How to Keep Your Phone Number When Moving Abroad

Sharon  @GoodMigrations

*Originally published on September 15, 2017 but has since been updated to reflect new information.

A decision many expats must make is how to stay connected with family and friends back home after they move overseas. For individuals moving within the EU, the dilemma of keeping a phone number when moving to a new country is not as great and sometimes not present at all. If you live anywhere in Europe and are planning on moving elsewhere in Europe, Africa or Asia (with the exceptions of Japan and Korea), your phone will work. If you are moving to the Americas, make sure your phone has the 1900 and 850 MHz bands. For those of us trying to keep our USA phone number when moving abroad though, it’s a time of frustration and lots of research.

 How to stay connected overseas Read more…

The 10 Hardest Visas to Get in The World

Sharon  @GoodMigrations

You wouldn’t be wrong to assume the hardest part of traveling the world is saving up to cover the costs of flights. However, have you ever considered whether you can even get a visa or how time-consuming it will be? Some of the most epic journeys you can take, such as the Trans-Siberian Railway or walking the Great Wall of China, will mean navigating countries that have strict visa laws. If you are looking to take a longer trip or move or study abroad, then you will also have to pay extra attention to visa requirements. In this article, My Baggage covers the ten hardest visas to obtain and how you can get your hands on them!

10 Hardest Visas Around the World

North Korea

We’ll start off with the elephant in the room – the hermit kingdom of North Korea. It might not surprise you to learn that there are harder countries to get a visa for. You cannot apply for a visa independently and can only get a tourist visa through the tour operator you are traveling with – and the tour operator must be registered with the State General Bureau of Tourist Guidance. Spend some time researching tour operators online to find one that is registered and has great reviews. Make sure you get in touch with them well ahead of when you are planning on traveling to ensure you have given yourself enough time to obtain the visa.

As a country with such a complicated history, North Korea is worth visiting for a number of reasons. First off, there’s the capital city Pyongyang, with sites such as the Juche Tower, Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, and Kim Il-Sung Square. There’s Heaven Lake, a crater lake on the border between North Korea and China. There’s Kaesong, a city near the border of South Korea where you can find Manwoldae Palace. Certain areas of North Korea, however, tourists aren’t allowed access to even with a visa and require prior approval from the North or United Nations command, such as the Demilitarized Zone.
North Korea Passport- Visa

Russia

Getting a visa to Russia has always been notoriously hard. If you are traveling via a tour, they will be able to assist with this. However, if you are traveling independently expect to deal with Russian bureaucracy at its finest. Russia has also recently introduced biometric applications, meaning you must give your fingerprints and facial image when applying so will need to apply at the embassy in person.

Before you even get to this stage it is essential that you have a letter of invitation which has been issued by a Russian travel agency that is registered with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If this sounds like a nightmare, you can get help from a private visa agency, as even one mistake on your application will result in it being denied.

Although it’s a long and difficult process, obtaining a visa to Russia will allow you to see many of the great cities and sights it has to offer. No trip to Russia is complete without visiting St Petersburg, the former capital, with the Mariinsky Theatre and the State Russian Museum. The current capital, Moscow, is also worth visiting, if anything just for the beautiful architecture, such as the impressive Saint Basil’s Cathedral. If you prefer nature to cities, then take a trip to the beautiful Lake Baikal, or head to the Kola Peninsula between August and April to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

If you are considering moving to Russia to study, there are some brilliant universities with exchange programs for English speakers – although it’s always a good idea to try to learn the language, even if it is just the basics. Read more…

Visa

How to find a roommate in Seattle, WA

Michael Boateng @GoodMigrations

With Seattle’s gorgeous mountains and lakes, a bustling tech scene, and abundant coffee culture, it’s easy to want to call this the Emerald city home. However, with housing prices around all major US cities rising it can be difficult to live on your own. According to Zillow, Seattle’s average $2,000 rental price for a 1 bedroom home, is above the national average of just $1,200. So it’s no surprise that this competitive market has left Seattleites now spending 35 percent of their annual household income on housing, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How does Seattle compare to other major cities?

London is 4% more expensive
New York is 24% more expensive
Los Angeles is about the same
Toronto is 15% cheaper
Sydney is 11% cheaper
Singapore is 7% cheaper
Paris is 11% cheaper

Source: Expatistan

For many expats, temporary furnished housing is a great option while you wait for your freight furniture and other household goods delivery to arrive. Nestpick is one online platform where you can search Seattle for furnished rentals.

But if paying the $2000 or more is not in your budget, then maybe it’s time to find a roommate. Whether moving to Seattle for work or school, a flatmate could be a great way to meet new people and save some money.

Finding someone that syncs up with your living style can be difficult and frustrating.  You have to ask the right questions: when’s the last time you washed a dish that wasn’t yours, how often do you bring partners over, how loud do you listen to your music, have you ever secretly hidden a cat inside your apartment and pretended the noise was coming from YouTube videos? The list goes on and on.

Once you’ve settled on the questions to ask. It’s time to start looking. But where? Where and how can you as an expat, find a flatmate share in a Seattle? Here are some great resources to check out.

Online resources for finding a flatmate:

  • Craigslist – Yes, it may seem creepy to some but with Craigslist’s new “Rooms Shared” sub-category it’s easier to focus on those who’ve put the time to post rooms they already have.
  • Roommates – Has a Seattle section as well.
  • Spareroom -Spareroom lets you search based on what’s important to you, to make sure you find your perfect match.
  • Facebook – With over 56K members, join the Seattle Housing Group’s page to search apartments and roommates.
  • Internations – A social media site for expats has a Seattle Housing forum. Check here to see if any other expats posted about needing a roommate. Alternatively, you can also post requesting a roommate if you already have a place or apartment.

