Can a 4-year-old learn a new language within a year? Do children travel well? Let’s examine those questions. 

Children are incredibly adaptable to new situations. They quickly learn physical skills, new words, and social behaviors. Take my daughter, for example. She’s grown up speaking English and a little bit of Spanish with me, but we spent this last year in Hong Kong where they speak a form of Chinese called Cantonese.

Accomplishments for my 4-year-old this year include becoming fluent in Chinese,  diving down into the pool, dribbling a basketball more than 10 times, but, sadly, she still can’t wipe her own butt very well.  

I hope this story inspires you to reconsider how you think about raising children. If you haven’t thought about raising children outside of the United States–or whatever country you’re from–I hope this story encourages you to give it a thought. 🙂

Basketball in Hong Kong

I’m pumped that she enjoys playing basketball with me. I challenge you to play against her in 10 years, she’s gonna be dangerous with her crossover!

Auburn and I after a day on the court

It’s been awesome to watch her become more interested in it the more we play. Seeing her grow and develop her skills each time is so much fun to witness! She really gets after it on defense! 

In the same way, she’s learned other physical skills this year.

Learning to Swim in Hong Kong

At the start of the school year, Auburn was still very hesitant about swimming. She’d had lessons a little over a year ago, but she did not enjoy them.

Since then, I’ve been trying my best to get her accustomed to swimming not just in the pool but also in the waves in the ocean.

best beaches for swimming in hong kong
One of her favorite places to swim in Hong Kong, Shek O Beach

As she’s been slowly exposed to it, she recently had a massive breakthrough! As she would tell you, “I’m not scared anymore,” then quickly dive under the water and come up laughing. 

I’m excited to teach her how to snorkel and surf in the future, but I shouldn’t get ahead of myself, we need to work our way up again. 

Is Chinese Hard to Learn?

I would say yes; my Chinese is quite awful even after a year here. I can’t get the tones right, I often forget the words, people look at me confusedly no matter what I say. 

However, if you ask my 4-year-old, she might tell you it’s not so hard to learn Chinese. 

“What are your thoughts on living abroad with children? Let me know in the comments below!”

In fact, she went from understanding zero Chinese last September, to being as fluent in it as she is in English. Furthermore, she’s also a skilled translator–to my advantage!

learn chinese in hong kong
Auburn loving Hong Kong because she actually understands what people are talking about, quite unlike her father! 😀

How did she learn Chinese here in Hong Kong? By attending a local school and spending time with her Chinese family!

A School Year in Hong Kong

So, I would highly encourage anyone who is considering moving abroad with their children to do it. I know that fear of not knowing the language may hold you back, but your kids will manage, I promise you! If you make it a point to get to know the locals, you’ll all learn–but, like me, your children will be better at it. 

It took Auburn about 6 months to really start grasping the new language, but once she took hold, it was leaps and bounds after that. The development has been incredible and I’m excited to see the multilingual person she will grow up to be!

Any Regrets?

When we first got to Hong Kong last year after spending the summer in Michigan, I was again overwhelmed by the noise, the population density, the air quality. 

In Hong Kong, I live in a building that has more people than the village I grew up in. True story. 

living in hong kong
Typical residential area in Hong Kong

While I was disenchanted at first, it grew into frustration over the first six months. Sometimes at being congested with people, sometimes at having to step over carelessly thrown garbage, other times having to listen to the pounding of pneumatic hammers and plate-sized buzz saws. 

Whatever it was, it’s what lead tome drinking way too much

Once I quit drinking, I started reading into something I was always superficially interested in: zen philosophy. I think my dive into the subject has helped me learn to deal with the stress and distraction of living in the city. 

So, for the past two months, it hasn’t really bothered me at all. I just let it be as a consequence of bringing my daughter to a place where she could learn her grandparent’s language. And she’s succeeded, so, mission accomplished. 

a school year in hong kong
Auburn, happy in Hong Kong

I hope you can learn from my experience and see that single parent travel is 100% possible and your whole family will grow and benefit. After talking with many of you on Facebook and Instagram and a little bit on YouTube these days, I realize that there is a lot of mistakes we’ve made, but also successes we’ve had, that you could learn from.

Hopefully, if you’re interested, you can make the jump to a nomadic life one day! You get to travel as a single parent (or with a partner!) and your children will be exposed to new languages and ways of thinking. It’s a win-win!


