Here and There – Part II

30 10 2013

Previously, we shared some insights about living overseas, and in particular dealing with the daily issues of getting around a mega city like Hong Kong. In this blog, we’re going to talk about what it’s like to stay in ‘one’ place, your place of residence.

Where to Live

Our current dining-living room.

Our current dining-living room.

If you don’t like tight and tiny places, Hong Kong is probably not the place for you.  There are some beautiful homes and luxury apartments in Hong Kong, but unless you (or the company you work for) have deep pockets, you’re not going to be able to afford something like that.  With limited land space, most people live in apartments – and most tend to be small in size (by North American standards). Living in Hong Kong requires most of us to learn to deal with living in smaller spaces – on average, a Hong Kong family of four will live in an apartment that is 540 square feet or less in size. [The prices for apartments continue to rise, with the average price of a small 400 square foot apartment here in Hong Kong now at $635,000 US.]  If you and your family are intent on finding a ‘nice sized’, three bedroom apartment, be prepared to spend at least $2,300 US a month in rent.

Pictorial Garden Kitchen

This is our ‘large’ kitchen – & yes I cook!

Once you find an apartment to live in, there are some other issues to deal with.  You will have to be creative if you want to fit everything into your small sized apartment. Our fridge is currently sitting in our dining/living room area (right next to the kitchen), since there wasn’t enough room in the kitchen for both it and the stove.  It’s not just a matter of figuring out where to put the major appliances that will demand your attention, but where will you put all of your other stuff? Most apartments do not have built-in closets, nor is there a lot of extra room for storage, so we bought a queen-sized hydraulic bed with storage underneath.  In addition to using every available space, you will also need to learn how to downsize on a regular basis – usually every time you move.

Once you have become accustomed to your new living space, you will begin to realize something else.. With anywhere between five and seven other apartments on the same floor where you live, you will get to know a lot about your neighbors.  For instance, due to the poor ventilation in most kitchens, you’ll often be able to smell what they’re cooking for supper that night.  Sound travels well through the concrete walls, so you’ll be able to hear what piece your neighbor’s child is playing on the piano, or the music they’re playing on their sound system.  Learning to adapt to neighbors has a different spin in the context of close quarter apartment living.

We acknowledge that Hong Kong is anything but a ‘hardship’ posting.  The standard of living here is quite high, and compared to so many other places in the world, it is a very comfortable and easy place to live.  However, I will admit that it has been a challenge at times to live in an apartment, and there have been times when we’ve missed the large open spaces of a house and yard back in North America.  But we’ve learned over these years not to expect life in Asia to be the same as what we grew up with – to accept the fact that it’s just different.  We have learned to adapt to whatever the circumstances might be in each new apartment – whether it be a small kitchen, little storage space, noisy streets, little room for children to play or some other challenge. So until the time comes for us to return to North America, we will make the most of wherever we live here in Hong Kong – to be thankful for God’s provision and to be in the place He has called us to.

Until next time,
Joel & Debbie


Earlier in October Debbie’s dad fell and fractured his hip and shoulder.  He was returning from a Sunday church service, and fell after getting out of the car in his driveway.  He has already undergone surgery on his hip, but all they can do for his shoulder right now is keep it stable.  PRAY with us that he would experience God’s healing as well as His comforting presence as he undergoes rehab in the coming weeks.

There has been a small outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease at ICS, particularly in the middle school.  PRAY for healing and protection, especially as these MS students prepare to leave in less than two weeks on Week Without Walls trips.

We PRAISE God for Joel’s safety during his recent trips into China. One of the main focuses of his trips was connecting with church leaders who oversee Sunday School programs in their churches.  The response to the training session for SS teachers this summer that Joel helped plan was very encouraging – PRAY that Joel would have wisdom and discernment as he works with these leaders to find resource materials for teachers, as well as for partner churches who would come alongside these needy churches.