Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Top 10 most read posts of 2010

As the year draws close to an end, we thought you might enjoy re-visiting some of our most read posts of 2010.

Here we present the top 10 on Expat Explorer, starting at number 10...

10. Are expats more creative?A study conducted by the American Psychological Association suggests that people who live abroad tend to be more creative than those who lived in their home country. Have a look here to see whether you agree with the findings

9. Breaking the language barrier and the joys of expat slang! - Settling into a new country is difficult, especially if they speak a different language altogether. Even for expats coming from English-speaking countries can make some seriouse language faux-pas.

8. Expert Excellence featuring Robin Pascoe- Do expats need social media training? Find out and share your thoughts here.

7. Guest Blogger Series: Introducing... Bryce Keane- For any expat thinking about moving to London, Bryce Keane shares some invaluable tips and advice for expats and locals alike

6. Guest Blogger Series: Introducing... Naomi Hattaway- Naomi shares some great stories about bringing up a family in Delhi and her unique insight for people thinking about moving to India’s capital

5. Guest Blogger Series: Introducing... Maryline- another great addition to Expat Explorer’s ever popular Guest Blogger Series. In this post, Maryline explores why the French find it difficult to say ‘I Love You’.

4. Expat Women Series: The truth about expat housewives- is being an expat housewife all about the herbal tea parties, lingering lunches and extravagant trips to the shopping mall? We find out here.

Top 3 now...

3. 5 essential apps for Expats- In third place, our blog post on those essential apps that can make the expat life easier. If you have an iPhone then be sure to check out our top apps for expats

2. Expat Explorer Survey 2010 launches today! What do the results say?- It’s been a fantastic year for Expat Explorer survey and the findings from the first report on best places for expat finances made it to the second most read post of the year! Revisit the findings here.

And now... the moment you’ve all been waiting for. That’s it, the most read post of the YEAR... drum roll please...

1. Guest Blogger Series: Introducing... Aaron White- Thanks to Aaron for this brilliant post on tips for those thinking about moving to the UAE.

We hope you've enjoyed reading our blog over the past year. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

See you in 2011!

Source: Creative Commons

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

“A day in the life of an expat”

Are you an expat based in the UAE, South Africa or Hong Kong? If so, get in touch with us now!

We are in the process of seeking prospective contributors to appear in a series of short promotional films to be made in conjunction with HSBC & BBC Worldwide. These will be broadcast on television and on the internet in April 2011.

The campaign aims to capture ‘a day in the life’ of an EXPAT and bring to life the challenges and opportunities created by a new life abroad. We are seeking interesting individuals from a number of countries, who would be happy to share their experience and offer a snapshot of EXPAT life.

If you are interested in applying and are based in either the UAE, South Africa or Hong Kong, then please get in touch with us now! Simply fill out the details below and email your answers to expatexplorer(at) with the subject “A day in the life of an expat”- NAME.

This is quite short notice but the closing date is 8th January 2011.

Required information:

o Name
o Age
o Contact number
o Profession
o Country of origin
o Country of residence
o What made you want to move?
o Why that particular city/country?
o Do you have any family with you?
o Did you suffer from culture shock at any point?
o What line of work are you in?
o What work challenges have there been & how have you overcome them?
o What financial challenges have you faced?
o What benefits have you had from the move?
o What hobbies/interests do you have?
o What opportunities has the move given you, which you weren’t able to get from your home country?
o Can you recommend one place you insist on taking visiting family/friends from your home country? (Think insider/local knowledge than the usual sight-seeing opportunities)
o Have you appeared in front of a camera before?
o Availability between end of January- beginning February- Yes/No

The next stage would be to set up a brief video conference call to talk about your answers and any further questions we might have. This will happen in the first week of January 2011. We would hope to confirm the successful candidates soon after that date.