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Have you recently heard the term ‘digital nomad’ and wondered what it means? I’m one, so let me tell you! It’s a person who works online and isn’t tied to any single location. We are location-independent entrepreneurs, writers, teachers, vloggers, computer scientists, marketers, photographers, musicians, and designers. Some of us are even digital nomad parenting. 

Digital nomads take many forms and infiltrate almost every industry. While there are many young digital nomads showing the world the power of the next generation, there are also people like me: single dads raising our children abroad while blogging about our journey. 

Do you think you’re ready to buck the system that breaks your soul? There’s another lifestyle out there waiting for you, are you ready for it?

I’m ready for the Digital Nomad Parenting Lifestyle!

*Affiliate links present; that means if you make a purchase through any of the links, a commission towards supporting this blog is generated at no cost to you! 

We come with extra baggage; dad joke on so many levels. 

If you’re a parent who is ready to make the leap from being tied to a desk and a plot of land–or a box in a building–to living the digital nomad lifestyle, there are a few key things you should do to prepare. 

1. Keep Your Children Well-Documented

Having your children’s birth certificates, passports, and medical records may be necessary to enter a new country. Having multiple copies of each is suggested, and always have a copy on your person. Also, have recent photos of your child on your phone showing your relationship.

If you’re a single parent, you’ll also need one of two things: your divorce decree showing that you have full legal and physical custody with no travel restrictions (like the photo below), or a letter of permission to travel from your child’s other parent.

digital nomad parenting

2. Diversify Your Income

What are you doing now to make money? Are there ways to expand what you’re doing?

I hope you’ve started a blog, if you haven’t, sign-up for hosting with this offer from Bluehost

 

Your blog is the base of your mobile life, if you don’t exist on the internet, you’re leaving money on the table.  Digital nomad parenting is hard enough without having to worry about cash flow, so up your income and your influence by starting a blog. 

If you want to copy the path I’ve been taking and find your way to working as a freelance writer, then check out  this course by Elna Cain, she helped me find my way when I was just starting and she will help you, too!

Having multiple streams of income will give you a surer sense of stability as you travel the world. I highly recommend using the programs and tools above!

3. Purchase Travel Insurance

Have you wondered about travel insurance and how it works? Is it reliable? Does it cover emergencies? What if my bags are lost? Is it expensive?

There are lots of questions surrounding travel insurance that need to be answered, but here is the most important: what’s the best company for travel insurance for Americans?

The answer is World Nomads

 
 World Nomads is well known for being reliable and covering everything from baggage loss to theft to emergency evacuations. 

Travel insurance gives you a peace of mind that is well worth it’s cost and pays for itself when accidents do occur. 

Conclusion

With the documents to move your children around legally, a diversified income portfolio, and travel insurance to keep you and your children protected, you’re ready to take the digital nomad lifestyle as a parent! 


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Colombia, Vietnam, China. Do these places sound like somewhere you want to raise your child? They do to me! I’m a single dad and my 4-year-old has already lived in these countries and more. Some people ask me how do I–as a single parent digital nomad–raise my daughter?

My response is always the same: how couldn’t I?

single dad travel blog
My daughter and I in Hong Kong

Strapped with a mountain of student debt, exhausted from working two jobs morning-to-night, and thoroughly upset to return home only to see my daughter is already asleep, I was surviving in the United States, but not thriving. 

That’s when I started reading online and seeing phrases like ‘digital nomad’ and ‘travel family’ and ‘modern nomad’ and ‘location independent’ being thrown about.

I saw families like The Holcombe Family doing amazing things. 

I would think, “who are all these super-rich, ultra-privileged, narcissistic people bragging about their life with children as they go to all these amazing destinations?”

single parent travel blog
Us checking out a waterfall in Thailand

I should’ve reserved that judgment. It turns out, the nomadic life–the ‘travel family’ life–is just as attainable as the life I was living in the United States. 

That’s when I made a choice: I was going to work towards achieving what I saw as a better life for me and my daughter, the nomadic one. 

I’ve always loved travel ever since I did my study abroad in Costa Rica. But I knew the way I ‘studied’ in university was not going to look like my parenting life. 

I needed an attainable path to location independence. 

That’s when I started to work for it. I already had a skill: writing. I just needed to monetize it.

So, I started this blog with this post talking about some serious mistakes I made in my personal life.  

If want to get started with building writing as income, I suggest you also start a blog! Check out Bluehost for an awesome web hosting service!

