Moving Overseas? There’s an App for That!
Modern technology has made the prospect of moving overseas much less daunting than in the not-so-distant past. The growing popularity of smart devices places a wide variety of applications at a user’s fingertips that can make the transition from casual traveler to seasoned expat much easier.
No matter what type of platform you have, these applications can make navigating the nuances of your new home both accessible and portable. In a real sense, these programs have transformed the way expats become integrated into their life abroad.
Essential Smartphone Applications for Moving Overseas
Perhaps the best way to prepare your smartphone or tablet for moving overseas is to first make a list of the kind of applications that you might need on a daily basis. Once you’ve identified your needs, group similar apps into those categories for easy access when you need them.
To demonstrate how this method can work for you, below are several major topics that expats frequently have questions or concerns about. Under each topic you will find some of the most popular apps that can help you with that issue.
Communicating With Others
Being able to communicate with your neighbors, especially in a new language, can be one of the most challenging aspects of moving overseas. The cost of making calls back to the U.S. (or elsewhere) can also be prohibitive. Below are some of the best apps to stay connected and to make sure you’re clearly understood.
Skype has become the “go-to” application for international travelers who want to be able to connect with friends and family, no matter where on Earth they may be. Having the ability to see who you are speaking to, as well as hear them, is one of the key features of this tool.
Once downloaded on your desktop or laptop, it is an easy matter to install the free app on any smartphone, sign in, and start up a conversation. Skype also has a number of fee-based options, such as unlimited calling and creating a personalized number, that can further enhance its usage.
This is a user-friendly, free app that allows you to type in or speak a word or phrase and have it translated instantaneously. You can have someone speak a phrase into your smartphone, and the app will immediately recognize the phrase and provide an English translation.
Likewise, you can also use the app to speak a phrase or question in English and have it played back in the desired language. It’s like having your very own translator right in your pocket.
Duolingo is a newer and very popular application for those who want to learn a second language, for free, while traveling. The wide variety of languages offered makes this a useful addition to any expat’s electronic toolkit. Although the learning level of the languages is basic at this time, being able to make yourself understood for most daily tasks, like shopping, will make the transition to expat life much easier.
Worried about getting stuck somewhere with no access to the Internet? WiFi Finder is another free app that can help you find Wi-Fi “hotspots” where internet access is available. Being able to reduce or avoid high phone bills or roaming charges makes this an essential app for new expats and experienced travelers alike.
Banking and Money
Before moving overseas, doing some online research on bank fees for international transactions can save both time and money. Checking with your current financial institution is a good place to start in the process.
Nerdwallet.com and Wallethub.com
These are two great applications that let you compare the pluses and minuses of banks and credit cards in terms of international transaction fees and other benefits. Naturally, each of the financial institutions listed have their own websites that can be reached online.
XE Currency is widely regarded as the premier free application for currency conversion rates. Knowing how much (or how little) a dollar is worth, in terms of local currency, can help new expats better plan out their monthly finances. Comparisons can also be done on multiple currencies at the same time.
Perhaps one of the hardest parts about moving overseas is trying to build up a social life. Between the language barrier and not knowing where to go, the expat life can be a bit isolated in the beginning. Fortunately, there are a number of apps that can help.
This app, which you may already be using, is probably the most popular and best known smartphone app in terms of social interaction. Being able to look up groups or individuals, seek out topics, and put your own information online can all help to build your social circle in your new home.
Meetup is a newer, free application that is rapidly gaining in popularity. By filtering by location and interests, you can find like-minded people and events that can help you interact and expand your connections beyond your immediate home area.
This is another newcomer to the expat-focused app world. Covering more than 200 cities worldwide (and growing), with this tool you can discover more than 20 million events that can help you get out and mingle.
21st Century Technology Makes Moving Overseas Easier
The number of applications available for smartphones and tablets will continue to grow as user demand increases. Having access to the information available in these apps, while on the go, has transformed the expat experience in ways that were unthinkable just a short while ago.
Combined with increasing Wi-Fi connectivity and advances in the quality and capacity of mobile devices, more people are considering the benefits and promise of the expat lifestyle. Grab your phone and explore the possibilities!