vpnAlert.com

5 Best VPNs for Expats: Connect to Home Servers & Unblock Content

We are reader supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more.

NordVPN is the best VPN for expats traveling from the USA or anywhere else to other countries.

It boasts a massive USA server count to unblock American TV content, fast streaming speeds, reliable in-house protocol, and online security to keep you safe from hackers.

If you want all that plus fast obfuscation on top, ExpressVPN is your best bet, featuring even more countries than NordVPN. Otherwise, you can also check out Surfshark, CyberGhost, and PureVPN, which impressed me in my tests.

In the rest of this guide, I discuss how I tested these VPNs for expats, where they shine the best, and their shortcomings.

Let’s discuss!

Top 3 VPNs for Expats

FASTEST OBFUSCATION
ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN different devices

ExpressVPN hides your VPN internet traffic and bypasses harsh censorship and restrictive network firewalls without losing speeds, thanks to its fast obfuscation. Boasting 3000+ servers in 94 countries, it unblocks content from almost anywhere.

4.6/5
Read More
MOST BALANCED
NordVPN
NordVPN devices

NordVPN balances security, speed, security, and reliability for expats with 5500+ servers in 59 countries. It also boosts security with its top-shelf encryption, Threat Protection feature, and DDoS-protected servers.

4.8/5
Get Discount
BEST DEAL
Surfshark
Surfshark Devices

Surfshark provides top-notch privacy, reliable encryption, 3200+ servers in 99 countries, multi-platform support, and unlimited simultaneous connections. It’s also affordable, making it the best deal VPN.

4.6/5
Read More

Expats have had to uproot their life and move somewhere new.

So, they shouldn’t have to lose access to the content they love back home, their friends, or their family.

That’s why I chose VPNs with a massive country count to increase their chances of finding a server in their home country. Thus, they can access their local banking apps, stream content back home and keep communicating with family and friends.

But that’s not all.

Expats also need online privacy in their new country. For example, mistakenly connecting to an evil twin Wi-Fi network could be everything a hacker needs to wipe your bank account in mere minutes. You don’t want that to happen, so I ensured these VPNs are optimized for online security.

So, if you’re hard-pressed for time and want to make a quick decision, read my summaries of these top VPNs below.

Unblock Content Abroad & Secure Your Digital Experience With These Reliable VPNs

issues accessing local content
Expats have issues accessing their online accounts from abroad. Use a VPN to prevent this.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Hear out what these VPNs have to say for themselves:

  • NordVPN – Unblock content, encrypt your internet connection, and bypass censorship over 5500+ servers in 59 countries.
  • ExpressVPN – Hide your VPN activity from your ISP, the government, and other online snoopers with ExpressVPN’s fast obfuscation without losing connection speeds.
  • Surfshark – Got a lot of devices? No problem. Surfshark protects unlimited devices spanning mobile devices, PCs, routers, smart TVs, and gaming consoles from one account!
  • CyberGhost – Get 9000+ servers in 90+ countries optimized for fast streaming, gaming, and torrenting. Anywhere in the world!
  • PureVPN – Combine the industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption with reliable quantum-resistant servers for improved protection against live data hacking, deanonymization, and other online privacy breaches.

That’s an impressive lineup and makes it even harder to settle on one.

So, I made the choice easier by sharing the details of my tests and comparisons of these VPN providers.

Let’s get to it to help you make the best choice faster.

Detailed Reviews and Comparisons of My Top VPNs for Expats

These five VPNs emerged winners after testing 21+ VPN providers, free and paid, for expats.

But they had to fight for these slots. So, what makes them stand out?

Find out below.

NordVPN – 1970+ US Servers & 5900+ Servers in 59 Countries for Reliable Unblocking

stream cnn with nordvpn
NordVPN unblocks geo-restricted content like CNN Go from abroad

Most of the largest content libraries are in the USA. So, I was pleased with NordVPN’s haul of 1970+ US servers in 15 cities.

This makes NordVPN the most prominent collector of US servers listed, even if not in as many US cities as Surfshark.

