Expat travel bloggers. Their lives. Their cities. Their recommendations.
Expat life is fun, exciting, challenging and rewarding. A very unique experience awaits those who choose to leave their home country to live abroad.
Maybe you have considered moving abroad. Maybe your not sure what location, or what job, project or lifestyle awaits you?
This might help. I have asked 12 expat travel bloggers to let us in on life as an expat in their new home country. What else are they doing besides blogging? Do they have jobs, projects or businesses they run? What does their new city offer them and why did they chose that city in the first place?
Lets find out.
Jonny Blair – Don’t Stop Living
Jonny – where are you and how did you choose the location?
I’m in Hong Kong and I spend around 3 months a year here away from my constantly moving, nomadic lifestyle. At one point I stayed for a full year in between trips to China, Malaysia and Brunei.
I chose Hong Kong for lots of reasons – firstly when I arrived here in 2011 as a backpacker I ended up with a bar job within a few days so I stayed. Secondly my girlfriend (Travelling Hong Kong Girl) is from here and it’s a perfect base for us both.
Thirdly it’s a cheap and easy city to live in. Fourthly it is perfect for travelling as you are less than an hour from China or Macau by land or boat and HK international airport has flights all over the world. Fifthly WiFi is fast. Sixthly I have made a lot of friends here over the last few years and it’s nice to catch up with them.
What do you do in Hong Kong besides travel blogging?
I’m mostly just here to work online and relax these days. I also do some sightseeing, get my visas here and I have worked in bars, at events and in schools in the last 4 years.
Would you recommend Hong Kong to others for an extended stay, and what does Hong Kong offer expats?
Yes, definitely. Hong Kong is the perfect base for the digital nomad as it has endless sights, fast WiFi, bars and restaurants to fit every taste and location wise you can get flights all over the world.
Tell us about Don’t stop living blog and what readers can find on your blog.
Barbara – Ants in our pants
Barbara, why did you choose Mauritius and what does it offer expats?
Mauritius is a dreamlike island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. With white sandy beaches, palmtrees and the african, indian, and chinese influences one truly feels far away from home.
Nobody knows that Mauritius has a huge expat community consisting of more than 10.000 South Africans, many from France and only some from Germany. We lived there 6 months per year during the last 5 years, ecaped the cold european summer and enjoyed the easy living in Mauritius. Luckily my husband found his company there long time ago and we are able to call it home although it’s 10.000km away from our usual home.
Because of the low local wages, the good infrastructure and the lovely weather one can have a mighty good live there. Child care is easy to get as well as a house with pool and a lovely maid.
Expat life in Mauritius sounds lovely. Besides travel blogging, what else did you do there?
While I wrote my master thesis there the kids went to a french and english speaking pre-school. After 2 days in Mauritius we had gymnastic classes, karate and swimming courses organised for the kids in the afternoon. Weekends on the boat, playing golf in nice resorts and meeting all these friendly locals made us come back every year.
Check out Ants in our pants blog and Facebook page for more information about your travels and life in Mauritius?
Liz – DreamDiscoverItalia
Liz, what city in Italy are you based and how long have you lived there?
I’m an expat living in the beautiful Italian city of Venice – think gondola’s Casanova and lots of ice-cream! The original plan was to have a year off to travel from the north of Italy to south, starting off in Venice for 6 weeks. But 18 months later I’m still here having ditched plans to go south (for now, anyway!)
Why did you choose Venice?
Venice captured my heart 6 years ago when I had a classic city break. I immediately fell in love with the unique city of canals, culture and cicchetti tapas. In fact, I extended my weekend to a week to cram more in! From that point on I dreamt of living in Venice, as it is over-flowing with history, art and good food! There is just nowhere quite like it and once I got here last year I decided that 6 weeks just wasn’t going to be enough – anyone noticing a pattern?!!
Apart from blogging, what else do you do there?
Apart from blogging I volunteer as a teaching assistant at English classes for pensioners. I met the teacher through a weekly MeetUp drinks group for expats wanting to improve their Italian and the rest, as they say, is history!
The students are all local Italians wanting to improve their English for a variety of reasons. Some have English in-laws and grand-children, some want to travel and some just like to learn new skills. They are all very friendly and we always have a great time helping eachother out with pronunciation, often with some rather amusing results! Its wonderful to put something back into a city that has given me such pleasure!
Would you recommend Venice to others for an extended stay, and what does the city have to offer?
I would definitely recommend Venice for others although the 20 million annual tourists and visitors far outweigh the 60,000 locals so expect to share the city! Venice’s history, art and culture date back over a thousand years and are spread out over many islands in the lagoon so there is plenty to explore.
Plus Venice is very close to other great places including Padua, Vicenza, Verona, Lake Garda, Trieste, Bolzano and the Dolomites, Florence, the prosecco vineyards and Bologna – all of which are do-able in a day! What are you waiting for – get that flight booked!
