If you've ever found yourself in a strange town looking for a particular brand of widget or wanted to know the cost of living or the average rent for a two bed apartment in another country or some similar such question then the Internet is a wonderful invention. We often wonder how we would have coped without our laptops and almost instant access to almost accurate information!
During our time in Bahrain and again now in Dubai we've found a few useful websites. Some were simply tourist information like the best places to eat, shop, rent a car, what to see and what to miss, others belonged to utilities providers or contained TV schedules or were blogs by fellow expats. And the most read have proved to be expat-focused forums where questions could be raised and answers found. In no particualar order here are our top favourites:
Live Work Explore - both the Bahrain and the Dubai sites have been useful for general info and the shopping pages which list shops by type are a great start when looking for a specific item. They also publish books which as handy for reading in bed and their maps of Dubai live in our car.
Expat Woman - the Dubai forum is a great (mainly female) community where someone can usually help you out with an answer to the oddest problem and you can waste away a whole morning doing nothing but reading posts if you are not careful!
Expat Blog - The Bahrain section of this website helped us get to Bahrain and through the first few weeks while some of the blogs promoted have become firm favourites (you'll find them in the Blogs I Read list on the left of this page)
Expat Arrivals - a bit biased here as Susie has contributed to the Bahrain section of this expat site.
Time Out - we occasionally buy the print edition of this weekly listings magazine, usually when we've got visitors but regularly refer to the reviews online for both Bahrain and most recently Dubai. Also a good source of info when trying to locate that particular shop or destination
Trip Advisor - a great wealth of restuarant and hotel reviews we usually refer to when travelling and as a result found some gems in Athens, Austin and locally.
Gulf Daily News - local papers are also a good way of getting to know the place. The GDN is great for the Court Circular as well as local and international news and whats on info plus it carries the UK Guardian's Quick Crossword if you fancy a bit of a brain workout.
The one thing you rapidly learn though is that the knowledge gleaned is not always correct but not intentionally. Rules change, new roads are built, businesses move but part of the fun of life as an expat is coping with the unexpected so treat what you read as a guide and learn to laugh when things don't quite work out as planned.