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Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai ?

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SwissMissMama
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Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai ?

Postby SwissMissMama » Wed, 30 May 2012 1:38 am

I am hoping to find some feedback from some members that have lived/experienced multiple locations --- we currently live in Europe but are from USA. We have the opportunity to possibly move to Singapore, Hong Kong or Shanghai.... We are a family with 2 small kids - 6 months and 2 years.

Right now, Singapore is at the top of my list but I have never been to Asia- before --- any advice on why you prefer Singapore over Hong Kong or Shanghai? Or vice versa?

Thanks!

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zzm9980
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Postby zzm9980 » Wed, 30 May 2012 9:39 am

Do you speak Mandarin Chinese? If not, I'd say Shanghai is a no-go.

Is your company covering housing and other expenses? (typical expat package). If yes, I'd personally prefer Hong Kong. It is a much more interesting place with more things to do IMO. Also, you have a change of seasons. No snow, but at least different temperatures.

If you prefer a slower less exciting, but very stable paced life, say like that in a very insulated upper class suburb in the US, then Singapore is the place for you. If you're not getting an all expenses paid expat package, your options as where to live will be slightly more palatable in Singapore (Unless you're all about minimal square footage).

Someone else will no doubt come in and tell you how amazing the food in Singapore is. The local cuisine has more variety than Hong Kong, that's for sure, but I wouldn't call it amazing.

You should really visit all three, and it comes down to the total compensation package.

Oh, and how you feel about hot humid weather in Singapore. Every single day (HK has the same, but only during its summer). Except the 10-60 before a torrential downpour. Then it can be quite pleasant (but windy).

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Postby BillyB » Wed, 30 May 2012 11:09 am

They are all very different places. You really need to visit all three to get a sense of the atmosphere and vibe - internet sites, even forums, won't give you enough info to be able to make a conclusive decision.

Do a reccy trip for a two weeks - you can pick off Shanghai in a week, and cover HK and Singapore in 3/4 days each......

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Postby aster » Wed, 30 May 2012 1:41 pm

Singapore will be more "European" on all accounts, with English the main language, all signs, notices, etc. Very safe, not nearly as crowded as HK, warm all year round.

With kids I reckon Singapore would be the OP's best choice.

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Postby SwissMissMama » Wed, 30 May 2012 2:01 pm

Thanks for all the advice. Visiting the cities prior to choosing is not an option. My gut is telling me Singapore is most ideal with kids so I am glad to hear others agree. Thanks!

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Postby ocho79 » Wed, 30 May 2012 2:50 pm

My husband and I moved from NY to Shanghai where we lived for 3 years, Hong Kong for 14 months and now Singapore for a year. I say Hong Kong all the way! MUCH better city than SH or SG in our opinion. Shanghai is terribly polluted and crowded and hectic and like zzm9980 mentioned, very hard to navigate without knowing Mandarin (luckily my husband speaks it and I learned enough). We don't have kids though so perhaps SG is better with kids, I'm not sure about that. But Hong Kong is much more lively and interesting. Cheaper than SG in our experience too but of course still expensive compared to Shanghai. Enjoy visiting all three though, it should be a fun trip!

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zzm9980
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Postby zzm9980 » Wed, 30 May 2012 4:30 pm

ocho79 wrote:My husband and I moved from NY to Shanghai where we lived for 3 years, Hong Kong for 14 months and now Singapore for a year. I say Hong Kong all the way! MUCH better city than SH or SG in our opinion. Shanghai is terribly polluted and crowded and hectic and like zzm9980 mentioned, very hard to navigate without knowing Mandarin (luckily my husband speaks it and I learned enough). We don't have kids though so perhaps SG is better with kids, I'm not sure about that. But Hong Kong is much more lively and interesting. Cheaper than SG in our experience too but of course still expensive compared to Shanghai. Enjoy visiting all three though, it should be a fun trip!


This would be my assessment as well, although I've never lived in Shanghai, or HK for more than a few short stints pre-kid. Even with kids, I'd prefer HK depending on budget.

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Postby durain » Wed, 30 May 2012 11:22 pm

your kids are still very young so HK is possible too. how do you like your weather? singapore is HOT, HOT, HOT. HK is just hot in summer and cool in winter.

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Postby cw1483 » Thu, 31 May 2012 2:06 pm

Do you speak/read Shanghainese, Mandarin, or Cantonese. If neither of those, I suggest you stick with Singapore because you have two kids and due to school, space, and pollution.

here's my very long 2 cents.

About HK....
Schools in HK have a very long waiting list (i.e. ESF and International Schools unless you are willing to fork out $ for debentures, then local school is the only way to go). Also, schools start at age 2. (i.e. Kindergarten are N1=age2, K1=age3, K2=age4, K3=age5 in HK). While not required to attend school until age 5, there are no nursery for age 2, only kindergartens. I tried sticking my 2 year old in a local kindergarten. The teacher didn't speak any English, my child and husband didn't speak any Chinese. Example, the homework instructions wrote, "color the animals only", so if you couldn't read it, how do you know what to color....how's the teacher going to explain to you every homework?

Also, in HK the costs per square footage is higher. Also, the current square footage published is not exact. Example, you can see a listing for about $3000USD for 1000 sq ft, but when you arrive to see it the agent then tells you the efficiency level is 80% (meaning really just 800 sq ft). This is because 2000 sq ft is the lobby shared by 10 units, thus each unit adds 200 sq ft)...crazy, huh?