Tell us about your blog, DreamDiscoverItalia
DreamDiscoveritalia (www.DreamDiscoverItalia.com) focuses on anything and everything Italian from festivals to food, travel tips to traditions, history to hidden gems and language to linguini! There is hopefully something for everyone with ideas for day-trippers and seasoned solo explorers alike – if you love Italy and want to know more DreamDiscoverItalia is the site for you!
Katie and Geoff – Wander Tooth
Katie and Geoff are based in Prague, tell us a little about what you do there.
We are currently based in Prague, Czech Republic, and have been here for just over 1 year. As Canadians, it can be difficult to live and work in Europe as freelancers, but the Czech Republic offers a visa allowing us to live and run our business legally.
This means we can do what we love, which is writing (Katie) and video production and editing (Geoff). We also run a travel blog, wandertooth.com, which is about our lives, regularly post videos on our YouTube channel and are super active on Instagram.
Sounds great! What is living in Prague like for expats?
We’d absolutely recommend Prague for a long stay. The cost of living is really reasonable, the visa process isn’t difficult, and it’s right in the centre of Europe, making it a great base for travel. We go to Germany quite a bit, but have traveled all over Europe since moving here. Of course, Prague itself is beautiful as well, with great culture, a really relaxed atmosphere, and cheap beer!
Kirstie- Venga, Vale, Vamos
Hi Kirstie, tell us a little bit about where you live and what brought you to your current location?
Originally from California, I now live in Sydney, Australia. Prior to this, I spent a year of studying abroad in Madrid and then returned to Spain for two years to teach English near Sevilla and then Madrid.
I’ve now been in Australia since September 2013. The original plan was to simply do a working holiday for a few months, as I was ready to try somewhere other than Spain but wasn’t ready to go home, but my company sponsored me for a work visa, and here I am now!
What do you currently do in Australia besides travel blogging?
Would you recommend Spain or Australia to others thinking of living abroad?
I would say definitely yes to both Spain and Australia! If you’re coming from the U.S., you won’t find anything very exotic or different about Australia, but it’s still worth a visit, especially if you get out of the big cities and see some of the beautiful nature this country has to offer.
And I couldn’t recommend Spain enough! Give yourself a while to spend in each Spanish city – many aren’t very large and don’t have a ton of monuments to see, but the best thing about Spain is just enjoying the lifestyle: the food, the nightlife, the people, etc.
Your expat experiences sound very diverse ! What can readers expect to find on Venga, Vale, Vamos ?
I started my travel blog, Venga, Vale, Vamos, to write about my experiences studying in Madrid, and it’s grown with me over the years, as I cover expat life, my international travels, and travel tips.
Paul – BoracayCompass
Hi Paul, tell us how you became an expat and where are you currently living?
I’ve been living in Boracay island, Philippines for 3.5 years. I originally went there for a 6 months windsurfing vacation. After I returned home (the Netherlands) I missed the island life a lot though so I returned back to Boracay after 1 month. After returning I set up my a work environment there to make living there sustainable.
Besides working on your travel blog, what else do you do in Boracay?
I like playing any kinds of sports such as windsurfing, boxing, and volleyball. At some point in 2014 I started working on BoracayCompass (should have done that earlier since I enjoy it a lot). I started BoracayCompass with the intention of making it the ultimate guide to Boracay Island.
Would you recommend the location to others for an extended stay, and what does island life offer?
Yes, I view Boracay as a city on the beach. It has everything you need, many beaches and a vibrant nightlife. The island is also very compact. I don’t own any type of transportation. You can walk anywhere, and for convenience you can get a tricycle on the main road which will bring you close to any place on the island.
For more reasons to visit Boracay, you can read “Why visit Boracay?” on BoracayCompass blog.
Tell us a bit more about your blog
My website is BoracayCompass – The Ultimate Guide To Boracay Island. As the title suggests it’s a comprehensive guide to boracay. I plan to build it out more in the future with a community forum and other things. Basically I want to make it the go-to website for Boracay – for tourists and locals alike.
Anna – Global Gallivanting
Hi Anna, can you tell us a bit about where you are living and what you’re doing there?
I recently spent an incredible year in Australia and I spent 6 months working, and living, in a remote country pub in rural Queensland. Surrounded by miles and miles of nothing much but waving sugar cane fields, a couple of farms and platypus swimming in the creek.
I was up in Cairns looking for work and I realised that there was a lot of competition for jobs, and that after I had paid for accommodation there I wouldn’t have much of my wages left to save.
I found the job advertised online on Backpacker Job Board and, after several phone conversations, took a leap of faith and headed 800 km south to a rural pub in the Pioneer Valley that became my home for 6 months.