I connected to each one of these servers, tested for IP and DNS leaks, and got none back. This is a testament to the provider’s AES 256-bit encryption on all servers and protocols.

nordvpn us servers

Besides not getting any IP/DNS leaks, I ensured the servers do more than assign a US IP address. So, I successfully tried to unblock and stream

Note that these are some of the world’s most geo-restricted and gated content. And since I wasn’t in the US during these tests (I was in Ghana), NordVPN’s unblocking ability made more sense.

stream mlb tv with nordvpn
NordVPN unblocks MLB TV on iOS via US servers

However, I know that not everyone wants to watch US content all the time. Neither are all expats from the USA. So, I was equally impressed by NordVPN’s 5500+ server count in 59 countries.

Such an extensive server library eliminates the chances of overcrowding.

Thus, whenever you connect, you’re always assured of a reliable, capable, and speedy server. However, the 59-country count means NordVPN didn’t focus on lesser-populated European, Middle Eastern, and African countries.

nordvpn country servers

Suppose you’re an expat from any of those regions. In that case, I recommend CyberGhost (90+ countries) and Surfshark (100 countries) for the best chance of getting a local server.

But if you get a local server in your country on NordVPN, you won’t be disappointed by its streaming speeds. Before testing the speeds, I checked that these non-US servers were just as efficient.

Besides not leaking any IP/DNS requests from the locations I connected to, I also got to

I’ve been in many regions for work, so forgive me for bouncing around different national streaming channels. Even so, this shows you that NordVPN can unblock virtually anything from anywhere if it has a server there.

unbloack threenow with nordvpn
NordVPN unblocks ThreeNow over NZ servers

During these streaming tests, NordVPN didn’t lag at all.

Except for once at the start of the France TV test, which had more to do with France TV’s servers at that time than my NordVPN connection.

So, I tested NordVPN for speed over my 25Mbps connection.

The result was an impressive 22Mbps, enough to stream shows, news, and series in 1080p HD+ quality! However, I would later find out that it’s not the fastest VPN I tested. More on that later.

nordvpn internet speed

One thing I’ve always trusted NordVPN for is to keep me safe on public Wi-Fi connections. Knowing how dangerous public Wi-Fi can be, I’m glad NordVPN can automatically enable itself to protect me once my iOS device or laptop picks up a free Wi-Fi network.

In fact, only PureVPN and ExpressVPN lack that functionality here.

I had to always be on guard and remember to enable the VPN to encrypt my connection on these unsecured networks.

I’m also excited that NordVPN allows up to six simultaneous device connections. Thus, I can always keep all my devices protected under the VPN’s encryption without having to pay for a new account every time.

These slots cover your PCs (Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook), mobile devices (iOS and Android), Smart TV units, compatible routers, and gaming consoles.

One of the best things about NordVPN is its responsive 24/7 live chat support.

nordvpn live chat about mirror websites
You can ask NordVPN almost anything. Like when I didn't want to get stranded without being able to access its website from China

I’ve reached out to them early in the mornings when the VPN wouldn’t connect on my PC and late in the evenings when I was struggling to unblock Netflix Japan once. Not once did they leave me hanging!

Thankfully, the other VPNs that made this list (except CyberGhost, on some occasions) also offer the same.

On top of the content unblocking and premium security, NordVPN also offers specialty P2P servers for secure torrent unblocking and downloads.

The best part is that your ISP won’t see your torrent activity, and copyright trolls can’t come after you.

nordvpn p2p specialty servers

For these goodies, NordVPN isn’t an expensive VPN by any standards.

Even so, it’s only the fourth cheapest VPN provider listed.

So, get these NordVPN discounts to save more and enjoy a 30-day money-back guarantee to test it.

Pros

Cons

ExpressVPN – 15 US Server Locations & 3000+ Servers in 94 Countries

expressvpn us servers
Some of ExpressVPN's US servers

ExpressVPN doesn’t state the exact number of US servers it has, but they’re spread across 15 locations (like NordVPN).

As always, I took these servers for a spin, and they never leaked my IP/DNS address when connected to them. I’m also impressed by how my DNS leak tests always show the same server city that ExpressVPN allocates me.

That shows some serious engineering to lock these servers and IP addresses down to specific areas.

expressvpn ipleak test

Besides these leak tests, I also went on a content unblocking exercise with ExpressVPN.

