Employing a maid can be a mixed experience. The majority of domestic staff are young ladies either from Indonesia, the Philippines or Thailand. The business is controlled by a cartel of agencies who source and train in the home country while the Hong Kong agent attempts to find them a suitable employer. The contract that is entered into is a standard two years, which is also the duration of the visa issued by the Hong Kong Immigration Department. The maids are issued with Hong Kong ID cards, but their time spent in employment does not lead to any king of residency.
Fees charged by the agencies to seem to vary both to the maid and the prospective employer. Generally the Filipinos pay significantly less and are treated better than there Indonesian counterparts. Visa applications granted between 1 August 2008 and 31 July 2013 do not incur the $2,400HK levy. A monthly food allowance of not less than $740HK should be paid if no meals are provided. The minimum wage is a big issue and if past there is the possibility that the helper (FDW) Foreign Domestic Worker's will be excluded from the legislation. Currently the minimum wage for visa purposes is $3,580HK this would be confirmed by the agency.
Filipinos tend to be favoured by overseas nationals because of their command of English is significantly better. However, domestically most employers say the Indonesian girls are better around the home, taking care of children and are very loyal. Conversely, local residents favour the Indonesian maids as English isn't normally spoken in the home as the first language. They tend not to pay the statutory salary or give regular days off and public holidays. Filipinos will confront employers over their obligations and will make use of their agency and the Hong Kong Labour Department to resolve any grievances. Indonesians are less likely to take that course of action. They risk having their contract terminated and for them to change employer requires them to return to Indonesia.
Some of the Hong Kong expat sites have sections in their blogs dedicated to the subject. At any interviews we suggest you check out the situation at home. Some may be married with children, have elderly or infirmed parents. They could easily be the sole source of income. Others want to buy land build a home or start a business. While others don't know and are here for a good time, that has a whole different set of implications.
Some relationships between the employer and the maid work particularly well. Some employers when they leave Hong Kong want to take their maid with them. In some cases this is possible, but you need to check if your home country allows you to do so.
Some of the international schools are very strict about your children having a dependent visa before they will enrol them, others less so. There are different curricula on offer, providing children with an education in line with their home country. Some examples are Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Singapore the UK and US academic structure. Each school has its own enrolment policy and application process that usually require an entrance exam and the submission of previous grades or reports. Also a medical/report including immunisation records and/or a questionnaire. It's best to book early, traditionally they have long waiting lists and demand outstrips supply.
Not forgetting the various universities that are of international acclaim offering full and part-time courses. For those that are considering some course of study in Hong Kong and are not resident or on a dependent visa will need a student visa. Despite being accepted and paying your fees, if the course is available in your home country immigration may have a problem with your application.