This article first appeared at GoArticles, and is a syndicated copy.

For many people the reason they choose not to go the route of a professional expat is because they think that living abroad means giving up family ties and no longer being able to remain close with your family and friends back home. This just isn’t the case, as the Internet has allowed for instant communication on a global scale. Not to mention there are international airports in just about every city in the world, and no matter if you live a 10 hour drive or a 10 hour flight away from your home family, you can still get back home for the holidays just as easily as an expat as you can as a normal individual.

Keeping family ties is an important aspect of living abroad as a digital nomad because of the simple fact that you are thousands of miles away from home and without any sort of local connections during your initial days on the ground you are going to feel out of place and probably lonely unless you happen to be traveling with a partner. The ability to connect via Facebook or other social media platforms and communicate with your family and friends back home enables you to adapt more quickly to your local environment, because you don’t feel as though you’re in a strange place, but rather as though you simply moved a few hours away. Which, in reality, is all you’ve really done considering the ease of transportation via airlines.

While an important part of expat living is blending into the local environment as well as making friends with other expats and locals, there’s nothing wrong with heading home for the holidays or scheduling regular trips once every few months to keep ties with your home country and your friends in the city where you grew up. And just because you are living somewhere else on the planet doesn’t mean you can’t keep in touch the same way you would normally when you are simply living a few hours away in a different state.

The most important thing to remember is that there is no reason to stress about living in another country as an expat when you know you can get back home with a simple plane flight. On top of that you have things such as Skype to stay connected with your family and friends on a regular basis absolutely free, so long as you have a laptop and an Internet connection. The bottom line is that there are dozens of ways to stay in touch and just because you live in another corner of the globe doesn’t mean you are cut off from your home.

For more information on living as an expat, you can check this blog.

This is a syndicated article that was original published at GoArticles.

Exploring the diversity of planet Earth is only one aspect of the expat lifestyle, and while it is the primary draw for numerous digital nomads, it is not the only reason. There are literally dozens of different things that affect expats and their decisions to leave the home country behind, ranging from a desire to explore nature, to a hunger for cultural immersion. Adventure and excitement are also high in the list, as the nomadic existence allows people a lifetime of exploration similar to the Indiana Jones movies where your life is continually spent on the road uncovering new adventures.

The one thing that all expats have in common is the fact that they are choosing to immerse themselves in other environments to fully explore the vast range of options that planet Earth has to offer. While for one individual it might be cultural atmosphere that draws them to a country, such as the festivals and the people, for another it might be the natural attractions that take shape in the form of mountains, valleys, jungles and rivers. And for others it is simply the ability to explore things that are normally only experienced through the television or by reading a copy of your favorite adventure magazine.

The diversity ranges from the flat, vineyard-filled plains of Bulgaria to the sprawling deserts of Egypt to the lush jungles of Mexico and the mountains of the Andes stretching through Peru and Chile. The Grand Canyon in the United States compares against the expanse of the Yukon in Canada or the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. There is so much difference in the world simply depending on where you happen to travel, and it is this allure that keeps so many expats traveling year after year.

Regardless of the reasons why you choose to pursue the expat dream, the important thing to remember is that everyone has a main motivator that draws them to travel and continually lures them onward with a carrot at the end of a very large stick. The horizon is like a magnet continually drawing forward, pulling them towards a destiny they might not understand. All that really matters is that they follow the pull and continually moved forward. With so many countries and a vast landscape of never-ending possibilities, it is a literal impossibility to explore the diversity of planet Earth in just one lifetime, but for adventurous expats it is a challenge they are willing to undertake.

For more information on what it means to live as an expat in other countries, read this book.

The following article first appeared at GoArticles.com. You can read the original here.

The first thing you need to realize about Mexico is that the violence that the U.S. media portrays as rampant is almost nonexistent. It is only in the northern sections of the country near the city of Juarez and along the border of the U.S. that the cartels are actively engaged in warfare with each other and with customs officials. Mexico as a whole is a massive country with 31 different states, all of which are as safe if not safer than most of the United States and her 50 different states. So if you are worried about how to live in Cancun, Mexico as an expat with the violence your fears are mostly unfounded.

Mexico City is the fifth largest city on the planet, yet its violent crime rate is at the exact same level as New York City: 9 in 100,000 people. Washington D.C., in comparison, has 31 in 100,000. These numbers are as of 2010 in USA Today. Cancun is 2/100,000, making it safer even than Denver, Colorado with its 8 in 100,000. And when you look across the entire breadth of this Latin mega country the reality is startlingly clear once you move beyond the propaganda of the news: Mexico is no different than any other country, and with Wal Mart and Home Depot and other American companies here as well, most expats retiring early never even notice a difference other than Spanish being the major language.

