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We have now fully updated our guide for Dublin (and Ireland). After London, Paris, Montreal, and Dublin, the guide has been fully reviewed and extended, and with 113 pages (PDF) of information you will read the most complete guide to prepare your expatriation to Spain and to Madrid.

The capital of Spain, Madrid (3,2 million inhabitants in 2016) is the country largest city. It is also the capital of the autonomous region and province of Madrid.

Figures from the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) show that Spanish economic growth has been strong and balanced in 2017, and it is projected to moderate but remain robust in 2018 and 2019. Domestic demand will ease, as the support provided by low oil prices and lower taxes dissipate. On the other hand, political tensions in Catalonia have increased uncertainty and affected external inversions.

Competitiveness gains will continue to support exports, even as external demand growth declines slightly. Inflation is projected to fall to 1.3% in 2018, before bouncing back somewhat in 2019.

You will find the usual articles in our guide to prepare your expatriation to Madrid and Spain and manage your life once in there: Overview, Job, Passport, Visa & Permits to go to Spain, International Removal Companies, Finding Accommodation in Madrid, Work, Benefits and Tax, Moving in, Education in Spain, Health, Practical Life (banks, transport, shopping...), Entertainment...

You can also discuss and share experience in Madrid and Spain in our forum.

Last but not least, you can download the full guide in PDF format, in order to read quietly and maybe to upload on your mobile or tablet PC/iPad.

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We are proud to launch our new city guide for expatriates in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria and the country's political, administrative, and cultural center. There is a total of 1.3 million people living in the city and 1.7 million people living in the metropolitan area.

 

Bulgaria is an open and flexible economy. The economy was restructured substantially and began to grow after competitive tax rates, open trade regime, after the relatively high level of resilience from the financial sector during the 2014 liquidity crisis.

The level of debt tends to be the lowest in the Balkan region with the budget deficits declining. In order to ensure long-term economic growth, the judicial effectiveness and government integrity must be committed to institutional reforms. Tourism, information technology, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and textiles are all leading industries in Bulgaria. However, migrant flows are an issue.

The economy grew by over 1% in the year of 2017.

Sofia is the capital and economic hub of Bulgaria and home to most major Bulgarian and international companies that operate within in the country.  In the recent years electronics and electric equipment production has regained higher levels of economic growth. A large number of Western-style outlets began to appear in Sofia, and the city developed as a retail center which helped the economy. Sofia is a major air travel hub as well.

You will find the usual articles in our guide to prepare your expatriation to Sofia and manage your life once in there: Overview, Job, Passport, Visa & Permits, International Removal Companies, Finding Accommodation in Bulgaria, Work, Benefits and Tax, Moving in, Education, Health, Practical Life (banks, transport, shopping...), Entertainment...

You can also discuss and share experience about Bulgaria in our forum.

Last but not least, you can download the full guide in PDF format, in order to read quietly and maybe to upload on your mobile or tablet PC/iPad.

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Article sponsored by Southbank International School

Now in its 50th year, the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme is taught by over 4,000 schools to over one million students across the world. The programme encourages students to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners from the age of three to 18.

The IB aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who will help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. It helps children grow in self-confidence and become more open-minded.

What makes the IB especially distinctive is the way that the programme encourages students to be more globally aware, to learn through real-world experiences, to be active within their local communities and to develop a love of learning that goes beyond academic study.

4 programmes for students aged 3 to 19 years old

Although widely viewed by parents as an excellent way to prepare for life at university and the ‘world of work’, the IB programme is actually available for students aged three to 19 years old. And with the same framework followed by schools across the world it is the perfect curriculum for children to follow if, due to the global careers of their parents, they are likely to relocate every few years. That said, the global nature of IB means it is also becoming increasingly more appealing to many parents seeking an alternative to a national curriculum route.

In the UK, most leading IB schools follow 3 programmes for students:

  • The Primary Years Programme for students aged 3-12
  • The Middle Years Programme for students aged 11-16
  • The Diploma Programme for students aged 16-18

    The Primary Years Programme covers six transdisciplinary themes that help children gain a better understanding about who they are, how they express themselves, how the world works and how to share the finite resources of the planet. However, the focus is equally on grounding a student in the universal skills that they will use throughout their life – developing independence, thinking for themselves, and gaining an understanding of the world around them.