In Shanghai, there are Mandarin and Shanghainese (you can get by with one of these, if none, then much harder). Rent, food, etc...are the cheapest, but then can you stand the etiquette in China? Let's just say that downtown is fine, but just outside of the office, I lose count of how many people I see spitting, coughing up phlegm, and cutting in line.


Cleaniness
Shanghai Dirty (outside of downtown)
Hong Kong Dirty (outside of downtown)
Singapore Clean

Food
Shanghai Cheapest (mostly Chinese)
Hong Kong Cheaper (has good mix of Chinese and Western food, not so much Malay food, etc)
Singapore Cheap (good mix of cultures of food)

Pollution
Shanghai Terrible
Hong Kong Somewhat bad, sometimes good
Singapore Not a problem

English Level of Locals
Shanghai Not very good, limited areas only
Hong Kong In downtown is good, some expat area good, outside not so much
Singapore Good with Singlish

Price of housing
Shanghai Cheapest in terms of square footage
Hong Kong Most expensive in square footage
Singapore Middle

Schools
Shanghai Depends where you go, unless you want all Mandarin or Shanghainese, Int'l School is the only way
Hong Kong Most difficult to get into International School or Bilingual Schools, waitlist is absurd, local school is really local...no instructions in English.
Singapore Ok

Weather
Shanghai not sure, didn't stay for all 4 seasons
Hong Kong Has 4 seasons, except winter is cool not cold. (similar to Seattle----gloomy about 20 days in a month, then 10 good days of Miami sunshine).
Singapore Hot and humid mostly

Public Transit
Shanghai OK (still better than public transit in the states)
Hong Kong MTR is among the best, with lots of connecting buses (cars still affordable..so taxi is cheap)
Singapore MRT is good but breaks down sometimes

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durain
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Postby durain » Thu, 31 May 2012 10:59 pm

cw1483 wrote:Singapore MRT is good but breaks down sometimes


i like that :D

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Postby Strong Eagle » Thu, 31 May 2012 11:06 pm

cw1483 wrote:Do you speak/read Shanghainese, Mandarin, or Cantonese. If neither of those, I suggest you stick with Singapore because you have two kids and due to school, space, and pollution.

here's my very long 2 cents.

About HK....
Schools in HK have a very long waiting list (i.e. ESF and International Schools unless you are willing to fork out $ for debentures, then local school is the only way to go). Also, schools start at age 2. (i.e. Kindergarten are N1=age2, K1=age3, K2=age4, K3=age5 in HK). While not required to attend school until age 5, there are no nursery for age 2, only kindergartens. I tried sticking my 2 year old in a local kindergarten. The teacher didn't speak any English, my child and husband didn't speak any Chinese. Example, the homework instructions wrote, "color the animals only", so if you couldn't read it, how do you know what to color....how's the teacher going to explain to you every homework?

Also, in HK the costs per square footage is higher. Also, the current square footage published is not exact. Example, you can see a listing for about $3000USD for 1000 sq ft, but when you arrive to see it the agent then tells you the efficiency level is 80% (meaning really just 800 sq ft). This is because 2000 sq ft is the lobby shared by 10 units, thus each unit adds 200 sq ft)...crazy, huh?

In Shanghai, there are Mandarin and Shanghainese (you can get by with one of these, if none, then much harder). Rent, food, etc...are the cheapest, but then can you stand the etiquette in China? Let's just say that downtown is fine, but just outside of the office, I lose count of how many people I see spitting, coughing up phlegm, and cutting in line.


Cleaniness
Shanghai Dirty (outside of downtown)
Hong Kong Dirty (outside of downtown)
Singapore Clean

Food
Shanghai Cheapest (mostly Chinese)
Hong Kong Cheaper (has good mix of Chinese and Western food, not so much Malay food, etc)
Singapore Cheap (good mix of cultures of food)

Pollution
Shanghai Terrible
Hong Kong Somewhat bad, sometimes good
Singapore Not a problem

English Level of Locals
Shanghai Not very good, limited areas only
Hong Kong In downtown is good, some expat area good, outside not so much
Singapore Good with Singlish

Price of housing
Shanghai Cheapest in terms of square footage
Hong Kong Most expensive in square footage
Singapore Middle

Schools
Shanghai Depends where you go, unless you want all Mandarin or Shanghainese, Int'l School is the only way
Hong Kong Most difficult to get into International School or Bilingual Schools, waitlist is absurd, local school is really local...no instructions in English.
Singapore Ok

Weather
Shanghai not sure, didn't stay for all 4 seasons
Hong Kong Has 4 seasons, except winter is cool not cold. (similar to Seattle----gloomy about 20 days in a month, then 10 good days of Miami sunshine).
Singapore Hot and humid mostly

Public Transit
Shanghai OK (still better than public transit in the states)
Hong Kong MTR is among the best, with lots of connecting buses (cars still affordable..so taxi is cheap)
Singapore MRT is good but breaks down sometimes


+1

Shanghai - so badly polluted, and unless you are a real maverick, you will live in an expat "compound"... not exactly... but you'll have a hard time assimilating into a Shanghai "neighborhood". Traffic a horror show... and you have the Chinese government to put up with.

Toss up between HK and SG. HK definitely the more scenic and interesting island. But pollution from mainland sucks. "HK style" apartments means tiny and expensive... something that is unfortunately spreading to Singapore.


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