Luckily, it’s the 2020s and you’re not short of options! Even if you don’t want to juggle two phones (and who can blame you), you can maintain a UK or US number by signing up for a virtual phone number.
This is a cloud-based telephone number, bound to no fixed location, that can make and receive calls on any device with internet access. Want to know more? The Local explores this popular solution for international residents, remote workers and small business owners.
1. To talk (yes, actually talk!) with people back home
Amid the ever-expanding array of ways to communicate, the value of actually talking to an old friend or family member can get lost.
If you’re British, you may rightly be extra wary of getting stung by roaming charges re-introduced since Brexit. And if you’re an American living an exciting new life in Europe, home can seem very distant.
A virtual phone number offers an easy way to enjoy affordable international calling. Telecommunication services provider Zadarma has more than 30,000 virtual phone numbers available across 100 countries, with the UK and US among the most popular. The virtual number service also allows you to enjoy video calls. Go on: give your thumbs a rest and get those face muscles working!
2. To embrace (not fear) new tech
If you don’t work in tech, you’re not alone if talk of VoIP and the like leaves you feeling a little daunted. But wouldn’t you feel far better if such concepts were demystified and you could use them to your benefit?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It just refers to technologies that allow verbal communication over the internet, rather than via a phone line. That’s it! Feeling less daunted already? Even better, your voice is transmitted as compressed data, which reduces the load on the network – and therefore the cost.
It’s also easier than you might think to set up. You can activate a virtual number in five minutes from almost anywhere across the globe. And there’s no need for any bothersome hardware; just connect to wifi on your preferred device to use the service.
3. To work nomadically
Are you a digital nomad? Do you yearn to WFH* so long as the H happens to mean an array of Airbnb apartments in waiting-to-be-discovered cities? A growing number of companies are now giving their workforce a whole new level of flexibility.
Some can be classed as remote-first organisations (where working away from a fixed office is preferred). Others are fully remote and simply do not have physical offices! The rapid rise of remote working since the pandemic has even been called the biggest societal change in North America since World War Two.
Virtual phone numbers support nomadic working by freeing you of the need for a traditional landline. With Zadarma’s mobile numbers, for example, you can make and receive calls through various programmes, including apps for iOS, Android or Windows.
*Work from home (not that you needed us to tell you that)
4. To save money
Millions of people worldwide are using virtual numbers to simplify their lives and save money. While the rates vary by country, they are lowest for in-demand countries like the UK and the US.
Once you’re all set up, you can use your virtual number whenever you’re online and forget your old anxiety about racking up roaming charges. Plus, whoever calls your UK or US number from that country will only pay their local call rate.
5. To avoid banking problems
One drawback of being a UK or US citizen abroad is dealing with banking and bureaucracy in two countries. With some banks, you must have a mobile phone number from the country where the account is held in order to clear security.
If you gave up your phone from your country of origin, this could mean having to ask a relative back home if you can use their number just to carry out your basic banking needs. A virtual phone number provides a far simpler solution!
6. To get a simple SMS add-on
You can receive SMS messages on virtual mobile numbers purchased from Zadarma in 25 countries, including the UK and the US. Receiving them costs you nothing. You only pay €2 per month for a British or American number with SMS services (only 40 cents more than a number without SMS) – and this could put an end to the banking misery described above.
You can also choose from many ways to access your SMS messages including in the app, via ‘SMS to email’, or via Facebook Messenger, Slack or Telegram.
7. To break new business markets
If you’re running a startup or small business in Europe and want to break into the UK or US market, how should you go about it? Setting up a team on the ground is a huge undertaking. Establishing an international local UK or US phone number, on the other hand, is child’s play.
Want your customers to call you on a number belonging to Los Angeles or London, Miami or Manchester? You can gain a virtual business phone number in most major British or American cities and callers from the UK or US respectively will only pay their local rate (and not know you’re in a different country).
The potential benefits of a virtual local office and avoiding sky-high long-distance calling costs are vast.