If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, then you already know I’m and a big believer in the power and utility of VPNs. I’ve posted about how VPNs can help expats unblock streaming sites, the most secure VPNs for expats, how expats can find a cheap VPN, and so on. But what is the best VPN for expats overall? That’s a legitimate question, after all, and one you’ll want answered if you now live abroad.
There are quite a few things I look out for when I’m evaluating the overall quality of a VPN provider. And, as a US expat myself, I’m naturally always evaluating the VPNs I use through the eyes of one. Let’s run through a few of the things I keep a particularly close eye on when I use a VPN.
The best VPNs for Expats
As a US expat that has lived in Hungary for many years, I have tested my fair share of VPN services. Below I have listed the best VPN services for expats in 2024.
- ExpressVPN - The fastest VPN we test, unblocks everything, with amazing service all round
- Surfshark - Strong presence, no-logs policy
- NordVPN - A large brand offering great value at a cheap price
- CyberGhost VPN - Longtime top ranked VPN, with great price and speeds
When choosing a VPN service I would always look for and test the following features:
- Lots of servers worldwide
- Fast servers
- Great apps for all popular platforms
- Strong encryption to keep me safe on public WiFi
The best VPN for Expats in 2024 | in-depth analysis
In my mind, these are the attributes that make for an excellent expat VPN:
Obviously, you want your VPN to provide you with all the security and privacy protections you need to secure your connection when you go online. This is especially true if you’re an expat partial to a public Wi-Fi hotspot. In addition to strong encryption standards, other key security and privacy features to look out for include DNS leak protection, a kill-switch, and a strict no-logs policy. If you’re an in a country like China or Iran where internet censorship and surveillance is the norm and the legality of VPNs themselves is up in the air, you’ll definitely want your VPN to include obfuscation technology to ensure no one can tell you’re even using a VPN.
When you’re streaming video, on a video call with colleagues or loved ones, gaming, or downloading files, speed is gonna be king. You’ll need your VPN connection to be fast so that you can do what you need to do online without any interruptions or hiccups. Any VPN will slow your connection speeds somewhat – that’s just the nature of how VPNs work – but with a fast VPN, you’ll barely notice any difference. I can guarantee you that, as an expat, you’ll definitely learn to appreciate a fast VPN connection.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine not being able to access my US Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, or Hulu content. Nor can I imagine not being able to watch the local channels and sports teams I grew up with.
If you’re in a similar position to me, you’ll know how important it is to be able to unblock all your favorite programming from home and from all over the world. You’ll want a VPN that can unblock as much geographically restricted content as possible, and the best expat VPN services out there are all excellent at unblocking tons of streaming content from virtually anywhere.
The breadth of your VPN provider’s server network will have quite a bit of influence on the speed and reliability of your VPN connection. With a VPN that has an extensive network of servers located all over the world, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have plenty of options for fast, reliable servers close by no matter where you’re living. Having access to a large worldwide network of VPN servers also means that you’ll have a wealth of options when it comes to unblocking content from around the world.
Of course, you’ll want your VPN to be compatible with all the devices you plan to use it on. I have VPNs set up on two different MacBooks, an iPhone and an iPad, and a router. As an expat who travels a lot, I like to have easy access to a VPN whether I’m at home or if I’m on the go. I’m guessing most of you who read my blog are the same. You may be an Apple guy like me, or you may prefer Windows, Linux, or Android. Whatever the case may be, you’ll need your VPN to perform equally well and have a consistent feel across all of your devices.
It’s a good thing the good VPNs out there do because I’ve tested some that are complete garbage that either aren’t compatible with all operating systems, or the overall experience is vastly different from one OS to another. Lemme tell you, inconsistency and incompatibility make for a lousy VPN experience. That’s why you need a VPN that is compatible and consistent across the platforms you’re going to use it on.
Ease of use
I certainly don’t want it to be a pain to use my VPN, and I’m sure you don’t either. Unfortunately, there are quite a few VPNs out there that are confusing or otherwise annoying to use. We don’t want that. For expats – and for anyone else for that matter – the best VPNs are all incredibly easy to use. You’ll want a VPN that you basically just set and forget; leave it to run in the background as you go about your business online.
Value for money
Finally, you’ll want your VPN to be worth the money you’re spending on it. No one likes to pay for something that simply doesn’t supply the requisite quality or performance to justify its price tag. You’re an expat, you’ve already got enough on your plate, the last thing you need is to overpay for a second-rate service, you need a VPN that gives you what you pay for.
So, taking all of the above factors into consideration, which VPN do I consider the best overall VPN for expats? Which VPN hits the mark on all those attributes I listed above?
To answer that question, in my opinion, the best expat VPN overall has to be ExpressVPN. Sure, it’s a bit on the pricier side, but believe me, you get everything you pay for and more with this one. ExpressVPN excels at each and every one of the factors I examine when testing the quality of a VPN. It’s the one I use every day as an expat and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to any other expat looking for the best of the best.
If you’re looking for something a little more affordable that provides excellent security and unbelievable unblocking powers, then I’d recommend Surfshark. I’ve used it plenty and I’m always impressed with the silky smooth interface and all the extras the provider throws in at such a bargain price point. Plus, there’s no limit to how many devices you can use the same account on, so it’s perfect if you want to share it with a friend or family member.
A couple others that I use regularly and would recommend you check out are NordVPN and CyberGhost VPN. Both are super-easy to use and offer everything you need in a quality expat VPN in terms of speeds, security, and unblocking capabilities.
When you’re an expat and you’re looking for a VPN, you shouldn’t compromise on quality. It’s worth it to go for the best when you need to protect your privacy abroad, connect with colleagues and loved ones back home and around the world, and unblock your favorite geo-restricted content. Go ahead and give some of my recommendations a shot and see what you think – you really can’t go wrong with any one of them.