    The Middle Years Programme covers eight subject areas (language acquisition, language & literature, individuals & societies, sciences, mathematics, arts, physical & health education, and design). The Programme develops a student’s skills of analysis. It challenges them to think about, and make connections between, what they learn in the classroom and the world around them. Throughout the Middle Year Programme teachers will nurture each student’s individual strengths, encouraging them to help themselves and one another to understand the curriculum.

    The Diploma Programme is the pathway programme designed to help students prepare for higher education and the world of work. The Programme includes some unique elements including the preparation of an extended 4,000 word essay on a subject of the student’s choosing.

    Students are also introduced to the unique Theory of Knowledge course which encourages them to reflect on the nature of knowledge and the factors that have an impact on how people learn. This element of the course – which is assessed through an independently researched, 1,600 word essay and presentation – is felt by many to be an excellent preparation for the academic rigours of university life, giving students insight into how to study most effectively.

    Alongside their academic studies students are also expected to carry out some form of creativity, activity, service (CAS) project to demonstrate perseverance and initiative, as well as help them to develop further skills such as collaboration, problem solving and decision making.

    How is the IB marked?

    Each of the six subjects studied in the Diploma Programme is marked out of 7 giving the student a maximum of 42 points. Candidates can earn up to 3 extra points for their Extended Essay and the Theory of Knowledge element of their studies. An IB diploma is awarded to students who score at least 24 points out of the total of 45 points available. Last July (2017) over 159,400 graduated with an IB diploma. Students received an average diploma score of 29.95 points, with 218 students achieving a perfect score.

    Why opt for the IB?

    Many international families now see the IB as the perfect passport to the world’s leading universities and most desirable jobs.The independent research skills that are taught and the inter-disciplinary subjects that are offered on the IB Diploma Programme allow students to progress particularly well on undergraduate degree courses that require good writing abilities, numeracy and analytical skills.Such is their level of preparedness for university life that students who have studied the IB at school have the lowest dropout rate.

    A recent study showed that Diploma Programme graduates are also better prepared than non-IB graduates in 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, global mindedness, cultural sensitivity and leadership. The transferable skills learnt during an IB education are especially attractive to leading employers who are keen to recruit graduates who can demonstrate the ability to make connections between what they have learnt and the real-world business challenges that their organisation is facing. Companies also appreciate the global nature of the IB as it enables more easily a direct comparison between the results of a candidate from London with, for example, another candidate from Singapore.

    Why study for the IB in London?

    London has a long history of attracting international students from around the world. Its heritage and cultural diversity have always ensured its popularity and appeal to the global community. The IB encourages students to explore life beyond the classroom and apply their learning to the real world.  Schools based in London, with proximity to public galleries, parks and places of historical interest can offer a more enriching curriculum over out-of-town establishments.

    Why study at Southbank International School?

    Southbank International School is a co-educational IB school for children age 3 to 18 with over sixty nationalities on its roll. The school – part of Cognita – is London’s leading IB World school, academically successful and rated ‘Outstanding’ in all areas by Ofsted.  Many of its students go on to study at the world’s top universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, and Harvard.

    The school currently has 3 campuses in Hampstead, Kensington, and Westminster and it will be expanding the facilities of its Westminster campus with a new building (opening in September 2018) to cope with the growing demand for places from international families that have made the capital their home.

    For more information about Southbank International School and why you should consider an IB education for your child please click HERE.

     
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    Article sponsored by SBK

    When choosing health insurance in Germany, you’re often not just choosing for yourself — you’re choosing for the family members that depend on you.

    Health insurance is a requirement in Germany, but there is plenty of choice: statutory health insurance or private health insurance, of which there are dozens of providers. To qualify for private health insurance, however, you must earn over EUR 59,400 per year or be self-employed, as well as submit to a health check — which, if you have a pre-existing condition, may disqualify you.

    Although expats in Germany may think private health insurance automatically means better health insurance, they are often surprised that sometimes it’s the other way around. With statutory health insurance providers such as Siemens-Betriebskrankenkasse — open to anyone in Germany who would like to enrol — your family is well protected, and you may pay far less.