Once I started my blog, I was able to fully engage with my choice.

The Choice of Being a Nomad

Let’s start by saying that I love the United States, and if I could afford to live there full-time on the work I do now, I would spend at least half my time there. Probably the summer in Michigan where I’m from, for example. 

single dad travel blogger
In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

I’m not to that point yet, so the choice I made was this: if I’m going to live off my writing now, before it’s enough to live in the USA, then I have to find somewhere where I can afford to live

I felt compelled to live off my writing. Not because it gives me the chance to live nomadically, but because I love writing, and I love the work I write about. 

 

My choice was this: give up a pair of good jobs in the United States that provide economic freedom, or live a life of love and freedom of choice each day.

Both ways of living have their merits, anyone who chooses a good job in the USA is doing okay in my book, but it’s not a life I’m suited towards.

I’m not built for alarm cooks, punch cards, and bosses staring over my shoulder. That kind of stuff drives me spiritually and mentally insane and takes a massive toll on my body. 

I’m built to wake up with the sun, and then fall asleep when it does. I thrive under my own direction, and when I fail I have no one else to blame it on.

single parent travel blogger
Koh Nangyuan, just 15-30 minute boat ride from Koh Tao where we used to live

The integrity the nomadic life–and being a single parent digital nomad–has taught me keeps me driven and engaged in a way that is meaningful to me.

And, as a bonus, I love the freedom to map out each day the way I see fit. 

How does a single parent digital nomad raise his children?

I do it only by knowing it’s the best route for my daughter and me.

Her well-being is directly tied to my state-of-mind, and my state-of-mind is best when I am living a life that is self-actualizing. 

My daughter is safe, healthy, and learning so much about the world that she could never get out of a textbook in the US. 

No, I’m not making nearly as much as I once was, but I worry less about my income level on the road because it’s so much cheaper than living the US.

And I’m able to live a healthy life full of activity, delicious food, and heaps of time with my daughter. 

So if you’re curious how a single parent digital nomad can raise their children on the road, I ask you back: how can’t they?


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Are you looking for last minute gift ideas for Father’s Day?

Just because you remembered the most important guy in your life at the last minute doesn’t mean his gift needs to suck.

Honor the number one father in your life by showing him how thoughtful you are–even if it’s a white lie.

Here are 5 last minute gift ideas for Father’s Day this year!

*affiliate links present; they’re no extra cost to you, but a purchase through the link supports my blog 🙂 read the full disclosure here.

1. Kindles are on sale!

From up to 10 HD inches of glorious Android tablet games, videos, apps, and more are now starting at just $39.99!

2. Sunglasses for the summer.

I love this pair of Rayban Aviators.

And this pair of Rayban Justin RB4165. These. Are. Lit.

3. Gamer dads will love this.

VR has seen a significant price drop over the years. Here’s an affordable Samsung VR headset that offers heaps and piles of games to play for dads who love to game!

 4. Your gift might be late, but it can still be the BEST!

If you’re worried about your thoughtlessness impacting the quality of the gift, then invest in this bad boy! It’s a DJI Mavic Air and every dad’s best friend.

Seriously, he’ll freak out. I would. *Hint hint* to anyone out there who wants to show how much they love me 😛

 

5. For dads who work a lot.

Some dads work, all day, every day. They need work tools. Provide them.

This external hard drive holds 8 TB!

Everyone loves this Logitech mouse.

This webcam is straight up professional.

Father’s Day is an important day to acknowledge a person who has committed to his children in a way that is meaningful, responsible, and most of all, loving.

Father’s Day is really about celebrating the entire family, but it’s also a perfect day to let your dad, husband, brother, son, uncle, grandfather, or best friend know that you respect the work he does as a parent.

Get him one of these awesome gifts and he’ll love it. Even if you did only remember to buy it at the last minute.


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Is chocolate better with peanut butter? Does pineapple belong on pizza? Is Donald Trump a good president? Should I visit Discovery Bay with my kids?

There are lots of questions you and I may disagree on. But there is one question that is undeniably, unequivocally, abso-freaking-lutely a ‘yes’ to: the last one.

Good thing my single dad, parenting blog is here to bring you all the answers! 😛

Should I visit Discovery Bay with my kids?

Discovery Bay Hong Kong

Yes. Like I said: yes, again.

The beach is massive and has heaps of space available. Bring your own shade, however, because the massive beach has little of it.

