An open suitcase with a cape that says “VPN” inside among other things.

Look, you’re an expat. I’m going to tell it to you straight: you need a VPN (Virtual Private Network). No ifs, ands, or buts. It’s a tool that’s essential to anyone, especially for people that live in countries they aren’t from. But let’s be fair here. Perhaps you were just looking up “tips for expats” and have no idea what a virtual private network even is. So let me help by explaining why a VPN for expats is necessary (and what it is). 

What is a VPN?

A VPN service is a cybersecurity tool that helps protect your data. It does so by using strong encryption and changing your IP (Internet Protocol) address by routing your internet connection through a VPN server. This achieves two main things: 

  1. Encrypted data is much harder to access for hackers, third-party snoopers, or your nosy ISP (Internet Service Provider).
  2. Changing your IP address makes you virtually invisible. Or, rather, unrecognizable to any pages you visit, making you harder to track. 

Okay, so maybe these don’t sound catered explicitly to expats. But those are just the key cybersecurity benefits applicable to all. Let’s look at the use cases of VPN services for expats specifically. 

Why do expats need VPNs?

A VPN superhero holding a suitcase.

Living abroad is already bothersome enough. Allow me to be controversial and say that we all want our lives to be easier. That’s where your VPN service comes in. Here are six ways it can help you:

  1. Easier access to financial accounts

Is your bank giving you trouble? You wouldn’t be the first one. A bank’s priority is protecting your finances. However, that often comes with many restrictions. Banks may deny you access to your own accounts if you’re using an IP address from a different country. A VPN service allows you to change your IP address. Let’s say you’re in the UK, and your bank is in Germany. Simply open your VPN, choose Germany as your preferred location, and you’ll access your bank account hassle-free

  1. A safe way to connect to public Wi-Fi

These days we’re exceptionally vulnerable without access to the internet. I don’t know about you, but if I’ve just moved to a different country, I will 100% find a way to get lost. And finding the nearest coffee shop with Wi-Fi can be life-saving. But public Wi-Fi isn’t as safe as we might think. Snooping hackers might be waiting for you on that network. If you want to protect yourself, a VPN service is a must.  

  1. Access to global content

Now, you might want to read the news on your hometown’s official website. Or you might need access to government websites to deal with the move. Much like banks, these often restrict access from foreign IP addresses. So changing your IP address is your only option. 

Disclaimer: We prohibit using Surfshark services for any unlawful purposes as it is against our Terms of Service. Please be sure to act in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations of other service providers.

  1. A way to bypass censorship

Unfortunately, many countries restrict internet access, particularly to social media sites. For example, if you’re in China and want to check your Facebook account to let your family know you made it there safely, you’re out of luck. Or… are you? What’s that? A VPN service has come to your rescue – suddenly, you can open Facebook by connecting to a server in a different country. And, oh, look at that, someone has messaged you to say they miss you already. 

  1. Lower ticket prices

Once you settle into your new home, you will likely feel a little homesick. Flights can be expensive, though. So do you just wait, save, and settle for the occasional video call with people you cannot visit? No. You turn on your VPN service, and you look for flights home. And yes, buying airline tickets with a VPN is much cheaper. 

  1. Safety online

I’ll admit it’s weird leaving this last as it is the most crucial benefit, but I understand it’s not as shiny as the other reasons to use a VPN. We often forget that online safety is as important as safety in the real world. With most of our lives online, our data becomes more and more precious to hackers, ISPs, and data brokers. A VPN service will keep you and your internet connection safe in this sea of threats. 

What to look for in a VPN?

Figuring out what a VPN does can be confusing, and finding the differences between providers can be even harder.

  1. Many server locations

Make sure your chosen VPN has servers in your home country. As I already mentioned, you might need to connect to it for various reasons. (Not to brag, but Surfshark offers 100 different VPN server locations). 

  1. Fast connection speed

Look for a fast VPN. You don’t want to be stuck with loading screens and long download times. Although a drop in speed is inevitable with encryption, make sure it’s no more than 30%. 

  1. Multiple-device support 

Don’t settle for a VPN that will only protect your computer. Make sure it has an app for your phone and maybe even your TV as well. Also, look for how many simultaneous connections it supports, so that you can keep everything protected at the same time. 

  1. Killswitch

Killswitch is a dandy feature that will “kill” your internet connection if your VPN connection drops. Since VPNs tend to work in the background, they can go unnoticed. A Killswitch will ensure you never browse unprotected. 

  1. No-logs policy

A VPN is meant to protect your data. So make sure you invest in one that doesn’t collect it. Any data about you that isn’t required for payments (ex., Credit card info) or creating an account (ex., Your email address) is unnecessary. Be wary of services that ask for it. 

Pro tip: Don’t fall for the promise of a free VPN. We have an article explaining free vs. paid VPNs if you’re interested. Still, the gist is this: free VPNs are often outdated, offer fewer features and sell your data for profit. Keep away!  

Final thoughts: a VPN to make it easier

You’re away from home. We all know settling down in a new country can be very hard. So let a premium VPN like Surfshark make it easier for you. Forget how long it takes to get into your bank account, avoid censorship and find cheaper ticket prices. Whatever you use it for, a VPN can be a guiding light in your journey. 

Feel at home with your VPN choice

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Can a VPN put you in a different country?

Absolutely. A VPN provider can make your traffic appear to be from a different country. Unfortunately, no teleportation powers yet… 

How do I get an overseas VPN?

Any good VPN is an overseas VPN, as it can make it look like you’re there. Just check the server locations they offer, and you’ll be fine. 

Is there a free VPN that can change location?

Probably. But you shouldn’t use one. Free VPNs will most likely monetize your data and bombard you with annoying ads. Nobody wants that.