    How family insurance works in Germany

    To ensure that everyone is equally covered, the German health care system includes stipulations for family insurance, in which dependent family members such as spouses and children may enrol at no cost with the statutory health insurance provider with whom one family member is already enrolled.

    Also called family co-insurance, this is offered to a number of spouses or registered partners and children under certain conditions:

    • They must live in Germany
    • They are not exempt from insurance (e.g. they are a civil servant, a profession which offers insurance exemption)
    • They are not enrolled with any health insurance provider
    • They have no income or income that does not exceed EUR 425 per month (or EUR 450 per month if they fall under so-called marginal employment, or a minor part-time job)

    Children are generally insured up to the age of 18, but this limit may be extended. Children may be insured to the following ages, provided they meet additional conditions:

    • Up to 23 years old if they are unemployed
    • Up to 25 years old if they are in school, vocational training, or participating in one of the voluntary work programmes, including the Voluntary Social Year or Voluntary Ecological Year, with some additional requirements
    • Over 25 years old if education was interrupted by military or civilian service, lasting as long as the service itself

    Stepchildren and grandchildren are also eligible, provided they are dependents of the enrolee; foster children are also eligible, provided you are not caring for them as a professional. Children who are permanently disabled and must be cared for by the parents are also eligible.

    This family health insurance regulation ensures that families are equally covered, and that health insurance remains affordable for all — especially if one half of the couple earns far less or does not have an income at all. Expats that have arrived in Germany due to an overseas assignment often bring their spouses — the trailing spouse — and nearly half of those spouses remain unemployed. One spouse, of course, may earn a salary above the threshold for private health insurance — but enrolling in private health insurance may be a mistake, especially considering that once you enrol with one, you cannot return to statutory health insurance unless you fall under the income threshold and are older than 55.

    Statutory vs. private health insurance for families

    The family insurance regulation does not apply to private health insurance providers — they are free to charge contributions for spouses and children, regardless of how much they earn (or, rather, do not earn). For families with younger children or those who wish to expand their families, private health insurance may be far more expensive than statutory health insurance.

    Child sickness benefits, in which parents receive their wages if they must stay home with a sick child, do not apply in private health insurance. In addition, with private health insurance, the enrolled spouse must always pay contributions — which is especially important if one parent must take parental leave. In this case, even when wages are reduced or non-existent, the partner taking leave must pay the same contribution — which is not determined based on salary, as in statutory health insurance, but health.

    For example, with private health insurance, an employed father may pay EUR 380 per month with a private health insurance provider; adding an unemployed wife and two children would require an additional monthly contribution of approximately EUR 320 and EUR 150 per child.

    When enrolled with Siemens-Betriebskrankenkasse, on the other hand, the employed father would pay a maximum contribution of EUR 673.77 with no additional contributions for the spouse and children. Compared to private health insurance, insurance with Siemens-Betriebskrankenkasse in this case would save the family nearly EUR 4,000 per year.

    Statutory health insurance providers may also provide “extras” for family members — with Siemens-Betriebskrankenkasse, enrolled members receive reimbursement for selected additional pregnancy check-ups and an allowance for midwife on-call services, as well as antenatal classes. Children also receive full range of preventive examinations from birth until 17 years of age; Siemens-Betriebskrankenkasse covers the costs of the U10, U11 and the J2 preventive examinations, which are generally not covered under other providers, and provides two completely covered dental examinations for children ages three to six.

    But each family is different — that’s why Siemens-Betriebskrankenkasse offers personal consultants for each of its members, a perk you may not get with private health insurance providers.

    When moving to Germany as a family, health insurance is often one of the first things to settle. Although you may qualify for private health insurance, it may not be the best option in the long-term — especially if you have a trailing spouse or young children.

    [Contributed by Siemens-Betriebskrankenkasse]

     

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    We wish you all a very happy year 2018!

    We are excited to start a new year at EasyExpat and BlogExpat with new projects coming: a new forum (with Facebook login), new and updated guides, expat news and of course always more interviews.

    We are looking forward to seeing you again soon on EasyExpat.com!
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    Just before Christmas, and to finish this year, we are publishing for the 7th year the EasyExpat Best-of list (we skipped 2016, therefore we are compiling both years here) for the funniest or most bizarre emails we have received in 2016-17.

