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Getting There & Around

Posted on: 16th Jan 2015

Although it isn't so important if you're moving to a neighbouring country within a reasonable driving or flying distance of your family and friends, one of the major considerations when living abroad is often transport links (road, rail, air and sea links) with your home country. How long will it take to get there, e.g. by air, taking into account journeys to and from airports? Is it possible to drive? One of the main advantages of being able to drive is that you can take much more luggage with you and the cost for a family may be significantly lower than flying. Could you travel by bus, train or ferry? What does it cost? How frequent are buses, flights, trains or ferries at the time(s) of year when you plan to travel. Is it feasible to travel home for a long weekend, given the cost and travelling time involved.

            For many people, an important aspect of living abroad is being able to get around easily, relatively cheaply and safely. Public transport services in most countries vary considerably from excellent to terrible or even non-existent, depending on where you live. In some countries, public transport is poor and there's no rail service and only an infrequent and unreliable local bus service. Public transport tends to be excellent to adequate in major cities, where there may be an integrated system encompassing buses, trains, trams and possibly a metro or ferry system. However, outside the main towns and cities, public transport can be sparse and most people who live in rural areas find it necessary to have their own car. Taxis are common and plentiful in most countries, although they can be prohibitively expensive or even dangerous. In some countries there are inexpensive shared taxis or mini-buses, which pick up and drop off passengers at any point along their route.

            If you don't drive or aren't planning to own a car abroad, you'll usually need to live in a city or large town where there's adequate public transport. If you don't plan to drive abroad, you should investigate the frequency and cost of local public transport. Note that if you don't have a car, you may need to use taxis to carry your shopping home or have it delivered.

            Bear in mind that in some countries, public transport can be unsafe or even dangerous, which may include old unserviceable 'equipment' (aircraft, buses, ferries, taxis, trains, etc.), a lack of safety equipment and procedures (life-belts, life-rafts, seat-belts, etc.), cars and transport may be overloaded, and drivers and operators may be poorly trained or otherwise unfit to operate public transport. In some countries foreigners are warned not to use public transport with the exception of official taxis.

            Further information is available in our Living and Working series of books.

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