30 August 2019 - With the end of summer holiday already here, it’s time for children to start a brand new semester and for parents of preschoolers (starting school next year) to make some serious decisions in choosing primary schools for their young children. Apart from shortlisting the best schools and preparing children for admission interviews, parents may also consider moving to a preferred school catchment area, since 85 percent of primary one places in Hong Kong are allocated on the principle of "proximity" to the school.
In addition to the education consideration, a top priority for parents is for their kids to grow up in a happy, stable and fun environment. Considering these factors, we’ve listed five of the most sought-after areas for families with preschoolers looking to begin primary school in the coming 1-2 years.
1. Central and Western District
The Central and Western District is often the top pick for parents seeking prestigious schools. Schools that enjoy high ranking in the whole of Hong Kong, such as St. Stephen's Girls' Primary School, Sacred Heart Canossian School, S.K.H. St. Peter's Primary School and Central and Western District Saint Anthony's School can be found within the school nets in this district. The former two provide an excellent opportunity for students to proceed to the linked secondary schools directly without going through the central allocation process.
High property prices, typically in the tens of millions, are often the main constraint preventing people from moving to Mid-Levels Central and Mid-Levels West. However, hidden gems are not hard to find in areas such as Sheung Wan, Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town. Also, renting is always an option.
There are also several nearby venues for you to enjoy quality time with your family, such as swimming and cycling at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park and Sai Wan pier, or taking a post-dinner stroll along the Central and Western District Promenade.
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2. Wan Chai / Happy Valley / Causeway Bay
The greater Wan Chai district has a similar number of reputable schools to Central and Western, the most well-known ones being Marymount Primary School, St. Joseph's Primary School, SKH St. James' Primary School and Hennessy Road Government Primary School.
Marymount Primary School, which is linked to its equally sought-after secondary school, is ever more popular among parents with daughters, while St. Joseph’s and its secondary school present a great opportunity for young boys to enter a system of quality education.
When it comes to living, Wan Chai and Happy Valley offer a myriad of options of new buildings with modern facilities, as well as older units that may have higher ceilings and larger living spaces. Cultural and fun activities are abundant in Wan Chai - the annual book fair and food festival held at the Convention Centre, as well as tours to historic buildings such as the Blue House at Stone Nullah Lane all provide a good measure of historic education and fun for kids. And of course the racecourse offers a convenient date night most Wednesdays for the parents..!
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3. Southern District
The Southern District broadly covers several areas including Pokfulam, Aberdeen, Shouson Hill, Wong Chuk Hang, Repulse Bay, Deepwater Bay and Stanley. It’s home to a number of popular local schools such as the S.K.H. Tin Wan Chi Nam Primary School, S.K.H. Chi Fu Chi Nam Primary School and Precious Blood Primary School South Horizons. Several international schools that are attractive to expats are also in Southern District such as South Island School, West Island School, Canadian International School, The Harbour School and Hong Kong International School.
Southern District is characterized by a substantial amount of greenery, access to beaches and hikes and many private clubs, all of which enable residents to escape from the city. Since the opening of MTR South Island line in 2016, Southern District residents closer to Aberdeen can also commute to areas such as Central and Wan Chai with ease, and there are extensive bus routes for those who live farther from the MTR. Aberdeen’s Kaito Ferry attracts scores of tourists on a daily basis with its history and a pleasant journey in the harbour, which can also make for wonderful day trips for the family.
Stanely’s beaches and Aberdeen’s Ocean Park – ever popular with children - also add to the list of weekend fun that’s on your doorstep.
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4. Kowloon Tong / Ho Man Tin
La Salle Primary School, Maryknoll Convent School (Primary Section) and Bishop Walsh School are some of the best schools in the Kowloon area. The first two are often ranked in the top five among all primary schools in Hong Kong, with the students of those schools enjoy a high chance of entering their corresponding secondary schools.
Enrolling your children early into a prestigious primary school with a highly sought-after linked secondary school can absolutely spare you from stress down the road.
Good food is aplenty in Kowloon City, while Hung Hom Promenade and the fun-filled Festival Walk shopping mall make life on the other side of Victoria Harbour more than exciting and memorable.
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5. Sai Kung / Clearwater Bay
If urban areas are not your thing, and having your kids to grow up in a slower-paced environment that’s close to nature is more appealing, Sai Kung, the “back garden” of Hong Kong, would be perfect for you.
The area’s St. Andrew's Catholic Primary School, TWGHs Wong Yee Jar Jat Memorial Primary School and Hong Kong and Macau Lutheran Church Primary School are popular among parents as students often proceed to top-class secondary schools.
The area’s centre is dotted by all kinds of shops and restaurants, while beaches big and small and various holiday camps are in its vicinity, so children can be kept busy with activities such as barbeques and camping during the weekends and school holidays. On top of that, hiking trails, education centres and exhibition halls at the Lions Nature Education Centre are also wonderful places for families to explore.
The relaxed vibe and quality of life are what attracts families, expat or local, to move to this beautiful area.
Follow these links to peruse properties in Sai Kung and Clearwater Bay:
With your child’s future in mind, choosing where you live is perhaps one of the biggest family decisions you’ll make. Schools in Hong Kong are often over-subscribed so applying well in advance is advisable. This means you should begin planning well in advance and know which districts provide access to both schools and a lifestyle that you want. After all, you want to build the foundation for a happy and close-knit relationship between you and your children, in addition to providing them with a great education.