The water is warm and pleasant with a sandy and clean bottom.

There are heaps of restaurants along the piernext to the beach and plenty of other establishments to explore including nearby grocery stores if you’re keen to bring some food and drinks to the beach.

What’s in it for the kids at Discovery Bay?

Well, the beach, for one.

But don’t miss the awesome zip line for kids!

You can watch this video of mine and Auburn’s day there where she took a ride on it. Needless to say, she loved it!

There is also a great playground right on the beach that the kids flock to.

What’s in it for the adults at Discovery Bay?

As I said before, food, drinks, and businesses are readily available in Discovery Bay.

The biggest draw for me is the ease of access. How to get to Discovery Bay?

If you make it to Central, head to Pier 3 where you’ll find a quick boat to Discovery Bay. After you get off the boat, you’re a 3-5 minute walk along the pier until you’re at the beach. It’s super easy to get there.

With mountains in the background and islands out to sea, it’s a wonderful place to relax.

So, if you’re asking yourself: should I visit Discovery Bay with my kids?

The answer is yes, you should.


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And don’t forget to follow The Single Dad Nomad on Facebook, Instagram, and on YouTube! See you around, my friends!

As a child, I always had a fascination with anything that crawled, slithered, or creeped through the garden. It’s no wonder I now have a fascination with the snakes in Hong Kong.

I would capture every animal I could to examine it further; I even once caught a bluejay a rake when I was in the fourth grade. Fish, lizards, scorpions, snakes, I loved catching them like they were Pokemon. Who knew this love would lead to a scary story in this single dad travel blog?

Thankfully, I was never stung by a scorpion. But I was bitten by snakes as a child, nothing dangerous. But I witnessed their speed and precision first hand. 

Doi Suthep, Thailand
Happy to be alive enough to tell you this story!

And though I was never bitten by a poisonous snake, teeth are teeth.

Now, let me tell you about the time that I missed death by three inches.

The Encounter, Snakes in Hong Kong

As I made my final descent through the mountains of Sai Kung, I reflected on the    unique juxtaposition of city and nature in Hong Kong   . How just a few hours prior you can be in one of the world’s most important financial sectors, and in this moment be encapsulated by green mountains filled with fluttering butterflies, chattering cicadas, and resting snakes. 

I spent the day soaking in the sun on Ham Tin Wan, possibly Hong Kong’s most beautiful beach. The day’s tranquility belied the danger I was going to encounter upon my exit.

single parent parenting blog
Hiking through Hong Kong with my dad and daughtr

I left the beach with a several hour hike through the mountainous jungles ahead of me. 

The trail was partially muddy, a patrol of mosquitoes rose from its sludge and chased my legs as I squished through the trail. Then I felt a strong bite on my left calf muscle. Mosquito, of course. 

I reached down to slap it, inspect the splatter of blood between my hand and lower leg. 

I saw my hand, and slightly out of focus behind it on the ground was something black and pulsing

My eyes dilated and rapidly focused on what I was seeing: hundreds of large, black, diamond-shaped scales wrapped around a curved tube of a body thicker than a softball bat.

snakes in hong kong
I think you get the idea. This isn’t the actual snake I saw, it was not in a woven basket.

Its scaly body pulsed in ominous breaths just inches from where my hiking boot had landed before being bit by the blood splattered mosquito on my leg. 

Time to Die, Thank You Snakes in Hong Kong

Easily within striking distance, the large snakes’ fangs inside its cotton-colored mouth could easily deliver enough venom to kill me.

In the best case scenario, my brain quickly identified, you’re going to be hit with neurotoxins and cardiotoxins, you need to remain calm after you’re bitten to slow their progress through your body.

Knowing I needed to keep calm, I instead jumped, screamed, and nearly lost my balance on the slippery trail. 

The black mass flinched and slithered off into the tapestry of leaves and ferns. 

Had I stepped on that snake–just three inches to the left–with my hard ass hiking boots, it almost certainly would have struck me in defense. 

Hours from the nearest hospital, and quite possibly, the nearest antivenom, I could have easily died in the lush mountainside of Sai Kung. 

Hiking in Hong Kong can be dangerous–would you risk it?


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Ladies, you’ve got me in a rage. I just tore a phonebook in half and bodyslammed my kitchen table. Why? Cuz I hate you and your single parent blog.

You might be saying, ‘whoa, whoa, calm down Nicholas, what did we do to you?’