The result? I got access to

I even managed to open my Chase Bank app and didn’t get any red flag alerts or security questions. Considering how much effort banks put into their online application security, that’s impressive!

But this has more to do with a unique ExpressVPN feature than merely the US server: fast, automatic obfuscation.

expressvpn lightway protocol
You get the automatic obfuscation on all ExpressVPN servers

Once you connect to a VPN, your ISP and other systems can see that you’re now using a VPN. However, they can’t know what you do on that VPN.

In retaliation, some ISPs, countries (like China), and school or work network admins block access to VPN traffic. That way, they force you to disconnect from the VPN so they can keep seeing what you’re doing.

With obfuscation, your VPN provider disguises your VPN traffic as regular traffic. Thus, your ISPs, government, or network admin can’t see that you’re using a VPN anymore.

unblock local content in mexico
Use ExpressVPN's fast and automatic obfuscation to unblock content in Mexico, or anywhere else your travels take you!

Sounds great, right? Well, obfuscation comes with a massive traffic drop due to the extra encryption needed to make it work. But with ExpressVPN, the reverse is the case.

This VPN provider has hacked the obfuscation game, automatically offering it on all servers you connect.

That’s how it can bypass the Great Firewall of China and other internet package filtering attempts in Russia and Vietnam, to mention a few.

Furthermore, ExpressVPN uses the industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption too. So, a double layer of security here. However, I don’t like that it doesn’t automatically enable over free Wi-Fi networks like NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost do.

expressvpn ipleaks test
Reliable encryption from all locations ensures zero leaks

But that shouldn’t be a dealbreaker if you remember always connecting to the VPN before browsing the web on a public Wi-Fi network.

Even if you’re not a US expat, or aren’t interested in getting US content, this obfuscation still works. Fortunately, ExpressVPN gives you 3000+ servers in 94 countries, way more countries than NordVPN offers, and is only behind Surfshark.

Thus, you stand a higher chance of

  • Finding and connecting to a server in your home country
  • Connecting to a server in the country you traveled to for encryptions over the local internet
  • Connecting to any country where you want to unblock content

As before, I tested some of these global servers to unblock

  • Kazakh TV from Kazakhstan servers
  • Netflix Japan from Japan servers
  • France TV over French servers
  • Crunchyroll from its South African servers

I got no lag, buffering, or geo-restriction that could have signaled that ExpressVPN was leaking my IP and DNS requests. Bravo!

I continued with the speed tests to see how fast this VPN was.

On the same 25Mbps connection, ExpressVPN recorded 21.95Mbps!

expressvpn internet speed

That’s almost as fast as NordVPN, and recall that NordVPN doesn’t have obfuscation enabled. This makes ExpressVPN the comparably faster VPN in my books.

PS: I recommend connecting to the ExpressVPN Lightway – UDP protocol to get the best speeds and security. 

ExpressVPN is also like NordVPN, with 24/7 live chat customer support.

And I’m impressed at how no question is considered too tiny or insignificant to ask. So, I always take my most minor and most severe concerns to this team, and they handle them in no time.

expressvpn live chat about port forwarding
One time when I was confirming that ExpressVPN offers free port forwarding

However, ExpressVPN loses to NordVPN when it comes to simultaneous device connections, offering only five (5). For a user like me with only 3 devices to connect, that’s enough. But if you need more, I suggest checking out the other VPN providers I listed.

ExpressVPN also supports torrent downloads and seeding but doesn’t have specialty P2P servers like NordVPN and CyberGhost.

When I asked its support staff, I was told that all ExpressVPN servers support P2P traffic.

torrenting with expressvpn

On top of that, ExpressVPN is the most expensive provider here.

Even so, I understand that fast obfuscation, servers in more countries, and reliable unblocking like this shouldn’t come cheap.

If ExpressVPN is your thing, grab these HUGE discounts before they expire to save more on the capable provider.

Pros

Cons

Surfshark – 600+ USA Servers & 3200+ Servers in 99 Countries Over Unlimited Connections

surfshark us servers
Some Surfshark servers in the US

Surfshark is one of the best-value VPNs I used as an expat, and for a good reason. But let’s start somewhere.