    We remind you that EasyExpat is a list of city guides for expatriates, host a public forum for the community and free services such as job listing, classifieds, general articles on expatriation (FAQ), directory of expat websites. Apparently some Internet users did not understand it!

    Enjoy.

    You will understand that the goal is not to mock but just to relax and take it easy during the festive season.

    Of course, spelling mistakes were not corrected but names and personal details have been replaced by XXX, or deleted. The text published is the only and full message received.

    If you want to pursue this moment of relaxation and humour, please see our previous best-of:

    Worst emails in English Dear Sir / Madam,
    I hope you are doing well.

    My name is XXX,  Yemeni nationality.
    I am writing to you wondering if I and my boss can join such courses related to English learning?

    My boss English skills under zero, so he can start as a beginner;  and I can join any of advanced English conversation course, but both courses should start on same time.

    Could you plz reply to me ASAP, so that we can discuss this matter.

    Thank you,
    Hi,
    Maybe you can get me on the right track.
    I'm trying to find out if my father is still alive.
    The last time I saw him,I was 11 years old.
    Now on Christmas Eve,I will be 64.
    Can you maybe help me ?
    Sincerely,
    RXXX
    XXX
    USA
    PS: I am Belgium,born in Merksem.

    Good day
    Please I want to migrate from Cameroon to malaisia
    I pleasing you to help me with all inquires necessary for a peace full journey

    XXX here. I live in Calgary AB Canada. Do wish to work in your San Francisco office. Please give me the email address to have my resume sent.

    Hello.pls can you guys help me with any girl over there.my cell phone number.XXX.

    Hello,

    My name is XXX,I have 2 Console pianos that I need to be delivered back to city from UK.I only need you to store my items at your warehouse and deliver to my apartment after storage, Which  weighs 380 Kg each and Length x width x height = 58” x 25” x 40” = 1.661cbm,2 unit will be 3.322cbm /Volume 3.26m3 and the number of shipping case is 2 and have it Stored  for 3 months at your storage facility and deliver after to my apartment after storage.
     
    Note:I can only use my credit card for the payment of this service.Do your company accept credit card?
     
    Do get back to me with your cost for storage and method of payment so that I can go ahead and make payment if you can be able to move the items.
     
    Regards,
    XXX
    Hello ,i've ordered from lovell soccer website 13 days ago and they said my order has arrived to kuwait ,but honestly idont know where or when it will be delieverd ,so i would like to know if its in ur office ,so i can come and pick it up ,ref num :RU4XXX

    Rental Accommodation Ursynów area of Warsaw

    I am contacting you on behalf of my daughter and two other University students who are all second year student at the Veterinary Medicine at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences .

    She is now looking for a three bedroom apartment for Rental Accommodation Ursynów area of Warsaw. I have looked on your web site but have not had any success.

    The apartment is required for the academic year starting October 2016 and, depending on suitability, will continue until the end June 2017 or beyond.

    Can you please let me have any suitable accommodation which you feel might be available at the time required.

    Please send any information to me at: XXX

    Many thanks

    Guide me that how can we start or open the christian school in india
    or send me your contact number

    Dear Sir

    I am XXX buying Executive of XXX Group Limited company base in England. After visiting your website, I would like to build a partnership with your company.

    We are interested in buying couple of the products you sell and want to place an order with you in large quantities.

    Also we would be glad if you could give us an update on your stock and shipping details as quickly as possible

    Please Advise!
    Best Regards

    I'm experienced 4 years in childcare,im interested to work in abroad any country. I'm waiting for the response.

    Inquiry
    Dear sir
    Can we know your product prices to enable us compare and place our order, kindly confirm back to enable us send our order for further negotiation. wish to have a long term business opportunity with your esteem company
    Our company is looking at a very large Amount of supply and we are being very careful not to get loads of knock off  products.
    Note: Confirm if you can supply this quantity monthly. destination port Khalifa Bin Salman Port (KBSP)Bahrain

    Hello,

    From XXX tours, I'm XXX,and I wish to make a reservation with you for a group of 8 coming for a family Vacation/Holiday.We will like to know if you have vacancy for any fourteen days in the month of October.

