Moving to another country? Download these five apps.
With everything that’s happening in the Philippines (and let’s be honest, the world), it’s no surprise that more people are becoming open to the idea of living elsewhere. Whether it’s to seek better career opportunities (hi Renz), go back to school and finally get that MBA (ahem Karen) or live in a place with better governance (shout out to all Filipinos), it’s a big life change that will require a lot of planning and some resourcefulness. Fortunately these days, there’s an app for just about everything.
Here are five apps you should download if you’re moving overseas:
What is it: Journey planner app
How it works: Available in over 3,000 cities across 92 countries, Moovit combines information from all modes of public transit, local bicycle services, ride-hailing, car-sharing, carpooling, scooters and more to give users a real-time overview of the best route for their journey.
Thoughts: Coming from Manila, I never really used public transportation (with the exception of the MRT/LRT line when I was at uni), so there was a learning curve when it came it figuring out the bus-train-metro situation in Sydney. It was overwhelming at first, but Moovit (as well as the Transport NSW website) helped me understand all the bus and train lines. To this day, I still use Moovit before I go anywhere new.
One more thing: Depending on where you move, don’t forget to download (and set up!) transport apps like Uber, Grab, Didi or Ola. While it can be costly to constantly use ride-sharing apps, it can definitely be useful if you find yourself lost in a city you’re not familiar with.
What is it: Meal delivery service
How it works: HelloFresh is a flexible meal kit subscription service with no lock-in plans. Every week you can discover, cook and enjoy new dishes without having to look up recipes or find and buy ingredients. Delivered straight to your door, it’s a time-saver, especially if you’re just settling into your new neighbourhood and lifestyle.
Thoughts: It’s not cheap (roughly $10.99 per meal in Australia), but you’re paying for convenience.
One more thing: I’m no longer subscribed to HelloFresh, but I’ve recreated some of the meals we’ve had in the past. Users on Reddit have posted some of the spice blends for certain recipes and you can easily simplify recipes by omitting certain ingredients. If you’re in Australia, alternative services include Marley Spoon and Dinnerly. (Dinnerly is the cheapest, if I’m not mistaken)
What is it: Digital remittance service
How it works: Use Remitly to send money to your local bank account, mobile wallet or friends and family for pick-up or delivery. Each transaction has a fee of $3.99 (for AU, at least) and you can select from Express (immediate) or Economy (5-7 business days) delivery.
Thoughts: I kept an account in the Philippines to pay for local transactions and transfer money to friends and family (mostly for birthday gifts). I’ve used Remitly probably more than ten times in the last three years and have had zero issues with it.
One more thing: There are a few alternative apps like Western Union, Wise/TransferWise or OFX, but I found that Remilty had the best rates 90% of the time.
What is it: Language learning app
How it works: Learn 30+ languages online with bite-size lessons. Practice vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation using spaced repetition. Exercises can include written translation, reading and speaking comprehension, and short stories.
Thoughts: Ok so I didn’t need this app when I moved to Sydney because well – they speak English here. However, I did start using this app recently to re-learn Spanish (spent 12+ years learning ‘basic’ Spanish in school). Let me tell you, it’s great. It’s so easy to use and just 10-15 minutes a day is enough to learn a few new words and phrases.
One more thing: I’m only on stage 3, so I’m obviously not fluent enough for real-world applications. However, I like that they group lessons into real-world situations (i.e. Basic greetings, Ordering in a restaurant, Meeting people, Travelling, etc.) rather than just memorising words, phrases and tenses.
What it is: Budget tracker app
How it works: HomeBudget is an expense tracker designed to help you budget, track and manage your monthly expenses. It provides you the ability to group your expenses into categories and sub-categories, and lets you set a budget, and track expenses at the category/sub-category level.
Thoughts: I started using HomeBudget when I was still in Manila. It helped me save for my big move to Sydney as well as get out of debt (I was living beyond my means, I know). Recently, I started using the app again because I realised that I didn’t actually know how much I was spending/saving each month. Since I have multiple bank accounts and credit cards, having everything in one place was a game changer and it has helped me track my spend better and stay on budget.
One more thing: The down side of this app is that you’ll need to input your expenses manually. The good side is you’ll get the habit of evaluating your spend and adjust your lifestyle gradually (rather than just tighten your purse strings in one go).
If you’re in Australia, you may also want to consider apps like Frollo or Pocketbook where you can connect your bank accounts so you don’t need to manually input transactions.
What are some of your favourite apps? Let me know in the comments!