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Switzerland > Articles


Expat Fairs In Geneva, Switzerland

Tuesday October 01, 2013 (23:45:10)

Expat Expo is an exhibition for all English speakers across Switzerland. It usually hosts five conferences each year, in Zug, Geneva, Basel, Ticino and Zurich. The next one for 2013 will take place on the 6th of October in Geneva. The exhibition plays host to over 5,000 people each time, and representatives from local businesses as well as meetup groups, information stands and voluntary initiatives convene for a day of speaking English, networking with other businesspeople and making new friends.

There are more than 400 stands around the conference, with services ranging from babywear to business tax, and if you’ve moved to Switzerland with the aim of starting your own business, this will be an excellent place to make new contacts. The purpose of the event isn’t to make sales, so if you’re running a kitchenware company, don’t expect to sell out of your best products by the end of the day. It’s more of an opportunity to get to know other expats and English speakers in the area, find people with similar interests to you, and work out how to make your life generally easier, especially if you’ve only made the transition fairly recently. If you have children, there’s also a play area complete with bouncy castle and café, where you can meet other expat families and swap tips on how to settle in to your new home country.   more ...

Belgium > Articles


Self-Employment in Belgium: Know the Rules

Tuesday October 01, 2013 (20:03:02)
Bruges, Belgium
If you’re moving to a new country for the sake of a lifestyle change rather than because your employer is sending you elsewhere, self-employment can be one of the best ways to ensure you still make enough to pay the mortgage whilst maintaining a level of control over what you’re doing and when. A huge number of expats choose this route, and there are countless websites devoted to helping people who want to live a freelance life. The benefits are obvious: getting up when you want to, dictating your own working hours, choosing which clients you can work with and perhaps pursuing something that has always been a dream job but never felt within reach. It’s not an easy route, though, and with more and more people wanting the flexibility to choose their own working lifestyles, competition is hotter than ever.

Beyond the usual difficulties, of course, there is also the added issue of trying to work out how to go self-employed in a new country. Many places have different tax laws for people who work for themselves, and as anyone who has done it in their home country will know, this can be confusing even when you speak the language and understand the culture.   more ...

Austria > Articles


What Expats Need to Know About Broadband in Rural Austria

Tuesday October 01, 2013 (17:24:56)

Across Europe and the rest of the world, superfast broadband is harder to find in the countryside than the towns. Whilst 99.9% of households in Europe have access to basic broadband services, that number nearly halves for Next Generation Access (NGA) technologies. The United Kingdom is far ahead of the curve, with the latest figures suggesting that 73% of UK postcodes have super-fast broadband, and the good news for expats is that Austria is only a couple of percentage points behind.

However, just as parts of Wales and Northern Scotland have very patchy service, so it is with the mountain states of Vorarlberg, Tyrol and Salzburg. So, if you are looking for an Alpine retreat from which you can run your business, or still get slick internet service, your options may be limited for the moment.   more ...

Austria > Articles


Where Should You Move To In Austria?

Thursday September 26, 2013 (20:30:26)
Vienna (don't worry, they also allow cars!)
Internationally known for Freud, Mozart and The Sound of Music, Austria is a hub of arts and culture and often quoted as one of the best places to build a new life. If anything, it can feel like there are too many options here; flicking through guidebooks on each city proclaims all of their advantages – of which there are many – and very few downsides. But of course, finding a place that feels like home isn’t just about the number of attractions and facilities that can be packed into one place; it’s about the feel of a city, the way you can walk through the streets and understand that you’re somewhere that makes you feel comfortable.

There is always the option of moving to the countryside, of course, if what you’re looking for is a more peaceful, isolated situation. Moving to somewhere like Schoppernau, a mountainous town in eastern Vorarlberg, affords beautiful views – the town is over 800m above sea level – and a culture of peace and quiet, with only 900 individuals living there in total. But most expat life in this land-locked federal republic focuses around its four main cities: Vienna, Graz, Linz and Salzberg. Which is best for you and yours? We’ve compiled a short guide to each city to help you decide.   more ...

Italy > Articles


Finding a Broadband Provider in Italy

Thursday September 26, 2013 (03:37:40)

Twenty years ago, the idea that you couldn’t survive without the internet was a strange prospect. Nowadays, however, we’re connected all the time: chatting to friends on Facebook, emailing documents to clients and contacts, checking newswires and weather forecasts. Moving to a new country can be daunting when it comes to choosing a broadband provider who can actually deliver a fast service without too many hidden charges.

Unfortunately for those who don’t speak the language, the vast majority of ISPs’ websites are written in Italian. In terms of choices available, the range of services are much the same as they are in the UK or US: wireless, cable, DSL and dial-up are the four options to choose from. Of course, dial-up isn’t ideal and if you’re moving to a remote area you’ll need to check that broadband is available and that speeds aren’t prohibitively low. In general, however, you’ll find a similar speed of service to those you’re used to elsewhere; the infrastructure is well-developed and connection problems are relatively few. Now all you need to do is choose where your bills will be coming from, and when everything is new and confusing, that is easier said than done. We’ve put together an overview of some of the available services.   more ...

Portugal > Articles


Should You Switch Banks When Moving to Portugal?

