Welcome to Charity Cottage

Rosemary Border Rabson
Columnists - Rosemary Border Rabson

There was once a French boy who spent his summer holidays in an old cottage in the Morvan region of Burgundy. After a lifetime driving a Paris dustcart, he and his wife bought the cottage and built their dream home on the site. When they downsized in 2005 my husband John and I bought the property: a modern house built along traditional lines, the cottage and an acre of garden and orchard. We let our house in Suffolk and became full time expats.

Word got around. Friends and relations were joyously received, but people we scarcely knew solicited free board and lodging on their way to or from their hols further south.   more ...

  Tattoos and Abba

Judi Lembke
Columnists - Judi Lembke

Tattoos and Abba – not two words you’d normally would – or should – hear together but they pretty much sum up my Swedish summer, which came to a screeching halt in mid-August when everyone returned from holiday and the autumn weather slowly started creeping in.

Let’s start with the tattoos: in between working a lot this summer I took my boys on a two-day jaunt to Scandinavia’s largest water park, Skara Sommarland. Or, as we like to call it, TattooLand.   more ...

  Using The Healthcare System In Switzerland - A Short Guide For Expats

Articles - Switzerland

The Swiss healthcare system, known as LAMal, is reputed across Europe for providing top-quality health services and facilities to residents. Switzerland spends approximately 10 percent of its GDP on healthcare and the country ranks among the top OECD countries for medical expenditure. This policy of investing in healthcare ensures that citizens receive a variety of medical services that employ modern technologies. It also translates into a highly trained medical staff and a very low patient-to-doctor ratio. Switzerland has one of the highest life expectancy figures and one of the lowest infant mortality figures in the world.   more ...

  Ross Richard Blankert, Boquete

House and view from front yard
Expat Experiences - Panama

I am Ross Richard Blankert.

I and my spouse Janice flew to Panama with our suitcases and our cats May 2, 2012. We sold all our things before we left Washington state including my Model A Ford. The big challenge was to get our cats out of quarantine and through the expensive process of getting them into the country. Then people do not wish to rent to you if you have pets. A dog is really a no no. I had a friend to pick me up in Panama City.

They actually want to rent their rent house to us but we stayed for a month or two and decided against living anywhere near Panama City.   more ...

  5 Foods You Must Try When Living In Panama

Articles - Panama

1. Empanada

Food is a very important aspect of the culture in Panama. This country’s cuisine is a melting pot of Spanish, Native American, African and Caribbean food, and North Americans and Europeans tend to enjoy the mild flavor of many typical Panamanian delicacies. Some of the most common ingredients used for cooking in Panama include corn, maize, wheat flour, rice, yucca, plantains, beef, pork, seafood and chicken. Given below are 5 popular foods that you must try during your stay in Panama:

An empanada is a baked (or sometimes fried) pastry that has been filled with meat, vegetables and cheese.   more ...

  5 Places You Might Want To move To In Italy But Have Probably Never Heard Of

Articles - Italy

The shrinking local workforce in Italy has been attracting several foreign immigrants for the last decade or so. Many retired American and British citizens have also moved to this country to enjoy its relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle. More than 350,000 expats are reported to move to Italy every year, from all across the globe. The larger expat communities are usually found in Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence and Ancona. The cost of living in these regions is on the higher side, because they also attract a large number of tourists.

If you are planning to settle down in Italy for a few years, these are some places you might like living in but have probably not heard of:   more ...

  A Few Tips For Expats Driving In Costa Rica

Articles - Costa Rica

Driving in Costa Rica is considerably different from driving the US and the UK – the roads are not particularly well-developed, and people have a tendency to treat the traffic rules very lightly, which can be unnerving for an expat. Most people in Costa Rica don’t own a private vehicle because of how expensive cars are. Moreover, the Public Transport system in the cities is fairly good, and a majority of the local population travels by buses. It is mainly people living in remote areas who find it necessary to travel by car. Many tourists and expats who need cars prefer renting to buying one. The minimum age for driving in this country is 18 years. However, the minimum age for renting a car is 23 years (and 25 years in some places).   more ...

  Cost Of Living Facts For Expats Moving To France

Articles - France

France is one of the most popular expat and tourist destinations in the world because of its rich culture, high standard of living, modern infrastructure and unique cuisine. However, compared to many other countries in Europe, the cost of living in France is considerably higher. One exception is the UK, which is more expensive than France. Comparatively, the cost of living in certain cities of the US may also be a bit higher than France.

Given below are some of the common expenses you should take into account while calculating your approximate monthly expenditure in France:   more ...

  5 Experiences You Must Try As An Expat In Hong Kong

Articles - Hong Kong

The thought of moving to a place like Hong Kong can be thrilling yet intimidating for any expat. From its colonial past to its imposing modern skyline, this island city can be called Asia’s melting pot of culture and diversity. Apart from its “East Meets West” reputation, many visitors consider Hong Kong a place of extremes.

Nevertheless, this vibrant and dynamic city has plenty to offer in terms of opportunities, night life, safety and living standards, and it is no surprise that thousands of expats are choosing to move here each year. Here are five unique experiences that all expats must try during their stay in Hong Kong:   more ...

  The Canadian Way

Aisha Isabel Ashraf
Columnists - Aisha Isabel Ashraf

The day dawned. The pressure was on. People were making demands, asking questions - difficult questions – and the answers lay just beyond my reach. The opportunity was there for the taking, a classic Carpe Diem moment.

The idea percolated in my head as I went about my chores, slowly, steadily filling my mind with its immediacy like the smell of coffee fills a room. The voice in my head, sensing indecision, seized its chance, “Do it, don’t be a wuss. Just don’t think about it and do it.”

We’ve been here before, this voice and I. It knows my weaknesses, knows all too well that once a gauntlet has been thrown down I find it difficult to walk away and keep my self-respect.   more ...


Our country guides are written specifically for expats and contain essential information for anyone moving abroad. All our expat country guides can be read for free online and a growing number can also be downloaded. Start planning your move overseas today!

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We've assembled the very best expat writers on the web today. Aiming to both inform and entertain, our columnists cover everything from career and financial issues through to cultural differences and the very real challenges of starting a new life abroad.

Drawing on over ten years of experience listening to the problems most commonly encountered by expats moving abroad and discussing solutions with industry experts, the Expat Focus Guide to Moving Abroad addresses all the main issues which anyone moving abroad must consider.

Submitted by real expats already living abroad, our collection of genuine expat experiences is an invaluable resource for anyone planning a move overseas. Learn from the experiences of others before you leave for your new country or submit your own if you're already there!

Expat Focus has been successfully helping people move abroad, and supporting them once they get there, for over a decade. From real expat experiences to interesting articles and friendly discussion forums, there's lots to explore! Take a look at our site map to learn more.

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