In terms of filming, we would need approximately 2 days of your time at the end of January 2011/first week February 2011. This would involve an informal and relaxed interview on camera, to get a sense of your experience and provide the spoken element of the film. To illustrate this and create a visual ‘day in the life’, a discrete film crew (of no more than 2-3 people) would also follow you at work, at home and out-and-about enjoying your leisure time. Ideally this would involve both day and evening filming, to truly encapsulate your daily life.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Offshore offspring launches today!

‘Offshore Offspring’ the third report in HSBC’s annual Expat Explorer survey launched today! The report focuses on expat children and the best places to bring them up abroad. A league table has been compiled focusing on childcare, health and wellbeing, and Integration.

Source: VirtualWayfarer

The report looks at expats’ perceptions of various aspects of raising children abroad including: the cost of raising children, the quality of the education and childcare services, changes in their children’s diet, activities after relocating and the ease with which children are able to integrate into new cultures.

A league table has been produced, which ranks the countries in terms of key elements:


-Health and Wellbeing


The report has uncovered some really interesting findings with Belgium voted by expats as the location with the best opportunities and experiences for children:

-81% of expats based here agreed they had seen an improved standard of education in comparison to their home country while 68% thought the quality of childcare had improved.

-Belgium-based expat parents also benefit from some of the cheapest childcare, with 65% now paying less for childcare than in their home country.

In addition, the results revealed some other interesting things about life abroad:

-The rest of mainland Europe was not far behind Belgium’s lead, with Spain (2nd) France (3rd) and Germany (5th) all featuring within the top five of the Offshore Offspring league table.

-In contrast, the USA and UK hold the bottom spaces in the league table, ranking 13th and 14th respectively.

-Two-thirds (66%) of expat parents felt that their child’s safety had improved upon relocation.

-Those in Asia and the Middle East saw the biggest improvement in child safety levels upon relocation, with expats in Hong Kong (94%), Singapore (90%) and Qatar (89%) most likely to be reporting a marked improvement in their perceptions of their child’s safety.

-The UK is the worst performing country for both the childcare and the health and wellbeing categories when expat parents were asked to compare it to their home countries.

If you’re interested in the full report and how individual countries fared, you can visit our website to find out more.

Do these findings reflect with your own experiences? Let us know.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Expat Women Series: Challenging expat women stereotypes

Last time we talked about expat women it was about the stereotypical expat housewife who had a charmed existence made up of cocktails by the pool and an army of staff to keep her house clean and dinner on the table.

In part two of our Expat Women Series, we will be looking at women who have become entrepreneurs in their new countries.

We came across a great article from Expat Exchange posted on the trailing-spouses blog that listed five common traits in expat spouses who go on to become entrepreneurs:

1. Desire for control
2. Strong self-motivation
3. Problem-solving abilities
4. Flexibility and lateral thinking
5. Willingness to take risk

While the expat who commissions local craft goods to sell to other housewives has become somewhat of a stereotype in itself, Africa Expat Wives Club has some sage words of wisdom based on her own foray into the world of “beaded hairclips and handmade jewellery”.

Books from self styled expat entrepreneurs such as Jo Parfitt’s ‘Career in your suitcase’ with it’s hints and tips on ‘finding your passion’, ‘networking’ and ‘creating your career’, could be a great starting point for women looking to set up a career working for themselves while living abroad.

In an interview for Expat Women Jo offers her top five tips for aspiring expat women entrepreneurs:

1. Be prepared to alter your ideas based on the market
2. First find your passion
3. Learn all you can about networking and DO IT
4. Brand yourself carefully and cleverly
5. Find out what motivates you (money, time off, people, fame) and ensure that you truly want to do what it is you set out do, because if you don't, you won’t get out of bed in the morning with a smile.

The site also has a number of interviews with successful entrepreneurial expat women.

In you’re an expat entrepreneur, we’d like to hear about your experiences. Leave us a comment below!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Guest Blogger Series: Introducing... Russell Ward

Fridays are not the same with a dose of guest blogging on Expat Explorer. This week, British expat, Russell Ward shares some of his experiences when it comes to refining the art of tipping.

