If you enjoy travelling, the expat life is a good choice, you get to fully experience new countries and cultures and gain lots of experience along the way. I’ve worked in three very different countries as an expat and I’ve been fortunate to have enjoyed life in every one of them.
I always try to immerse myself in the local culture as much as possible however, even with that in mind, there are always things about home that I miss. Home for me is Great Britain. I do love my country and I’m proud to be British however I have always wanted to travel and I love the idea of learning new things. Some people choose backpacking as a way to see the world but I prefer to settle in each country and fully experience the way of life.
Probably the hardest thing for me when living abroad is not being close to my family and friends. However, even this isn’t too difficult now as we have Facebook and Facetime, so you can see each other every day if you wish! In addition there’s plenty of low cost airlines connecting Europe so travelling from Bulgaria to the UK is usually easy and affordable.
Over the years I’ve found many ways in which I can make my expat life easier, here I’d like to share with you a few of the slightly random little things that have been life savers for me!
Just to make you aware, I’m using affiliate links for Transferwise and Airbnb. You can read more about that on my about me page. Also, my list here is not in order of importance, it’s simply written as I think of them!
1. Funky Pigeon for sending greetings cards.
It may not seem like a big deal but when you need to send a birthday card to someone at home this is not always so easy. First of all you need to find a nice card in English (unless you want to send an authentic local card) and secondly you need to find a post office! Then, even if you find a post office, you need to be able speak the language, or at least have a basic understanding, to go and post your card. I’ve always used Funky Pigeon as they have a great choice of cards which you can personalise if you wish, and they post directly to the recipient on your specified date. You can even save all of your contacts in your account with their address and birthday meaning you’ll never forget when you need to order a card!
2. Transferwise for sending money.
If you need to send money from one country to another you often get charged fees by both the sending and receiving banks! When I first arrived in Bulgaria I used my bank here to send some money home and I was charged around 30 EUROS. Fortunately, soon after this, I discovered Transferwise and sending the same amount of money cost me just 3 EUROS! They have a really easy to use website where you just enter the currency and the amount you want to send and it will show you how much that will be in the receiving currency. You pay online by debit card and the money arrives in the receiving bank usually the same day! It’s so simple!
3. Snapfish for photo printing and storing.
Sometimes it’s nice to send photos to your family while you’re away. It’s great to share them on Facebook but making something like a photobook that can be treasured forever is much more special. Snapfish allow you to safely store your photos for free on their cloud in albums (which is a great back up) and then you can choose the ones you like the most to print or use for photo gifts!
4. Internations for networking.
Internations is a fantastic organisation which operates globally. Just search their website for the city or country you are moving to and you will see information of the networking events that they organise there. Usually there’s a small entrance fee as the events are held at venues which are reserved privately for Internations guests. The events are a great way to meet other expats as everyone is friendly and willing to chat and exchange stories.
5. Online shops with free worldwide delivery.
Wherever you go in the world, sooner or later you will find most of the things you’re looking for. However, sometimes, no matter how hard you try, there will be a few things that you really want but can’t find. I’ll give you an example, try buying fake tanning creams in the Dominican Republic! That may sound funny, but if you’re fair skinned like me you can’t lay in the Caribbean sun and get a lovely glow. Anything more than ten minutes and I’m bright red! To avoid the inevitable comments about my pasty white skin, I have got used to adding some natural looking glow to my skin in the form of tinted moisturisers. When the three bottles I’d taken with me had run out I could not find anything similar anywhere! Thank goodness for Feel Unique who sell all the beauty products you can imagine and offer FREE worldwide shipping!
6. Duolingo for free online language courses.
Depending on where you are in the world, you may find Duolingo to be a huge help with the language. While in the Dominican Republic I was studying Spanish and Duolingo was fantastic. I used it daily to practice and because it’s so user friendly and fun you don’t even feel like you are studying! Best of all, it’s completely free!
7. Making LOCAL friends.
It may sound obvious but so many expats stick to their own communities and avoid making any local friends. If you really want to get the most from the country you’re living in then I strongly recommend that you make friends with some locals. They’ll give you the inside knowledge on things that you wouldn’t usually hear about and they’ll also give you a true picture of how life is in that country.
8. Airbnb for exploring.
It’s great to explore the new country that you’re living in, after all, why travel anywhere else when there’s so many new and interesting places on your doorstep. Using Airbnb makes this really easy and affordable. I’ve used the site in a few countries now and have found wonderful places to stay in great locations. Use my link to sign up and you’ll get £16 credit for your next booking!
Do you have any interesting or random tips that have made your life as an expat easier? Share them with me on Twitter @RebeccaRubia