When we moved the first time the word ‘expat’ was new to me. I didn’t even think about whether there would be expat resources available.
I read one book – from the relocation company – about all the reasons expat assignments fail.
Basically it’s because of the TRAILING SPOUSE…yep, another term I wasn’t really familiar with. And one I immediately hated. But that’s a whole other discussion. As is the fact that it seems if the assignment ‘fails’ it’s your fault – because when you’re about to move, that’s the kind of pressure you need, right? More on that another time…
But helpful expat resources?
Turns out there is actually a lot available. Some of these websites and books would have been really helpful to me a few years back…if only I’d known where to find them.
Sometimes these resources are difficult to lay your hands on…sometimes you just don’t know they exist. So I’ve put together a list of all the things that have helped me over the past few years.
If you are moving as a family, a couple or solo, hopefully there will be something here that you find useful.
This is not an exhaustive list as there is a ton of stuff out there…some of which is, unfortunately, thinly veiled advertising for relocation companies etc.
When you want to find out more about living overseas…
Anglo Info Is a big website that has sections for different countries. I contacted them to ask them to give me a snapshot of what their site is about:
“Whether you’re moving to a new country or are just trying to find local beaches where you can walk your dog, we like to think that we can help. Our website helps you connect with other expats who have gone through the same experiences as you, and you can find local English-speaking businesses in your area too. Just about everything you need to know about living abroad in fact!”
They also have a Facebook page
Expatica.com This website has a European focus with detailed articles on the practical side of moving – visas, working in the chosen country, health etc.
Expat.com Another site with lots of articles about living in different countries. There is a forum, but I have not found this to be so helpful to be honest.
International Schools Database Choosing a school can be really tricky, but this is a good place to start as it lists international schools by city.
When you want to connect online…
I Am A Triangle was a much-loved Facebook group which has now migrated to a really great new platform. There is a community platform – where you can make connections with others, find out about events in your area etc – and a resource platform, which is home to blog posts, articles and an online shop.
I contacted Naomi Hattaway, the founder of I Am A Triangle, to get her thoughts:
“I think the reason that the I Am A Triangle community has been such a blessing to so many individuals is because it brings together others who are going through the same struggles. It allows us to “be in the same room” with others who understand us to celebrate successes, lean on each other when needed and even encourage others to truly live their best life.”
There really is a sense of community with this group, and Naomi is passionate about making this a real ‘home’ for anyone living away from home. And it’s free! Click here to get a login and here for more information.
Internations is an organisation you can sign up to connect with other people in your area, and they also have lots of articles and a discussion forum.
And of course, there’s Facebook…
You don’t need me to teach you how to suck eggs here. There are tons of Facebook groups dedicated to people living in different countries. Some are useful for finding out about what’s going on in your area. Some are great for finding items for sale – or selling things. And some are definitely friendlier than others…
There is almost always a ‘Mums’ Facebook group in every city – worth checking out, especially if you have young children as this is where you can often find out details about playgroups etc. English
If you have children at school, always check if there is a school Facebook group as these can be invaluable for all sorts of information. We found our house in Germany through ours…and our car
I haven’t included any of the local sites as there are so many. If you hook up on one of the groups listed above, people will usually let you know any good groups for your area. And if one doesn’t exist…you can always start your own!
When you want to read about other people’s expat experiences…
There are myriad expat blogs out there, but sometimes it’s hard to find ones in the country you are moving to.
Expats Blog has a directory of blogs by country which will help you narrow things down.
The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide Clara Wiggins is a guide to surviving an expat move. Full disclosure – I have only just found this book so haven’t yet read it, but I have ordered it. I’ve added it here as it has good reviews and sometimes it’s just nicer to have a book than keep referring to websites.
When you want to make connections in real life..
Meetup.com Is a website (and app) which allows you to find out about events happening where you are living and join in. There are lots of different categories – sport, family, learning, food & drink – and it’s free.
Internations As mentioned above, this is an organisation you can sign up to (for free) and join meet ups and social events in your area.
When you are moving with kids…
Mumsnet This is the biggest parenting site in the UK. While is not an ‘expat’ site, it’s where I posted all my questions when we first moved. Lots of helpful Mums on there…one of whom I later met in real life!
Expat Child A really helpful site with lots of practical information about moving. Also a Facebook page.
Expat-Kids.com Another site with parenting related articles and tips on raising kids overseas.
Multicultural Kids Blog This site is aimed at ‘Families and educators raising world citizens’.
Knocked Up Abroad and Knocked Up Abroad Again by Lisa Ferland. Parenting in a foreign country isn’t easy and the parents in the Knocked Up Abroad series offer emotional and heartfelt perspectives on the challenges and joys of parenting abroad. Definitely worth a read.
Families in Global Transition This is a forum which charges a membership but gives you access to lots of expat resources. I attended the FIGT conference this year and found it really interesting and a great way to make new connections.
Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds David Pollack and Ruth Van Reken. This is the ‘classic’ book about TCKs… until recently, I didn’t even know what this meant!
When you need emotional support…
The Mindful Expat Dana Nelson is an American psychologist and counsellor, and the woman behind The Mindful Expat. Her podcast is really worth a listen – it focuses on issues related to emotional wellbeing and resilience for people living abroad.
Tandem Nomads This podcast focuses on expat spouses. Which is great, because we are usually to busy focusing on everyone else…
Two Fat Expats This is the podcast I listen to when I feel lonely…sad admission, I know, but it’s kind of like listening to friends having a chat. This is dedicated to living a ‘fat’ expat life, and covers all sorts of topics relating to life overseas.
When you love books…
I have written before about my love of all things book club in my post Last Night a Book Club Saved My Life. But when you are overseas, it’s not always easy to find a ‘real life’ group to join. So join our virtual one!
Expat Book Club is a community on Instagram for expat book lovers, and everyone is welcome. Follow us on Instagram @expatbookclub and stay tuned for an update on our Facebook Group, coming soon. If you aren’t on Instagram, I’ll keep you posted via my Facebook page. Looking forward to meeting you and hearing about your favourite reads!