But it goes beyond merely the perception of violence. The average American living in the United States has been raised with the concept of Mexicans being the gardeners, janitors and trash men of the U.S. machine. They are the ones working the fields to produce the crops that feed the “greatest” nation on the planet, and over the years that picture has bred a generation of citizens who honestly believe that the only reason Mexicans exist is to do their dirty work, or the work that white, privileged Americans are “too good for”.

The reality when you get on the ground is that the Mexican people are a proud people with a rich heritage that spans thousands of years compared to the mere 250 years or so that America has existed as The United States. They have a rich, thriving culture that embraces life rather than groans beneath its weight, and while they might be viewed as poor from people living in the United States, they make up for dollars in enthusiasm for life. The perfect example of this is the prevalence of festivals in Mexico. There is no country on the planet with a culture of people who love festivals and celebrations as much as Mexicans do…and that just makes this place that much more interesting to live as an expat from another country.

For more information on expat living in other countries, you can read The Expat Guidebook.

This post is syndicated content from Lost Laowai. You can read it in its entirety at their site.

If you’re like me, you probably perk up anytime you hear about a movie being made in or about China. Having one made about expats living in China was a first though, and so when I first heard about Shanghai Calling, a romantic comedy about American expats living in Shanghai, I was pretty keen to watch it.

The film centres around a young American attorney (Daniel Henney) sent to Shanghai on assignment, only to get mixed up in shady business deals, quirky cultural experiences and a bit of romance (with Scrubs’ Eliza Coupe). The supporting cast features Alan Ruck (a.k.a. Cameron Frye), Bill PaxtonGeng Le (playing the excellently named “Awesome Wang”) and Zhu Zhu.

I’ve yet to see the film, but when Daniel Hsia, the film’s writer/director, contacted Lost Laowai to share his film’s new contest geared specifically towards us expats, I was happy to help pass on the info. And so here it is:

SHANGHAI CALLING, the award-winning romantic comedy about American expats living in China, recently began playing at film festivals across the country.

Now we want to hear YOUR “Expat Stories!”  Submit your best story about something that happened to you while traveling abroad, studying abroad, or living abroad, and you could win a trip for two to see SHANGHAI CALLING at an upcoming film festival!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Upload your “Expat Story” to YouTube (up to 3 minutes in length).
  2. Submit your video to us using the Official Submission Form at http://ShanghaiCalling.com/Contest
  3. Your story must be a true, original experience.  Creativity is encouraged!  Speak it, act it out, write an original song, animate it.  The best videos will be featured on our website throughout the contest period.
  4. Offensive or profane submissions will not be considered.
  5. Submissions are eligible from 12:00:00pm Pacific Daylight Time (“PDT”) on June 6, 2012, until 11:59:59 pm PDT on July 6, 2012.
  6. Grand Prize Winner will receive a trip for 2 to a festival premiere of SHANGHAI CALLING at one of the two following film festivals:  Stony Brook Film Festival in Long Island, NY; or Asian American International Film Festival in New York City.
  7. No substitution of Grand Prize is offered.
  8. Please read the OFFICIAL RULES below for full details.

Good luck!  We look forward to seeing your Expat Stories online!

This Post is syndicated from TalesFromExpats.com. For the full post you can read it in all its glory here. I take no credit for its authorship.

Step 1: Find somewhere to stay

Where you stay will obviously depend on your personal situation & budget.  We have a 3-year old who sleeps in her own room at home so I was hoping to find a nice 2-bedroom serviced apartment.  In the end, we opted for a 1-bedroom in a nicer, more modern place.

Legacy Suites, Bangkok

The living area at Legacy Suites, Bangkok

We stayed at Legacy Suites on Sukhumvit, Soi 29.  Although probably one of the higher priced options, I can’t say enough good things about this hotel.  The room was perfect – good size (with separate bedroom), very clean, new washing machine in the kitchen and a gorgeous bathroom with a bathtub and shower.   We opted not to pay the additional 800THB for an extra bed and instead brought a small mattress with us, which we had bought at the market here in Cambodia for $20.  We also brought linens, although our cleaner very kindly supplied us with extra when we were in need.

The staff were excellent – very friendly and happy to help with any of our many requests.  There is a simple but really good Japanese restaurant just beside the lobby, which will also deliver to your room.