My answer: nothing in particular; I just have problems. 😛

single parent blog and single dad blog
Me, frustrated by how awesome you are.

But there’s something you’re doing that ruined my day: you’re too awesome for me.

I Can’t Win as a Single Parent Blogger

I bust my ass taking photos, creating content, optimizing my language, distributing my creations, and still, you beat me. And it’s not even close.


You’re absolutely crushing my blog. Blogs like Wealthy Single Mommy, Confessions of a Single Mum, and Single Mother Ahoy all produce compelling content on a regular basis and are kicking my ass while being kick-ass mothers.

That’s why I’m enraged, in fact, I’m downright frenzied!

I checked my rankings on Google today and was incredibly excited for the first one I checked, ‘single dad blog.’

On Being a Single Dad Blogger

I’ve been hovering between page 2 and 3 for some time now and I’ve been working to move it up to page one and eventually to the first spot overall.

Today was the day I first saw my blog on page number 1!

single parent blog single dad blogger
First appearance on page number 1

Feeling confident, I moved on to the second keyword I wanted to check, ‘single parent blog.’

I wasn’t on page 1, nor 2, 3, 4, nor 5. I was on page 8.

I might as well be the left-over crumbs on the underside of the dinner plate compared to the feasts of content that are today’s single mom bloggers.

single parent blog single parent blogger
Hidden on page 8

Single Parent Blog Competition is Stiff

How am I supposed to compete with these freaks of marketing? These wordsmiths, zen-like parents, and givers of love and value? I’m not sure I can.

As for the other single dad bloggers, I’m coming for you. Every spot on page one of every keyword related to single dad blogging will be mine.

You’ve been warned.

But for you single mom bloggers, I’ll just try to keep up and not fall off page 8 into the depths of algorithmic hell.

|If you can’t tell this post is written tongue-in-cheek, I hate you, too|


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The Smell of Rubbing Alcohol

My feet clicked along the linoleum, one direction, then the other. Occasionally, I would stop and sit on the 3-person wide bench along the white wall and write down the recent events: 10:06am barely miss the down elevator. 10:15am stop at library. 10:45am get food @ restaurant I hate. 11:00am wait for bus; I want taxi. 11:12am get in taxi. 11:32am $93.50 HKD to taxi driver. 11:47am Miranda* checks in. 11:49am I am in waiting room.

single parent blog
Typical taxi in Hong Kong

Outside the air was heavy and a sparse fog made the orange street lights glow like jack-o-lanterns. Horns and sirens echoed through Hong Kong as life for 7 million people zoomed by during the most important moment of my life.

Inside, a large, circular, convex mirror hung in the corner, but no one was coming. Was I the only person waiting? 7 million and no others here? Where are the other-

The double doors swooshed open for a lady with a white face mask and a poofy, white hairnet that made her look a bit like a walking mushroom. The mushroom gave me a status update, refused me entry, and I wrote down what she had told me.

best single parent blogger
Hair nets look a little mushroomy.

            2:14pm Mirandas contractions hit one minute.

As much as I was hurting to finally be allowed in, I couldn’t imagine the pain she was in.


No Fear of Pain

“Are you sure you can handle it? You’re pushing a football through your body.” We had already agreed that short of having the birth at home in a tub, the more natural the labor process, the better.

“Mmmmm, no, but if it’s good for my baby then it’s good for me.” I was proud that my daughter would have such a strong mother, then thought about what it would be like pooping a football, and then felt deep relief that I am male.


Like Nat Geo

5:00pm Admission to labor room.

The first thing I saw of her was a little tuft of hair. It was matted to her scalp like someone had taken a warm sponge to it. The doctor said something in Cantonese, then a nurse handed her some gauze.

Out popped two brown eyes and a nose that a button would wear as a button. I don’t remember crying at this point; but, afterward, her mother would tell me that the nurses had kept asking her if I was okay.

top single parent blog
Have no shame crying man-baby

If I had understood Cantonese and been able to respond in kind, I probably would’ve laughed and cried even harder. Okay? Okay?! I was more than okay; I was rhapsodic!

Overjoyed, Overwhelmed, Overly Wordy

It’s often said that people who aren’t parents don’t know what it’s like to have a child; the love you feel is like nothing you’ve felt before.

