Consumer VPN and SmartDNS service providers have been a blessing for expats spread out across the world. If you’re here, there’s a strong possibility that you are an expat yourself, looking to unblock geographically restricted websites and television networks. We all have our favorite TV shows, news programs and broadcasting networks, and it is a common occurrence for expats for feel home sick regarding their entertainment. Luckily, you can still enjoy all the great content from home, and even unlock an immense amount of international content.
To enjoy unlocked Netflix, BBC, Hulu, 4oD, EuroSports and just about any geographically restricted broadcast, expats have come to use VPN services as the most reliable choice, but some SmartDNS providers have stepped up their game to bring a competitive alternative for streaming globally.
A VPN service allows you to connect to servers located across various countries, making your internet connection appear as if you are there yourself to in turn unlock any local streaming sites, but additionally encrypts your traffic. The encryption allows you to keep better online privacy, and secures your information from being stolen or collected by others. VPNs work best for unlocking geo-blocked websites or streams, and add an indispensable layer of security that most of us lack when using our electronic devices on the web. Due to encrypting your traffic, VPN servers can have an adverse effect on speeds, therefore selecting a quality provider is key when streaming and high bandwidth usage is of the essence.
A SmartDNS service on the other hand, only utilizes dynamic DNS addresses to mask your location in order to trick sites and streams to believe you are connecting from another country. Changing your DNS manually to free servers does not work really well, and websites have learned to block users by identifying the DNS change. SmartDNS providers have done a good job of fixing this problem and providing a reliable solution that effectively unlocks any location and stream with little effort. Because the service does not encrypt your data, it has little to no effect on internet speeds, and can be considered a better option if security and privacy do not interest you.
Below I have compiled a list of the best VPN and SmartDNS providers for Expats to use and enjoy an unlocked content across the world. As a final summary, I would suggest a VPN over SmartDNS if you’d like to have a bit of privacy and more of a guarantee that all sites will unlock. SmartDNS is a great choice if you don’t want to be concerned about speeds, and are solely interested in unlocking streaming services.
ExpressVPN – Full Review
Since speed is a concern when streaming video, selecting a VPN that will have minimal speed loss is important or you will end up disappointed. ExpressVPN has good global coverage and hundreds of high bandwidth servers to provide their loyal user base with the best speeds possible. The network has good routes, enabling fast speeds for many parts of the world. ExpressVPN allows for 1 desktop, 1 mobile device, 1 streaming media console, and 1 network router to be connected to a single account, and includes a 30 day money back guarantee.
Service also includes SmartDNS for no additional cost, although not mentioned on the site yet. Once registered, you will have access to smartDNS setup tutorials for Apple TV, Playstation, and Xbox. The reason it is not yet mentioned is due to the service being in Beta stage, but I use it on my console almost every day with no issues. Having both encrypted VPN and SmartDNS is a plus, as both complement services each other well. VPN for computers and mobile, SmartDNS for gaming consoles and stream boxes.
Overplay – Full Review
Similar to ExpressVPN, Overplay also provides a SmartDNS + VPN combo package, but Overplay does much more for streamers. Expats mainly looking for a service to unlock streams, Overplay delivers a fantastic product that will cover all types of needs and applications. You can either signup for SmartDNS solely at a cheaper rate, or get VPN service with it. The VPN network provides coverage in 48 countries, and runs on the same high speed network as sister company IPVanish, to ensure fast tier-1 private and secure connection routes.
The main advantage of Overplay, is the care and detail put into providing an extensive list of broadcasters across 19 countries, catering to many expats and streamers alike. The VPN service can be used to unlock them alike, but if you don’t need security or privacy, the SmartDNS package is very affordable and easy to setup. The company has come a long way since merging with IPVanish. I signed up for a month, tested on various accounts and was surprisingly happy with speeds, but even more with the new website and platform.
Unblock-Us SmartDNS – Full Review
Unblock Us is yet another provider that has taken the initiative to develop a good solution for unblocking geo-locked streaming sites with both VPN and SmartDNS. With that said, I have not tested the VPN yet, and plan to review it at a later date. It should be noted that SmartDNS has been their focus, and VPN service has just been added as complimentary.
Unblock-Us has become very popular thanks to their simple platform. For starters, you get a free 1-week trial before having to pay anything, and setting up the service is made very easy for beginners thanks to short 3 minute videos that guide you step by step for huge list of devices. Changing Netflix regions can be done on the website very quickly as well. Plenty of listed networks allow you to find your favorite channels. Overall, I would suggest Unblock Us solely based on the SmartDNS, but a big plus is how low the price remains even with the VPN service, as it comes at no extra cost.
Alternative Options – VPN Only for Expat Streaming Video Needs
If you don’t want to be messing around with SmartDNS setups and prefer a secure and private VPN service, but really can’t afford ExpressVPN, I would suggest either one of the following providers as cheaper alternatives that still deliver on speed. However, keep in mind that a yearly plan must be purchased and pre-paid in order to get any considerable savings. The following providers still have very fast servers that should ensure you good speeds for video streaming. If money is the only concern, I’d suggest Unblock-Us and Overplay low cost SmartDNS plans as the best bang for your money.
Private Internet Access (PIA) – Full Review
Private Internet Access has a very low cost yearly plan at only $3.33 per month. You gain access to thousands of servers across 17 countries and 28 regions. Up to 5 devices can use a single account. Software clients are available for all popular platforms, and I would consider speeds to be adequate for most streaming needs. I do sometimes hit a slow spike from time to time, but quickly changing region can remedy the issue. As far as budget VPN only options go, I rather recommend a product that delivers, than have you throw away your money at cheap unreliable VPN services. PIA allows you to test server speeds directly from their website to give you an idea of what to expect in your region. A good option for expats on a budget.
PureVPN – Full Review
The basic VPN package offered by PureVPN can be very affordable on the yearly option. They offer a huge 65% discount of the 12 month plan, bringing cost to $4.16 per month as opposed to $9.95. Up to 5 devices can use one account, and the service is far from being a bargain buy. Over 100 countries covered in various regions, and 450+ servers to provide excellent speeds across 256-bit OpenVPN. A short 3-day money back guarantee and 500MB of data usage is put in place to protect from fraudulent users, so I highly suggest to test servers on speedtest.net for example, before committing. If your location is well covered, the yearly package will do a great job of providing you streaming access at low cost. A bigger global coverage means Pure can reach more expats across the world.