TWO years ago, many Hong Kong nationals began uprooting their lives and moving to the UK to escape their home countries changing environment, and Warrington has become a popular choice of place to make a fresh start.
Many couples like Rose and Wilson Cheung have purchased properties in the town with the pull of reputable schools and reasonable house prices drawing many nationals in.
Rose Cheung explained how she chose to move to Warrington to live a ‘simple’ and ‘stress-free’ life with her husband and young children, without the pressures the education system in Hong Kong holds on children of all ages.
The mum-of-two said how she has ‘struggled’ watching her daughter come home every day from primary school with ‘8-10 pieces of homework’ most days.
“One Tuesday, my daughter had homework since finishing school at 1:15pm, we had a quick lunch and I sat for three hours with her doing homework and prepared dinner for them, we had only 10 minutes for dinner, and she went back to here homework until 9pm.”
Since moving to Great Sankey in August, Rose said she has felt ‘welcomed’ by locals.
“I would love to say a big thank you to all the local people,” Rose said. “People who like us and who show us lovely smiles on the street which I rarely felt in Hong Kong because I would say Hong Kong is an ideal place for job opportunities but not an ideal place to live in.”
Rose said how her life in Hong Kong has been challenging up until moving to Warrington with inflation rates in the country ‘tightening’ family life and the housing market ‘increasing’ for several years.
“Hong Kong people are well known for working really hard. Most of us work hard for a lifetime just to afford a small flat in a block. Hong Kong used to have reasonable market prices for flats, however every single flat gets smaller and smaller, flats have been increasing for years which has made our lives even harder.
“I raised my kids on my own with my job and with my husband working long hours. We moved to Warrington because we would love to live a very simple life with our children and with no stresses.”
Owner of a Hong Kong bakery on Buttermarket Street, Cheryl Chan, explained that the great location between larger cities and the low house prices were selling points when it came to choosing Warrington.
“I think many considered it to have good job opportunities and traditionally in Hong Kong, people think ‘live and work in peace’. This means having a stable house means we can then have a happy new life.
“Therefore, many Hong Kong people prefer buying a house here and settling down.”
Meanwhile Renata Yu, a former piano tutor in Hong Kong moved to Warrington in August with her husband and five-year-old daughter, choosing the area as a perfect place to settle and start up a new business.
The 28-year-old rents an apartment in Grappenhall and has opened a play café named ‘Good Shepherd Fairytale Play Café’ on the outskirts of town on Old Road.
“We are happy in Warrington and the people in the surrounding areas are really nice,” Renata said. “The schools here are good and the environment is very peaceful and comfortable.”
The couple run the café which has a large playroom and can be rented out for parties. Renata’s husband Edward worked as a professional photographer back in Hong Kong and so the pair also offer family photography sessions.
Renata said how her daughter has now settled into reception and has adapted to school life in Warrington well.
Explaining why she left her home in Hong Kong she said: “I have my children to consider and our future. I want to protect my children.
“I do miss Hong Kong, but I think I have a better life here,” she added.
Since the shift in Hong Kongers settling down in Warrington, the housing market has noticeably changed with houses flying off the market and many claiming to struggle to get their foot on the ladder.
Tesh Patel, an estate agent for Hamlet Homes is no stranger to the chaos of the current housing market but claims the rush from Hong Kong buyers has ‘slowed down’ and it is now an ‘equal playing field’.
“The issue last year was that local buyers were selling their properties for these fantastic cash offers but were then still up against the same competition and offers when they were buying.
“Now Hong Kongers have realized that purchasing second hand is negative equity and are purchasing new builds so competition has decreased massively,” Tesh explained.
“Initially the first wave of Hong Kongers to move to Warrington were the ‘risk takers’, they knew what they were offering was well above the asking price, but they just wanted a home for their family.
“The people who first moved over have invested heavily in property and so new Hong Kongers moving over will rent off them and then start viewing houses slowly – it’s not a rush anymore like it was at the start.”
“A year ago, it was really hard for local buyers but it’s an equal playing field now,” Tesh said.