Relocation companies should do the hard work in sorting your move but chances are they’ll offer limited scope.
After one move, a charmingly conscientious relocation manager lugged a bulging bag of cultural leaflets, restaurant maps and city tour flyers onto my cardboard box cum desk. ‘No offence’ I said, ‘but I’ve changed country more than Madonna has changed her style so can we cut to the chase…?’ I needed a good nursery for my child, a decent sized home in a safe district and the duties on my imported car settling. Her head hung in silence and then bobbed up. ‘There is a great exhibition on in… and there is this restaurant…’.
For up to date info on what really mattered to me, the following groups and social websites were saviours. Please do let me know if I’m missing any for my upcoming move this summer.
- Internations.org. Present in 390 cities and 166 countries and especially big in obvious expat communities like Geneva, London and Hong Kong. A slick and comprehensive organisation connecting expats, often with a professional focus. Free to join but with an upgrade fee for some content including connecting with people online. Events are well organised and are a great way for finding your feet in the city.
- Meetup.com. 29.62 million members in 184 countries. Fantastic for connecting with people over a shared hobby, from the conventional – cookery, foreign languages, running etc. to the obscure – caring for rats in Manhattan anyone?
- Maiden Voyage. A global network for professional women business travellers offering advice such as female friendly hotels as well as events and offers. Membership is free and members are individually vetted to ensure they are genuine.
- Facebook. Researching on social media pages is often like looking for a hot guy at a video gaming convention. Nevertheless it is worth joining expat groups with the most members and liking the most popular pages in your city as they generally offer a good forum for fact finding. One friend found a circle of wonderful ladies who shared her passion for sports cars. Whether it’s a Porsche or Portia that you live with, be sure to check out the groups available.
- Americans Women’s Clubs. OK so these vary from group to group. You may find yourself unwelcome in a sea of star and stripes, but in my experience American ladies tend to be the most open and the best organisers in town. In my time as a member I scooped tickets to sold out events, fashion shows, behind the scenes at the ballet tours, as well as Thanksgiving feasts, along with an address book of friends from across the globe aged 19-90.
- Yahoo Groups. Totally outdated in the UK but a useful starting point for research in many other countries. The site can be a good portal for enquiring about other groups in town, especially parenting and general expat market place stuff such as apartments for rent.
- LinkedIn. The world’s largest professional network on the internet with more than 467 million members in over 200 countries. If you’re job hunting (for paid or voluntary work) then this website should be your one of your first points of call. While the site closed its events section in 2012, members can still reach out via groups to find out about what’s going on in their area (type in ‘Expat’ in the search section and filter to ‘groups’ and you’ll be presented with a wealth of relevant events, organisations and news stories).
- Expat Child. Tonnes of resources, practical advice and handy checklists for anyone relocating with children. I’m thoroughly annoyed with myself for not coming across this website earlier. If you have children, or are planning to, then this website should be on your essentials list. Check out their Expat Directory section, for easy to access resources on a wealth of expat related topics, from pet relocations to financial services.