Thursday, 16 April 2015

Five things to do with our new Expat Explorer interactive Hub

At Expat Explorer we've been swapping tips, reviewing far flung expat destinations and sharing our perspective, as well as yours, for more than seven years and we feel it’s time for us to take the next step in our evolution.

Our beautiful new hub, click to through to explore

Today we launch our brand new Expat Explorer hub. The hub is your one stop shop for all our interactive expat tools, from old favourites like our Expat Explorer survey interactive map, to brand new additions like our 34 dedicated Expat Country Guides, there is plenty to get your teeth into. But where to get started?

1.       Create your relocation checklist

Would you know what you’d need to bring if that golden job opportunity in Hong Kong came through tomorrow? In our new country guides you can create your own customised interactive checklist and feel better prepared for that dream move.

2.       Watch our crowdsourced video using hints, tips and insights taken from the expat community

Expats have shared almost 1,700 hints & tips through our website over the years and countless more have been sent to @expatexplorer. We’ve collected some of the best expat tips and collaborated with animator, Tim Keeling, to work his magic with these different expat perspectives to create a short film celebrating expat life.

3.       Read up on the cultural quirks of your next expat destination

Unsure about dress conventions in the Middle East or what saving ‘face’ means in China? Now there is no excuse for being unprepared with our country guides. Whilst you’re at it you can read up on the education, accommodation and healthcare in your dream expat destination too.

4.       Find the best country in the world for you

Our interactive map shows the best countries for expats based on career prospects, the culture and raising children, but no two expats are the same! On our interactive tool you can search for destinations that have a good work life balance, great local food and encourage your children to be more outgoing. Expats can select from the options and criteria that are most important to them to discover the best expat locations.

5.       Submit a top 5 list to our hints and tips website

Think you can write a great top 5 list about life abroad? Create your own here, and share your thoughts about life as an expat. Perhaps you know the best markets in the world, the must-see places in Europe or the 5 best tips for making friends, your only challenge is finding something original to say.

If you’ve made the move abroad, we want to hear from you! The 2015 Expat Explorer survey is now open! Take 15 minutes to help fellow expats by letting us know your views on life abroad and spread the word by using #EESurvey15 on Twitter!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

An Expat Guide to Uncovering London

Moving abroad can be a daunting prospect, especially when that move is to one of the most populated and busiest cities in the world: London.  Expats arriving in London for the first time may feel equally overwhelmed as excited.  When balancing a new job with adjusting to a new city and home, there’s a lot to think about – so here’s our pick of the best ways you can uncover your new city, one day at a time. 

Through history
To discover the heart of London, it is important to look back and understand its history. London has such rich history going back more than 2,000 years.  It is the home of notable cultural attractions, incredible parks, landmarks, great architecture, and many old pubs, which each tell their own story. You can’t underestimate the benefit that’s to be had in simply going for a wander around the different areas of the city. Not only will you discover the well-known historical monuments like Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge (to name a few!), but it’s a great way to absorb the varying architecture, atmospheres and crowds that you’ll find in different, lesser known parts of the city. 

Through culture
For the culture vultures out there, London is a great place to be. With an array of museums, you’ll always have a place to get away from the rain which so often characterises London. Try the Kensington area to find some of the larger best-known museums, which contain exhibits on everything from British monarchy, through to scientific advances and natural history. There are plenty of other smaller, less mainstream museums too which nestle in different parts of the city and are well-worth exploring too.

Through markets
Dotted all over the city and offering everything from antique typewriters to fresh fruit and flowers, following the trails of London’s many outdoor markets are a great way to discover the depths of the city.  If you have an interest in dance, fashion, photography or tradition, it’s definitely worth a visit to Covent Garden. This bustling stretch is one of London’s oldest and most popular markets, which offers everything from entertainment to food and drink to fashion.  Or if you feel like mixing with London’s hipsters, head to Brick Lane market for some overpriced vintage gear and delicious street food, particularly curries. Get lost and go people watching: soak up the atmosphere, admire the fashion sense of locals or pick up decorations or fresh flowers for your new home. 

