Hongkietown is 10 – Hello, I Must Be Going

Today marks 10 years since my first blog post. (See here for more details on that.)

And so, on the 10th anniversary of the blog, it’s as good a time as any to announce that I will be leaving Hong Kong after just over 17-1/2 years here. I’m moving to Manila at the end of January.

I don’t want to be overly dramatic about this but it does represent a seismic shift in my life. The reasons are purely financial – Hong Kong has simply gotten too expensive for me. I never bought a place here back when I could afford one and I will never be able to afford to buy one again. I can’t imagine retiring here and paying Hong Kong rents, or retiring into some government subsidized 300 square foot shitbox. Whether I should or should not have bought a place back when I could have afforded to is immaterial; I didn’t.

I can afford to buy a place in Manila, and quite a nice one at that, close to my office and more than 90% cheaper than a similar place in Hong Kong.  But I cannot afford to simultaneously pay rent in Hong Kong and a mortgage in the Philippines. Add in the age factor – in another year or two, I’ll probably be too old to get a mortgage. It was becoming clearer that it was a “now or never” situation.  And so it’s now. The house is chosen, the down payment made, the mortgage approved, the final papers will be signed before the end of the year.

For the past few years, to paraphrase LCD Soundsystem, Hong Kong I’ve loved you but you’re bringing me down. Hong Kong today is not the Hong Kong I first moved to in 1995 and it is not the Hong Kong I returned to in 2001. It is a territory that is managed by the rich for their own self-benefit. Hong Kong has a government that is controlled at every level by China and the billionaire property developers and has a vested interest in keeping things as they are or in tilting the field in their favor even further. There is no indication that things will change for the better (or my perception of that) in the near or distant future. “Patriotism” has been defined as maintaining the status quo rather than striving for improvement.  I increasingly feel that Hong Kong residents are like the frog in the pot on the stove – the pot starts off cold and the frog never notices how hot it’s getting until it’s too late and the frog is boiled alive.

I don’t mean to go off on a rant here (which I did, but since deleted).  I’ll simply say that Hong Kong is great if you’re rich. It sucks if you’re poor or middle class. This land was not made for you and me.

Yes, I do get that the Philippines is a third world country, or at least several orders of magnitude behind Hong Kong in many ways. I’ll probably find just as much to complain about there, possibly even more. I am not going to pretend that it is some kind of South Pacific island paradise.   I understand that there is crime, corruption and poverty, not to mention an infrastructure badly in need of renewal and upgrade. I know it is the natural disaster capital of the world. I’ve been traveling there on a regular basis since 1997 and I believe I have a good idea of what I am getting into and what the challenges will be.

If I was a millionaire, I might have chosen another destination. Tokyo or Paris or London or even New York. On the other hand, I’m comfortable there, I can find more of the things that I like there (even if some of them are relatively trivial, like Krispy Kreme or Dean & DeLuca), and I can go out at night for a fraction of the cost of going out in Hong Kong.  English is more widely used there and American brands are more widely available. I’m married to a Filipina so a permanent visa is not an issue.

I will still have the same job with the same company and I expect to be returning to Hong Kong every month or two for the foreseeable future, which means lots of opportunities to see friends and I can maintain my PR status.

I’ll still keep writing and photographing but I don’t think it will make sense to have a site called “Hongkie Town” when I’m based in Manila. (I don’t have an idea yet for a clever (or a stupid) name for a Manila blog. Any suggestions?)

I want to keep all of the Hongkie Town content online and available but the odds are that I will move it to a different hosting arrangement. This domain is for sale (along with honkietown.com, the most frequent misspelling of hongkietown.com) if anyone is interested in it.

(I’ll also be selling off quite a bit of stuff before the move – CDs, DVDs, books, furniture, appliances, car, the usual “expat leaving” stuff.)

So there you have it. In less than two months I’ll be saying so long Hong Kong, and thanks for all the fish. It’s been a slice. And thanks to all of you who have kept coming back here and reading my stuff and leaving your comments.