    We appreciate your prompt responds.
    Regards,

    Good morning spotahome,
    I need your help please I'm looking for 2 apartments one for 2 adults and another one for a couple and little girl 3yrs.
    Budget 600 minimum maximum 800 without utilities. Please next to metro, bus lines supermarkets. Term could be minimum 4 months up to long term. My expectation is for first week of September, I can visit apartments on Monday next week, today or next weekende. I could also pay in advance 3 months of rent plus deposit. This is urgent. I'm italian and renting for my family. Thanks.

    hello
    good day
    dear sir/madam
    my name is XXX, i am pakistani citizen,
    i am interested business in madagascar, trading company office for nuts and spice and vegetables import export business,
    please give me information also cost business licence also paper work and your services fee and my residence visa fee and how long processing time

    Hallo Please send me a quote for the fees for a business visa for
    Australia  All the costs application fee cost involved please

    Hello,

    I was wondering if you could please forward a parcel for me from Denmark to
    Austria. I am trying to place an order online but the seller (Pandora
    Denmark) would ship only locally, which is why I was wondering if you could
    forward it to my Austrian address.

    Many thanks.

    Best,

    Dear Sir/ Madam,

    I hope this email finds you well. I have an urgent need to rent a furnished superior apartment for a family (of 4 people) on a longer period of time. We search upon a nice large apartment located in Eur area, and composed by 2 or 3 bedrooms, living room, kitchen/ dining room and bathroom(s).

    Due to a shortage of time, I would kindly ask you to offer me few apartments as soon as possible. Please provide a short description, including prices.

    You can also take in mind that I would be available to visit them in the forthcoming days.

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    With kind regards,

    Hi, I am waiting on a very important letter.  I have been tracking it and it's at the International Postal Center, probably at Incheon.  It's usually shipped to Korean Post EASTSEOUL Postal then to me...  I really need this package and with the korean holiday I won't get it until net wednesday.

    Is it possible to pick up my ems package at the International Post Center or pay a service for it to be hand delivered?  I have been searching for options...

    I really need this and can't wait past the weekend....

    Hello , i wish you a great time filled with happiness
    I am Jordanian and reside in UAE
    i have sent my documents by Emirates Post to the written address for the university of Luxembourg
    How can i know that my documents reached the university ?
    the registered mail is XXX
    the number of Dispatch is XXX
    please help me
    Best wishes

    Dear Sir or Madam,
                       I am pleased to write to inquire if there are job openings for construction and factory workers(vacancy), which i can give you a number of very good energetic young men from Ghana to work in South Korea or where the need necessary.
    This is an NGO seeking jobs for young people.

    Thank you very much and hoping to hear from you sooner.

    Hi,
     
    We bought your products some time ago and now we would like to speak with your sales department.

    Kindly forward me their email so we can begin with another purchase.
     
    Thanks!
     
    Best regards,

    Greetings,

    Please find attached RFQ (REQUEST FOR QUOTATION) for the attached product and quote us your best price and availability .

    Should you have any request, feel free to contact us.

    Best regards,
    Dear Sir/ Madame,

    I would like to kindly ask you to send me some offers of flats for sale in MUNICH (lower part of Englischer Garden). It should be placed in first street (the nearest to the park).
    We are looking for flat 4+1 or bigger, (around 150-200 square metres) with park view, the higher floor the beter.
    Would you be so kind and send me some offers?

    MeHello
    I need your help, we arrive by plane on the 13th August at 23:50 and we have to go 10 boat green to Edinburgh ... what would be the cost of a taxi ride for this night ride?
    Thank you very much for your helpssage:

    Dear Team,
    Greeting from XXX – Spain

    Kindly give us your best rate for below request:
    Saudi Nationality
    7 Adl + 2 Chd (6, 10 yrs)

    City : Munich, Germany
    From 03/08/2017 (Thursday) To 27/08/2017 (Sunday)
    Room Type : Any 3 Bedroom Villa Or Apartment beside Leonardo Royal Hotel Munich

    Please mention the rate NET or Commissionable, VAT included or not.

    Hey ! Im XXX XXX in Laayoune and Im supposed to receive a treatment from usa ! And the tracking showed me that it's in casablanca and that's the Tracking number : XXX

    Can you tell me if you exchange TTD to USD?

