Consider what you will need for a virtual life abroad
As we’re planning our move abroad, we discovered we were spending a lot of time on how to do the physical move. Things like apartment prices, transportation and utility costs.
Now that (we think) we have those considerations figured out, we want to take some time to create a virtual life for ourselves abroad.
Why? – you ask.
Simple. There are going to be a lot of things that we just won’t be able to easily do from overseas without, at least, the appearance of still being in the USA.
Things like receiving physical mail or using certain internet services.
So, in this post, we’re going to cover 4 aspects of a virtual life you may want to consider creating before you go abroad. We’ll dig further into each aspect, along with details on how we’re doing it, in later posts but for now, let’s look at each one and discuss why it’s something you may want to think about too.
Create a virtual life: Phone
Get a virtual phone number. That is an assigned “local” phone number that will ring you abroad, without extra charges. The reason you want to do this is mainly for the convenience of others. Assuming you’re in the US/Canada, I’ll bet most, if not all, of your friends and family have phone plans that allow them to make free calls so long as it’s to a US or Canadian number. Am I right?
Do you want your family to have to pay international rates to call you? Of course not.
What about businesses? Have you ever tried calling a government office to get a license or permit for something? Now do you think it would be more or less painful if their caller ID said you were calling from a pre-paid burn phone in Columbia or Panama?
Yeah… that’s what we thought too. Are you starting to see why establishing a virtual phone presence back home might be a good idea?
For those of you thinking about trying to retire early… let’s say the worst happens and you need to come back to the US and get a job? Nowadays it’s difficult to get someone to look at your resume if you’re out of state, how easy will it be to get interviews if you’re known to be out of the country?
I rest my case. Needless to say, we’re planning on getting a virtual phone number.
Create a virtual life: Mail
Similarly to the phone, a US address is a huge plus. There are services out that will give you a virtual address and scan all of your mail. They will even ship packages and deposit checks for you. Let’s face it, you simply can’t get some things shipped overseas. To get around that you’ll need to get a mail service here in the States that can receive your mail and send you what you want forwarded while trashing what you don’t care about.
A lot of these services can even send you pictures or scans of you mail to help you decide whether you want them sent to you.
Create a virtual life: Virtual Assistant
This one might sound a bit funny but sometimes you just need help getting things organized. It can be anything from sending Christmas cards to getting a magazine subscription renewed to paying your bills…you name it. A virtual assistant is a good way to go. They can do anything you need them to that does not require actual physical presence.
We are toying around with the idea of getting a virtual assistant now to try one out. We can see a lot of uses for one, especially because we’re running an online business too. More on this in a later post.
Create a virtual life: IP Presence
Many online services you subscribe to either wont work overseas or have restrictions placed on them. This can make it impossible to watch shows on Hulu or Netflix (for example) because of country restrictions. Or perhaps, if you’re a sports fan, you won’t be able to view your favorite games.
To get around those little technical snags, you’ll need to use a DNS Proxy service. If you don’t know what a proxy service is, it basically let’s your internet traffic appear to be coming from another location. In this case, your home country. So, we’re also looking into this. We’re actually thinking about setting up one ourselves and offering it up for cheap to other expat friends – and why not?!
So, that’s it for this post. Like I said, we’ll expound on these services and fill you in on some details as we progress in them ourselves. Right now, we’re in research phase for best service/price on all of these. We are also considering virtual jobs – more on that later too.
In the meantime, think about what we came up with. Did we miss anything? Would you suggest anything else for creating a virtual life abroad?