Thursday September 26, 2013 (01:03:59)

Navigating the world of banking can be difficult at the best of times, but when you’re moving to a whole different country it can be almost impossible to work out what to do with your money. Keep the bank you’re currently with and hope they have enough branches to make it worthwhile? Move to a local financial institution and hope that the legal jargon in their terms & conditions doesn’t say anything too prohibitive?

The major cities of most countries in Western Europe will have at least one branch of the larger banks you’re used to: HSBC, Barclays and Bank of America all have local branches across Europe. Unfortunately, Portugal seems to be one exception to this rule. Often it can be easier to just transfer money over to an existing bank in your newly adopted home country, however there are lots of things to take into consideration if this is something you want to do. Will the bank staff speak enough English to understand your consumer needs? If not, do you speak the local language fluently enough to understand some of the more complex financial jargon that’s unique to the finance world? How often do you travel back to your country of origin? And arguably the most important factor: where are you living? If you’re in an apartment in the centre of Lisbon, you’ll probably be OK. But if you’ve just bought yourself a beautiful little place in the most scenic of rural locations, you might find it difficult to withdraw money quickly.   more ...

Switzerland > Articles


Hochdeutsch, Frainc-Comtou and Ticinese: Understanding the Languages of Switzerland

Sunday September 22, 2013 (20:35:44)
Switzerland - a language lover's paradise!
On paper, Switzerland seems like a fantastic place to live. A top-notch public healthcare and social services system, close proximity to other major European countries, and neutrality in pretty much every war mean that even the prohibitively high tax rate might not put you off. Plus, if you studied French, German or Italian at school, you’ll be able to speak the languages, right? Right. Well, almost.

Mention that Swiss French is the same as their own dialect to any person hailing from France and you’ll probably find yourself in the midst of an onslaught. Not only are there the usual idiomatic differences in expression that spring from living in another place, there are also whole other words that drop into conversation so that even the most fluent German, Italian or French speaker can find themselves mystified by the range of new words they’re required to learn. And then there’s Romansch, a sort of convergence language sitting somewhere between French and Italian, spoken by a significant minority of the population mainly around the Grisons region.   more ...

Spain > Articles


Making the Most of Madrid, Minus the Tourist Traps

Sunday September 22, 2013 (19:54:53)
Madrid at night
With sunshine, siestas and a whole wealth of cultural attractions to explore, Madrid makes a fantastic holiday destination, and many people fall in love with Spain’s capital city after a couple of visits. Moving there is a whole different ball game, however, and it’s easy to find yourself swamped by tourists in the city streets, craving a nice quiet beer in a bar that isn’t packed with people taking photographs for their friends back home.

The Spanish nightlife scene is famously vibrant, and initially seems like one of the best reasons to move there: who wouldn’t want to spend every weeknight watching flamenco in the tablaos or partying the night away in Alonso Martinez Square? The answer, of course, is ‘people who live there’. Staying in a place for good is far different from experiencing it for a couple of weeks’ holiday, and the reality of not being able to find a quiet spot to enjoy the local culture quickly begins to grate. Luckily there are plenty of more sedate, arts and culture based venues where locals gather to enjoy the city without the crazy partying side.   more ...

France > Articles


Bored of Life in France? Visit a Vineyard!

Friday September 20, 2013 (17:03:23)

As the largest wine producer in the world, France manufactures up to eight millilon bottles per year. The rules surrounding winemaking are strict, with many falling under a protected destination of origin – they can only be produced in the specific area in which they originated. The most well-known of these is probably champagne, which comes only from the Champagne-Ardenne region, but certain vins de table that you may recognise as exports also fall under this category: Vin de Pays d’Oc, for example, hails from Languedoc-Roussillon, and Vin de Pays de Méditerranée is made only in the South-East, predominantly Provence and Corsica.

When you tell people you’re about to move to France, the subject of wine will almost invariably come into the conversation. It’s a central part of French culture and one of the country’s main exports; in 2012, a record income of 10.1 billion Euros came from wine and spirits alone. And with consumption within France itself dropping by nearly 20 percent, producers are relying more and more on foreign exports. What better way to boost the local economy, then, than to set off on a tour of some of the country’s finest wineries?   more ...

France > Articles


Brittany: A Short History for Expats

Wednesday September 18, 2013 (21:18:24)

Brittany is quickly becoming one of the most popular areas for expats. Close to the coast and not too far from the English Channel, it’s a convenient residence for UK expatriates in particular, who may want to hop across the Celtic Sea from time to time to visit friends and family. A thriving expat population means that it’s easy to find people who speak English, and winters in the North-West of France tend to be milder than those closer to the Swiss border, where the Alpine winds chill to the core.

The history of this province of France is closely linked with that of the UK; it is often referred to as Lesser or Little Britain, and many of its myths and legends are recognisably Celtic in nature. Indeed, it is considered as one of the six Celtic nations – areas in Western Europe whose original Celtic languages have survived down through the centuries. Brittany’s local tongue is Breton, although nowadays only about twenty percent of the population speak it. We’ve put together a quick history of the region so you can amaze the locals with your knowledge of the area when you arrive. If you’d like to learn more, there are a number of historical tours available across Brittany and Normandy for anyone who’s interested.   more ...