Monday, 2 August 2010

5 essential apps for Expats

Previously on Expat Explorer, we’ve talked briefly about how the expat community is often a highly creative bunch in finding new ways to connect with each other. As a result we’ve seen a whole range of channels being developed including expat radio, blogs, online communities, forums, twitter, Facebook...

Interestingly, expats are also tapping into mobile phone apps to make the challenge of expat integration easier and to connect with each other more effectively. With popularity of mobile devices such as iPhones on the rise, there is quite literally an app for everything.

Looking for a local restaurant? There's an app for that. Lost in the middle of nowhere and need a sat nav? There's an app for that. Stuck in a sticky situation and don't know the right words to get you out? Well, there's an app for that too.

As an expat, there are probably a few apps that you should equip yourself with to make your life a little bit easier. Here are just some of our recommendations:


iLingual is one of the best apps we've come across. Just see the video below and you'll understand why.

XE Currency

This app is great for quick currency conversions. We like this one because it allows you to do multiple conversions at the same time. The XE Currency app lets you refresh the currency rates every 60 seconds, or update automatically every 15 minutes. You can also set up to 10 currencies that you want to track. Really useful for making those quick calculations for domestic and abroad rates or when you’re on business.


You know sometimes you come across some people who are constantly taking photos of their food? Well it turns out that it might actually be quite useful. On Foodspotting, you can upload a picture of your food, say what it is and where you found it, allowing food-seekers to find good food instead of just restaurants. Such a great and simple idea!


Are you always hanging out at the same places? Do you like meeting new people? Are you naturally quite competitive? Then Foursquare might be the app for you.

Foursquare is an alternative social network that allows to search for local communities and interact with friends. On Foursqaure, you can invite people or add existing users to your network, as well as finding friends within the local area. This is particularly useful if you live in cities such as London, New York or Hong Kong. Added to this app is a simple badges reward system for “checking-in” to a venue. The more you check-in, the closer you get to ‘Mayor’ status. A titled envied by many.

Lonely Planet City Guides

If you’re about to move abroad and don’t feel like packing a giant guide book with the rest of your life, you might consider downloading the Lonely Planet City Guide app. Using the location services option on your phone, it can pinpoint your exact location and suggests local sights and restaurant listings. What’s also great about having it on your phone is that you won’t look so much like a tourist in your new home.

Those are just a few of the apps that we found useful. Which ones do you suggest or what do you think would make a great app for the expat community? Let us know!


  1. If you’re about to move abroad and don’t feel like packing a giant guide book with the rest of your life, you might consider downloading the Lonely Planet City Guide app. . This has been a huge help to me! Thanks a million! :)


  2. Thanks Mary, looks like another useful Expat resource. Great that the challenge of expat integration is being tackled in so many creative ways!

  3. These are such great apps to know about. Thanks for taking the time to share them. Now I am curious to see the best apps for international interns...


  4. Love the iLingual app. I can't wait to see the faces of unsuspecting Germans when I try this out!


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