This VPN provider boasts 600+ US servers spanning 25 cities.

That’s more locations than any other provider on this list.

The first time that came in handy was when I avoided an MLB game blackout and had to connect to a server in another US city where the game was showing. I’m sure you’ll find other uses for the US server city spread too.

Generally, Surfshark’s servers are indeed AES 256-bit encrypted, as they’ve never leaked my actual IP/DNS addresses when connected to these servers. Always enable the kill switch, so your IP doesn’t leak if the VPN connection randomly drops.

enable surfshark kill switch

Moving on, I tested Surfshark’s unblocking ability over these servers by repeating the streaming tests on my preferred platforms.

It also got seamless access to Netflix US content, Amazon Prime Video US, Hulu, and HBO Max’s US libraries.

With that out, I moved to the global server tests. Here’s where Surfshark starts to outshine the others with a presence in 100 countries (3200+ servers)!

Thus, there’s almost nowhere you want to VPN to that you don’t get with Surfshark.

I’m also pleased with Surfshark’s transparency over its physical and virtual servers. Some VPN providers hide theirs, but Surfshark doesn’t have to since they work. I know because I connected to a few of these virtual servers, tested their encryptions, and never got any DNS or IP leaks.

surfshark mexico virtual server
Surfshark's transparency on virtual servers

Besides encryption, I also checked how effective they are for unblocking content from abroad. Every stream I tried to unblock and every website I visited opened, including

While tinkering with Surfshark, I noticed that it has a NoBorders Mode that automatically triggers once it detects geo-blocking content.

It even suggests the best servers to bypass the geo-block so that you keep enjoying the free internet from anywhere. Impressive!!!

surfshark noborders mode enabled

Since Surfshark has proven itself for bufferless streaming, I took it through the same speed test as the others. That’s where it gets more interesting, seeing as Surfshark blew my base speeds out of the water to score 31.59Mbps!

surfshark internet speed

This was proof that my Ghanaian ISP at the time was throttling my internet speeds. So, Surfshark isn’t just optimized for speed; it uncapped the bandwidth limit my ISP imposed on my network.

However, the speed drops below this threshold when obfuscation protocols are enabled. That makes ExpressVPN faster in that aspect.

This VPN continued its reliable run with a fast and responsive customer service unit available 24/7 on live chat. I remember asking for something as minor as the best P2P server locations for faster torrent downloads and getting a quick response!

But that’s not all.

Surfshark offers unlimited simultaneous device connections, too, with unlimited bandwidth on top. In other words, you can purchase a single account to connect many devices without speed caps. Only PureVPN comes close, and that’s with ten simultaneous device connections.

That said, you’ll expect Surfshark to be expensive. Well, surprise!

It’s the second most affordable VPN I listed here.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t qualify for these Surfshark deals and discounts.

Pros

Cons

CyberGhost – 1300+ US Servers & 9000+ Global Servers for Streaming, Torrenting, and Gaming

cyberghost us servers
Some US servers on CyberGhost

Are you an expat that loves to have some online fun? Then CyberGhost might be the one for you, thanks to its servers optimized for streaming, torrenting, and playing games.

For starters, it’s the third largest collector of US servers on this list.

That’s due to its 1300+ server library in 11 US cities, only behind PureVPN and NordVPN on sheer server count. Still, it offers the least US server locations on the list, but that’s nothing to worry about.

Whenever I connect to one of these US servers, I get military-grade encryption to prevent IP leaks from my location. CyberGhost also backs this up with a kill switch, so I’m always protected, even when the VPN connection drops.

unbloack cbs news with cyberghost
CyberGhost unblocks CBS and other US content over its US servers

For further tests, I checked how reliable these servers are for content unblocking. In line with my other tests, I got Netflix US, Hulu, CNN, and Amazon Fire TV content on these US servers.

I’m also impressed that CyberGhost has some streaming-optimized servers in the US. The best part is that you’ll see what services they’re optimized for, allowing for a faster and more reliable unblocking connection to those platforms.

cyberghost for streaming servers

Fortunately, these streaming-optimized servers aren’t the only ones you can watch and unblock content on. I tried other non-specialty servers, and I got HD content streams nonetheless.