Through food
For many, London’s rich food diversity makes up a large part of the city’s appeal –a likely result of the wide diversity and different ethnic groups which make up London’s population, and it’s bound to open up the eyes of even the most well-travelled expat.. London has countless restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world, with specific parts of the city often catering to a particular type of cuisine. Different ethnicities and cultures can be found in different geographic areas of London; for example if you are looking for good Asian cuisine it best to head to East London. To get the best afro Caribbean food and culture then South East, South West and North London are the best places to visit.

London’s rich and multicultural setting truly has something for everyone – and although Londoners have a bad rep for being miserable, most newcomers do find the city welcoming and friendly.
Remember – to explore is to understand. So get out there!

If you've made the move abroad, we want to hear from you, the 2015 Expat Explorer Survey is now open! Take 15 minutes to help fellow expats by letting us know your views on life abroad and spread the word by using #EESurvey15 on Twitter.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The top adventures every expat should have as part of exploring their new home

To fully experience your new home, you need to immerse yourself by diving into the experience and becoming inspired by your new culture. Moving abroad is one of the biggest adventures of a lifetime, but don’t feel shy, you may be surprised by what you find just on your new doorstep.

Here is our guide to hitting the ground running and making the most out of the new experiences each day will bring. Make your stay an adventurous one!

Get lost: Leave the house and go for a walk, take different turnings and see where you end up.  You could get on a bus or train and ride it to the end. You never know what you might stumble upon along the way!

Stroll around the local markets: A local market is a fascinating place; it will allow you to find out all about the unique local produce from food to fabrics, and clothes to ornaments. It can become a fascinating exploration into how local people go about their day to day shopping and trading and a great way to get to know some of the local characters!

Go to a festival: Local festivals are another great way to experience the uniqueness of your new environment. Have a go at learning the local dialect; it will help you get to know the locals who will enjoy sharing their culture with you. If you need a helping hand, here is our guide to the festivals from around the world that you won’t want to miss!

Try out the local cuisine: Go to a restaurant where the menu is only in the local language; again you will definitely try something new! Be adventurous and try and find something from the menu that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the world.

Get a registered local taxi: One of the best ways to get to know a new place is to take a trip in a cab. Local taxi drivers won’t be shy with their view on their hometown and often have a wonderful insight of knowledge and information about your new local town and its people.

Recreational Activities: Get out of the city and into the countryside and see what life is like away from the hustle and bustle. – Or if you’re staying somewhere quieter, head for the nearest metropolitan hub. If you’re into sports, why not try out the recreational clubs? As well as keeping fit, getting involved in team sports is another good way to make new friends.

Whatever you choose to do; the most important thing is to have fun and be open minded. Remember this is a new experience in your new home, so enjoy it!

If you've made the move abroad, we want to hear from you, the 2015 Expat Explorer Survey is now open! Take 15 minutes to help fellow expats by letting us know your views on life abroad and spread the word by using #EESurvey15 on Twitter.

Monday, 30 March 2015

City in Review: New York

New York has often been described as the city of dreams, a buzzing, cosmopolitan hub on a relatively tiny island – and it’s easy to understand why many go and fall in love both with the city and its people. Furthermore, according to the findings of our 2014 Expat Explorer survey, almost half (49%) of expats who head to New York tell us they have found a life partner there. 

New York has something for anyone who craves the exciting city life. If you fancy a change of pace with work, the city is a great place to advance your career as many of the top global companies have offices there.  

 For those who love fashion, moving to New York allows you to immerse yourself in one of the international hubs for haute couture design.  Whether you love high end designers or the artsier scene, there is a district with a trend culture to suit all tastes. Areas like Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the East and West villages which are a little more off the beaten track are often popular with expats looking to experience a more authentic NYC – and the shops in these areas are definitely worth a look, whether you’re after an outfit to help blend in with the locals or furnishings for your new home.

And for foodies dreaming of an expat life with larger than life food, New York has hundreds of restaurants serving cuisine from all corners of the globe.  With so much choice and local specialities that often come super-sized, there is no doubt about it, this is definitely also a city for foodies! You’ll find that New Yorkers also tend to be walkers – and a move to the city is likely to have a similar effect on you. The good news is that a move to this city means you’ll probably walk more and pounding the pavements means you’ve got far more leeway to make the most of the amazing cuisine that tempts you at every block. 