So, what I tell them is this: imagine someone kidnaps you (this got dark quickly, I know, but stick with me even though it gets darker right now), chops off your arms, blinds you, removes your inner ear, and sterilizes you. Imagine it hardcore…like it’s real. You feel that dread and that horror?

It’s the exact opposite of that. It’s cup of water under a running tap; continuously overflowing and uncontrollable. It’s trying to hold back a wall of marbles; it’s too much, it completely takes over your entire world.

Only that running water and that wall of marbles are not wasteful nor painful. A parent’s love isn’t just the overflowing cup; it is the water, the spigot, and the drain. It’s not just a million marbles crushing you to the ground; it is the marbles, it is the ground.

It is everything.

After her face completely emerged, the rest of her seemed to slide out of a purple water slide. It’s not as gross as people make it out to be, at least not all the time. When you finally see it, it just is.

There is no judgment on the body fluids, the baby that looks like a sweet potato, or the tears pouring out of a grown man’s eyes. It just is.

And it’s beautiful.

A Fragile Moment

babies have no fear of pain
Auburn and I

The doctors wanted to push me to cut the cord immediately. But, as Miranda and I had discussed, we were going to wait a few minutes and let the last bit of placental food give our daughter the best start she could have.

She looked so helpless on her mauve towel. Limp little arms and legs wiggled as she adjusted to gravity. Lips and eyes closed and opened slowly. A few grunts, but not the screaming baby you see in the movies. Like I said: helpless.

The scissors sliced through the cord in one quick snip. The nurse clamped it shut and wrapped her in a towel. She picked her up and handed her to me. Every YouTube video, all the pantomiming, all the practice I put into holding a baby all came down to this one moment: don’t drop your baby, don’t break her neck.

And I didn’t.

With her head gently resting in the crook of my elbow, I looked down at her little face and saw the same look I still see in her eyes today: she knows I’m Dad.


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Three Unique Things to See in Asia that You Won’t See in the USA

If I wanted, I could write this post forever because there are such vast differences in the food, culture, and landscapes between the United States and Asia.

Also, they’re both gigantic and could feature an endless amount of content based on them.

I’m going to stick to 3. Not just three things, but three things I was able to capture on video (I’ll get better at this, I promise).

Here are three unique things to see in Asia that you won’t see in the USA. Courtesy of this single dad blog.

The Mekong Delta

Incredibly beautiful, exotic (in an American’s eyes), and relaxing. Unless, you hit the overcrowded, hawker-filled, easy-to-find tours that we did.

mekong delta vietnam travel
One of the few shots I could get that wasn’t filled with other boats/tourists.

It’s a mangrove of palms trees, home to countless numbers of birds, insects, fish, and things with four legs. I’ve always wanted to visit it ever since I saw it in National Geographic when I was a kid.

Nature was still there, but the main tourist destinations are anything but natural. People are constantly bugging you about money and trying to sell you something. I’m there to relax, so fuck off guy who wants money for showing me some bees I didn’t want to see.

travel mekong delta vietnam honey bees
Stupid bee guy. Nothing against the bees. Long live the bees.

You’re probably better taking a multi-day trip to the more remote parts of the delta if you really want to see what it’s like. I’m not sure, I only did the crappy tour I found in District 1 for $8.

More Motorbikes than Bike Week at Daytona Beach

Seems almost everyone in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and other Asian countries only drive motorcycles. Hondas and Suzikis are everywhere in these countries. Sometimes carrying an entire family.

motorcycle asia vietnam thailand cambodia
Become one with the shoal by renting one of these bad boys.

It’s madness. But it’s madness in the same way a shoal of fish is madness. Everyone moves together and it seems much more peaceful than the rush hour anywhere in the United States.

New Restaurant, Dirty Dishes

Apparently, many restaurants in Hong Kong don’t entirely clean the dishes they’re placing on your table. They leave behind soap residue and cleaning materials. Weird.

asia things to see and do
Thankfully, this is what post-meal looks like.

Normal. For locals. They have their own way of cleaning the dishes in a bath of hot water and tea before they eat. Maybe this is why no one leaves a tip here at the end of a meal?

Check it all out in the video below! Pardon the language, this is a single dad blogger here.


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So you want to live in Hong Kong? There’s heaps of beaches, a wild party atmosphere, mountains to explore ghost villages in, and some lovely places to take your kids. If you haven’t seen it, check out here for a quick idea of how life is for my daughter and me.

