Expat Toolkit: 6 tools for staying connected long distance

GoodMigrations Whale


6 tools for staying connected overseas

(Check out our latest article on How to Stay Connected and Keep Your Phone Number After Moving Abroad.)

Staying connected with your family and friends can be difficult when you move abroad. As an expat living in Sydney with family on the east coast of the United States, there were only a few hours during the day when talking was even feasible. We often had to schedule Skype chats using email. But there are lots of other great tools you can use to stay connected so I thought I’d share some of the ones I’ve found:


Rebtel is similar to Skype in a lot of ways — free computer-to-computer calls and cheap calls to phones. The big draw for expats is that Rebtel’s rates for international calls to phones are a bit cheaper than Skype.


Viber is a multi-platform app available for pretty much any smartphone. It offers a simple communication through free text messages, photo messages, and calling between Viber users over data connections. It also has a feature for communicating with non-Viber users for a price. The ability to have unlimited calls and messaging to anyone, anywhere in the world as long as you have a data connection is their standout feature.


Given Facebook’s blockbuster $19 billion price tag for Whatsapp, chances are you’ve heard of it. This app for your smartphone allows free texting and picture and video sharing to anyone in the world who also has Whatsapp. It also lets you message groups in case you want to text everyone at once. All you need is a data connection.


It only makes sense that one of the biggest mobile communication apps in the world would be born in the biggest mobile market in the world — China. WeChat is available for most smartphones, as well as through a browser. The app has chat and video calls that function like the others, though its voice chat is particularly different. Instead of having a constantly streaming conversation, you send short voice messages — definitely helpful if you have a limited data plan.


Bonfyre is like a private version of Facebook. You can set up groups (i.e. Family, Friends) and share posts, photos, and send messages — all for free.

What other tools have you found useful to stay in touch with people back home? Let us know in the comments.

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