One of the biggest concerns for many expats when retiring abroad is the fear of missing their loved ones. However, largely in part to the Internet, it’s getting easier and cheaper to stay in touch with people from back home. With the right tools you can also communicate with banks and other necessary connections to keep things in order.
A good place to start is by having a good cell phone. First, ditch the outrageous monthly plan for a pay-as-you-go one. Even if you think you’ll be going back and forth a lot, this will make it easier for you to only use what you need while saving money. Secondly, get a cell phone that has the removable chip in the back. You can use these all over the world with a simple chip swap. Now, you’ll always have some form of communication no matter what part of the globe you’re in. Additionally, the international calling rates can be very reasonable (depending on where you are; otherwise they can be atrocious).
To take international calling to the next step, Skype is a completely free Internet-based program that accommodates phone calls and video chat as long as both parties have signed up for an account. All you need is a computer or tablet with a camera and a decent Internet connection. These days, you can also use it to dial phone numbers internationally for a very reasonable rate using your credit card on a pay-as-you-go basis. Being able to see your loved ones and to be present for events like parties and holidays makes it really easy to feel like you’re part of the action.
If you like to have a house phone , a company called Vonage has an Internet-based calling box that you plug into your cable box which allows you to call anywhere in the world at bottom dollar rates. Simply attach the house phone to the other end and you’re ready to gossip with your siblings. The only downside of this method is that you have to order the box prior to leaving since the company doesn’t ship outside of the United States.
Social media sites like Facebook are a great way to feel connected with your family and friends without having to spend a dime. You can see their daily happenings, admire pictures of the grandkids, and even chat live with them when they’re online. Plus, you can check it at your leisure and still be able to stay up to date on the whole crew.
Of course, when in doubt there’s always email. It’s the classic fallback for anyone trying to stay in touch abroad.
Whether you use a combination of the suggestions above or only one, keeping in contact with your loved ones has never been easier, so don’t let that hold you back from enjoying your retirement abroad.