That was when I took CyberGhost through the speed tests too.

Like Surfshark, it also bypassed my ISP’s throttling to score 29.55Mbps on the 25Mbps connection. This is enough for HD content streams and can even unblock sustained 4K streams!

cyberghost speed test

These speeds were consistent on all servers, even those far from me.

But CyberGhost doesn’t even offer obfuscation, so I couldn’t test its obfuscation speeds against ExpressVPN’s.

Speaking of all servers, CyberGhost has the most extensive server library, consisting of 9000+ servers in 90+ countries. I’m impressed by that for two reasons:

  • Such a large server count eliminates the concept of overcrowding
  • That’s 3x the servers on ExpressVPN and Surfshark, even though they have a similar country spread
cyberghost country servers

With that, there’s no gainsaying I got access to most of the content I could unblock on the other VPNs too. In fact, even more than I could have unblocked with NordVPN and PureVPN with lesser country reach.

Just because CyberGhost has gaming-optimized servers, I tested it. Surprisingly, I could unblock games unavailable in my region, connect to gaming servers abroad, and get DDoS protection during my gaming sessions.

For some of my gaming tests, I

The major gripe I have with CyberGhost is a seeming lack of live chat support, even though it claims to have one. I usually get support articles thrown back at me whenever I type in a question, rather than a live agent attending to me.

This can be frustrating when you have a unique need that isn’t covered in the support articles.

cyberghost p2p support
I mostly get support articles instead of live chat

I suggest you try my other listed VPNs if this is a significant point for you.

Moving on, CyberGhost beats NordVPN and ExpressVPN with seven simultaneous device connections. This isn’t comparable to Surfshark’s unlimited offer and is behind PureVPN’s ten devices, though.

But it makes up for that with P2P-optimized, specialty torrent-download servers to get faster torrent downloads without dealing with ISP complaints or copyright trolls. Unfortunately, you don’t get torrent seeding like with ExpressVPN.

Still, it’s more affordable than NordVPN and ExpressVPN too.

And you get to connect to the same devices supported on these other VPNs.

In the mood for some savings? Get these CyberGhost deals and a 45-day money-back guarantee too.

Pros

Cons

PureVPN - 1800+ Secure US Servers & 6500+ Global Servers for Top-Notch Encryption

purevpn us servers

PureVPN slots right behind NordVPN with 1800+ US servers in 13 US cities. PureVPN has two bigger selling points in this region, namely

  • The presence of P2P-optimized US servers for torrenting (like NordVPN and CyberGhost) and
  • Quantum-resistant US servers, unlike any other provider

These quantum-resistant servers exist in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Canada, and Australia, which are all a part of the 14 Eyes regions.

In theory, they give you extra protection, on top of the basic AES 256-bit encryption, to prevent your live traffic from being hacked by quantum computers.

purevpn quantum resistant servers

That’s massive!

But first, I tested the encryption on these servers to ensure they work – and it does. It even matches the IP location to the VPN server location, so I trust PureVPN’s security.

I even tested the VPN to unblock Netflix US, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video without issues, like the others.

Likewise, I noticed that PureVPN optimizes some US servers for specific platform unblocking, even though they’re only visible on the PC app for now. Thankfully, every server is excellent for streaming, and you’ll have a fantastic experience anyway.

purevpn new jersey server

Another thing I noticed in the US server list was a New Jersey location, like ExpressVPN. You might not know the benefit of this one till you remember that it’s one of the locations where online gambling is legal in the USA.

Thus, you can connect to PureVPN’s New Jersey server to unblock and gamble on

But what about expats who aren’t from the US, in the US, or want to unblock content outside the US? PureVPN has you covered with 6500+ servers in 78+ countries. You should know that’s good because it represents

  • More servers and locations than NordVPN
  • More servers than ExpressVPN and Surfshark

So, it only falls behind CyberGhost’s overall server and country reach count.

purevpn country servers

Fortunately, PureVPN isn’t all bark and no bite. Connecting to these servers, I unblocked

  • Sling TV over its US servers
  • IbakaTV over its Nigerian servers
  • Kazakh TV over its Kazakhstan servers
  • beIN sports over its French servers

After watching these channels for a while without getting any buffering or lags, I decided to test PureVPN’s speeds. Since the provider promises up to 10Gbps speeds on each server, I wasn’t surprised to get about 24Mbps on the 25Mbps connection.

purevpn internet speed

Truly, it doesn’t bypass throttling like CyberGhost and Surfshark, but it’s not slow, either.

