Cost of Living Review: Pre-school

Life in HK

Since most of my readers have school going children, be it pre-school or primary school, thought I should share this first (Actually I haven’t got time to do my marketing this week, so can’t put up anything on grocery yet :P).

In Malaysia:
Fees: RM700/month on the average (equivalent to HKD1719) 
I used to send my children to Fungates Pre-school in KL. Every month, we spend around RM400-500 for school fees (per child). This is only for 4 hours, i.e. from 9-12pm. If you leave your child for daycare (which not all the pre-school provides) you will need to add an additional RM250. That comes to about RM700 per month (rough estimate).
Transportation: RM120 (equivalent to HKD295)
I used to have transport auntie to send my kids to MIL house. That’s from Section 14 to Damansara, about 20mins drive on a non traffic jam day.
Food:
Lunch and snacks are part of the package above. You don’t get to see what they serve in the school, but trust that they are giving the kids healthy food. Snacks are usually biscuits.
School Trips: 1 per year, budget about RM50 per trip (equivalent to HKD122)
We all love joining the kids for school trips. During their days in fungates, you have 1 school trip per year. Everyone goes together from N1-K3. I’ve joined 2 of the trips and seriously, it’s rather tiring just to watch them getting the kids from one place to another. Depending on where you go, there would be charges.
School Events: Twice per year, budget about RM50 for party (equivalent to HKD122), if concert budget about RM80 for costumes (equivalent to HKD196)
They have party twice per year, at the end of each semester. Usually it’s themed and you need to dress your kids up. You also need to bring food to school. They will also have either sports day or concert (alternating every year).
School environment:
Pretty clean, sanitized daily. Checking of body temperature. Cleaning of hands (to avoid HFM). If you leave your child for daycare, each child will have their own sleeping bag. You bring home the sleeping bag every Friday to wash over the weekend.
Safety:
Varies from each Fungates. The one at Section 14, you are given a card with your child’s name which you need to display at your car when you pick them up. If you forget to bring, they will still let the kids go with you, provided you are familar faces to the kids.
Rules:
Strict. If you are late, you are not allowed to go in..booohoohoo…
Books & other fees: RM1000 (equivalent to HKD2455)
I seriously can’t recall the administrative fees they charge each year at Fungates. But I recall each time when I register the kids, I need to pay at least RM1500 per child, which includes the fees for the last month. So lets just estimate as RM1000 (including books). And some fees you need to pay twice (after each semester).
Miscellaneous:
The weird thing bout Fungates is, you only go to school like for 10 months, but you need to pay for 11 months. Something like that. But it’s not the same throughout all the Fungates. Homework could be quite a fair bit. Maybe now has changed since the school system changed last year. But I recall there’s spelling test every week :|. There’s exam every semester. And then you will have parents-teacher day thereafter.

Before I start talking about HK Pre-school, just to let you know that we send Vyktore to govt. subsidized pre-school. There are many types of pre-school here. Private, DSS (Direct Subsidized School) pre-school, govt. subsidized pre-school, etc…If you send you child to govt. subsidized ones, the govt. pays 50% of the school fees. And that’s throughout K1-K3. It doesn’t matter you are expat or local, whatever religion, whatever ethnicity, so long as you know the right channel to apply and provide the required documents, you are entitled for it. I’ll safe the details for another blog post on how to apply for govt. subsidize on another day.