If you’ve gotten this far and you think, I can’t live abroad, you’re wrong. I’m a single parent, and I live abroad with my daughter. I’m from a small town in the middle of Michigan, there’s nothing special about me.

I didn’t leave the USA for the first time (except to Windsor, Ontario at 19) until I was 24. If I can do this, the only thing stopping you is you. Or, probably a million other things, but don’t let them get in your way. Do it.

single parent parenting blog
My dad came over to visit us in Hong Kong late 2017. Read that story here 🙂

If you’re wondering about the cost of living in Hong Kong, wonder no more.

Essentials Included in the Cost of Living in Hong Kong, per month

Transportation: $100

Taking a ride on Hong Kong’s MTR is an ultraconvenient way to travel. It’s cheap, fast, clean, and relatively uncrowded when you’re not traveling during the rush hour. The MTR is the city’s subway system.

Buses are ubiquitous in Hong Kong. There are so many; there are big buses and little buses, red buses and green buses. You literally can’t walk down the street without getting blasted by their exhaust pipes in some places, like next to Prince Edward Station. Buses in Hong Kong are affordable, safe, well-marked, and the plethora of information online regarding Hong Kong’s buses is excellent for mapping your route ahead of time.

Taxis and Uber are available. More expensive, but safe and they are everywhere.

Walking is ideal in Hong Kong if you’re staying in a tourist area. No reason to hop on transport at all if you’re within a kilometer or so of where you’re going. You’ll get to the city from ground level!

 

Ferries and boats are continually bubbling through the waterways of Hong Kong. Use them to cross from TST to the Island. Or take one to an outlying island and see what you can find. Highly recommended!

Overall, transport is relatively cheap if you avoid taxis. Shouldn’t be more than a few dollars a day if you’re using public transportation. Since travel is something impacting your cost of living in Hong Kong everyday, so might as well look for ways to save!

Food (local HK food, specialty cuisine, western food, groceries): >$300

Cooking in Hong Kong is difficult. Why? Space is limited in Hong Kong, so accommodations can be small. If you’re wealthy enough to afford an apartment that comes with a full-western kitchen, you’re probably not too worried about your money anyway, so I can’t imagine why you’re reading this.

I have a hot plate and a rice cooker/steamer, but I have to store them under my bed, and I cook on top of my fridge (just to give you a sense of space limitations in Hong Kong).

If you’re cooking, however, you can buy rice/noodles relatively cheap. Fruits and vegetables are reasonably priced in the wet markets (sometimes less expensive for locals than you), and if you shop around (like I do) between the nearest Wellcome, Park n Shop, and Vanguard you might be able to find some meat and yogurt (and sometimes even beer!) with a 50% off sticker stuck to it. That’s usually a good way to go.

Affordable ‘street food’ is available, but not like in Thailand. You can find plates of fried noodles, rice and (add ingredient), etc. for less than $2.50, even in the more touristy areas. Fast-food-style restaurants dot the ground level corners of Hong Kong’s buildings.

You could easily eat this for every meal and spend less than $10 per day on food. But do you really want to do that to your digestive system? No judgment, I love the occasional gut bomb.

Bakeries are abundant, and they offer everything from sugary donuts to tuna fish buns to banana bread to rolls stuffed with red beans. Most buns are less than a dollar, few are more than $2. If you get them warm, they’re extra delicious, but the bakeries are always a good option if you aren’t gluten-free.

hong kong cost of living, parenting blog
Seaside clams on Mui Wo. The plate was under $10.

There are a gazillion restaurants that can eat up your cost of living in Hong Kong. Chain restaurants like Cafe de Coral and Fairwood are yummy, and most meals are between $4-$7. Western restaurants like Outback Steakhouse are no stranger here. Some bars have great deals on burgers (like a place on the island that has an impressive burger and a craft beer for about $12, just wish I could remember where it was). Hotpot, Korean BBQ, and other buffet style restaurants usually let you eat all you can for an hour or two starting at $20. If you want to splurge and eat at something 5-star, Hong Kong has that, also, but your budget is going to soar.

Western comforts are everywhere. McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, 7-11 are all thriving in Hong Kong. Don’t get Pizza Hut though, get PHD, it’s way better here.

