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【The Standard】Some things to bear in mind before moving to the UK

UK chitchat


Since the uk government granted new options to Hongkongers holding the British National Overseas passport, many families have started thinking seriously about moving to Britain for the long term.

The opportunity to work toward full British citizenship has, in fact, already tempted some to pack their belongings and immigrate.

At Britannia Studylink over the last couple of months, we have experienced a huge increase in the number of enquiries from parents interested not only in private schools in the UK but also in state schools and grammar schools.

These are the types of UK schools that parents do not have to pay fees for and that have become accessible to students from Hong Kong due to the new BNO arrangements.

Prospective parents who get in touch with us now are sometimes a little overwhelmed.

Not only do they have to consider schools’ characters and academic records – a lot to piece together under ordinary circumstances – but they also have to think about where they are going to live and how their choice of neighborhood will affect their school options.

This is because some schools only accept pupils living within a certain catchment area.

There are so many options to choose from throughout the UK and then, of course, there is London. London is one of the most appealing choices for parents because it is one of the best-known capital cities in the world and offers so much in terms of education, work and business opportunities, culture and lifestyle.

Central and greater London have some of the best private schools in the country and some very good grammar schools and state schools.

It is a city of great contrasts too however – since some areas of London have state schools that are notorious for being rough and overcrowded.

It is a similar story when it comes to London homes. There are luxurious properties and there are rough areas – and sometimes these are just streets apart from one another.

Just as there is a Harry Potter-inspired dream of how a British boarding school will look and feel, there is a similar sort of dream about British homes situated on quaint streets and full of tasteful, antique furniture.

Well, just like with boarding schools, this is sometimes true but is obviously not always the case.

From my time living in the UK as a student, and then visiting regularly over the last decade or so, I have always been drawn to the west side of London – the southwest and northwest.

The older neighborhoods definitely have an appeal; but there are new developments going up all the time too and for families looking for something that reminds them of the modern developments in Hong Kong, these would be a good choice.

Another option that’s popular with parents thinking of heading to the UK is an off-plan property: somewhere you buy before construction has begun.

Typically, you make your investment and expect work to be completed within two or three years.

There are many of these around at the moment and lots of bargains to be had when you buy this way.

However, I’ve heard of many in Manchester, Birmingham and areas outside of London not being completed and causing the buyers to lose their money.

There’s no need to be afraid of off-plan, but it’s just best to take the precaution of using a reputable lawyer.

A good example is someone like Crystal Or, a solicitor at Gateley Legal who specializes in new build and off-plan property transactions.

When you go with a big legal firm such as Gately that is listed on the London Stock Exchange, based in the UK and has a presence in Hong Kong, they can help you by doing all the necessary due diligence.

It can’t guarantee anything, but it will at least reduce the chance of serious problems.

As with making those important education choices, taking advantage of expert guidance is the best way to find the right home to suit all your requirements.