Saturday, September 13, 2014


It's official: we are moving back to Australia.

When we first moved to Hong Kong nearly eight years ago, we planned to be here for 2-5 years. We had thought it would be good for our kids to be born here as they would be eligible for dual citizenship if born here - but if born in Australia, they'd need to give up their Australian passports if they wanted a Hong Kong passport. There were many reasons for us moving here, including for me to learn more of the language and culture of my husband, spending time with my aging father-in-law, and to do what we could to help out in a small Chinese church which had a lot of youth but not so many married couples or families. It is a good place to work in that the pay is generally high and the tax is low - but on the other hand the cost of living is high so financially, living in Hong Kong wasn't as "beneficial" as I'd expected. 

Most of the time living here has been amazing - we moved here as newlyweds and now we are a family of five. Bernard and I have grown a lot - both together and as a family. Hong Kong is well and truly "home" for us. Living in Australia seems like a childhood memory at times - although we've maintained links there and visit regularly. 

If you'd asked me a year ago how long we would be in Hong Kong, I would have said "indefinitely". I couldn't picture us living anywhere else EXCEPT for Hong Kong... But many things that have happened in the last year seem to have shown us that this door is closing and that it is time to move back. 

First of all - schooling. A bit over a year ago, Maddy was rejected by a school which we felt would have been great for her. To be more blunt, she wasn't outright rejected - she was accepted only with the condition that we personally pay for a one on one aide for her. This would have more than doubled the school fees and was not open for discussion. There are no "antidiscrimination" laws when it comes to school enrollment and schools constantly discriminate on whatever basis they choose. In addition, the needs of students with disabilities are not subsidised by the government and so often schools charge additional fees for students with special needs. These fees are non-negotiable and as we found out, sometimes attempting to open a dialogue results in an enrollment offer being withdrawn. While this may or may not have been an issue for primary school for Maddy, I didn't want to wait to find out. 

Secondly - I'm done with the medical system here and their archaic and condescending attitudes. Not all doctors are like that - but many many are and they have soured our experience. While I'm sure that our experience in Australia will not be perfect, from what I know about it so far, it will be an improvement. 

Also - this was bound to happen some time, and in many ways it is easier while our children are younger. The longer that we are here, they will develop closer friends and stronger roots here and it will be harder to transplant them across the ocean. 

We are looking forward to being able to buy a house and settle down. There are many things that we are looking forward to. Being closer to family and old friends. Having amazing grocery stores in every suburb. Grass and blue skies! We will be living in Sydney, most likely in the Hills district. I've never lived anywhere in Sydney so it is a complete new beginning.

But first we need to say goodbye and that is hard. At the moment, I don't feel as though we are "returning home". We are leaving our home for a new unknown. We are uprooting our children from all that they have ever known. We are closing a chapter of our lives - one which has been an amazing adventure and one that has brought so many good things into our lives.