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. 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Help inspire the next generation expats. The 2015 Expat Explorer Survey is now open!

Take part in the 2015 Expat Explorer survey here. Do you remember how you felt before you moved abroad? Did you feel nervous; did you wonder whether you’d made the right decision? You probably spent days and days thinking about it, but did you go to someone for advice? If you did, you probably got a lot of comfort and wisdom from the knowledge that someone else had already made the big move before you! 

That’s why the Expat Explorer tool is so valuable. It connects all expats: those who are considering the idea for the first time, those who are in the process of moving, experienced expats who travel the world tirelessly for work and for pleasure, and even those expats who are heading back home.

Every expat experience is unique. Your very own insights and experiences could mean the world to someone who is looking for information and advice. Thousands of people take part in the annual Expat Explorer survey, run by YouGov. Now in its 8th year, it is one of the largest surveys of expats from all over the world.

Last year’s survey revealed that a significant number of expats move to the Middle East for improved job prospects. We also found that Canada is one of the most popular destinations for retired expats, with almost three times the global average of retirees living there. Expats also told us they felt that  Japan is the safest place to raise children abroad, and that Taiwan has one of the best healthcare systems for expats?

Completing the Expat Explorer survey only takes 10-15 and the views you share will help the next generation of expats make one of the biggest and most difficult decisions of their lives!

Already completed the survey? Let us know what you thought @expatexplorer and on our Facebook page.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Why growing up abroad is great

If you make the move to become an expat, it is inevitable that your children will too; becoming expats is an adventure for all the family.  The thought of moving children around to different parts of the world as they grow up is often a difficult issue for parents contemplating becoming expats.  Without question, the experience will be challenging at times, with the term ‘third culture kids’ describing the potential confusion of growing up in-between places and cultures.  However, despite the challenges, there are strong arguments for why growing up abroad is great.  Here is our pick of the best.  

Friends in many places

One of the best advantages of living in many different places, means friendships will be formed around the world.  The skill of sustaining relationships over distances is also a valuable life skill, and with advancing social media, it is becoming easier to keep in touch across seas.  

Language skills

It is very common that the children of expats will pick up the local language quickly and become fluent speakers, which vastly opens up opportunities for children at the present time and for the future.  Making new friends, broadening places of where they can live and travel, and advancing career prospects are just some of the advantages of being bilingual.  

Unforgettable childhood

There is one thing an expat childhood will most definitely be – unforgettable.  Growing up abroad will offer adventures which some people will never get a chance to experience, and the sense of an urgency to continue to adventure and explore will remain throughout life.  Moving abroad and adventuring as a family will provide memories which will last a lifetime.   

Appreciation of the diversity of cultures

Naturally, children who have experience living within cultures different to their own have a certain sensitivity and understanding of other ways of life, and an open-minded outlook on the world.  The experience of being raised in a foreign culture exposes children to a diversity of values, people, experience and cultures, and engrains the notion of tolerance and a global awareness.   


Getting used to moving around at a young age inevitably builds confidence and flexibility towards new situations.  Moving to new places and making new friends is pivotal to increasing a sense of adaptability, which will be useful throughout life.  

Check out our interactive tool to see how different countries compare for raising children.   


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Five things to make it feel like home

The song lyrics ‘it feels like home to me, it feels like I’m on my way back where I belong’ can sum up a feeling more than a place. Moving to another country can be daunting when you think about moving that far away from everything familiar and everything that makes you feel comfortable.

However, the move can be easier when you take with you a few simple things that can turn a new house into a home away from home. We also have our top tips to get rid of that homesick feeling if it arises here.
These are our top five suggestions to make the transition easier for you and your family:

1. Photos

The best way to keep memories at the front of your mind is with photos. Get creative with how you display your photos whether that is in a collage, with magnets on the fridge or printed onto canvases so that they can be right with you wherever you go. 

 2. Your favourite food

     There is a growing expat food market offering international travellers the opportunity to buy their favourite home brands in new far flung locations. Whether you can’t imagine life without your favourite food or simply love beans on toast but now live by the beach, ask your local expat community for the best suppliers to your destination. 

3. Clothes

If you’ve moved somewhere hot but still get nostalgic for the family Christmases back home,  take that bright red Christmas jumper that your Gran knitted with you  because having it with you will make it feel like the real holiday season. Clothes are a great way of re-living memories and feeling close to the people who were nearby last time you were wearing them. 

4. Sports Kit

Moving abroad doesn’t mean you have to give up supporting your local team back home. In many cities across the world there is a strong enough expat community for you to be able to find other fans who will gather together to watch a match with you so don’t leave that well-worn kit at home. 

5        5. Jewellery and special gifts

Sometimes it is the simple treasured possessions that can make you feel close when far away. If you have ever been given a piece of family jewellery or gifts that you treasured growing up don’t forget them. We’re talking about the one thing, and you will know what it is, that if you knew you were about to lose your home, you wouldn’t be able to leave without it.



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