In HK:
Fees: HKD1787 (equivalent to RM726)
His pre-school is full day system. Starts at 900am and ends at 430pm. It opens at 800am and closes at 600pm. The full day fees is HKD3574 for K3. Since it’s subsidized, I shall put the subsidized amount here cause we are talking about how much we spend every month.
Transportation: NIL
Well, his kindy is just downstairs our apartment, 5 mins walk door to door. Hence we need not pay for transportation. For picking up, it will be either our part time helper, Hon or myself.
Food:
It’s part of the fees that you pay monthly. Their menu changes every 3 months. Before the start of the quarter, they will provide you the menu. Breakfast would be either: oats, milk, bread. Lunch would usually consist of rice with a dish OR noodles. It comes with fruits as well. Tea time (4pm), they will have biscuits and hot drinks or fruit juice.
School Trips: NIL
They have school trips like every 2 months and sometimes every month, depending on the season. Different age group goes to different places. For Vyktore, so far they’ve been to Library (at least 3 times), Ocean Park, Traffic Safety Town (where he gets to cycle there and hold a girl’s hand :P), CNY Flower Market, some Charity organised event (where parents could join), Dentist World and a couple more which I can’t recall. We didn’t have to pay for any of these trips, except the one that went to CNY Flower Market where we gave him HKD20 so he could buy something and experience trading.
School Events: NIL
This is pretty fun too. Each time when there’s some festival e.g. Mooncake Festival, Dumpling Festival, CNY, they will organise mini events in the school for the kids. For Mooncake Festival, they brought their lantern to school and off all the lights and let the kids roam in the kindy. During CNY, they had steamboat. Not much cost associated to these events. For the steamboat, we just had to bring some food stuff as part of the ingredients.
School environment:
Extremely clean (I think due to SARS experience previously). They sanitize the whole school everyday!! Temperature checking is a must. Since it’s indoor, you need 2 pairs of shoes. When you arrive at school, you need to change to the indoor shoes. Then when you leave, you need to change back to your outdoor shoes. Each child have their own sleeping mattress and you bring it home for washing every Friday. If you fall sick, you are expected to provide an MC. Upon returning from sickness, you are expected to provide a letter that the child is fit to return. Oh, and if they are just having cough and cold, the school helps you to feed the medication as well. There’s some form to fill in and they will follow the timing that you provide to them. Bliss :).
Safety:
Each kid is given 2 pickup card. Everyday when you send them to school, they will give you a card. When you pick them up, you will need to present the card. They give 2 as spare since sometimes Daddy might sent the kid off, but Mommy might pick the kid up. If you did not bring the card, you will need to fill in a form with your IC No before you can pick the kid up.
Rules:
Pretty Strict, but you can still go in to school when you are late LOL. They will also call you upon checking the attendance and found that you are not in school.
Books & other fees: HKD1000 (equivalent to RM406)
Books are expensive here. It’s about HKD1000 a year. But there are no other fees e.g. admin fees, registration fee, dunno what lab fees, art & craft fees, bla bla. Oh and it includes a school bag too. Everyone uses the same bag. Save some money no need to buy school bag :P.
Miscellaneous:
School begins every September (follow British schooling period) and ends in July. That’s 12 months. But if you do not attend school during summer holiday, you don’t have to pay the remaining 2 months. Homework is 2-3 pages per day for K3. It could be a combination of English + Chinese or Chinese + Maths. No spelling test, but they make the kids read and recite passages based on some of the words they write in their homework. No exams for his school. They review the kid on weekly basis to check on their progress. A handbook with the latest progress will be given and parents are expected to acknowledge it every week and return to them. It will tell you within the week what has been thought and where is their capability level.

Verdict:
Let’s do a total sum for a year for ease of comparison.
In KL: we spend RM10,170 a year/kid in pre-school
In HK: we spend HKD20,657 (RM8,395) a year/kid in pre-school. Without subsidy from govt. it would cost HKD41,314 (RM16,790) a year/kid.

KL is cheaper in terms of pre-school (if we do not consider getting subsidy from govt.). Then again, if you are smart like us and manage to find lubang for govt. subsidized pre-school, then you could save a tonne and it becomes cheaper than KL. Since I’m comparing what I used to pay in KL against what I’m paying here in HK, then I consider HK is the winner in this review.

Just FYI, a year of K2 fees for International school near our place is about HKD57,000 (excluding transport).

Cost of Living Comparison Round I: KL 0 – HK 1

T’was a long and wordy post :|. Hope I can do a shorter one next week.

13 thoughts on “Cost of Living Review: Pre-school”

  1. If government starts to subsidy our KL pre-school, then KL is cheaper than HK what. Haha. But in this century, people need to start to think agressively to earn more income now. With standard of living like this and no improvement in term of household income, sure beh tahan one. To retire at early age now need to have at least 1million.. do you believe that? 🙂

  2. Woot! Thanks for sharing. I learned something new today. Hkd57,000 is a lot by Msian standard but standard of living is higher in HK, so it’s consider reasonable for them?

    1. Yvonne,

      It’s considered reasonable, since some of them their salary is already that much a month, so to them it’s not too bad.

  3. I think the pre-school fees you mentioned is the average in HK. In HK where the cost of living is very high, everything is expensive. For me, some of the criteria for choosing pre school is it must be near my house and it must be clean 🙂

  4. In Malaysia, u also can get half gov subsidized pre-school (both my elder 2 girls attended), way cheaper than private type.
    But I love to see that HK school did not charge any for their trips & events…:P

    1. Barb,

      my verdict is Vyktore stopped crying since he join the school here, so it must be more fun for him la I guess haha.

  5. having living across the bridge for a few years back then, I think only the accommodation cost that KL won.. the rest, think across the bridge won la… I will surely follow as I want to know more too.. 😀

  6. interesting, love the fact that the govt subsidizes some which should be the case as not many can afford school. also love the fact that school is strict with safety and cleanliness. not many here are like that.

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