I liked the work in the pub because it was laid back, and as I found myself in the heart of this tight knit community it was easy to make friends with the locals.
Living and working in a remote area immersed me in a very different Australian lifestyle than what you might find in Sydney or in the backpacker hostels of the east coast so I made a much better connection with this place than I would have done if I was simply passing through as a tourist, and saved loads of money for more travel!
Sounds like you really enjoyed yourself in Australia. Would you recommend a working holiday to Australia for other young people?
I would definitely recommend for young people to take a Working Holiday in Australia if they can. It’s a beautiful country with a lot to offer, travel is easy, there are many people here doing the same thing so it is easy to make friends and there are many opportunities to find work.
Where I lived might not be to everyone’s taste though, the remoteness can feel a little claustrophobic at times, although it was only a few hours away from the spectacular Whitsunday Island and Whitehaven Beach, a must visit if in Australia.
If you want more tips about working holidays in Australia check out my free e book guide A backpackers guide to a working holiday in australia
If you want to read about my time working in QLD and how I managed to save money check out my recent post How i saved 1500 on my working holiday in Australia
What is your travel style, and how can readers follow your travels?
I traveling slow, independently and on a budget. I often immerses myself in the destinations i visits by working, volunteering or living abroad and my blog Global Gallivanting inspires others to make travel their lifestyle choice too.
Alana – Paper Planes Blog
Alana, tell us about where you are currently living and that came about?
Originally from Seattle, I’ve been based in Chiang Mai, Thailand for four years and counting.
I visited a friend in Chiang Mai on holiday for a couple weeks and immediately knew that I want to come back to travel more extensively around South East Asia and to live in Thailand specifically.
I had no idea it was such a tourist destination when I visited the first time or came back to live. I think people definitely knew about it, but it’s certainly blown up in the past few years. I thought that I would stay for 8-9 months but…it’s a hard place to leave!
What else do you do in Chiang Mai besides travel blogging?
Originally I came and did my TEFL training to secure a teaching job. I taught English for a year at a variety of schools and when my contracts were up I was completely ready to be done teaching, but definitely not ready to leave Chiang Mai.
Since then, I’ve been using my university and professional experience in public relations and writing to freelance for companies around the world. It’s taken a little while, but I’m finally getting to a point where my work and ability to stay in Thailand is more consistent and secure which feels great!
Would you recommend Chiang Mai to others for an extended stay, and what does the city offer expats?
Absolutely. After four years here I’m still head over heels with Chiang Mai and Thailand in general. It’s great place to come for a vacation or to stay longer and offers a lot of support and community for those wanting to spend part of their year here.
It’s a pretty small town, but has everything you may want or need including a wide variety of Western-style services and food if you get a little homesick. (The food here is simply incredible…) The weather tends to be slightly cooler than the rest of the country, but still hot and sunny, and as soon as you get just ten minutes of town you can be surrounded by lush mountains and rice fields. It’s more laid-back than Bangkok and many Western cities, but there’s still a vibrancy to it that’s addicting.
Can you tell us about your travel blog, Paper Planes
Paper Planes – While I initially intended for my site to be more about traveling, I’ve realized that my favorite experiences abroad are times when I can appreciate a routine and really getting to know a place.
With that in mind, I focus on living and traveling around Thailand – and more specifically Chiang Mai – because I know it inside and out and can share insight and recommendations that you can get from just passing through usually with a slant toward culture, food and getting the most out of your budget.
If you’re heading to Chiang Mai you have to check it out for tips on what to do, see and eat that go beyond the major tourist attractions!
Chris and Virginie – FarmBoy & CityGirl
Where you are currently living and why did you choose this city?
What else do you do in Šibenik besides travel blogging?
Would you recommend Šibenik to others for an extended stay, and what does the city have to offer?
What can we expect to find on your blog, FarmBoy and CityGirl?
We focus on Digital Nomad, how to work online and make enough money to support traveling. In this day and age, it’s a lot easier than many people think!
Cat – Sunshine and Siestas
Hi Cat, where are you currently living and how did that come about?
I’m originally from Chicago and left the skyscrapers of my hometown for the olive groves of Southern Spain. I originally came for eight months on a government-sponsored teaching program and have been here eight years already!
I didn’t choose the location, as a matter of fact. The Spanish government allows candidates on the North American Language and Culture Assistants program to choose the area of the country they’re interested in living in, and then assign candidates to schools. I was hoping for Granada, but Seville worked out!
Apart from your travel blog, what else do you do in Seville?
I’m no longer on a government program, having obtained residency and work permission. I spend my evenings running a language academy, and my mornings and weekends curating content for my personal blog, Sunshine and Siestas, and doing freelance writing, translations and voiceovers.
My newest project is a residency consulting business, COMO Consulting Spain. We’re dedicated to helping non Europeans move to Spain.
