Teaching Math and English in Hong Kong. It was my first ‘real job’ out of college, and I burned out in a few years. 

Can Single Parents Teach Abroad?

For a year, I taught (mostly) pleasant students, and dealt with amicable parents.

My next teaching job started a few months later, and it wasn’t the best.

I won’t complain about the conditions but I’ll just say I didn’t last long.

I taught for one month in Colombia before I decided that it wasn’t the right place for me.

can single parents teach abroad
It’s all for this little face right here! My prime motivator 😀

My next teaching job came a few months after that as a Writing Consultant for a community college.

My position made me the first point-of-contact for international students, and I taught them how to read and write at the university level.  

Overall, my teaching career was nothing to complain about.

It had its good parts and its bad parts like any job, but I don’t regret teaching for a few years, even though I burned out.

Teaching is a great way to get started traveling and living a life as a digital nomad.

It didn’t matter how pleasant or intellectual the students were, I just couldn’t teach anymore.

It wasn’t that I didn’t find satisfaction in seeing people grow in their education and working with students who were excited to learn, I did very much.

I just hated doing it on-the-clock, because the clock ate up the time I should be spending with my daughter. 

For the record, even the income from my community college teaching job left me working a second job: umpiring high school sports.

And that would keep me through the evening and early into the night. 

My number one goal is to spend as much time with my daughter as I can before she grows up and moves out from under my wing. 

single parent travel blog
More times like these, please.

So, I can’t work for a clock; I work for my time. 

A Man Not Made for the ‘Job’

There’s only been one job that I truly enjoyed doing on-the-clock, and that was working as a counselor at a summer camp in upstate New York.

Unfortunately, that job doesn’t exist year round and I’m too old too experienced for it these days. 

Other than that, I’ve always felt like the clock and necktie lifestyle just doesn’t work for me.

Sure, we all gotta do it.

Unless we design our own lifestyle. 

I went from tired teacher to trudging writer. 

single dad travel make money
A few of the journals where you can find my work.

Writing for a Living; A Single Parent Lifestyle that Works for Me

I like what I do now, it’s taken me two years of freelance writing to get to a point where I still worry about my writing prospects, but I also have the experience of succeeding through that worry.

2 years ago, I set a 10-year goal for myself to make writing a sustainable, full-time career.

I started by ghostwriting heaps of content, around 150 articles, before I got my first byline. 

 

single dad blog
Could definitely go for more of this.

Now, I’ve had a book published, poetry featured in several major magazines, gotten around 50 paid bylines, and have been quoted in Reader’s Digest and South China Morning Post 

I’m feeling more confident today than I was two years ago, and that’s a good feeling.

Not because it’s confidence, but because it’s confidence built off of a long-term dedication to hard work and slogging through the mud.

It’s taken me a long time to finally feel that reward system fire.

It took a commitment.

single dad travel blog
This is what I really committed to.

That’s what I did two years ago, and I’ve been grinding for 24 months.

With my 50th byline, I feel like I’ve taken my first step out of the mud and onto hard land, and now, drenched in the muck of progress, I need to shake it off and start climbing the mountain.


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When we got to Asia one year ago, I was committed to spending at least a year here so Auburn could learn her grandparent’s language. This wasn’t an easy choice; growing up in the countryside of Michigan, I learned to love the fresh air, the space, and the sounds of nature. Hong Kong has nothing of the sort (in most parts, at least). 

Moving to Asia with Children

As an asthmatic, I’m not a big fan of living in cities anyway, but one year was enough time for me.

move to asia with children
Hong Kong in the distance.

Now, I need to live in the fresh air again for a while.

My lungs and throat got sick 4 or 5 times over the past year and usually, I don’t get really sick like that more than once, maybe twice in a year. 

So, off to Thailand, to a  place we’ve lived twice before! 

To be honest, we weren’t planning on coming to Thailand this time.

single parent blog
A previous visit to this island.

We were planning on moving to Cambodia for the school year to try something new.

However, I overlooked a significant detail: Auburn’s passport expires before the end of the visa I would get in Cambodia, so they wouldn’t grant her a visa if we were to try. 

Thankfully, I noticed this before we made concrete plans to move to Cambodia to get the fresh air we needed.

single dad blog

My child and I decided we would return to a place we know and could practice something she’s been learning to love recently: swimming. 

For these Few Months in Thailand with my Child

After a few breakthroughs in the pool in Hong Kong, the island we live on now is a good step up from that.

