Thursday, March 25, 2010

Choices and changes

This week has been pretty crazy. Emotionally, it's been up and down - there's a lot going on at the moment and it all seems to be demanding so much attention.

When we found out we were expecting again, we decided a) to move house and b) to hire a helper. Our current apartment is a cozy 780 square feet which is perfectly fine for the three of us, but adding in a baby and a helper would make it a bit TOO cozy for our liking! 

Having a foreign domestic helper is very normal in Hong Kong. Compared to the average wage for professionals, the cost is quite small. They help with the cleaning and cooking, and also childcare. There are no daycare centres here where you can take a child to for one day a week or something like that, and being an expat, we don't have an overabundance of free family help so it will be nice to have an extra set of helping hands.

The only way to have a legal helper is for them to be live-in, so that (along with the coming baby) is the reason why we need to move in the next couple of months.

We started our house hunting a little while ago, but in the past couple of weeks we've really stepped on the accelerator since rental prices are rising at the moment. A lot of the places I see online at good prices are already gone and our current choices are more limited. It's difficult making the decision, how much to spend, how far away to move. If we move out to 45 min from Bernard's work on the other side of the harbour, we can get something nicer that is very much within our budget and won't encroach on our savings. But if we want the convenience of being closer, we need to pay for it somewhere else, either in settling for somewhere smaller or older, or by stretching the budget.

Because Bernard works full time, I've been the main person doing all the leg work, looking at places, collecting prices, ruling out certain places and deciding to look more into other areas. It's all hard decisions, and all non-pregnancy related, but if it wasn't for this bub, we would be happily continuing to live as our family of three in our cozy 780 square foot place.

In some ways, it's been an emotional week for me. I think probably because of how busy it has been, I've been out every single day dealing with it all and I feel the pressure to make a decision soon. Also because of the uncertainty of the pregnancy. If there were no issues, I'm sure these changes would be much more exciting - but with the problems the baby is facing, it's more difficult for some reason.

On one hand, I feel like if we make all these changes and then the baby doesn't make it, maybe it's all been for nothing. But then again, I know that these really are necessary changes and regardless of the outcome, I think we're doing the right thing by moving and getting a helper.

We are starting to make progress though. I have gone over all the details of the contract with our future helper and we've agreed on it all, I just need to go to the agency who will oversee all the paperwork/visa side of things, sign some papers and within 5-8 weeks or so, she should be out here in Hong Kong!

Regarding the house hunting, there is one building that I will go see tomorrow, I have seen some pictures of it and the floor plan and it looks promising. Hopefully this place will end up being "the one" for us. The price is lower and it is in a convenient place, close to Bernard's work. It is also right next door to the building where Bernard's dad lives. The compromise in this place is that the building is currently having renovations for the next few months, so it may be a bit noisy during the day and dusty as well. That is why the prices are comparatively low. If we do get it though, the price will be set for the next 2 years so if we can get through the renovation period fine, at least we would have gotten a decent price for the rest of the time.

Anyway, please pray for us that we'll find the perfect place for us for our expanding family and that all the changes will happen smoothly. We'd love for it to happen soon, if possible! I can't wait for the house hunting stage to be over... 


  1. Hey Nicole, just to let you know, if you are renting a place, you will sign a 2 year contract. In that 2 years, the first year is what we called 'the dead contact', where the rent is fixed and if either party (landlord or tenant) wants to terminate the contract, they need to pay the other party for the loss. The second year is what we called 'the live contract', where the landlord has every right to increase the rent, the tenant of course can negotiate but it all depends on the landlord.

    We had to move every year for the past 3 years, and that was because everytime the 'dead contract' is finished and the 'live contract' comes up, the landlord increases our rent ridiculously. We just moved early this month because our last landlord increases our rent by 40%!!

    What I am saying is.. you mentioned about the rent is fixed for 2 years after you signed the contract, actually the rent is only fixed for 1 year.

    Good luck with house hunting! Hope things get sorted out soon!

  2. Nicole, I first want to say that it is "never for nothing." As hard as it may seem this is a path that you are to take. It sometimes is that blind faith that leads us to wonderful things. I think about you and the baby and wish the best for your family. This baby has so much love already and that is the first start to everything. Good luck with the house. I'm sure you will find what's right for you!

  3. Hey Nicole,
    I only wish I could be there with you at this time. I know that you will find what is best for your needs. God is good and He is our provider. I am looking forward to hearing how it all unfolds.
    Get Bernard to check out the details of the rent agreement. I am sure you will know what is right.
    Love you heaps,


  4. i'm sure that you'll score a good one soon. when i was 3 months preggie, i looked at about 30 flats after work..exhausting job, i tell you! all the best!

  5. I only just finished reading through the old posts. Stay strong. You are one of the most level-headed people I know (from what I've read of your posts on Geobaby and from what you write here on your blog).

    I'll keep you and your family in my prayers. {{hugs}}