    I am hoping you can help me with a destination service rate for a new import
    as below
    Commodity: Used Personal effects
    Origin: please, advise the best POE and POA
    Delivery address: Santa Cruz 85b, Santa Cruz, Aruba, Dutch Caribbean
    Weight: 400 lbs
    Dims: 2 @ 23x23x22
    2 @ 19x16x20
    1 @ 19x15x31
    1 @ 30x12x17
    The total physical weight is closer to 200-250 lbs, but volumetric weight
    works out to be higher

    Dear Sir/ Madam,

    I hope this email finds you well. The company for which I work - XXX has an urgent need to rent a furnished apartment on a longer period. We search upon a nice apartment that is centrally located and composed by 2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen/ dining room and bathroom.

    Due to a shortage of time, I would kindly ask you to suggest me few apartments as soon as possible. Please take note that I am already in Rome, so I would be able to visit them tomorrow or on Wednesday.

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    With kind regards

    Hi Supplier,

    We have a new customer than needs your product very urgent.Please confirm if this order will be ready by next month.
    Please do inform me if you can make exactly the same with the right quality material and email me your latest catalogue, MOQ, delivery time and payment terms.

    Your early reply is highly appreciated. Les pires emails en FrançaisCher ami, Compliments de la saison, La plupart des gens ne répondent pas aux mails non sollicités, mais s'il vous plaît, je vous exhorte à ne pas traiter cela comme tel. Je veux demander d'abord votre permission avant de vous écrire dans les détails au sujet de la proposition que je l'ai. Je plaide pour votre consentement pour me permettre d'écrire de nouveau dans les détails pour vous. Votre réponse rapide sera appréciée. Merci, Mme XXX

    Bonjour,

    J’ai un colis d’une antenne VSAT de 3.7 m de diamètre pesant 505 kilos que je souhaite envoyer de Dubai en Guinée Bissau, je peux avoir le délai de livraison si possible et le tarif.

    Espérant une suite favorable.

    Cordialement.

    J'ai besoin d'un service coment obtenir mon visa pour le mexique?

    Bonjour j ai besoin de connaitre si vous avez les instruments pour solon de coiffure dames

    Bonjour,

    Je vous prie de me faire parvenir le formulaire de visa court séjour pour la Suède.

    Bonjour mes chères vraiment veillée m'excusé , Je suis un maçon je cherche a partir travaillez avec vous ?
    Peggiore e-mail in italianoVoglio comprare casa a Sètubal perchè voglio trasferirmi con mio marito e mio figlio. Cerco un contatto in loco che mi faccia da tramite anche con la lingua con un'agenzia di compra vendita. Siamo disposti a dare un compenso. Siamo disponibili a partire dal 7/3 al 20/03 compatibilmente con impegni di lavoro per un primo sopralluogo. Sonia 
    Peor de los e-mails en españolSeñores He recibido vuestro mensaje de uds  pero creo  no era muy
    dificil de vuestro lugar ya que tengo que conversar sobre vehiculos de
    carga  pero necesito solo el nombre de la persona  que esta en el
    Ministerio del Transporte para poderme conectarme con el  es cual es
    su nombre  y su email  les estare muy agradecido de vuestra dilijencia
    los saludo muy atte  auds  Basilio Kejaya  gracias

    Hola buenas noches. Me llamo XXX. Me encuentro viviendo en Shanghai, soy de la ciudad de XXX, al norte de México.
    Tengo experiencia trabajando con niños, enseñando español y teatro.
    Me gustaría conocer si tienen lugar para mí, para dar clases en su escuela.
    Tengo horario disponible.
    Worst-Mails in DeutschWas passiert, wenn ich mich 1 Woche zu spaet arbeitlos gemeldet habe? Mein letzter Arbeitstag war 31/3 und ich habe mich erst mit dem heitigen Tag, 15/4 arneitlos gemeldet.
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    On the fence about whether to get away this holiday?

    How about if you knew that a vacation could help you live longer? Or, that it can improve your energy and reduce your stress. For some holiday travelers, though, vacation can actually increase stress. Vacations that are poorly planned, plagued with work worries, or scheduled in crowded, busy cities can actually add to your stress load.