There are plenty of pools to use, but the immediate access to the sea and coral reefs is going to be a good way to teach her to snorkel. 

We’ve practiced a few times this week already, and hopefully we can find some good weather to give it a go this weekend in the open blue!

I’ll catch some video for you if we do so you can see her first snorkeling experience in the ocean!

After Our Thai Visas Expire, Where Will We Go?

I’ll be getting a few documents in the mail soon that will allow me to apply for my daughter’s new passport.

We are going back to Hong Kong to do this because we can visit her family again, and I like the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong, it’s very efficient. 

That shouldn’t take more than a month to get the new passport in hand.

Once we have it, we will be moving to Cambodia at that time–our original plan!

Now that the final piece will be in place–the passport–we can then get to Cambodia and spend a year in the countryside where we can kayak, play basketball, swim, fish, and breathe fresh air. 

We’re both looking forward to it, but that will be later this year, of course.

single dad travel blog
We can get here in 30 minutes pretty easy. Top-notch snorkeling.

For now, we’re in Thailand and I’m excited to teach Auburn how to snorkel and freedive! 


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The gymnasium has already been swept up after Pre-K graduation. The teachers are breathing a sigh of relaxation. And I’m reflecting on this last year  living in Hong Kong  as a single parent. 

There’s much to reflect about in terms of my personal growth, business development, and physical fitness and health. But, since this is a single dad blog, I will focus this post on how my little family changed over this past year. 

living in hong kong
Being a single dad isn’t so bad!

My Relationship With My Daughter Improved

Before we came to Hong Kong, she was struggling with sleeping a full night’s sleep. As a single dad, I was dealing with this by myself and it was really wearing me down. 

My muscle tone was depleted, I was always tired, and as a result of my poor physique and tired mind and body, I was short with my daughter when she was whiny or in tantrum mode (which happens often enough that I was feeling like a pretty crappy parent at times). 

Now, one of the first things you might notice if you ever move to Hong Kong, is that your living environment is probably going to be much smaller than what you’re used to if you’re coming from the United States like me.  Like 1000 times smaller. 

If you know me, however, you know I don’t mind living in a small place 

And this time, I’ve found that it helped improve my relationship with my daughter.

Our small room in Hong Kong keeps us physically close, but we’ve also grown closer emotionally as she’s had the freedom to wake up in the middle of the night and sneak into my bed without waking me up.

No creaking doors, no squeaky floors, she just shimmies to the foot of her own bed, one-steps the gap to my bed, and crawls up next to me (or so I assume!). 

single parent travel blog
Auburn sleeping peacefully. With her underwear on her head! 😛

Sometimes she wakes me up by accident, but even so, single parent travel has been awesome with my daughter.

Since I’m physically close to her all the time, I’m also more keenly aware of her emotional state. I’ve been preventing tantrums as a result of seeing their onset early on and guiding her away from them. 

If you’re used to living in a big home and having lots of space to separate yourself from people, you might be surprised–like I am–to find that living in a small place can vastly improve the relationships in your life. 

single parent travel tips and ideas
Auburn in her scouts uniform in Hong Kong. They are known as Happy Bee 🙂

My Daughter Speaks a Language I Don’t Understand

Yup, you read that right. I have a 5-year-old who not only speaks a language I don’t understand, she also makes fun of me for not speaking it!

She’s just kidding with me, of course, and I love that she is speaking Cantonese! 

Seeing her speak with her Chinese grandma and grandpa–in their language–fills my heart, and I’m so proud of her for wildly exceeding my expectations in her language development. 

raising children in hong kong
Auburn and her Chinese grandma, grandpa, and half-brother

Living in Hong Kong Has Made Us HUNGRY For More 

Auburn and I have lived in Colombia, Thailand, Vietnam, USA, and of course we’ve spent time living in Hong Kong. Each place has given us a new perspective on life and encourages us to keep learning.

Now, after our year in Hong Kong, and despite the awesome outcomes we’ve achieved here, we are ready to escape the noise and hustle of the big city. 

living in hong kong, expat life
Auburn overlooking the city that has taught her so much this past year.

We both are yearning for consistently fresh air, easy access to the sea, and cheap, healthy food. 

That’s why I am ready to reveal to you where we are headed in just one week: Koh Tao, Thailand !

Of course, we’ve lived there before and it’s part of the reason we are going back. I love it there!

The school she goes to is awesome, the food is incredible, and I feel so healthy while I’m there.

