SHARE
COPY LINK
PRESENTED BY ZADARMA

Five tech solutions to make your international life easier

If you live abroad or frequently cross borders, staying on top of everything in your personal and working life can be challenging. But in today’s world, there are at least a host of innovative technologies that can help you to simplify things. 

Five tech solutions to make your international life easier
Virtual cards can be used to make contactless payments. Photo: Getty Images

What kinds of tech do you find help you the most with your international lifestyle? And which of the following would it make sense for you to try out in 2022? 

The Local, in partnership with Zadarma, a telecommunications company offering virtual phone numbers and other services, presents five essential tech solutions for international living. 

Learn more about Zadarma’s affordable virtual phone numbers – available in 100 countries worldwide

1. Virtual debit cards 

Carrying cash and bank cards with you at all times is less and less attractive – and particularly if you spend a lot of time away from your home country. Virtual cards aren’t cards at all in the physical sense – they exist only on your phone (phew, no plastic required!). Once you’ve signed up for a virtual card, you can simply store it in your banking or e-wallet app. 

They do still have a card number, an expiration date, and a security code, so they work just like a regular card (and you can also get virtual credit cards with spending limits).

They’re easy to use for online payments and may be linked to Apple or Google Pay to make in-store purchases where contactless payments are accepted. 

Losing a physical bank card can be a nightmare – especially if you have a language barrier to deal with. Lost your password for a virtual card? You’ll be able to recover or reset it within minutes, while you should also be able to lock the card from your phone at any time.

2. Language translation tools 

When we asked The Local’s readers in Germany and Sweden about the best tech solutions for international living, a huge number cited translation apps and tools. Whether you’re a complete newcomer or you’ve settled in and begun learning the language but need a translator for more complex tasks, these solutions can be a lifeline.

Scared to ask a passerby for directions? Terrified of another blank look from a puzzled official behind a counter? Just type in or say the word in English (or your native language) and get an instant stress-relieving translation. 

Kara Beller, originally from California but living in Hamburg since May 2020, summed up how many of you feel about translation apps: “I would be dead without them!”

While Google Translate is obviously the best-known service, it’s not without flaws and there are a wide range of options you could try. Are you looking for the top tool for just one language? Or do you live in a country (or lead a life) where you’re befuddled by several different languages? Many apps cover dozens of leading languages but searching for a specialist locally-invented tool could hold more value for some of you.

3. Virtual phone numbers 

While some futurologists have predicted the death of voice communication, people continue to talk to each other on the phone. If you live an international life, phone calls may be vital for staying in touch with family, dealing with admin tasks back home, or running a business. These are some of the reasons for setting up a virtual phone number (a number that’s not fixed to a specific device or phone line and can forward incoming calls to another phone or device).

Many international people find it helpful to keep a virtual phone number from back home – such as non-Europeans living in Europe who can face steep charges for long-distance calls that cannot be done via services like WhatsApp, such as those with a bank.

Nayane Smith, a Brazilian reader of The Local who lives in Sweden, says she began using a virtual phone number for better communication “with my family, as well as with the new contact network here”. 

With a virtual phone number from Zadarma, you pay as little as €1.60 per month to make the number yours and all incoming calls are free. Subscribers include small business owners wanting to expand their geographical presence, personal users and even an airline call centre. If you’re not ready to make a long-term commitment, you don’t need to worry as there’s no minimum contract term (three-month minimum to include SMS services).

Live in the UK? The re-introduction of European roaming charges by many UK mobile network providers offers one more reason to consider a virtual number – simply make and receive calls to or from Europe through a European virtual number to avoid roaming charges.

Find out more about Zadarma’s virtual phone numbers – more than 30,000 numbers are available in 100 countries globally

Virtual numbers can help you with your work and personal life. Photo: Getty Images

4. Digital health tech 

Video consultations with doctors have become increasingly accessible in many countries in recent years. The chance to speak with a medical expert in English (or perhaps another preferred language) and effectively face-to-face just by picking up your smartphone holds obvious appeal.

If you have a busy life and you’re not fluent in the local language, such services – some of which are also available at all hours – could really make things easier for you. That would have been true even pre-pandemic, but is clearly even more the case now as Covid-19 continues to affect our daily lives.

If you’re new to a country or planning a move, why not search for the best options whether through public or private healthcare services and work out exactly what you can expect (from advice to diagnoses to prescriptions and perhaps even policies on personal data)?

5. Cloud storage 

We’re well into the 2020s and you really don’t want to be burdened with bundles of printed documents or a slow, overloaded laptop or phone. Cloud storage continues to evolve and is favoured by many people who live abroad.

It’s a great option as a business tool, as well as for storing and organising the huge number of photos you take with your smartphone. But a cloud service also offers a single, secure location in which to save important personal documents you may need again in the not-too-distant future.

Need a photo of your passport or a copy of your birth certificate? Store them in the cloud, so you can access them whenever you’re online while freeing up space on your devices.

Want to make your international life easier? Discover Zadarma’s virtual phone numbers, available for a monthly fee of as little as €1.60. Ready to sign up? Register here

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

PROPERTY

MAP: When will my part of rural France get high-speed internet?

The French government wants to ensure that the entire country has access to high-speed internet by 2025 - so here's how you can check when it's scheduled to come to your part of France.

A technician connects fibre optic cables to a building in France.
A technician connects fibre optic cables to a building in France. There is an interactive tool to see when these cables will be installed in your area. (Photo by BERTRAND LANGLOIS / AFP)

France claims to have the widest high-speed internet coverage of any country in Europe. 

Two thirds of French households currently have access to high-speed internet. The government wants to ensure than 80 percent of French households will have access by the end of 2022 and that the entire country is covered by 2025. 

READ MORE Is France’s plan for nationwide high-speed internet by 2025 on track?

But many people living in the French countryside have frustratingly slow internet connection. This is because not enough fibre optic cables have been installed in a number of rural areas. 

The installation of fibre optic cables, which can send information at 70 percent the speed of light, is essential for high speed internet – unless you are using 4G (mobile internet supplied through a cellular network). 

Currently, there are significant regional differences in which these fibre optic cables have been installed as the map below demonstrates. 

A map shows how much access different French départements have to fibre optic connection. The darker the green, the faster the internet. Source: Agence Nationale de Cohésion des Territoires

The dark green areas, including Paris, have excellent fibre optic coverage while lighter green areas, mostly scattered around rural areas of the country do not. 

When will I get access to high-speed internet?

Fortunately, there is a useful tool to see when fibre optic cables will be installed near you. 

France’s electronic communications regulator, ARCEP, have made an interactive map which allows you to check whether the installation of cable in your area is complete, began in 2021, or the year when it is set to begin.

When using the map, you can should click on the “Modes de vue” box on the right hand side. Then click “Avancé” and select “Vue prévisionnelle des déploiements fibre.”

This is the setting you should select to see when fibre optic cables will be installed in your area. Credit: ARCEP

Once you have done this, there is a box on the top left hand corner of the screen that you can use to search your address. 

On the right hand side of the screen, there is a key which tells you what how the different colours on the map correspond to the planned fibre installation date. 

Don’t get too excited if your installation date is imminent though – installation itself typically take 12-18 months, according to ARCEP. 

If you scroll on your computer, you can zoom with great detail on individual communes, although street names are not listed. 

Parts of map which are shaded in light blue or are not shaded at all are areas where data on fibre optic installation is still being compiled or is otherwise nonexistant. 

The map reveals that extensive work is planned over the next couple of years – which will likely come as welcome news to many of you living in the countryside. 

SHOW COMMENTS