A VPN can be a valuable tool for expat, whether you’re looking for privacy and security, a way to unblock geo-restricted content, bypass firewalls, and more. However, you might have second thoughts about getting a free VPN considering their reputation.
Fortunately, there are some safe VPNs that can be used by expats and don’t cost a dime. Just follow the link for some decent free options. Otherwise, here’s why a subscription-based provider will always deliver a better experience.
#1 Better Data Security
Most free VPNs get their funding by collecting and selling off user data to advertisers. After all, you can’t maintain a service simply on goodwill. Free providers that don’t sell your data usually have a primary revenue source (see ProtonVPN, from the creators of ProtonMail).
Otherwise, they work on a freemium model, where you get a severely limited experience unless you pony up for a paid plan. At that point, you might as well go for the already established providers. They often have independently audited or court-proven no-logs policies that guarantee your data is never stored on their servers.
#2 No Limitations
Pretty straightforward. Free VPNs need to provide relatively equal performance for thousands of users, while also keeping running costs low enough to stay afloat. By using a paid VPN, you never have to deal with:
- Data caps between 500 MB and 10 GB – good enough for casual browsing, but not much else.
- Slow speeds and bandwidth throttling
- Small number of (often overcrowded) servers
And, of course, the main deal-breaker for many people when it comes to free VPNs. Namely, the fact that they’re frequently blocked by Netflix and other streaming platforms.
#3 Can Unblock Content Platforms
Many people (expats or otherwise) subscribe to a VPN solely to unblock content unavailable in their area. Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Crunchyroll, you name it. Unfortunately, these platforms often blacklist free VPN IP ranges, making it impossible to watch any of your favorite shows from abroad.
Even if you come across a free VPN that can unblock streaming sites, chances are it won’t last very long. Not that you’d have a great time trying to stream anything, considering the limitations discussed above. Even premium VPNs will slow down your connection somewhat, but they have powerful enough servers to keep performance steady on movie night.
When to Choose a Free VPN
Obviously, the fact that you don’t need to pay a thing is the biggest draw of a free VPN. And as an expat, you’re probably trying to cut costs wherever possible. If you’re only looking to:
- Browse casually with a modicum of privacy, particularly on public Wi-Fi
- Bypass firewalls at school, work, and other public places
- Unblock some content (albeit in a limited capacity – such as news articles and possibly some region-restricted YouTube videos)
Then a free option should be enough. For everyone else, we recommend sticking with a paid option. Especially now that most (if not all) providers come with 30+ day money-back guarantees. You can test out their apps at your leisure and get refunded without a fuss if the VPN isn’t to your liking.