In fact, I’ll take a before and after picture of my body, I won’t change my exercise routine at all, and I guarantee you that I will lose at least 8 pounds of fat–that I’ve gained living in Hong Kong and eating so much oily food–just from the diet we’ll be on. 

It’s a wonderful place. And that’s why we’re headed back for the next three months! I’m ready for more of this single-parent adventure travel!

Do you want to travel with your children one day? Let me know in the comments!


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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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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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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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Is there shame in being a shit parent? Yes. And guilt. And regret. And self-loathing. But it’s not the end of the story.

Parenting isn’t easy is fucking hard. There’s no sleeping in if you stay up late, you occasionally get another person’s poop on your fingers, and half your ice cream always gets stolen by someone a third your size.

how to be a better parent
Snarfing ice cream.

But those are the easy struggles.

Sometimes you have a 4-year-old, virile monster who won’t settle down, refuses to relax during their bedtime stories, and keeps yelling for food and water when they literally just filled their bellies with both. And half my ice cream.

How I Know I’m Shit

It’s right about 45 minutes into that situation that I lose my shit.

As negative reinforcement for her already scrambled emotional-state (exhausted and playful at the same time) I take away a book each time she gets rowdy, then a stuffed animal, then they’re all gone, and she loses her back tickle.


Her emotional state deteriorates because I’ve just removed her bedtime routine entirely as a punishment for not following her bedtime routine. Great idea, Dad.

So she starts yelling and screaming in frustration, as toddlers sometimes do. So I threaten to put her things in the garbage. She doesn’t stop. Garbage bin: book. She screams.

Garbage book. Screams. Garbage book. Yells. Garbage stuffed pig. Screams. Garbage stuffed elephant. Wails. Garbage stuffed panda.

how to be a better parent
All the things I threw away.

It doesn’t stop until we’re both mentally and physically exhausted and pass out upset with each other.

Then comes the morning. The wake-up routine goes perfectly well, and I take her to school.

On the public bus ride back to my home it hits me like a baseball bat: I’m a shit dad. I handled the previous night like a rookie.

Where do I go from here? I asked myself a question, “how to be a better parent?”

I took myself on a three-step process to right where I had wronged.

If you’re how to be a better parent, do what I did.

Take These Three Steps to Know How to Be a Better Parent

be a better parent
Me, being a good parent.

Step 1: Recognize It and Admit It.

Say it with me: “I did something shitty. I can do better.”

This is probably the hardest part because you have to own it. But taking that ownership and letting go of the idea that you’re a great parent is freeing up yourself to committing to better. You’ll set your goals higher for yourself because you know you can improve.

Once your goals have been refocused, step two is a bit easier.

Step 2: Act Sorry.

When learning how to be a better parent, it takes effort. When I got Auburn home from school, I had her books and her stuffed animals laid out on her bed.

She’s very perceptive, “I thought you threw these out!”

“I did. And that was wrong,” I put my hands on her cheeks so she would look me in the eyes. “I overreacted yesterday, and I’m sorry about that.”

be a better parent
We usually get along 🙂

I’m not sure exactly what was going through her mind at that moment, but I hope it was understanding. Understanding that I’m not perfect, and that’s okay, even though my reaction wasn’t. Understanding that I’m trying my best and I can admit when I’m wrong. Understanding that I love her, even if I don’t always show it.

The important thing here is that I’m not just saying I’m sorry, I’m acting sorry. Her books and animals were cleaned and placed nicely on her bed. I made eye contact with her while I sincerely apologized.

It goes a long way, and if you’ve set your new goals to reach that standard of recognizing and reconciling your mistakes, you’re already on the path to becoming a better parent.

That brings us to step three.

Step 3: Do better.

I’m not going to be using my negative reinforcement tactic of throwing away books and toys anymore. It’s counter-productive and only escalates the situation. I want to honestly know how to be a better parent.

how to be a better parent
She’s generally a happy kid and makes it easy to be a parent.


That doesn’t necessarily mean that my next tactic is going to be a useful and effective one, but I’m going to try.

I’ve been reading about using fewer words and remaining nonchalant in times of stress; enacting those behaviors have been a different story, but I like to think I’m improving.

And that’s what step three is all about: doing better. It’s about making an effort by reading, exploring, and experimenting with what works for you.

All you have to do now is repeat steps 1-3 for the rest of your parenting life, and you should eventually be a substantial parental figure.

how to be a better parent
Is your kid this cool? Mine is, duh.

Parenting is a wild ride–are you in control?

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