But what exactly is this and how can you use it?
What is a VPN?
A VPN is a network which allows users based in different locations to access a central network in a secure manner after they are authenticated. Data is secured through encryption, and the user can work from their computer as if they were present at the central network.
It works through a provider routing the internet connection through its servers, which are often based in another country. You might be offered the choice of servers in the UK or the USA, and different providers will have different options.
This then creates a private ‘tunnel’ over the internet which means that you are anonymous in a way that is more advanced than a web proxy.
Why Bother Using One?
There are many reasons why you may want to set up a VPN whilst living abroad. These include:
Working with Others
The main benefit of a VPN for most foreign workers is that you can set up a network infrastructure to work with other employees back in the office in your home country, or with your clients.
This secure network makes it very easy, and often cheaper, to work with other people from anywhere. It is also simple for your clients to use and you can benefit from having your data protected.
Foreign IP Address
One of the main reasons to use a VPN whilst living or working abroad is to make use of an IP address which appears to be in the country of your choice.
Nowadays many websites will restrict access to foreign IP addresses, whether you are shopping, watching TV catchup services or carrying out home banking.
By making it appear that you are using an IP from your home country, you will still be able to access these websites (BBC iPlayer is a popular one), which can make life a lot easier whilst living overseas.
Another useful thing about IP addresses is that no one can track you by your IP address. Sometimes when you perform activity online, your IP address will show up and this can show where you are located.
If for any reason you do not want people to know your IP address then a VPN can provide you with a level of anonymity.
There are many VPNs to choose from, so do some hunting online and see which one fits your requirements. It may be a good idea to choose one which is focused primarily on your home country, such as Expat Shield for people in the UK. Others such as Pure VPN, Strong VPN and Witopia are just a few which might suit your needs. One of our recommended favs is IBVPN.
Invest in a VPN
A VPN can be a very useful tool for anyone who is living and working from another country. It does not have to be very expensive – indeed sometimes it can be very affordable – and with the benefits on offer you might well find that it is worth your while to invest in one.
Have you signed up as a member of LWA yet? Keep up to date with our favourite resources for starting a new life abroad.