15 Essential Apps for Expats

21 December 2017

Living abroad in an unfamiliar place can be stressful at times, from language issues to not knowing your way around, it can become difficult. Luckily with the invention of smartphones, this has become less and less of a problem, with mapping and language apps freely available on all mobile platforms. This week, we take a look through 13 of the most useful mobile apps for those living around the world. For those who are looking for something to help them remember their day-to-day tasks, take a look at our previous blog looking at the best check listing apps currently available.


Google Maps – Free

Google Maps is probably still the most widely used and comprehensive mapping app in the world. Plugged into a multitude of online services and detailing information on nearly every type of business imaginable, this is an absolute must-have. Also great for those drivers out there with real-time traffic information and details on public transport for everyone else.


Citymapper – Free

Citymapper is the ultimate tool for getting around cities all over the globe. The app integrates train and bus timetable information alongside routing and traffic data to give you multiple options to get from A to B. It will also give you the projected price for the trip, so you don’t get caught out when you need to pay your bus fare.


Uber - Free

Undeniably one of the most convenient travel apps out there, the premier ride-hailing service is now available in 633 cities worldwide. Just choose your pick-up and drop-off locations and wait for your car to arrive. Although the fare is usually charged directly to your card, many areas also have the option to pay in cash for when you don’t have a local bank account and don’t want to have to pay currency conversion charges.


Dark Sky – $3.99

Everyone already has weather apps on their smartphone, but how about an app that tells you when it’s actually going to rain? Dark Sky gives you real-time information on when it’s going to start and stop raining where you are, to the minute. Knowing exactly when it’s going to chuck it down means that you can plan your trips better and decide when it may be time for a sudden trip to a bar. The app also has all of the standard weather app tools with weekly forecasts and the like, but only tells the temperature in Fahrenheit.


Flush - Free

When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, and when you’re in an unfamiliar place, this can become a real problem very fast. That’s why Flush was created, the easiest way to find a publish bathroom while out and about. The crowdsourced database now has more than 190,000 restrooms in its database, so you can always find a toilet when it matters most. Thankfully, there’s an offline mode too. 


Time Out – Free

When you don’t know your city very well, it can be hard to find things to keep yourself entertained without resorting to a guidebook and the most touristy things in town. The various city-specific Time Out apps resolve this by helping you to discover a wide array of local bars, restaurants, events and experiences to fill your time with. Start living like a local.


Skyscanner – Free

Skyscanner started off as a flight price comparison website but has now expanded to included to become a real all-in-one app for organising your travel. Now encompassing flights, hotels and car rentals this is the first and last app you’ll need to plan your trips while enjoying your expat life.


Google Translate – Free

Moving abroad can come with some unique language challenges. No longer do you only have to worry about how to order two beers and some snacks; now you have to cover all aspects of your life, except in Japanese, German or Bulgarian. Enter Google Translate, now with added features such as being able to talk into the app and it translates for you. It allows you to point your camera at a piece of paper or sign and have the words translated for you directly on the screen.


Mint - Free

Managing your money efficiently can be a nightmare at the best of times, but when using unfamiliar currency and being hit with the unexpected changes associated with expat life, it can become even more difficult. Mint get around these problems by collating all of your financial information safely and securely in one place. The software keeps track of all your bills, spending and credit card payments so you can get a better handle on your finances and start saving.


WhatsApp – Free

Staying in touch with those family and friends left behind can still be difficult at times even in 2017. There are plenty of apps and programs out there that offer over-the-internet solutions, but WhatsApp lets you just use your phone making it the most convenient option for many. Just sign up in-app using your mobile number and add your friends and family. Now including a voice call option, you can talk to everyone like you would do back home.


Duolingo – Free

We covered the best language learning apps on the blog a few weeks ago, and Duolingo features prominently. The Duolingo language learning philosophy involves learning little bits at a time and practising them repeatedly over an extended period to make sure they get stuck in your memory as best as possible. Just spend 10 minutes during your commute every day, and you’ll be speaking the language in no time.


Wi-Fi Finder – Free

When you don’t have a data connection during your travels even doing the basics such as finding your hotel or somewhere good to eat can become difficult. This is where Wi-Fi Finder comes in. It scans your surrounding area to identify free hotspots and Wi-Fi passwords. You don’t even need an internet connection to use it, just switch on the app and let it search away.


Pocket – Free

Ever seen an interesting article or useful piece of information while browsing the internet on the way to work and then forgot to follow up later on? Pocket solves this problem by giving you a handy drop box for all of these little items you see on your web. It integrates with all of the regular web browsers and syncs across all your devices so you can always pick up where you left off.


Wunderlist - Free

A simple app to help you keep track of your day-to-day tasks and make sure you don’t forget anything. Wunderlist is probably one of the simplest and easiest to use listing apps out there at the moment, and has options for shared lists with friends and sharing across devices.


DocuSign - Free

Ever had to sign a document on your phone or computer and had to go through the bother of printing it out, signing, and then to have to find a scanner to upload and send it back again? This will no longer be a problem with DocuSign. The app is an extremely secure way to sign documents on your phone or tablet, removing the need for printing and scanning.