Given the amazing food on offer, it’s unsurprising that a lot of New Yorkers tend to eat out most of the time and don’t spend a lot of time in their apartments. Usually built high-rise and close to one another, these buildings don’t tend to offer residents a lot of outside space but with so many beautiful green spaces in the heart of the city – not least Central Park – even the most outdoorsy of expats are bound to be happy. With brilliant train and transport links, you’re not far from quieter towns or more suburban spaces like Connecticut, Philadelphia or Boston, which are other great places to explore at the weekends.

The atmosphere of New York may have an air of being rushed at times. But for those who have been, you will know that the local New Yorkers are always keen to help and talk about the city they love.And in this city, you might just bump into some of New York’s more famous residents. The city is the chosen home of Daniel Radcliffe, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio and music royalty, Beyoncé and Jay Z just to name a few. 

If you have ever dreamed of being in the movies, living in New York can feel like you’re on the doorstep of a film set.  By exploring this city it is easy to stumble across some familiar surroundings from the big and little screen

What’s your experience as an expat in New York? Tweet us or leave a comment below! Plus, if you’re a big fan of the States in general, also check out our blog on the USA here.  

If you've made the move abroad, we want to hear from you, the 2015 Expat Explorer Survey is now open! Take 15 minutes to help fellow expats by letting us know your views on life abroad and spread the word by using #EESurvey15 on Twitter!

Friday, 27 March 2015

How to say ‘I love you’ in the world’s most romantic countries for expats

Last year, our Expat Explorer survey revealed some of the most romantic places in the world, based on how respondents answered the question, “Would you agree that you’ve found a life partner in your new country?” According to the findings, the countries where expatriate romance most abounds are Italy, the UK, Russia, China and the Netherlands. On these romantic shores, around half of all expats said they found love!

Italian passion

Italy, perhaps unsurprisingly due to its connotations with all things romantic, was the number one destination for expat love, according to the participants of the Expat Explorer survey. And the Italians can also lay claim to the most romantic day of the year – Valentine was a priest who defied the Roman emperors’ order to ban marriage between lovers during wartime by marrying them illegally in secret. When this came to light, he was put to death on February 14th and later named a saint by Pope Gelasius.
And the most famous story of romance of them all? Romeo and Juliet, of course. In Verona, Valentine’s Day is celebrated with a four-day series of events. A giant red heart is painted in the centre of the main piazza, and heart-shaped lanterns decorate the city.

To do as the Romans do, say: Ti amo

                        (Image source: creative commons / virussushi)

The Whimsical Welsh

In Wales, Welsh lovers give each other “love-spoons”, an ancient tradition that started when Welsh sailors would carve intricate wooden spoons and present them to a lady they were interested in courting.

The Welsh way: Rwyf wrth fy modd i chi

From Russia with love

Romance is blossoming in Russia, it is still traditionally celebrated in the international fashion of love letters, red roses and candlelit dinners. 

To tell them you love them, say: Я люблю тебя (Ya lyublyu tebya) – I love you!

Charmed in China

The Qixi Festival in China celebrates the mythological story of the cowherd and the weaver girl, and falls on the seventh day of the seventh month on the Chinese calendar. The earliest known reference to this famous story dates back to over 2,600 years ago!
On the day, girls prepare beautiful outfits and delicious fruit for Zhi Nu, the enamoured weaver girl, in order to impress her in the hope that she will pass on her masterful sewing skills and luck in love.

Say it in Chinese: wǒ ài nǐ

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, days that celebrate romance are also used to celebrate valued friendships and companionship. The younger generations in particular take the opportunity to hold enormous parties to celebrate their friendship, and understandably this wonderful tradition attracts masses of tourists to boot!

In  Dutch: Ik hou van jou!

Do you feel that you live in the most romantic city or country in the world? If so, let us know in comments below!

If you've made the move abroad, we want to hear from you, the 2015 Expat Explorer survey is now open! Take 15 minutes to help fellow expats by letting us know your views on life abroad and spread the word by using #EESurvey15 on Twitter! 

