Earlier in the week I mentioned that I'm a planner. In the age of the internet and smartphones, it's been easy to have access to information that, even 10 years ago, would have required months of digging and years of community building, with a good dose of luck for meeting the right contacts thrown in. However, in the 10 months since we began this process in earnest, I've found some of the most fascinating apps and sites and I'm going to do a quick roundup of my favorites.
There are a ton of options out there for learning a new language, both for free and for pay. Given that each person has their own learning style, I wont try to sell you on which is best. I can tell you that for me, these two options have worked well.
Verbling is an online language tutoring site that has an app (iOS, Android). You create a profile, find a tutor teaching whatever language you choose and set up a time for a lesson. I'm almost positive that they give you a free 30-minute trial lesson, and then you can purchase sessions either individually or in bulk--and the pricing is unbelievably affordable. The hour-long lessons take place through video chat on the Verbling platform (website or app). The Verbling web platform is pretty robust including screen sharing, flash cards, and document uploads (for homework). I've never used the app for a lesson, but do like it for flashcard review. Lucia, my instructor, lives in Cadiz, Spain and is fantastic. The best part of the whole experience, for me, is not just learning the language but also a bit about the culture and daily life in Spain.
Duolingo is available online and as an app (iOS, Android, Windows). It's free, and it's good. I think the best thing about Duolingo is that it helps build some basic vocabulary. I don't use it often at this point, but son #2 is using it to have some sense of how to say "I'm vegan. I don't eat meat, chicken, pig, seafood, fish, milk, cheese, eggs or honey" (Yo soy vegano. No como carne, pollo, cerdo, mariscos, pescado, leche, queso, huevos o miel).
Yesterday in the blog, I suggested that there are a things that I'm learning about Spain that surprised me; there are so many things that I didn't know that I didn't know (as opposed to those things that I know I don't know, like brain surgery). Well, there's a whole universe of expats co-existing right under our noses, and I had no idea that world was there either.
InterNations.org was started in 2007, and claims that their 2.9 million members make them the largest global expat network. When I registered it asked me where I am currently living, my interests, etc. It was very weird to get invited to several get togethers at places that I know in Atlanta, and realize that these expat events are happening without me even realizing it. InterNations seems to
http://www.expat.com/en/be more of a networking and social group than some others that I've found.
Expat.com appears to be a website to help you make the move overseas, wherever your starting point and destination. There are job postings, real estate listings, and miscellaneous ads from businesses that have sprung up around the expat community. There are also message boards/forums where you can ask questions of other expats, and (one day) offer advice from the other side of the experience.
Expatica is a website for "English-speaking expatriates and internationals across Europe." I've found a ton of information including articles on visas, working and healthcare. They also have a ton of information to help you explore your new country. Currently the "In the Spotlight" topics are: Top 10 Spanish Foods, Top Spanish Festivals 2017; Top 10 Places to Visit in Spain; and Interesting Facts You Didn't Know About the Spanish Language.
I've spent way too much time on these real estate apps. Not only do I put in my actual budget, I also put in a wildly unrealistic budget to see what I could afford if, say, I won the lottery.
Idealista is the first website, and then later app (iOS, Android), that we came across when we started looking at real estate. It is often the one that most expats will recommend. Thus app is similar to most of the Realtor/Trulia/Zillow apps that are used in the US. The interface is easy to use, but overall, the app itsn't the prettiest or most intuitive.
Fotocasa is the polished big sister to Idealista. The the app (iOS, Android) is easier to navigate, the information is laid out nicer, the pictures even look better (though they may be the same photos).
I've yet to find any listings that were on one platform and not the other, but I keep them both on my phone, just in case.
I'm not really sure what to call this weird grouping of apps that I've found, so I'll just make them sound romantic though their probably the most practical sites of the bunch.
Rome2Rio (also on iOS, Android) is probably my favorite of this group. My friend, Sarah told me about it at lunch while we were plotting our Spanish journeys. In the app, you put in your starting place, your ending place and it searches for all the ways it can to get you there, along with time estimates and cost estimates for your chosen method. For example, I entered VLC (Valencia's airport code) to AIP (the language school I'll be attending) and I have 3 options: subway, taxi, or driving.
If I select the Line 3 subway, It gives me all the information about the train, how often it runs, how long the ride should truly helpful since I've used the app a few times and gotten myself turned around and realized that I'd been walking longer than I should to get to my destination.
Hopper (iOS, Android) is all about finding great airfare rates. Put in your dates of travel and Hopper finds a bunch of fares and lets you know if it's the right time to buy. You can add a filter so that you don't have super long layovers, and you can "Watch this Trip" which will have Hopper send updates about fares to your phone.
PackPoint (iOS, Android) is about making sure that you are packed for your trip correctly. Enter your trip information (destination, dates, business or leisure, and duration of stay) and it checks historical weather so that you know if you should be packing shorts or ski pants and how many of each. You can also add in several preset activities such as Running/Fancy Dinner/Photography and if you will have access to laundry facilities. With the premium version, you can even create your own custom activities, which would be super useful for new parents that better not forget extra binkies or the baby sling.
MiFlight (only on iOS), is a crowd-sourced app with a singular purpose: letting you know how long the wait time is for airport security. There is more to it than that, and the app only works as well as the MiFlight community giving updates on wait times. But, if you're playing fast and loose with getting to the airport ahead of your flight, this is a good app to have.
By the way, I'm not getting paid by any of these companies. I just thought that I'd let y'all know what's draining my battery most these days.