An open backpack with a phone coming out of it that has a basketball on the screen.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) can help expats like you reach their native digital sphere anywhere in the world. From catching up with the local news to working with banking apps, a VPN is an indispensable tool for the citizens of the world. Read on more to learn what a VPN for expats can do. 

What is a VPN?

A VPN 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 nearly impossible to read 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 phone with VPN written on the screen placed next to a list of benefits of using a VPN.

Expats need a VPN to be able to use the services available at home no matter where they are in the world. To answer it in a bit more detail, here’s how it goes:

  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. 

Using a VPN  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. Reach your homeland digitally

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. Crush oppressive censorship

Unfortunately, some oppressive or authoritarian 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. Get 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 app, and you look for flights home. And yes, buying airline tickets with a VPN is much cheaper. 

  1. Staying safe and private 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 privacy and safety are 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 app will keep you and your internet traffic safe in this sea of threats. 

How do you choose the best VPN for expats? 

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

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 servers in 100 countries). 

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%. 

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. 

Kill Switch

Kill Switch 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 Kill Switch will ensure you never browse unprotected. 

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 (except credit card info) or creating an account (except 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 on your journey. 

Get some home vibes with a VPN
Connect to a server in your home country


Can a VPN put you in a different country?

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

How do I get an overseas VPN?

Any good VPN provider is an overseas VPN provider, as it can make it look like you’re there. Just check their server network for the 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 VPN providers are likely to monetize your data and bombard you with annoying ads. Nobody wants that. 

Can I choose which US city I connect to?

Yes, if a VPN offers US servers, you will probably have the option of the city to connect to.

With Surfshark, you can connect to servers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Houston, Detroit, New York, Miami and more!

Why are US web services unavailable abroad?

There are three main reasons why US services would be unavailable abroad:

  • Privacy law compliance: for example, some media sites aren’t GDPR-compliant, so they choose not to display their content in the EU. 
  • Censorship: some authoritarian regimes restrict access to the internet, and some of that banned media may come from the US.
  • Geoblocking: copyright laws and distribution agreements mean that not all services can display all of their content everywhere.