Relocating overseas, whether for work, love, retirement or a combination of all three, is one of the most monumental things you'll ever do. But, as exciting as it can be, becoming an expat can also bring challenges.
From culture shock to things like changes in working hours and how much it costs for a decent meal and a beer, there's lots to take in. So while reading expat guides for your new hometown is a great way to prep for your move, you also need to ensure you have everything covered when you’re living your new life.
As a business that uses technology to drive a seamless experience for our international health insurance members, we know all about the impact apps can have on how people experience new locations.
Here are 10 of our favourite "must download" apps for expats everywhere.
InterNations boasts over 4.4 million members worldwide and helps connect global expats with over 6,000 events every month in 420 cities worldwide.
This app is ideal if you've moved somewhere yourself and are looking for people in a similar situation to you. As well as accessing one-off events like trips to the theatre or the most vibrant city bars, InterNations also allows you to access things like hiking trips and longer holidays.
One of the most exciting features of InterNations is that it shows you how many different nationalities will be represented at certain events. So on top of meeting people from your home country, joining InterNations allows you to make new connections and build friendships with people from every corner of the planet.
InterNations is available on iOS and Android.
Skyscanner has the potential to save you a small fortune on flight tickets, allowing you to set up alerts to always get the best deal on your next trip. Depending on the nature of your journey, you can also use Skyscanner to find fantastic hotel and car hire deals.
Skyscanner can come in useful under many circumstances, including:
- Finding better flight deals so you can make more trips home
- If you’re based overseas but still need to travel to other countries for your role, and your employer keeps tight controls on expenses
- If you’re more of a nomad than an expat and are looking to plan your next move at the lowest possible cost
You can download the relevant app for your device directly from the Skyscanner website.
One of the first things to discover when moving overseas is where to find something to eat without resorting to familiar brand names or fast food establishments.
While your work colleagues will be able to provide you recommendations – and might even take you out themselves – you can follow the wisdom of crowds with OpenTable. With reviews, photographs, menus, and one-click booking, it’s easy to find cuisine that reminds you of home – or anywhere else in the world – with OpenTable.
OpenTable is available on iOS and Android.
4. Google Maps
One of the benefits of being an expat today versus, say, 15 years ago is that it's easy to use your smartphone to navigate around your new location. That means feelings of unease are massively reduced, and you don't feel self-conscious about sticking out in the crowd.
There are dozens of useful maps apps out there, but Google Maps is excellent as you can see Google reviews for locations you might travel to, get public transport and traffic information, and much more in one place.
If you have an Android smartphone, you will have Google Maps installed as the default map option. If you’re an iOS user, you can get Google Maps here.
5. WiFi Finder
While 4G data coverage is now over 80% and 5G availability continues to grow, sometimes nothing but WiFi will do.
At home, you probably know all the places you can get WiFi between home and the office and likely have your smartphone set up to connect when it detects a WiFi network. However, it'll take you some time to reach such a point in your new location when you move abroad! That's where WiFi Finder will come in handy, showing you all nearby hotspots where you can grab a coffee or a quiet corner while you connect your smartphone or laptop to jump on a Zoom call or do another piece of work.
WiFi Finder is available on iOS and Android.
When you relocate overseas, it’s easy to find guides like this that tell you how to do all the exciting stuff, but what about the everyday things that we might not always think about?
Flush answers one of those queries – and we don’t think we need to explain what you’d use this one for!
Flush is available on iOS and Android.
7. XE Currency
Whether on holiday or permanently relocated overseas, one of the first things we do when buying something in a new currency is to work out what it would cost back at home. Many people move abroad and do this for the rest of their lives!
It’s certainly a great way to understand what you’re “really paying” for something as you adjust to your new surroundings, which is where XE Currency comes in handy.
Download the app for your device from the XE Currency website.
Modern health is as much about mental wellbeing and overall wellness as how you feel physically.
Headspace is a fantastic platform, even if you aren't an expat. But if you've recently moved to a new location, this app is an excellent way to learn how to meditate, improve your sleep, and deal with many of the worries and anxieties you may be experiencing.
It also has tips to help you eat better, focus on work, and features a choice of mood-boosting workouts.
Download the relevant app for your device from the Headspace website.
Such is the interconnected nature of the modern world that it’s pretty easy to move to a new country and find people who speak the same language outside of the workplace. Apps like InterNations and finding expat groups on platforms like Facebook will certainly help in this respect, too.
Still, there are few better ways to start fully immersing yourself in a new location than learning the language. Duolingo is a world-renowned platform for doing this, and it's free! Apps like this can also work well if you're having in-person language classes and help you quickly build up your new vocabulary.
Duolingo is available on iOS and Android.
10. Now Health International
When you move overseas, it pays to have international health insurance to give you peace of mind that you can get medical care and attention quickly and whenever you need it.
As a Now Health International member, your plan is 100% digital. You can do everything you need to do with your plan using our powerful suite of digital tools, which include our mobile app, secure online portfolio, and award-winning mobile pass product, which puts your membership card directly into your mobile eWallet.
Which apps do you use?
What apps have helped you manage feelings of culture shock and immerse yourself in your new location? What incredible memories have those apps helped you create so far? Perhaps you've found a restaurant that was supposed to be a local secret or been able to take an extra trip home each year thanks to finding cheap flights.
Get in touch via our social channels using the icons below to tell us how technology has helped enhance your experience of being an expat.