29 thoughts on “Hongkietown is 10 – Hello, I Must Be Going”

  1. I’ve been reading your blog religiously since moving here in 2011. My time has been short and you and I met once for a beer at 109. I wish you well. You will be missed.

  2. Hooray for Captain Spaulding! I look forward to reading about your newest adventure. It seems, to me, to be a very wise move. The best of luck, not that you will need it!

  3. been longtime reader since hongkietown exists…will miss your views…kind of shame not able to buy you a drink (alcholic or caffeinated…) in HK (either you were out of town or I am bouncing around the world…)

    Looking forward to your views of Phillipines and Manila…

    I still want to buy you a drink in person, maybe in Manila, however highly unlikely I am bouncing in Asia anytime soon….

    would you give/sell me the domains related to this blog? will contact you separately if you are interested…

  4. Best of luck. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog both before I went and after I left Hong Kong. Why not call the new Blog ‘Philli Bluster’?

  5. Have been reading your blog since 2004 when I stopped working in HK and needed a Wan Chai fix from afar. Your blog has changed a bit since then, still a great read.

    I’m excited for you. Good luck.

  6. Have been reading your blog off an on for about three years now. Appreciate your efforts at writing and discussing issues. Looking forward to your new incarnation of this blog and the new adventures about living in Manila.

  7. Best of luck Spike, have always really enjoyed your blog, you’ll be much missed. A new adventure in Manila sounds great, look forward to hearing about it. Thanks.

  8. Good luck Spike! I’ve enjoyed your blog so much over the years. It was nice to finally connect over LinkedIn.
    I look forward to your further adventures. Please get in touch if you are in Japan.

    1. It’s hard for me to believe but it’s now been 5 years since my last trip to Japan. I miss it a lot. Hope to get back there relatively soon.

  9. Wishing you all the best in the Philippines. Would it be too much to suggest a blogger’s farewell drink somewhere? Perhaps. I’ve read you for about 7-8 years. Not always in agreement with your point of view, but I always read you with respect and often with genuine enjoyment. The “life story” series was excellent. Fare thee well. You will be missed.

  10. From a distance, it’s felt like you’ve been leaving for a long time. I hope the move goes well for you & renews your passion for writing & photography.

  11. I never met Spike, and do not even live in Hong Kong, but reading this somehow gives me a sense of vague sadness.

    Anyway, it certainly explains the recent creep of nostalgia in the last few posts.

    Spike, may I suggest that you maintain this blog in some fashion even after you’ve shifted domains? Your perspective on Hong Kong’s changes, punched out every now and then during monthly jaunts, would likely be interesting and instructive in its own way.

    1. Thanks but there’s two parts. I’ll keep all this content online somewhere but all new blogging at some point will switch over to a new domain. That’s where I’ll post updates on HK trips.

      1. why don’t you start the new Manila blog? keep this hongkietown blog running (at a lower capacity) because you will still be in town at least 1x a month…kind of interested in your views of HK despite the fact you are not based in HK…things are still relevant, but with wider scope…(Manila…Hong Kong and how people view of China??)

        1. That’s an incredibly Hong Kong centric comment. I won’t be writing about my views of HK very often if I’m no longer living here.

  12. Gonna miss reading your Hong Kong related posts to be sure, but if you are dropping these domains, do be sure to update us on FB and / or G+ on your new domains.

    Good luck with the move and the new adventures. Looking forward to reading about them.

  13. Hope that you will post here or send an email/newsletter update when you figure out what your new Blog details are!

  14. Spike, you and I have shared a drink or 3, and while I haven’t commented for a while I still read your mumblings and enjoy your photos…so good luck with Manila, maybe a new Blog needs to be something simply titled with “Spike” in it.

    Hope you get back to SG one day or I get up to you.

  15. A warm welcome Spike, from Bacolod City and all the ex-pats here. Good move! I know I am truly enjoying living here now, I hope you will also.

  16. congrats and good luck. Of course you do realise that the week after you move, PCCW will manage to install 3 squillion terabyte broadband into your village…

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