You’ve packed up and moved to another country, you’ve left your home and your family and friends behind to start a brand-new adventure in your life. You’re officially an expat now. Congratulations, it’s a big step into the unknown and a life-changing journey that takes a tremendous amount of courage to embark upon. It’s definitely not a life for everyone; not everyone can handle it, but once you’ve committed to it, you’ll need to find in yourself a healthy dose of gumption to flourish in it.
As an expat, you’ll need to learn how to go it alone in all kinds of situations. It can be tough, but that’s not to say you can’t use some help, though. Sure, expat networks in your adopted country can be super helpful and a resource you should definitely take advantage of as much as you possibly can. But beyond that, you could use the help of a virtual private network (VPN). Why? Because VPNs can help expats in so many ways, you’d be amazed.
A VPN is a piece of software that routes your internet connection through an encrypted tunnel to a secure server in a remote location. In doing so, the VPN not only helps secure your data and hides your internet activity from anyone looking to steal your information or spy on what you’re up to online, but it also lets you spoof your location to virtually any country of your choosing. In a nutshell, this will allow you to unlock the full potential of the world wide web while maintaining your digital privacy as you use the internet. Though you may not realize it yet, this will be of particular benefit to you as an expat.
Me? I’ve gotten so used to using my VPN for so many things and in so many situations that at this point I’d find it difficult to live without it as an expat. And I bet you will too once you start using a VPN and see how one can transform and enrich your expat existence.
Regardless of how exciting and fulfilling your expat life is, one of the things you’ll be doing a lot of is missing the comforts of home when you’re abroad. It’s only natural, and it’s something you should expect. Whether you want to watch your favorite movies, TV shows, and sports teams from back home, or whether you want to catch up and keep in touch with family and friends, a VPN can help.
One of the most popular uses for a VPN is for unblocking geo-restricted content online. You may have noticed that your Netflix library is not the same in your new country as it is back home, or that you can’t even access your Hulu library at all if you’re an American expat, for example. Or if you’re an expat from the UK, you may have noticed that you can’t access anything on BBC iPlayer or Sky Sports from abroad. This is because content on many streaming sites is restricted to certain geographic locations due to copyright laws and licensing restrictions.
But if you use your VPN to connect to a server that’s located in the country you want to watch content from, you’ll be able to access that content from wherever you may be in the world. So if you’re abroad and want to unblock Netflix US, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or any other service restricted to American audiences, all you’d need to do is connect to a US VPN server and you’re all set. If you want to unblock UK content like BBC iPlayer or Sky Sports, just connect to a VPN server in the UK. It doesn’t matter where you’re actually located, because when you connect to a VPN, your IP address changes to that of the VPN server you’re connecting through, effectively tricking the sites you visit into thinking you’re located where they’re licensed to serve you the content you want to watch.
Most cable companies will offer their customers an option to stream television programming online. You can use your VPN to connect to a VPN server back home and watch all your favorite local channels and catch live broadcasts of your favorite sports. If you’re an American expat, you can also get a Sling TV account to watch all your local channels from back home. Just dial up a VPN server in the US and watch TV as if you’re on your favorite recliner at home, regardless of where you’re actually tuning in from.
If you’re an expat in a country like China, for example, you’ll find it incredibly difficult if not impossible to keep in touch with family and friends back home using the VoIP and social media tools you’re used to using. This is because certain governments engage in heavy internet censorship practices and block access to sites and services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, and many other vital online communication tools. But with a VPN, you can completely bypass the government firewalls that block these tools. Just connect to a VPN server in a country that doesn’t ban such sites and services, and you’ll be able to communicate freely with friends and family back home.
As an expat, you’ll likely be traveling quite a bit, whether it’s back home to visit or whether it’s exploring other countries around your adopted country. A lot of your travels may involve air travel, which, as you know, can get super expensive. But did you know that airfares can vary significantly from country to country? It’s something I found out when I became an expat, and it’s one of the most useful little nuggets of information I’ve learned because I use my VPN to find the best deals on airline tickets. I just hop from country to country with my VPN to see where airfares are cheapest for where I want to go.
Of course, a VPN is an essential tool for protecting your online privacy, which is especially important for you as an expat since you’ll likely often be using public Wi-Fi to get online. And as you probably know, using public Wi-Fi isn’t exactly the most secure way to connect to the internet. Hackers and cybercriminals are constantly lurking on these public networks looking to steal the sensitive data of people connecting to them.
But when you encrypt your connection with your VPN, no one will be able to snoop on what you’re doing online and, therefore, will not be able to steal the data you transmit and receive through the VPN’s encrypted tunnel. Hackers, network administrators, internet service providers, government agencies will have absolutely no idea what sites you’re visiting, what services you’re using, or what you’re up to at all – you’ll have complete online privacy. And that’s something that’s tremendously important for any expat. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’ll be able to access your online accounts, manage your bank accounts, and conduct whatever business you may need to conduct online securely and without any fear of having your accounts or information compromised in any way.
As an expat, you’ll find that you’ll have to figure out how to overcome certain challenges that you’ve never had to really deal with before, and some that you’ve probably never thought even existed before you stepped out of your comfort zone and moved abroad. There’s no shame in getting help to overcome those challenges. In fact, it’s encouraged, that’s how you really grow as an expat and how you get the most out of the experience. Use the tools and resources at your disposal to the fullest to help you along the way, make business contacts, make new friends with locals and other expats alike, grow your network, use a VPN – there are so many ways you can enhance your experience as an expat. You’ll be more gratified and fulfilled for it, believe me.
Check out my advantages of using a VPN as an expat page if you’re still to be convinced of the benefits of using a VPN abroad. For a list of the best value VPNs check out my cheap VPNs for expats guides.