Would you recommend Seville to others for an extended stay and what does the city have to offer expats?
Seville has everything – easy access from other capitals, a cheap cost of living, cultural programming and a nice little pocket of expats. It’s also one of the warmest cities in continental Europe, so the city grows in the winter months.
My biggest complaint? The beach is an hour away!
Can you tell us a little more about your blog, Sunshine and Siestas?
Sunshine and Siestas is an expat blog that explores culture, food and language from the viewpoint of a long-term resident in Andalucía. COMO Consulting Spain deals with the nitty-gritty of moving to Spain and living as an expat, from buying a house to saving money on travel.
Oksana & Max – Drink Tea and Travel
Hi, can you tell us a bit about where you are currently living and why you chose the city?
Hi, we are Oksana & Max, a Canadian tea loving couple behind the blog Drink Tea and Travel. For the last 2 years we’ve been living in Australia, working full time and using our holidays to explore all corners of Australia.
Max moved to Australia first and I joined him in 2013, choosing Australia, specifically Queensland, for its amazing weather, good pay, and an opportunity to spend more time exploring its beaches, rain forests and mountains.
It felt impossible to see all of what Australia has to offer in a few months, so we decided to stay for a while, giving ourselves more time to travel around. We based ourselves in Brisbane and would take at least 1 trip a month to see another part of the country.
Would you recommend Australia to others and what can we expect to find on your blog, Drink Tea and Travel?
Australia is a great base for young travelers from US/Canada/UK looking for a work/travel arrangement. Their work-travel visa (valid for those under 30 yrs old) is a great way to get into the country and work casual jobs while moving around the continent at slow pace. There is a high demand for international professionals here and lots of opportunities for casual workers too.
We now have lots of posts dedicated to traveling and working in Australia, which you can check out on our site Drink Tea and Travel, that we started with a mission to show other how to travel the world for less.
Elin – Taste of Slow
Elin, where has expat life taken you and how did that come about?
I was drawn to living more of a local life than an expat life. I moved to Accra in Ghana, and after looking for housing for a few weeks I settled in Nima for the first months, one of the less developed areas of town. Later I moved closer to the main city center Osu.
What do you do in Ghana besides travel blogging?
I combined living in Ghana with studying journalism online in Norway. Years of traveling and blogging had made me realize that what I really wanted to do, was working with communication.
Initial plan was to study full time, but as I got used to the local pace of time, and really appreciated having time to spend time with new friends, I only got half through my studies during my gap year.
Ghana sounds very fascinating, what have you experienced since living there?
During my first half year, I had visited the north several times, so I moved to the small town Bolgatanga, close to the border of Burkina Faso. I met a local family through Couch surfing, and was offered a room in their compound.
When living in the north, there were actually no expat community at all. I really got the chance to slow down, chat with the family I stayed with, discussing with the five wonderful and curious children, involving in local projects and spending time to know more about the culture.
What is Ghana life like for expats?
To my knowledge, Ghana is not a typical expat destination unless you get a good paid job there or go there as a volunteer. Due to my own experience, I would really recommend it though. However, it depends in the experience you are seeking.
To be honest, I did not try at all to involve with the expat community in Ghana. My focus was to learn more about the culture, and to “live like a local” to the extent possible. I also made local friends quite fast, and I joined an office space to work from, where I got to know people from many exciting start up projects.
Staying in Ghana and a culture so different from my own was at times challenging, and at times, I especially missed my friends who think like me and who love to talk and discuss the same subjects as myself. What I really loved most of the time though, was to be challenged in the way I think and on defined “truths” about life.
Can you tell us about your travel blog, Taste of Slow.
A Taste of Slow is a green travel blog with focus on local travel and food culture the vegetarian way. My mission is to inspire you to explore the world in a conscious way and to experience local life and cultures when you travel.
*All photos used in this post are compliments of featured travel bloggers.
Thank-you to all expat travel bloggers who contributed their story and recommendations for this article. It is very insightful for those thinking of moving abroad, or even those who already live abroad but are thinking of moving to another country.
As a serial expat myself, i have previously lived in Chiang Mai, and currently live in Hong Kong, so it was very interesting to read about other expat travel bloggers lives in these cities.
The South of Spain sounds quite appealing to me for my next home base, what location appeals most to you? Can you see yourself moving to any of the recommended locations? Have you lived in one of these cities before?
If you are interested in moving to Hong Kong, my previous article, “My one year review of life as an expat in Hong Kong” might answer a lot of your questions and give you a greater insight into life in Hong Kong. Or you can watch my video, “Expat life in Hong Kong”.
Hong Kong Daily expenses – v’s Melbourne (a cost break down) http://www.nomadgirl.co/cost-of-living-in-hong-kong
Hong Kong Attractions – http://www.nomadgirl.co/hong-kong-attractions/
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