying in a hotel and renting a hire car.
When your kids ‘go home’ for University, will they be treated as non-resident?
For more information, visit workinginhongkong.com
Following our recent blog “Hong Kong to be less attractive for Expat managers?” we received a number of comments that the Hong Kong Government’s failure to address both English and Chinese education issues reflects a failure of local policy.
As a result, we are interested to survey what other issues are and whether they are meeting the expectations of Hong Kong residents.
Please take the survey:
Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.
The ESF (see our schools page) is the largest provider of English Medium of Instruction (EMI) in Hong Kong. As reported in The Standard today, ESF chairman Carlson Tong Ka- shing said the ESF may have to increase fees by at least 23 percent when the Government subvention is phased out. The ESF already operates two Private Independent Schools that operate outside of the subvention. One of these, Discovery College has announced fee/levy increases amounting to 53% over 5 years.
ESF are running a business that is oversubscribed, so inflation-busting fee increases are likely to be sustainable in the short-term. The Education Department has approved the DiscoveryCollege increases, so Government has again signalled that EMI is a matter purely for private sector market economics.
For an Expat middle-manager with a couple of children, unchecked increases of this magnitude could be enough to make an ESF education unaffordable.
The resulting reduction of globally experienced staff, that bring overseas working practices and international experience to the local workplace will impact Hong Kong’s competitiveness.
The BBC recently published an article about ‘returning culture shock’.
A close friend once confided, “Coming to Hong Kong was exciting and manageable, given a certain amount of preparation and awareness.
Returning ‘home’ was much harder, as ‘home’ wasn’t there anymore. The issue wasn’t that ‘home’ had changed, I had! I hadn’t put the same preparation into returning and was unaware that my move had changed me. The result; coming home was harder than leaving.
If you have been in that situation, what did you find?