As exciting as it can be, moving abroad also brings an endless to-do list with it, and transferring money overseas is just one of the challenges you'll face as a new expat. Failing to devise a plan for this early on can end up costing you unnecessarily, but what are the most important things to consider?
In the Hong Kong district of Sham Shui Po, Kowloon side, the market stalls play host to many a social gathering. Groups of older men, stylish in aviators, crisp white, or pastel, short-sleeved shirts and tailored trousers, stand in a cloud of imperial leather, discussing, well...I rarely know. But sometimes there's a clue in the shape of racing forms being passed around, or a grandchild being proudly held aloft - a champion at a sporting event.
Wherever you've moved to, be it somewhere in Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa or Oceania, you're guaranteed to have an incredible adventure, but there may be some surprises along the way. Breaking the language barrier and staying in touch with family and friends are two such challenges that you might face on a regular basis.
With space finite and demand for it high, the city's towers are not only for banks and flats, but often host a hotchpotch of tailors, jewellers and iron mongers living harmoniously side by side. As the number of red lanterns decorating the city increased in anticipation of Chinese New Year, the possibilities for urban exploration seemed endless.
Moving abroad can be stressful, that much is obvious, but when you're about to leave home some arrangements come more naturally than others. While I managed to hold a leaving party before moving to Hong Kong, some things, such as organising the shipment of important possessions, fell by the wayside. Oh well - who needs a change of clothes anyway?
It's Australia Day this weekend and some of the biggest gatherings of antipodeans will be happening right here in London. It's become a second home to many young Aussies. But what is it about this city that draws so many of us in when we so readily revel in tormenting the English cricket team? How can we declare our love, when we proudly declare that our lifestyle of balmy weather and beaches is to be envied by London Brits who covet grey skies and enduring winters?
So there we all were, tucking in to a delicious roast beef, enjoying our Sunday lunch, discussing the terrible weather with my American friends. And as they started talking about American Football I went and spoiled it all by asking something stupid like "so what's your favourite Superbowl food? Is there a top 5?"
After a lifetime of working in Britain, paying taxes and mandatory National Insurance contributions, many pensioners wish to spend their retirement overseas, often joining family, or returning to their country of origin. On the face of it this is a fair wish for those who have contributed to the economy for so long.
Just 5 weeks ago I wrote about how hard it was to watch them struggling each day. Since then they have moved with unexpected ease from a 9 - 1.30pm day (summer hours) to a 9 - 4.30pm day. Even the 5 year old who had only ever been to playschool in Ireland until 12.30 has been thrown in the deep end. But they have coped admirably.
Exhausted, time-poor new mothers relish the beautifully packaged bundles of nutritious goodness carefully crafted by clinical experts, together with advice from their Chinese Physician at Thomson Chinese Medicine. The 28-day menu is catered to mothers who have more discerning palates, whilst maintaining the nutritional aspects of the herbs used in preparing the meals.
The issues my parents faced living in a foreign land never truly dawned on me until I began living abroad alone, and that "dawning" was only a superficial realisation. Growing up, I found my parents uncouth and I was annoyed by the seemingly unending confusion and embarrassment they bestowed upon me: why did they have to speak Vietnamese so loudly in public?