What to Look For in a VPN for Expats

Imagine moving to ultra-chic cosmopolitan Shanghai, only to find out you can’t use Gmail and Spotify. Or you try to access your local bank account from a new country, but you’re suddenly locked out. Some countries even ban social media. Sounds ridiculous, but this is the reality expats face. 

According to an AXA – Global Healthcare research report, 87% of expats experience loneliness and feelings of isolation while abroad. This isn’t surprising when you think about it. It’s natural to feel a degree of seclusion when you’re away from the familiar comforts of home.

Maybe you moved abroad for work, for love, or to rekindle your sense of adventure. Whatever your reason, planting yourself down in a new country doesn’t necessarily mean you cut ties with the home you grew up in.

What is a VPN?

A VPN is a privacy and security tool that protects your digital identity. When you use one, your internet traffic is routed through an encrypted tunnel. You can deflect cybercriminals and any snooping attempts from your ISP, the government, or third-party companies. 

As an expat, you might find a VPN useful for changing your digital location. This lets you get back into websites and subscriptions from your home country, securely access your bank accounts, and find better travel deals online.

Do expats need a VPN?

Absolutely. The internet allows you to stay connected to your native country’s culture and your loved ones still there. However, online risks and restrictions mean there’s more to think about than just connecting to the Wi-Fi. Data security, privacy, and freedom of access are important factors in your online experience — problems arise when you don’t have one of these. I recently moved to a new country myself, and I’ve had my fair share of online limitations.

The good thing is, a reliable VPN can safeguard your digital identity, habits, and freedom. In the next sections, learn more about how a VPN helps expats and what VPN features are essential to improve your online experience in a new country.

How does a VPN help expats?

To Connect to Local Roots

It’s easier than ever to keep yourself in the loop with the latest back home, because a VPN can help you relocate your digital address. When you use a VPN, you can access your local streaming and banking subscriptions securely — and even get tailored search engine recommendations. You’ll feel like you’re just internet surfing back in your country.

To Keep Your Online Activity Private

Data retention and sharing laws differ per country, and having someone keep track of your every move online is both unnerving and dangerous. Your ISP might throttle your speed when it sees you’re doing data-heavy activities. The government may observe your internet traffic to censor sites. Data leaks can make it easier for criminal hackers to trick you with sophisticated scams.

A VPN helps expats stay anonymous by keeping their online habits safe from prying eyes.

To Protect Your Data

You’ll be connecting to the internet with new networks, and it’s likely some of these are unsecured. A good VPN uses encryption and tough security features to ensure your data isn’t stolen or misused by malicious hackers.

Smart DNS or VPN for Expats: Which Is Better?

DNS is the internet’s address book. When you type a website’s URL, the DNS translates this into an IP address to request and serve you the site’s content. Your ISP provides the DNS server your device connects to.

A Smart DNS routes your request to a proxy server in a different country, so websites think you’re located elsewhere. This, in effect, lets you access region-locked content. However, it doesn’t protect your privacy and security the way a VPN does.

VPNs let you access subscriptions and sites securely when you’re abroad while keeping your online habits and data safe. In addition, setting up Smart DNS can be complicated and time-consuming. With your busy expat life, who has time for that?

It’s pretty clear a VPN is the better choice with its well-rounded features which fit the needs you’ll have in your life abroad. CyberGhost VPN comes with premium features that fill all your needs and won’t let you down when you’re adjusting to life in a new country. You’ll find a list of the benefits you get with CyberGhost VPN below.

What to look for in a VPN for expats?

  • Access to Local Accounts

Often, you lose access to certain sites or services when you move to another country. These could be your banking apps, streaming services, local news pages, and even shopping sites. On websites that are available, your new region can affect the content shown, and most won’t let you switch to a different country. 

A VPN should have servers in your home country so you can change your IP address. This way you can maintain access to services and stay in touch with the local flavors from your home country — as if you’ve never left.

Take for example my online shopping experience. I wanted to buy a gift from a local online store in the Philippines to send to someone within the country, but I couldn’t because I’m in Belgium. 

