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What Do Expats Consider For Mobile Phone Plans

Relocating to a different country is an exciting yet daunting journey. Beyond adapting to new cultures and addressing logistical matters, there’s a myriad of details to attend to, with one of the keys being selecting the right mobile phone plan.

This guide will explore the essential aspects that expatriates should consider when choosing a mobile phone plan in their new country.

Coverage and Network Quality

The most fundamental consideration is the quality and range of coverage the mobile service provider, such as Lebara, offers. The last thing any expat wants is to be stuck in an unfamiliar location without a reliable signal.

Before settling for a plan, research which carriers offer the best coverage in the area where you’ll be residing, and ask locals or other expats about their experiences.

Cost and Value for Money

For many, budget constraints are a significant factor. Expats should assess the cost of plans and the benefits offered. This means evaluating:

  • Monthly fees
  • Call rates (both local and international)
  • SMS charges
  • Data costs
  • Any hidden fees or extra charges

Data Allowance and Speed

In the age of internet connectivity, sufficient data with good speed is paramount. Many expats rely on apps like WhatsApp, Skype, and Zoom to connect with loved ones back home.

Look out for plans offering unlimited data or high data allowances. Check if the speed provided (like 4G or 5G) matches your needs.

International Roaming

If you travel frequently or plan to visit home occasionally, a plan with favourable international roaming rates is essential. Some providers offer packages explicitly tailored for expats, including discounted or free roaming in certain countries.

Contract Length and Flexibility

Some carriers offer enticing plans but tie you into lengthy contracts. Given the nature of their stay, expats prefer month-to-month or short-term contracts. This provides the flexibility to switch plans or carriers if a better deal arises or relocation is on the horizon.

Customer Service

Good customer support can be invaluable, especially when adjusting to a new environment. Prioritise carriers that offer:

  • Help in your native language (if possible)
  • Efficient problem resolution
  • Multiple channels of communication (chat, email, phone)

Additional Features and Perks

Some carriers offer added benefits like:

  • Free access to certain apps or websites (e.g., streaming services)
  • Discounts on partner services
  • Loyalty programs and bonuses for long-term customers

Compatibility and Phone Options

Ensure that your current phone is compatible with the network standards of the country you’re moving to. For instance, if your device is locked to a carrier from your home country, you might need to unlock it.

Alternatively, some expats buy a new phone in a new place, especially if it offers the latest technologies unavailable in their previous location.

Ease of Top-Up and Bill Payment

Especially for those who opt for prepaid plans, the ease with which you can top-up your balance is crucial. Many providers offer online top-ups, auto-recharge options, or extensive networks of physical top-up points. Similarly, a hassle-free bill payment process can make life much easier.

Recommendations and Reviews

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. Engage with other expats, local colleagues, or neighbours to get insights into their experiences with different mobile carriers and plans. Online forums and expat communities can also be rich sources of information.


For expats, staying connected is a lifeline to their past and a bridge to their future in a new country. A suitable mobile phone plan plays a pivotal role in this. By considering the abovementioned factors, expats can ensure they remain in touch seamlessly, whether with their family across the seas or a new friend just around the corner.