Q&A with Jeff the civil engineer who moved here 2 weeks ago ⦁ 落地兩星期嘅工程師點適應生活

Family of three

Jeff Chu left Hong Kong and arrived in Altrincham, Greater Manchester less than two weeks ago in early August. A civil engineer in his 40s, he came with his wife and daughter. Bracing for a potentially lengthy period of unemployment due to Covid-19, Jeff is hoping he will be able to get a job or start a new company in six months’ time and embark on to a new chapter of his life. 

How did you pick an area to live and did you visit the UK to research? ⦁ 你點樣揀邊度住,同埋有冇事先嚟做research

We decided to move in 2019 and came to the UK twice to research the areas we like and to arrange school tours for our 10-year-old daughter. Each trip was about two weeks long, and we would drive from Surrey to Amersham and St Albans, up to Milton Keynes and Manchester. I picked these areas by studying the train lines in the UK. We picked Altrincham in the end and I know a lot of Hong Kongers are interested in this area recently. 

What do you like about Altrincham so far? ⦁ 你點解鍾意 Altrincham

It is cheaper to live here compared with Hong Kong. I think it really is possible for families to pay their mortgages by moving to the UK first and then find a job here. Altrincham has a lot of middle-class families, and our neighbours are very helpful and friendly. My daughter already made friends with our neighbours’ kids. We enrolled her into an independent school because it’s the only one around with a school orchestra that she can participate in.  

You were a civil engineer in Hong Kong, is it easy to look for a job here? ⦁ 喺香港嘅時候你係工程師,嚟英國搵工易唔易?

I was on a six-figure salary in Hong Kong. I haven’t found a job yet and I am mentally prepared for a long period of unemployment. I have given myself six months to find a job that works for me or start a new company. I recommend others to use Indeed and other generic job search sites to find jobs. Some of the civil engineers may have to become a qualified member of ICE (MICE) to have UK recognition for their ability and skills. 

What has been the biggest challenge since coming here? ⦁ 移民暫時最大嘅挑戰係乜

When we left Hong Kong, there was no farewell party because of Covid-19. I was sad we didn’t get to say goodbye to our friends and family. But I have to say I’ve been very happy since being here. I am happy we picked Altrincham and feel comfortable living here. Some of my family members are also considering moving here using the BNO visa, so I see myself as the first adopter(開荒牛)so I can share my experience with them later.

What is your advice for Hong Kongers planning their move now? ⦁ 有啲乜嘢提議比準備移民嚟英國嘅香港人

Please do not move to an area just because it’s recommended by others. Only you know what is good for your family – I focused on safety, schools and community life. Visit the area and make sure you and your family are happy with it before buying any property. Some flats and houses being advertised on social media are terrible, so don’t buy just because the property is cheap. Many of us are desperate to move to the UK but don’t rush. Once you found the right area, everything will fall into place. 

Finally, be prepared that it will take some time to find a job here. Both my wife and I have given up our jobs to move to the UK. We are living on our savings right now. We are telling ourselves that we have six months to find a job or start a new company. We will see how it goes then, but I am optimistic. 

Image: Jeniffer Araújo on Unsplash

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