Monday, 23 March 2015

Make like a native – how to learn the language of the locals

Learning a new language can be one of the biggest challenges of becoming an expat, but if you really want to make friends, getting to grips with the lingo from the locals is a must.
Many expats recommend that getting to know your new neighbours is the best way to become a part of your new home. Here are our top 5 tips on getting to grips with the local lingo from our experienced expats.

1. Walk everywhere

Taking yourself off public transport and away from just the really well known spots means that you will get to know the real hidden treasures that are right on your doorstep. This will really help in finding out about the culture of the area and what there is to explore which is an opportunity to look out for new words in place names, on signs in shop window and on menus of local cafes.

       2. Get to know your local hairdressers, taxi drivers and shop owners

These are your local experts who will know everyone and everything that you need to know about how to fit in with your new neighbourhood. A simple smile is a great way to start a conversation. People will always been enthusiastic to tell you about the local heritage they are proud of and through listening to their knowledge, you will start to pick up words and phrases you haven’t found in guidebooks.

3. Don’t get completely caught up in the tourist traps

For the same reason that it is good to make friends with your neighbours, as an expat you are there to become a new local, not just for a holiday. So if you really want to make your new location your new home, don’t just rely on the local tourist guides but get to know your new culture in the same way that you would get to know a new neighbourhood at home. If you are from London you wouldn't just visit the London Eye every weekend, get to know what is unique about where you are living and that will help you to become more of a native.

       4. Read your favourite book or watch a native soap opera

That great beach read is about to become a very handy way to learn new words. If you can get a copy of a novel you are familiar with in the new language you are trying to learn, you will have found a very quick way to find new words to add into conversations with your new friends. This is a great way to take your foreign language fluency from textbook level to local level.

5. Cheers!

If it’s a sunny afternoon, a great way to get to know the real local language is to enjoy a spot of people watching in a favourite local café, restaurant or bar. Listen out for key phrases locals are using to greet each other, to make orders and chat to their friends and you will soon be able to expand your language far beyond what you have learnt in textbooks and language guides.  

Friday, 20 March 2015

The alternative expat guide to staying in touch

The internet has revolutionised the way expats stay in touch. There is no substitute for giving your loved ones a hug, but with social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, most expats are only a click away from home. You can read our guide on how to keep in touch with technology here, but how will you communicate when the wi-fi drops out?
Here’s our tongue in cheek alternative guide to lo-fi communication, with one important message – if you’re making the move abroad, there is always a way to reach those at home!

The very first round the world telegram left New York at 7pm on August 20th 1911. It travelled through the Philippines, Hong Kong, Saigon, Singapore, Bombay, Malta and Lisbon on its 28,000 mile whistle-stop tour of the world before returning home a positively spritely 16.5 minutes later with the unimaginative message: “This message sent around the world”.
Remember to keep Telegram, messages short STOP
Messages charged per word STOP

Not easy to conduct emotional correspondence with family STOP

Image source: Creative Commons / Cqeme

Carrier pigeon
Carrier pigeons are some of the most unlikely of war heroes and 32 have been awarded the Dickin Medal for animal gallantry in the two world wars. Carrying their short messages over 700 miles per day, carrier pigeons could be the micro-blogging platform of choice for technophobic expats who are fed up with Twitter. Even flying at speeds of up to 140kph, however, you’ll feel the distance from home.

What’s the cost for an expat who wants to add a touch of romance to their correspondence with home? Bolt, the most expensive homing pigeon of all time was sold from a UK breeder for £300,000.

Image source: Creative Commons / ZeroOne

Smoke signals
Smoke signals are one of the very oldest forms of long distance communication. Native Americans are perhaps the most well-known users of the technique but unsurprisingly urban myths that the signals could carry complex, nuanced messages are wide of the mark.
One puff to say hello, two puffs to indicate no problems and three puffs to call for help is about as far as budding expat fire starters will get. In terms of range, you might communicate back home from the shops, but not much further…

On a more practical note, the internet can make staying in touch with home appear trivial, but that’s not the case for all expats. A vital first step in any expat journey is establishing just how reliable the local internet and telephone networks in your new base will be – so it’s worth planning ahead and getting as much set up beforehand as you can to make the transition smoother. 



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