If you’re interested in PureVPN already, it bests NordVPN, CyberGhost, and ExpressVPN with its ten simultaneous device connections.

And, like these other providers, it also covers PCs, routers, mobile devices, smart TVs, and gaming consoles.

Should you have any connection issues, you can always reach out to the responsive customer care agents via a 24/7 live chat panel.

I remember asking questions about its dedicated IP offering, the best servers for torrenting, and dedicated IP addresses. I got fast responses for all.

Likewise, PureVPN is the cheapest provider I reviewed here.

purevpn pricing

Still, you can save more with these PureVPN discounts and get a 31-day money-back guarantee.

Pros

Cons

How to Setup Your VPN as an Expat?

Expats should remember to enable their VPN kill switch to prevent deanonymization, choose a preferred VPN protocol and connect to the desired VPN server.

I’ve broken these down into easy-to-follow steps using my top VPN, NordVPN, below:

  1. Choose your preferred VPN provider. I recommend NordVPN for expats.
  2. Download the VPN app to your preferred device. NordVPN has apps for PCs, mobile devices, and some smart TVs.
  3. Launch the app.
  4. Enable the VPN kill switch. You can find it under Settings > Kill Switch > toggle Internet Kill Switch on PCs.
nordvpn internet and app kill switch
  1. Choose a preferred protocol. I recommend NordLynx for fast streaming and OpenVPN (UDP) to bypass censorship.
nordvpn nordlynx protocol
  1. Search for a preferred server. I’ll use the USA for this example.
nordvpn us servers
  1. Click a preferred server city to connect.
  2. OR: Click the main country to automatically get the best/fastest city server.
nordvpn connected to us server
  1. Wait for the connection confirmation. Then test for leaks (I use www.ipleak.net).
  2. Start browsing the secure web and unblock anything anywhere.

Likewise, if unsure of what servers are best to connect to, read this guide on choosing suitable servers every time.

Should Expats Use Free VPNs?

Expats shouldn’t use free VPNs since these providers don’t provide the reliable security, digital privacy, and unblocking that you need. In fact, free VPN providers may invade your privacy by collecting your internet data and selling it to third parties like the government, advertisers, and companies.

free vpn review on reddit
Other expats share their 2 cents on using free VPNs

Thus, I recommend affordable and premium VPN providers like NordVPN.

With six simultaneous connections, you can even team up with another expat to pay for the cheap VPN and enjoy premium security everywhere you go.

FAQs

You can’t use a VPN to avoid roaming charges abroad since the software only affects your internet activity with your ISP, not your account activity.

Thus, you can’t change your IP address to fool your ISP since it’ll pick up your actual location based on the cell towers you’re connected to.

Using a VPN in most countries is legal, but it’s illegal in a few regions like Belarus, Iraq, and North Korea. Thus, it’s best to check the local laws of the country you’re traveling to so that you don’t run afoul of the law.

Even so, most foreigners are spared from the local law, and you might not run into trouble if you don’t do anything illegal while using the VPN.

Stay Safe Abroad

There’s no place like home, but a reliable VPN provider can help reduce homesickness.

That’s why I recommend NordVPN to unblock content in your home country, keep you connected to peers at home, and safeguard your online activities from hackers abroad.

Grab these NordVPN discounts to sweeten the deal and test the VPN risk-free for the first 30-days.

Try NordVPN Risk-Free!
Protect private web traffic from snooping, interference, and censorship. All plans are covered by a no-hassle 100% money-back guarantee for your first 30 days of service.
Explore More
NordVPN deal
CHRISTMAS DEAL!
Our partner, NordVPN, is offering an exclusive discount for a limited time! Don't miss out on the chance to save extra money.​
OFFER EXPIRES IN:
Hours
Minutes
Seconds
TODAY!
VIEW EXCLUSIVE OFFER
No thanks, I can try NordVPN for FREE