When you’re living abroad, keeping in touch with your friends and family doesn’t have to be expensive. Instead of using calling cards, I recommend Skype for calling international from Japan, it’s a life saver! It’s cheap, light weight, and works on any PC with a mic and headphones or headset. This is a great service for Expats and people traveling abroad.
How much does it cost?
$60 a year is what I pay ($5/mo!) for “Unlimited Country“. You can also choose to pay monthly for $5.95.
What do I get for $60 a year?
- 1 US phone number (add additional numbers for a fee, great for separating personal life and business)
- Unlimited calls to USA and Canada landlines and mobiles
- Voicemail – works even if I’m offline
- Send SMS – but I can’t receive them
- Call Forwarding – I can forward calls to my mobile or other phone for a small fee
- Caller ID – I can control what displays on other people’s phones when I call them
- Skype to Go – This is great! I get 1 land-line number in Japan that I can call. This number connects to 1 contact which can be changed weekly. Great for doing business on the go, using it as an emergency number, or calling anybody. I use it to call my brother in American when I’m traveling.
- Free Skype to Skype – This is basically calling and chatting with another PC user.
And now, the story of how I discovered Skype…
When I first moved to Japan it was a huge deal because I was going to be doing business in America while living abroad, so I brought my Vonage router and phone with me on the plane to keep in touch with clients, friends, and family. It was pretty bulky, and I’d rate the sound quality a 6/10. It was great for a while because I had a working US phone number in Japan with unlimited calling which seemed insanely cool, but it came a price… roughly $40 a month. Then one day something terrible happened, my Vonage router stopped working! I freaked out and needed to find a fast solution. I remember my wife used Skype for free Skype-to-Skype chatting from the US to Japan, and I saw how cheap the phone service was. For the cost of 6 weeks of Vonage, I could have an entire year of Skype? It seemed to good to be true, but I need a phone fast so I signed up. Then I logged into Vonage and redirect the phone numbers to my new Skype number.
I’ve been using Skype for about 9 months now. I’d rate the Skype sound quality a 9/10. I experience poor sound only when I’ve been using my notebook a lot and things are running slow. A quick reboot fixes the problem. It’s great that I can use it almost anywhere as long as I have an Internet connection. And now they’ve released an iPod Touch / iPhone application so I can use Skype on my iPod Touch anywhere I can get a wifi connection such as my home, or even Seattle’s Best Coffee in Tenjin. It’s not available for the 3G wireless network, but if it was I’d get a free iPhone in Japan for sure. Or I’d buy an unlocked iPhone because I travel so much.
For a cheap monthly or yearly fee you can call unlimited to the U.S or Canada from Japan, even to Korea from Japan, or your originating country if it’s listed on the Skype website. International calls are pretty affordable too. Skype gets my vote for one of the best tools to make your life abroad easier.