Not only was I seeing more expensive prices, but I didn’t have the option to ship to my country because I was always redirected to the site’s international version. However, when I used a VPN, I could shop as if I were back in the Philippines.

Screenshot of Sunnies Studios website showing sunglasses for sale with Philippine Peso prices
The website’s Philippine version. The Bobbi sunglasses cost 10 USD when converted.
Screenshot of Sunnies Studios website showing sunglasses for sale with USD prices
This is the international website. The same pair costs 15 USD more!
  • Safety on Any Network

Maybe you’re a digital nomad, or you just like being constantly online. You likely connect to many public Wi-Fi hotspots such as those in cafes or subways. While convenient, these are often unsecured and pose a threat to your data security.

This is why you should look out for a VPN that has 256-bit AES encryption — the toughest encryption available. It makes your data indecipherable so anyone who attempts to snoop on you or steal your data will only see a useless jumble.

  • Ability to Bypass Censorship

Not all countries are proponents of digital freedom, and some have rules that are quite arbitrary. In China, for example, you can’t visit websites like Facebook, BBC, Instagram, and even Gmail. Even though China is famous for its internet restrictions, many countries monitor your web traffic and restrict your access.

Thankfully, you can get around online restrictions imposed by the government with a VPN. You’ll be able to view sites you have every right to access in the first place because a VPN hides your traffic from prying eyes and changes your digital location.

  • Runs at Fast Speeds

Whether you use the internet for work-related video calls or entertainment like streaming, you need a fast and stable connection. Unfortunately, ISPs can slow down your speed when you do high-bandwidth activities. This is called content-based bandwidth throttling, and it’s frustrating especially when you have deadlines to meet.

This is why you need a fast VPN with a large server fleet. You’ll not only bypass ISP throttling through encryption, but you also won’t waste time connecting to overcrowded servers. Check if the VPN has streaming-optimized or downloading-optimized servers too because these have bandwidth specifically reserved for those activities.

  • Finds Better Deals

Flight, accommodation, and some online shopping sites use dynamic pricing models. Just when you’re ready to book that plane ticket, the prices have gone up. Sneaky! What’s more, when you book from another country, rates can be cheaper.

The good thing is, a VPN keeps you anonymous so you’ll see the same price each time you visit the site. You can even compare prices from different locations with a VPN and save a ton. Traveling for work or to see loved ones back home won’t feel like you’re burning a hole in your pocket.

Why is CyberGhost VPN the best VPN for expats?

FeatureWhy It Matters
Military-Grade EncryptionWe use 256-bit AES encryption, the strongest encryption algorithm in existence. This keeps your data secure because it makes your digital footprint indecipherable and impossible to crack.
You’ll be able to bypass ISP content-based throttling and government censorship; stop third-party surveillance; deflect cybercriminals on unsecured public Wi-Fi; and get around local network blocks.
Instant IP Address ChangeWhen you connect to a CyberGhost server in one of the 91 countries where we’re available, we mask your IP address to change your digital location. By doing so, you can securely access your local bank accounts, streaming subscriptions, and other services back home.
Fast Servers with Unlimited BandwidthWe have a large network of servers globally, with some running at 10 Gbps in popular locations. You’ll connect instantly to never-busy servers. We don’t impose bandwidth caps either, so sluggish speeds are never a problem.
CyberGhost VPN even has streaming-optimized servers and servers optimized for gaming and peer-to-peer sharing. These are reserved solely for these purposes, so you won’t ever have to fight for bandwidth.
Airtight Kill SwitchWhen you inadvertently disconnect from the secure VPN tunnel, the Kill Switch blocks your internet traffic. This prevents data leaks from happening. You can also enable our automatic Wi-Fi protection feature, which instantly turns on your VPN if you connect to a new network.
Strict No logs PolicyWe never collect, share, or sell your activity logs. We’re also headquartered in privacy-friendly Romania, where no data retention laws exist. Our quarterly Transparency Report keeps you updated on how we handle police requests, DMCA complaints, and malicious activity every month.

It’s very easy to switch on CyberGhost VPN and reap the benefits millions of Ghosties worldwide enjoy. Here’s how easy it is to make the most out of the two main VPN advantages for expats using CyberGhost:

Take Your Streaming Subscription’s Local Library with You Abroad

If you have, for example, a Netflix Australia account, you can connect to one of Cyberghost VPN’s streaming-optimized servers for this.


