Moving overseas soon? Or have you been based on the other side of the globe for some time? Whether you are just starting out in this exciting and rewarding lifestyle, or are well accustomed to its challenges, there are ways to make your day-to-day life easier with the help of your trusty smartphone and the countless useful apps at your disposal.
Check out the following six essential apps for expatriates that can save you time on getting to your next meeting or help you avoid eating chicken gizzards at the corner café.
1) Google Maps
Even if you have been abroad for a while, your lack of experience with your host city’s layout will put you at a disadvantage: one wrong turn, and you may find yourself hopelessly lost, and probably in a neighborhood that you don’t want to be lost in…
By ensuring that you have Google Maps on your phone (Apple, we love you, but your maps utility does more harm than good), you can stay on track in your quest to explore new neighborhoods, find coffee shops with ease, and avoid arriving late to important business meetings.
Your basic knowledge of your new city’s streets is another stumbling block, a truth that is exacerbated by the fact that many people abroad may speak a tongue of which you have limited command, making it hard to ask locals about trouble spots.
What’s more, traffic in some parts of the world (especially in densely populated countries in Asia and South America) is considerably more snarled than what you’re probably used to back in your home country.
Whether you’re meeting friends for drinks, or heading out to meet a prospective client face-to-face for the first time, checking out the congestion on major routes using Waze is the smart thing to do.
By avoiding routes that are gridlocked, you can get on with your day without worrying about whether a traffic bottleneck will ruin it.
P.S. Google actually bought Waze so it’s “uber” powerful now!
While an exotic metropolis like Bangkok has many qualities that draw in more and more expats every year, taxi cabs in these places are rife with over-chargers, meter-fixers and dangerously aggressive drivers.
Uber has made a name for itself in the West, but it has now spread to a variety of cities around the globe. As a result, you can get a ride in many places overseas that will be marked by friendly, honest drivers that take pride in their professionalism.
The star rating system will see to that, making your taxi-hailing experience in questionable parts of the globe much more comfortable.
4) XE Currency Converter
Ever walk away from a money changer’s booth wondering if you got a fair deal for the large chunk of foreign currency that you didn’t end up spending by the end of your stay?
Knowing where you stand before stepping up to the counter is an informational advantage you need to have; for this task, we recommend that you download the free XE currency converter app.
Known for years as the gold standard for currency exchange rates on the internet, their data is updated continuously throughout the business day, giving you the upper hand over dealers that try to push a criminally low rate on you in the hopes that you don’t know any better.
It also works great even if you are not connected to Wi-Fi or cell service for when you’re at a restaurant, store, etc. Just hope the world markets don’t crash while you’re at lunch!
Looking to relocate to a cost-effective base for a while? There are a number of cost-of-living resource sites on the web, but Teleport is one of the best smartphone apps for on-the-go comparisons between cities and neighborhoods.
By selecting what needs and interests matter the most to you, you can find places around the world (and sectors within cities in its database) that resonate with your desire to get the best bang for your buck — and lifestyle.
6) Google Translate
This one might seem like an obvious suggestion, but if you haven’t updated your Google Translate App recently, most definitely do so. There is now a new feature now that utilizes your camera: whatever foreign language you hold it over, it will automatically translate the text, and even in the same font as whatever you’re pointing at! This works great for street signs, menus, etc. No more eating chicken feet by accident!
At the time of this post, you can instantly translate English to and from almost every major language, see an official list here.The translations are much more accurate nowadays then a few years back as it seems to account pretty well for slang and other colloquial expressions.
By Jeremy Albelda, a location-independent entrepreneur and travel blogger at The World or Bust.
(Image credit: iStockphoto)