Leaving HK in my 60s is not easy, but home is where my children and grandchildren are ⦁ 60多歲移英經驗:「我嘅仔女同孫喺邊,我嘅屋企就喺嗰度。」

May is a grandmother in her 60s. When her daughter and son asked if she wanted to move to the UK with them now that the BNO Visa is a reality, she was hesitant to give up her life in Hong Kong. Even though flying between the UK and Hong Kong regularly would be even more difficult when she gets older, she decided to come to the UK with her husband, children and grandchildren. The three generations moved to the UK in October 2020.

To adapt to a new life at your age is not easy. Why did you move in the end? ⦁ 喺呢個年紀要適應新生活其實好難,犧牲好大。最後點解你決定移民

I always told my children if they were to immigrate, they should only do it after I passed away. Frankly I did not want to leave Hong Kong.

But, Hong Kong is no longer a place that we could live in. My home is where my children and grandchildren are, so I decided to move to the UK with them since this is what they want.

It was a difficult decision. From the guilt of leaving my friends behind, to the worries of selling our flats in Hong Kong and other complexities of the move… Many times I wondered, can I really give up what I have in Hong Kong?

It is a big change for me.

I am used to living with a helper in Hong Kong. As I get older in the coming years, can I manage and do all the housework on my own? It’s not difficult so far, but it will become an issue.

I am also saying goodbye to my friends and my work in Hong Kong. I was volunteering at my church for a long time to help counsel people with depression. Leaving Hong Kong means leaving that meaningful role. I am still trying to find a Cantonese church in London.

What is your tip for those in their 50s-60s in adapting to life in the UK? ⦁ 五六十歲長老移民比較難適應,你有乜嘢體會

For elderly people, it’s important to try and make friends. That is why I am looking forward to finding a Cantonese church that I can go to. It will help if we could talk to people of similar age and who speak the same language.

We also have to think positively. I see moving to the UK as starting a new chapter of my life, and to have this opportunity in my 60s is a blessing. I spent most of my life for my children, and never had the chance to explore myself in life. I am grateful to be able to see more of the world at my age.

What also works for me is I do not compare Hong Kong with the UK. What works in Hong Kong may not work in the UK, we have to adjust. I am trying to appreciate the differences between the two places, and I genuinely think I am broadening my horizon.  

What do you struggle to adapt to in the UK thus far? ⦁ 英國最難適應嘅係乜

It gets dark so early in the UK, that’s something I am still adjusting to.

I feel a little lonely at night. With all my friends still in Hong Kong, it’s very noticeable that once it gets dark here, all my chat groups would fall silent because of the time difference.

One of my biggest concerns has been – what if I need to undergo an operation in the UK? My English is good enough to communicate with our neighbours but is it enough to talk to a doctor about a surgery? It’s a practical concern.

Note: In the UK, you can get an interpreter for free whether for a GP appointment or for an operation. If you are seeing a GP, you can request real time interpretation through a telephone line. If you are scheduled to have an operation in the UK, ask the GP to state in the referral letter that you would require an interpreter on the day. More in our previous article.

What is great about living in the UK for you? ⦁ 你鍾意英國生活嘅乜嘢

When we were in Hong Kong, I kind of live with my children and grandchildren as we turned two flats right next to each other into a big one.

It’s not easy to do that in the UK, so we now all live separately – and what a relief that is! I love my family but having my own space right now is a good change. My husband and I are now truly enjoying our retirement life.

I do miss Hong Kong food very much though!

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