Pros:

Close to the hospital for expats with health issues

New, clean rooms

Lovely pool & exercise equipment

Friendly Japanese restaurant

Excellent & attentive staff

Short walk away from outdoor playgrounds, Villa Supermarket & Emporium Shopping Centre

Cons:

No local market (if you are into buying local produce & cooking)

Not many cheap restaurant food options nearby – particularly if you are vegetarian

Price – more expensive than other serviced apartments

Step 2: Choose a Hospital & Doctor

The hospital most expats seem to favour is Samitivej – and for good reason.  They are well set up and run a very efficient business; the hospital feels much more like a hotel than a medical centre.  Their 2 birthing rooms are each equipped with a large tub, a comfortable bed, cushions of all sizes, a birthing chair, and other various contraptions.

Samitivej Hospital birthing room

Samitivej Hospital birthing room

There are several doctors available (you can view individual photos and profiles online) and again this is a personal choice.  We went with Dr. Nisarath for several reasons.

  • Firstly, she is a woman.
  • Secondly, a good friend of mine had had her baby delivered by Dr. Nisarath last year and was very positive about her experience.
  • Thirdly, both my husband & I immediately liked her at our first appointment.

Her approach seemed very natural – she didn’t make me have an ultrasound but preferred to use human touch to determine the baby’s position, etc., and also didn’t insist on any additional blood work or testing.

Step 3: Book an Appointment

Book an appointment online before you arrive for the best expat experience.  The hospital website is easy to navigate and lets you choose a specific doctor, or will assign you one if you have no preference. 

Step 4: To Fly or Drive?

We were able to drive from Cambodia into Thailand.  This obviously cut down on costs and allowed us to bring whatever we needed from home.  It also gave us some more freedom getting around Bangkok although public transportation is very straightforward and taxis inexpensive.   See my husband’s post here for more information on taking your car into Thailand.

Step 5: Prenatal Classes & Doulas

I started out wanting to have a doula – a friend of mine had a good experience and directed me to The Parent Vine for a network of practicing doulas in Bangkok.  I contacted a few, but none of them were available.  I emailed the contact on their Facebook page to find out the date of their next ‘meet the doulas’ session, but never heard back.  Although going the doula route did not work out for me, don’t let my experience deter you if that is what you are looking for.

In the end, I was actually very happy we did not have a doula.  The midwives who work with Dr. Nisarath were top-notch: very encouraging throughout the whole labour and totally supportive of my wishes for a natural drug-free birth.  They were highly skilled and knew exactly what I needed every step of the way.

Midwives at Samitivej Hospital, Bangkok

My average cost to live in Cancun, Mexico is around $600 per month. That includes my rent, entertainment, food and total cost of living. I work a few hours per day and as of the end of 2011 I was making a minimum of $3,00o per month from my various writing ventures, not counting affiliate sales, e-book sales and otherwise. As a result, I’m able to put the lion’s share of my salary back in my pocket, which means I’ll be able to achieve an early retirement long before my counterparts in the U.S. who have to wait until they are 60 or 65 to start living the “good life” of a retiree.

$1,000 a month in Mexico is like making $5,000 a month back in the U.S. If you are looking for how to live in Mexico like a rockstar, that’s the way to go, because anything above and beyond $1,000 a month is pure gravy. $1,000 a month will give you an easy upper middle class existence, while $2,000 a month will give you a beach-front home in Playa de Carmen or Cancun where you can live like a movie star. This in comparison to the U.S. where you can barely scrape by with $2,500 a month according to the U.S. Census Bureau (the average cost of living).

In this regards, choosing to live in Mexico allows you the opportunity to live like a king on a shoestring budget, and you can either save your money for an early retirement or you can use it to enjoy life to its fullest.  You can find more about the expat lifestyle here.

For many people the question of how to live in Mexico is less to deal with money and more to deal with security and safety. Thankfully, Mexico is one of the safest countries in the world to live in, despite what you may have heard on the news or read on a website somewhere. The Western media loves to spread propaganda regarding other countries, but the realitiest are often much more complex.

Take, for example, the city of Cancun, which is located in the state of Quintana Roo. As a whole, the entire state of Q. Roo only has a 2 in 100,000 rate for violent crimes and murder. That’s an extremely low number, especially when you look at the capital of the United States, Washington D.C., which has a staggering 31 in 100,000 violent crimes and murders per year. These numbers are as of 2010 in USA Today.

But not all of Mexico is the same. If you want to live there you have to know which areas are safe and which one’s aren’t. Just as Washington D.C. is not a safe place to live in the U.S., the city of Juarez and the border towns along the U.S. in the northern parts of Mexico are not safe for living, because the cartels have border wars going on. But when you look at the rest of the country as a whole, Mexico City for example only has 9/100,000, which is exactly the same as New York City. As a country, Mexico is just as safe if not safer than the United States, and as long as you know how to live in Mexico with the same information as the locals you won’t ever even notice the difference.