  1. Open the CyberGhost app and click on For streaming in the sidebar menu.
  2. Select Australia – Optimized for Netflix AU.
  3. Press the power button to turn on the VPN. 
Screenshot of CyberGhost VPN interface showing the list of streaming-optimized servers with Australia highlighted
Just a few clicks to connect to our streaming-optimized servers.
Screenshot of CyberGhost VPN interface showing the user connected to the Australia Netflix streaming-optimized server
Voila! The power button lights up and you’re now connected. 

Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

Maybe you’re a frequent flier who needs to use airport Wi-Fi, or you like doing your work in restaurants. You can protect your online data in one simple step. Just tap the power button in the app. That’s it!

CyberGhost VPN interface on iPhone showing the power button switched off, with server location set to Best Location
Best Location connects you to the nearest and fastest available server.
CyberGhost VPN interface on iPhone showing the power button switched on, with server location set to Belgium
One click and you’re instantly connected to the VPN.

We have dedicated apps for major operating systems and devices. In this case, I’m using the CyberGhost iOS app.

If you want an added layer of security, you can enable our automatic Wi-Fi protection feature. You can customize it to instantly turn on the VPN whenever you connect to an unsecured network.

CyberGhost VPN iOS app interface with an arrow pointing to the Settings icon at the top left
Step 1: Tap the Settings icon.
CyberGhost VPN iOS app showing Wi-Fi tab options, with a box highlighting the Wi-Fi Auto-Protect feature
Step 2: Go to the Wi-Fi tab and switch on Wi-Fi Auto-Protect.
CyberGhost VPN iOS app showing setting options for Open Wi-Fi, with a box highlighting Always connect
Step 3: Tap ‘Always connect’ under Open Wi-fi, then tap Done.

You have control over how the app behaves on secured and unsecured networks. Choose whether it turns on instantly (recommended) or asks you first.

Verdict: A VPN Is an Expat Essential

Whether you’ve relocated for studies, a career, or for a relationship, a VPN is an indispensable addition to your tech arsenal. No need to feel like your local accounts are held hostage, nor should you constantly feel like your data is vulnerable online. A VPN helps you ease the transition to a new territory’s digital landscape while maintaining ties back in your country.

Try CyberGhost VPN and keep using the internet in the way you’re used to with peace of mind. 


Can I work abroad with a VPN?

Yes, you can work with a VPN in most countries, but check for any local regulations regarding VPNs before you use one. 

CyberGhost VPN can bypass content-based ISP throttling, which is useful when you stream, game online, and send lots of large files. We encrypt your internet traffic so your ISP can’t see what you’re doing. If your ISP can’t snoop on you, it’ll find no reason to slow down your connection speed, even if you’re doing high-bandwidth activities.

How do I get an overseas VPN?

A good VPN should work wherever you are (where VPN use is allowed). It shouldn’t matter whether you’re at home or overseas.

For example, you only need one subscription with CyberGhost VPN regardless of location. This lets you connect to one of our thousands of servers worldwide. We also change your IP address so you can securely access your banking apps, streaming subscriptions, and online services back home.

If you need a VPN abroad, get CyberGhost VPN. You can try it risk-free with a 45-day money-back guarantee.

How many country servers does CyberGhost VPN offer?

CyberGhost has high-speed VPN servers in 91 countries. We’re a fast VPN with servers running at 10 Gbps in busy locations, so there’s always an available one for you immediately. We also offer unlimited bandwidth, so you don’t ever have to worry about getting a slow connection as a result of VPN speed caps.

Want to know how else you can boost your speeds further? Our 24/7 Customer Support is ready to give you personalized advice, whatever your timezone is.

Can a VPN protect expats?

Definitely. A VPN protects you on unsecured public Wi-Fi because encryption makes your online data impossible to crack. You can shoo away cybercriminals and snoopers such as your ISP, third-party companies, and even the government.

A VPN also lets you bypass censored websites, so you can enjoy your digital freedom while remaining anonymous.

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