    So whether you’re setting off for a visit with family, planning a bucket list romantic trip to Hawaii, or hitting the road solo, use these tips to make sure you enjoy your time away.

    Tip #1 Make Your Vacation about You

    When you’re planning, think about things you’re passionate about, and that doesn’t always have to be the fan favorite on TripAdvisor. Look for things that will make the getaway more relaxing and personalized to you.

    If you’re headed home for the holidays to spend time with family, be sure to carve out some time to enjoy some personal pleasures. And if you’re traveling with a loved one on an exotic adventure, remember to prioritize your needs as well as theirs.

    Tip #2 Select a Relaxing Spot

    If you’re searching for the perfect holiday vacation spot, choose a place where relaxation is a part of life. In other words, a trip to New York City might not be the stress relief you’re looking for. Luckily, there’s plenty of great relaxation spots right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

    Tip #3 Handling the Work Front

    Before you leave, you’ll want to get things at work in order so you’re not stressing about it while you’re away.

    Give Advance Notice. Give your boss, coworkers and customers plenty of notice so they have time to properly prepare for your absence.

    Delegate. Make sure anything that needs handled while you’re away has been passed off to someone who will manage it for you. Good delegating is key to a great vacation.

    Plan, Don’t Cram. One thing that can get your vacation off to a stressful start is working until the very last minute. You’ll need time to prepare for vacation, both tangibly and mentally. Consider taking a day off before vacation to get ready.

    Tip #4 Unplug

    We’re talking about more than unplugging all the televisions, computers, and other items that will zap energy while you’re gone, you should also consider powering down your phone.

    When you plan to unplug, you’re actively choosing to have more meaningful conversations, to live in the moment, to see new and exciting things, and to decrease your stress.

    Tip #5 Protect Your Home

    The last thing you want to worry about while you’re away is a home break-in. Take these safety measures before you leave.

    Don’t run your own vacation marketing plan. Sharing your upcoming vacation itinerary or posting pictures of the beautiful scenery from the beach, can alert people you’re not home.

    Keep up appearances. A dark house also sends a signal you’re not home, so set light timers throughout your home. Use a vacation timer so the lights aren’t set to a specific on and off pattern. Also, ask a neighbor to take out your trash and collect mail, these are other signals no one is home.

    Consider a house sitter. A loyal friend can retrieve fliers, mail, newspaper deliveries or other items that might be left outside your door. This may help hide the fact that you are away from home.

    Arm your alarm. If may seem like the obvious, but many homeowners with valuable home security systems don’t engage them. Now is a good time to put them to work.

    Taking a stress-free holiday vacation will require intent. It’s easy to get overburdened with planning, packing and work prep. It’s also easy to pack and take along some of life’s frustrations. Instead, add flexibility, a good dose of humor, a taste for adventure and a lot of patience to your list.

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    Last year we published our anthology of some of the best weekly expat interviews from BlogExpat.com, with every piece prefaced with a jokey illustration. 

    Through the final selection of interviews, it appeared that unfortunately a few of them could not make the list limited to 55 stories. However those stories were already illustrated. We have now decided to display those un-printed images.

    Therefore we are now giving 2 readers the opportunity to win our illustrated paperback book if they guess the reference # of the only one picture that is really printed in the book amongst the 6 drawings below.

    Simply respond in comments with the picture number # that you think IS in the book, and don't forget to put your email in the field so we can contact you to request your address and send you the book.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The response will be given on this page within the next 2 weeks... AND a new opportunity to win books will be offered at the very beginning of December!

    My life abroad – A selection of expat stories

    252 pages – 60 illustrations
    Language: English
    ISBN-13 (Paperback): 979-1093013060
    ASIN (Kindle): B071HY99W9

    Preview available HERE.

    Kindle: $4.99 - £3.99 - €3.99
    Paperback: $16 - £12 - €15

    Point of sale:

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    We have now fully updated our guide for Dublin (and Ireland). After London, Paris and Montreal, the guide has been fully reviewed and extended, and with 123 pages (PDF) of information you will read the most complete guide to prepare your expatriation to Ireland and to Dublin.