To tip or not to tip?...

As expats living in a strange new land, that is the question.

The Sydney Morning Herald recently published an article which claimed that, when it comes to tipping, Aussies are tightwads and either don’t want to tip or don’t know how to tip.

This made me think about my own tipping experiences in Sydney and during my previous expat life in Canada.

Tipping is one of those irksome little things in life. It is something we all have to do at some point yet it almost needs its own rulebook so that we, the customer, know exactly when and where to tip – and by how much.

Being an expat takes the need to understand tipping to a whole new level. The rules change from country to country, and as a new addition to a foreign land, you must quickly get your head around the local tipping culture or risk embarrassment at the dinner table.

My own experience was that Canadians like to tip. Like their southern neighbours, they believe that rewarding staff for good quality service is necessary - and I get that. I’ve been greeted at delightful restaurants in the heart of downtown Vancouver by friendly waiters who will sit with me before the meal and spend time talking through my menu options, who will endeavour to make casual and generally entertaining conversation, and who will proceed to serve up delicious meals on time and with minimal fuss. I’m always more than happy to reward that level of service and usually leave between 10 and 15%.

But fellow expats beware… tipping in Canada doesn’t end there. Canadians leave tips at the bar, with hotel porters and taxi drivers, tradesmen and hairdressers, mailmen at Christmas and the reliable young paperboy. Why, they even tip the person sat by the entrance to the toilets (a cleaner, purveyor of gaudy fragrances, or just the toilet guardian?).

And if you think for one minute of not tipping for your service, be prepared to face the wrath of an extremely unhappy bartender as I found out when refusing to leave a couple of bucks extra for a bottle of water at one bar in downtown Montreal. I was promptly given a public dressing-down and I couldn’t get served when I went back for a second round (of beers, not water this time). Was I being a tightwad?

Which brings me back to the Sydney article about Aussies refusing to tip.

Australian tipping practices have surprised me since I arrived here four years ago. They simply don’t exist. It’s not in their culture to part with their hard-earned cash over and above the stated price on the menu.

Shortly after my arrival in Australia, I went for the obligatory haircut at the local barbers. Once finished, I reached into my pocket to pull out a few dollar coins by way of appreciation, only to find the barber looking at my actions with abject horror.

“No, you don’t need to do that”. “People don’t tip here when they have their hair cut”. “Really, it’s okay, just keep your money and put it to good use elsewhere”.

Then at a friend’s birthday party a few weeks later held in a special reserved room for 20 people. Much drinking and eating followed, the waiter presented a sizeable bill, and the diners proceeded to divide up said bill into equal shares – without allowing for a tip of any shape or size.

I asked the question that appeared to be only on my lips: “Aren’t we going to leave a tip?” The response: “What for? These guys get paid enough as it is.”

Cue me then diving into my pockets to find a small something for the poor guys cleaning up our mess.

Does this prove that the Aussies are tightwads? Perhaps not entirely. It’s more likely their complete lack of understanding that tipping isn’t necessarily a bad thing and that it does no harm to reward quality service.

My advice? It certainly pays to be well versed in local tipping practices when you take on a new home. However, if you’ve had a cracking meal or been given the greatest haircut, don’t be afraid to dip into your pocket and pull out some loose change. I’d rather be embarrassed by a refusal than called a tightwad in the street!

About the Author
Russell is a British expat who lives on Sydney’s northern beaches in New South Wales, Australia. A keen writer in his spare time, Russell enjoys travelling the world and living life by the ocean. Russell was in the UK until 2003, before immigrating to Canada (Vancouver and Ottawa), then most recently to Sydney, Australia (his wife’s home city).

Read more about his expat journey in seeking out a different way of life at

You can also follow him on Twitter at @russellvjward.



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