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Moving country, moving schools: Things to consider

It can be hard to move to a new country, especially if you're contending with a different culture and language. You may be a seasoned expat but this may be the first international move for your kids.

When you move, one of your top priorities will be how your family adjusts to their new environment, especially if you have children. Every child is different, as are the schools in your new home, and academics are just one part of a child's education.

The first factor to consider is cost, then think about the kind of schools you want for your children, and then work through the rest of this list to consider your priorities.

Learn more: Moving to the UK? Here's a checklist for your first 3 months

School fees

There's no point in applying for a school if you can't pay the tuition. Some of the priciest private international schools in the world can be found in Asia. The 3 most expensive places for an international education? Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe, at USD48,575 per year, followed by Beijing and Shanghai1. Local schools are more affordable, but sometimes only local or permanent residents are given priority, such as in Singapore.

In other parts of the world, local schools will usually charge a fee for international students to attend. School fees in Australia will depend on visas and grade levels, but parents can expect to pay AUD5200-6,200 per year2.

Taking out a loan to finance an international education is one option, but it's not the only way to go.

With some strategy and research, you can find a lot of other great ways to pay for those school fees.

As an HSBC Premier customer, you'll have access to professional education consultants through HSBC. They provide specialised services for elite US and UK boarding school and university admissions.

Transferring money overseas for school fees and tuition?

Is your child studying abroad and you're having to consider their tuition and living costs from afar? Exchange rates, remittance fees, and transfer times and limits will vary, depending on how you send the money.

If you're an HSBC Premier customer, you can send money transfer-fee free, using our Global View and Global Transfers service. Just link your worldwide accounts and instantly transfer up to USD200,000 per day between those accounts in many markets. You can also set up recurring transfers to the eligible accounts of friends and family, meaning you never have to worry about missing a tuition payment again.

To use Global View and Global Transfers, just register for online banking in the countries and regions where you hold eligible HSBC accounts and set it up online.

Learn more about opening an HSBC overseas account


Are you a fan of Montessori or do you prefer to home school? Or would you rather your child study in an International Baccalaureate Programme (IB) or take their A Levels? The curriculum offered by your school of choice should fit your child's educational needs and your future plans. Being able to transfer easily may minimise the disruption caused when you move back home.

A flexible curriculum, if you need the option for remote learning as well, could also be a consideration.


In many countries, local schools offer placements based on the area you reside. Most big cities in Australia use this system when assigning students to public schools and you'll need to show proof of address before they'll even consider your application. So the closer you live to a particular school, the better your chances are of getting a place there. The US and UK allow students to transfer schools, which gives kids access to schools of their choice.

International private schools are different because successful placements aren't dependent on the proximity of your home. You'll need to consider your child's commute and transport options, and whether there's a school bus for your neighbourhood. Commuting costs and timings should also be considered when you pick a school.

Languages offered

Research suggests that the best time to learn a language is from birth to age 10. If English isn't your child's first language, then moving to Australia while your kids are young would be a great opportunity for them to learn. There's no English fluency pre-requisite at Australian primary schools from kindergarten to year 6.

There may be a certain level of English proficiency required at UK international schools but no school can refuse to admit a child because of their nationality or immigration status. However, you'll still need to make sure your child has the right visa to study in the UK.

The best countries to learn English are the UK, Ireland, the US and Australia. For more information about schools and other essentials when moving abroad, check out our country guides.

All girls, all boys, or co-ed

Studies show that students attending single-sex schools in Singapore do better in academics than their co-ed counterparts. Some people believe it's because their children can flourish without distractions – ask the parents of any teenager! – and some hypothesise that the method of instruction changes to suit the students.

Parents who are fans of all-girls' schools say there's less gender stereotyping and the girls get more of their teachers' attention. Co-ed schools, on the other hand, are said to prepare students better for real life beyond school.

School holidays and term dates

If you're relocating to Singapore, it's good to know that local schools have long breaks in June and December, but international schools are on a different schedule. In most countries, Australian international schools enjoy their summer break over Christmas, when many expats might go back home for the holidays. If you have children in different schools, prepare to juggle multiple school calendars and holidays.

Academic ability and interests

You know your child better than anyone. With the right information, hopefully you can narrow down your options to help you choose the right school when moving abroad. Things to consider include school grounds and sports facilities, language learning support, performing arts opportunities, and extracurricular activities.

The UK and the US are consistently ranked as countries with the best education systems in the world. While your move abroad might be challenging, your kids can look forward to getting a world-class education and life-changing experience.

Learn more about international services

We can help you plan ahead for your children's future. Our partners provide comprehensive and professional education services, from school applications to assessments. Give your child a competitive advantage when applying for top boarding schools and overseas universities.

HSBC overseas education support and international services


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1 New research reveals the cost of international education around the world in 2019.

2 Summary of the fee arrangements for public schools, Study Australia