    Dublin is internationally noteworthy in terms of its vibrancy, nightlife and tourist attractions. Furthermore, it is also the most popular entry point for international visitors to Ireland and an economic, administrative and cultural centre with one of the fastest growing populations of any European capital city.

    Figures from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) show Ireland's economic growth to be approximately two to three times that of countries such as France, Germany, the UK and the USA. Another indicator called “Modified Total Domestic Demand” excluding aircraft leasing companies and imports of intellectual property has been develop and shows an increase of more than 4.5% in 2017.

    You will find the usual articles in our guide to prepare your expatriation to Dublin and Ireland and manage your life once in there: Overview, Job, Passport, Visa & Permits to go to Ireland, International Removal Companies, Finding Accommodation in Dublin, Work, Benefits and Tax, Moving in, Education in Ireland, Health, Practical Life (banks, transport, shopping...), Entertainment...

    You can also discuss and share experience in Dublin and Ireland in our forum.

    Last but not least, you can download the full guide in PDF format, in order to read quietly and maybe to upload on your mobile or tablet PC/iPad.

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    You've been on holiday in Europe this summer and for the first time your were able to enjoy mobile phone roaming rates at the same price as within your own country (assuming you live in Europe). For that, you have to thank the European Union commission which has been battling for more than a decade against EU mobile firms in order to force them to reduce their astronomical extra charges on roaming.

    From 15 June 2017 call time, text and data allowances bought as part of a deal or monthly contract at home are usable anywhere in the EU at no extra charge. Similarly, pay-as-you-go customers pay the same rate regardless of what EU country they are in. So for EU members, reading EasyExpat.com at home will be the same price as accessing it while on holiday in another EU country.

    Under the leadership of the European Commission, the roaming prices have melted by ...100% since 2007! Back then, receiving a call while roaming in Europe was a an extra €0.30/minute and €0.80/minute to call home.

    Since Summer 2017, calls and text-messages cost no more that at home, usually included within your mobile phone package. The last little hitch is that if you call from home to another EU country, it might still be priced separately and much more expensive. Other than that, all roaming costs have been abolished across the EU and a host of other destinations and you can use your phone at no extra cost when you are abroad in Europe.

    Of course the Telecom operators lobbies (including Orange, Deutsche Telekom and British Telecom) went to Brussels complaining that the coercive measures that the European Commission were adopting were leading to their ruin! The Commission remained committed but  decided to limit the ban to roaming charges when abroad initially.

    Therefore, with the exception of calls from home to other countries, EU customers can now enjoy a sort of United States of digital Europe with same-cost mobile calls and data downloads irrespective of which EU country they are in. Other non EU countries such as Switzerland, Norway, Andorra, Monaco  and even the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man have not been included yet by all the mobile phone operators, so you better check before travelling. As it depends on the operator and the deals, sometime even Iceland, Turkey and Morocco, have been included amongst popular holiday destinations. The UK operator Three, for example, now offers free roaming to 60 destinations including most of Europe, and even Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the US.

    All 28 EU member states are subject to the ban on roaming charges. This currently includes the UK, though its position may be negotiated once it leaves the EU. Things might change after the Brexit, but politically it might be difficult for UK operators to re-introduce charges. It will be a matter for the government and regulator Ofcom to discuss what would happen post-Brexit.

    Customers who exceed the limits of their contract or allowance while roaming will also not be charged any more than the wholesale caps (the prices operators charge each other when their customers use other networks when roaming in the EU):

    • 3.2 cents per minute of voice call, as of 15 June 2017
    • 1 cent per SMS, as of 15 June 2017
    • A step by step reduction over 5 years for data caps decreasing from €7.7 per GB (as of 15 June 2017) to €6 per GB (as of 1 January 2018), €4.5 per GB (as of 1 January 2019), €3.5 per GB (as of 1 January 2020), €3 per GB (as of 1 January 2021) and €2.5 per GB (as of 1 January 2022).

    Reviews of the caps will be made by the end of 2019.

    Last but not least, in order to prevent consumers all moving en masse to the cheapest EU provider, it says that customers have to be “normally resident” or have “stable links entailing a frequent and substantial presence” in the member state of that roaming provider. Therefore, if you spend several months using roaming in another country you may find your service is suspended.

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