China / Society

Hong Kong elderly go north for retirement

By Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou and Dongguan, Guangdong (China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-28 01:22

Guangdong nursing homes boom offering quality care at budget rates

With her family elsewhere and her husband deceased, Ho Chan-va cooked a meal with the help of a care worker at the Guangzhou Shouxing Building.

The 90-year-old woman from Hong Kong, who moved into the retirement home after her husband died 10 years ago, said she has become accustomed to life in Guangzhou.

Hong Kong elderly go north for retirement

Ho Chan-va, from Hong Kong, looks at precious family photos at a nursing home in Guangzhou on Sept 18. She moved there after her husband died 10 years ago. ZOU ZHONGPIN / CHINA DAILY

"The living conditions are quite good here and the care workers are very nice," she said.

Ho had six children. Her oldest son died five years ago, while three live in Hong Kong and two in the United States.

"They visit me on special occasions like Mid-Autumn Festival. And I don't feel lonely, because lots of elderly people here, either from Hong Kong or locals, have become my friends," she said.

Like Ho, a growing number of elderly people from Hong Kong have moved into retirement homes in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, in the past two decades due to the high cost of living in Hong Kong and improving services in Guangdong.

About 69,000 elderly people from Hong Kong live in Guangdong, with more than 10,000 of them in Guangzhou, according to the provincial authorities.

Most of the elderly from Hong Kong live in the Pearl River Delta cities, including Guangzhou, Dongguan and Zhongshan.

Unlike most elderly people from Hong Kong, Ho does not depend on the old age allowance from the Hong Kong government, as she receives retirement pay.

The old age allowance is one of the major financial supports for senior residents of Hong Kong. The allowance for each elderly Hong Kong resident was HK$1,000 ($130) a month in 2009 and this was raised to HK$1,090 in February.

Ho grew up in Guangzhou, and moved to Hong Kong in the late 1950s for work.

Liang Yue, managing director of the Guangzhou Shouxing Building, which has space for 4,000 residents, said: "Some elderly people from Hong Kong like Ho have a strong desire to return to their hometown in their old age. They do not choose to live in Guangdong solely because of economic considerations. Hong Kong pensioners enjoy the same treatment as the locals.

"That partly explains why a growing number of elderly people from the neighboring region have come here after retirement in recent years. Good conditions and services, and low prices are the main attractions."

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