Rent: $400-infinity

Rent is wild in Hong Kong. $400 gets you a shoebox. Well, a bed, a bathroom, and no more, anyway. If you’re looking for an apartment akin to a modern apartment you would have in New York City, you’re also going to be looking at over $1,000 in rent each month. $2,000-$3,000/month isn’t an uncommon price for a relatively basic apartment on the island.

cost of living in hong kong
Hong Kong is filled with buildings like these. Each hold hundreds, if not thousands, of different living accomodations.

Rent increases every year in Hong Kong; it’s definitely the most significant contributor to an inflated budget if you’re picky about where you live.

My daughter and I live in a tiny place, but it doesn’t bother me. I actually prefer small areas because it’s less to keep clean and helps maintain my minimalistic ideals.

Utilities (electric, wifi, water): Free-$??

This will vary based on your accommodations. If you’re paying for everything yourself, expect your cost of living in Hong Kong to be similar in prices to the United States.

Internet starts around $30/month. I tether my computer to my phone. Why? My prepaid monthly plan gives me unlimited data for $12.50. Head over to Chungking Mansion in TST to find the guys selling sim cards and data plans.

Shop around between the shops until you find the features you want. I was previously paying $36/month for a similar service to what I have now.

Fresh Water: >$5

Bottled water prices aren’t inflated here, but they aren’t cheap either. You could easily spend a couple of dollars each day on bottled water if that’s how you’re getting your drinking supply.

I recommend you don’t do that unless you want to quintuple your cost of water.

Instead, have a refillable bottle (or two or three) and fill them at the children’s playgrounds where you’ll find fountains with cold water. Better yet, buy a several liter bottle with a handle when you first get here and refill that each time you need to. It’s how I survive!

Laundry: $40

If you’re doing laundry 4 times each month, you’ll probably spend $10 each time if you drop them off at a cleaner, depending on how many clothes you have. If you do them yourself at LaundryUp or a similar place they will be cheaper, just a few dollars each time.

School: >$200

Local or international? Montessori or corporal punishment style? Hong Kong’s schooling system is diverse and competitive. You can pay over $1,000 a month for the top international schools, or you can do like I did and send your children to a local school where they will learn Chinese like my daughter did. That school costs less than $200/month.

Bonus: her school paid for a field trip this year where they took us to Disneyland! My schools were never that cool; for one field trip in elementary, we went to my home because we had a pond. Yawn town.

Lifestyle Choices: $200

Everyone needs entertainment in their lives. The question is: what kind of entertainment do you enjoy? Hong Kong has everything you can think of: scuba, golf, parties, theme parks, boat excursions, the list goes on forever. Your cost of entertainment solely depends on what you like to do.

If you’re on the alternative side, street drugs are easily locatable in Hong Kong. Quality can be low (or superb), prices are high, dealers are shady, but the cops don’t seem to care too much (at least not enough to stop the obvious slinging in some areas).

Be warned: drugs are illegal here, and you’re not going to bribe your way out of an arrest here like you might in other Asian countries. Not only that, but the addition to your cost of living might not be worth the quality of the products here. Probably equally bad for your health.

Visas: Free, 3-month validity

You’ll have to leave Hong Kong to renew your visa (the easiest way is to hop on a ferry over to Macau and back) every three months if you want to stay any longer without finding a job and getting a working visa.

Tourist visas are free, fantastic! But they aren’t unlimited. Border hop too many times and you’ll be treated with a stamp in your passport that limits your future trips, even banning you for a year.

Side note: Hong Kong is passport friendly in the sense that they offer you a small slip of paper to place in your passport instead of taking up precious stamp real estate. Don’t lose this seemingly insignificant piece of paper though, you need it upon your exit. Otherwise, your first stop is to fee city.

Those fees don’t help your cost of living in Hong Kong, so avoid them by being organized.

Health Insurance: up to you, $100 for me

When considering the cost of living in Hong Kong, you should likely invest in travel insurance. You can receive travel insurance through your credit card, airline, or through the servicor I prefer: World Nomads.

I pay about $100 per month for both my daughter and me, and that covers anything I’m worried about. The piece of mind is well worth the cost, but World Nomads also does well in keeping its promise to pay out when you make a claim.

Total Cost of Living in Hong Kong for My Daughter and Me: ≈ $1395 per month

This price tag doesn’t include transportation in and out of the cost of living in Hong Kong and is a rough estimate based on the information provided and assuming going the cheapest route every time. And this is for a single parent blogger, not a lone traveler.

Even if you’re alone, that $1,395 could easily jump to over $2,000 if you aren’t paying attention to your budget or are living above the basics.

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