Life as an expat living overseas isn’t what it used to be. Many of the disadvantages of living abroad have been alleviated in recent years through technology offerings and globalization, meaning that living abroad is more fun than ever. Here is our list of things that make living abroad just that bit easier.
At one time, living abroad meant expensive calls home arranged weeks in advance. Nowadays you can fire up Skype, or any other suitable VoIP software, see if your friends are online and, if they are, chat away to your heart’s content absolutely free of charge. Video calling functionality allows you to regularly see your loved ones and take a look at their new hairstyle, the new addition to the family or even their new car. Even if your friends are family are not actually Skype users, you can load your account with funds and make calls to landlines and mobile phones at a fraction of the price of the usual charges associated with international calls.
Expatriates with children did not always have the option of sending their children to international schools where they could be educated in an equivalent curriculum to their home country, receive lessons in their own language and mix with other children from a similar background. However, over the past twenty years international schools have grown increasingly common and are now present in some of the more exotic expat locations in the world. Although some people continue to argue in favor of a local education in a local school, at least expatriates in the majority of countries throughout the world now have the luxury of that choice.
At one time expatriates could only formally, and informally, correspond with loved ones and companies in their home country via letters. Depending on where they were based, letters to their home countries could take weeks, if not months to arrive. Getting something simple done, such as changing your residential address for tax purposes, was a major headache that could be compounded by lost items of mail and expensive postage costs. Today you can send an email in just a few clicks.
As in the case of written correspondence, managing finances and bank accounts was once much more difficult than it is today. Wire transfers from one currency to another could take weeks to arrange and sending money abroad was a lot more complicated. Today expatriates who bank with a global providers can change money from one currency to another and switch money between different bank accounts with the click of a mouse.
Having the mass information of the world wide web at our fingertips means that expats can find the answers to all their questions quickly and easily. Where you once may have been confused by events in a foreign country and had no idea what was going on, you can now fire up your smartphone, search for information about something using an Internet search engine and you won’t be the ignorant foreigner who doesn’t have a clue. The same goes with language. Don’t understand a street sign, set of instructions or menu? You can quickly search for the terms online and use an online translator to answer all your questions.
One of the best things that modern-day expatriates have perhaps benefited from the most is online expat forums. These forums allow expats to learn more about their host country and find answers to all their questions. Whether you’re searching for a favorite product, looking for advice on dealing with the locals or don’t understand the tax laws, you can get online, post your query in a forum and wait for the masses of opinions and advice to come flowing through. Incidentally, we now have our own forum, so if you have any questions about our expat destinations or living abroad in general, drop us a line today: Expat Info Desk Forum.
When living overseas you generally need to accept the fact that you can’t keep in touch with people to the same extent as if you were living at home. While once you may have been able to chat with large numbers of your friends at the local pub or café, now you can really only enjoy personal chats with a few of them on a regular basis. However, for many modern-day expats, Facebook has become a great online resource that allows you to let your friends know what your doing while catching up on their news quickly and easily. When you do make trips home you don’t feel like a spare part who has missed out on all the news and gossip, you know exactly what has been going on with who and, for this reason, can feel like you have never been away.
Forget international schools, it’s the international supermarkets that we are really interested in. Once upon a time expatriates used to rely on food parcels from overseas to sate their appetite for their favorite goodies from home. Today many expatriate destinations have international supermarkets or stock international goods in their local stores. Even the hardest-hit expats who can’t get their hands on the foods and toiletries that they miss from home can find international supermarkets online that will deliver stock all over the world. Check out our list of great online expatriate food stores.
Of course were bias, but one of the best things that ever happened to expatriates is the Expat Info Desk. In the past people who were relocated really didn’t know what to expect when they relocated to a new destination. They may have had friends who knew something about what life may be like there and they may even have visited the location themselves, but settling into a given city was much more trial and error and feeling your way. Today you can select a guide to cover your destination and find all the information you need in one easy-to-understand guide. Written by expatriates who have been there and done that, the Expat Info Desk city guides remove all the stress out of relocation.
Anything we have missed? What do you think has changed over the past twenty years? Leave a comment and let us know.
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