Apps to help you find a roommate:

  • Roomi – Say goodbye to yearlong leases. Roomi helps you find flexible, affordable housing and connect with roommates who make the big city feel like home.
  • Roomster – A trusted name for people to post & and search for accommodations around the world with other like-minded individuals. Roomster connects people at all price points, in 192 countries.

Our Seattle City Guide is also a great resource for navigating the city. It’s got information on how to get around Seattle, navigating the education system, and basics like getting a phone or setting up a bank account. Most importantly, you can use the Seattle neighborhood guide to zero in on the neighborhoods that are a match for you.  will help summarize information about costs of living, the average annual weather, safety as well as go into detail about each neighborhood.

Before we go, here are some apps to make roommate life waaaaaay easier:

Money/Finances

  • Splitwise – Keep track of your shared expenses and balances with housemates, trips, groups, friends, and family.
  • IOU – IOU (I owe you) tracks people who owes you money. It’s simple and fast.
  • Venmo – Make payments, get payments, transfer money to your bank account and stay connected to friends.
  • Cash – Request money and make payments as easy as using cash.
  • Roof – Share a home pleasantly with your roommates. Collect rent and chat effortlessly with your tenants.

Shopping and Chores

  • Our Groceries – simplest way to keep your grocery lists instantly synchronized on all the smartphones in your household—and it’s free!
  • Wunderlist – custom lists and to do’s that can be shared with roommates or part of a group.
  • Handy – Instantly book highly rated pros for cleaning and handyman tasks at a fixed price.
  • ChoreBuster – The ultimate family chore chart, ChoreBuster lets you manage and assign chores to each roommate member of your family, for free!

Expats Guide to Healthcare in the U.S.

Sharon  @GoodMigrations

When it comes to health insurance, it can be a bit of bore, but the truth may lie in its lack of transparency and understanding by many. When you hear the terms co-pay, premiums and out-of-network it can make the head ring. As an Expat, it’s important to understand the system, the terminology and what’s offered as it will most likely be different than what you are used to.

Health Insurance- US-style may seem confusing and downright mind-numbing but that is no reason to avoid it. It may be tempting to skip out on Healthcare or think you’ll rely on your local provider from your previous country, but when it comes to healthcare in the US, it’s a must. After reading this guide, you’ll be ahead of the 4% of US citizens who understand their own health insurance system.

Healthcare insurance is what allows you to trust that whether rain or shine, flu or pneumonia, cut or injury, you’ll be able to get professional medical help at a reasonable price. Health insurance is what you pay into, either monthly or yearly so that you don’t get hit with high medical bills. Whether you have a planned visit or unexpected accidents, health insurance can enable you to save big money.

Understanding the US Healthcare System

In the United States, there is no National Health Care system like what is found in most European countries. Individuals residing in the US, whether a citizen or legal resident, pay into a private healthcare system. On the flip side residents without healthcare insurance will incur large medical bills when illness or injury comes up. These high medical costs are the biggest factor that contributes to the 62% of bankruptcy filed in the US, according to the American Journal of Medicine.

The government does, however, fund two programs, Medicare and Medicaid, but these are intended for the elderly (65+), the poor, and the disabled. The World Health Organization noted that in 2012 the US had spent 17% ($2.8 trillion dollars) of its GDP on health care – which is more than the United Kingdom and Northern Irelands GDP combined. And the worst part, Americans aren’t any better off or healthier for it.

Many Americans and working expats have their medical insurance subsidized by their employers. Even with this employer subsidy, not everything is covered, and every plan is different. The devil is in the detail so read and re-read your plan.

Since 2010, The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was passed in the US, which reformed the health care system by allowing millions of uninsured Americans to now legally have healthcare. Obamacare also influenced expats by not allowing insurers to deny patients with pre-existing conditions and allowing them to see the doctors of their choice. You do not need to be a US Citizen to purchase US health insurance, but you do need to be a lawful resident or a green cardholder.

Costs for Healthcare

Read more…

Healthcare

Celebrating Halloween in London as an Expat

Sharon  @GoodMigrations

Back in 2010 my husband and I left the concrete jungle of New York City to move to Sydney, Australia and test it out for a few years.

It was a great experience filled with so much. But it also gave us the opportunity to learn about a new culture and celebrate new holidays.  We always loved Australia Day and playing 2 Up. On the flip side, it was equally as exciting being able to share our own holidays and traditions with Aussie locals that might not be familiar with those of our own. I remember hosting a Thanksgiving Dinner where the majority of our guests were NOT from America. And it was a hit! I mean, how can you not love stuffing your face with tons of delicious food while enjoying time spent with friends?

As Halloween quickly approaches, you may be wondering where in London can I take my kids trick or treating? Keeping in mind that this is not a local holiday celebrated by all. In fact, the British hate Halloween apparently. A survey done way back in 2006 found that over half of British homeowners turn off their lights and pretend not to be home on Halloween. Yet another reason the United States is happy to be free from British rule. smiley

Here are a few tricks and treats to celebrating Halloween as an expat in London. 

Read more…

Activities Expat Life

© 2020 GoodMigrations LLC. All rights reserved.

The GoodMigrations logo and the Cost/Time/Condition metric are service marks of GoodMigrations LLC. Terms  Privacy Policy