As part of our planning to move to London we had to figure out how we were going to keep in touch with people in the States. That meant what level of the presence we were keeping in the United States while we were gone.
We didn’t have a home phone number that we shared with anyone so keeping that wasn’t an issue. It was really just for our intercom in our apartment. Once we moved we were able to grid it.
M and I used our mobile numbers for texting and calls so we wanted to keep them. We were going to push as many people to use Apple Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, and similar apps however for those that do not have access to (or know how to use) those systems we wanted our old US mobiles.
M’s use case was really to keep her number only in case people wanted to call. For me I also wanted to be able to keep the accounts open that require a mobile phone for verification.
I spent a lot of time researching what the cheapest most reliable option for us to use to simply keep in touch with everyone in cases they do not have
For the simply keeping in touch with people after we leave I did a lot of research and ended up with a voice over IP service I’ve been using for years. I simply took both of our mobile numbers and ported them over to VOIP.MS. our quasi-home phone was a DID on the service for years. I also had other numbers for various things on the service. Sending and receiving calls have been pretty seamless over the years. Their price is also super cheap since you can get a pay-as-you-go plan. Each number is about one dollar per month plus usage.
The porting process to VOIP.MS took a few weeks. That is the porting system’s issue not theirs. Other than how long it took the process was seamless for both numbers. I ported mine over in December right before we left. I kept using my work mobile during the few days there was a gap when my service ended and the number moved to VOIP.MS. for M since she did not have a work phone we ported her number in January. The hardest part about this whole process was porting her number since T-Mobile made us jump through hoops to unlock the number for porting. Even though we had paid off her iPhone a year ago they still kept phone locks and we didn’t figure that out until after we ported the number away from T-Mobile and tried to use a local Sim card in the UK.
The only challenging part of staying in touch using these US numbers is texting. People that have iPhones can keep texting us if they know our email addresses. Anyone who only had our number or use Android would have that message turned into an email now. We don’t really see them so basically texting to those old numbers are useless. So basically we can receive phone calls. It’s been a minor annoyance every once in a while when someone tries to contact me hasn’t updated my contact details that I sent out listing my local number. For me that hasn’t been a major issue. For M I don’t think it has been a problem at all or she’s just not realizing people are trying to get her.
Slightly more complicated a problem is having a number that receives SMS short codes. This is required for services like Google or your bank to send you verification codes. What I learned is most voice over IP providers do not support them very well. After a lot of research I found one company Line2 who supported them. They published a list of all the codes they know to be working okay into their system. They also said they would work with you if you had a problem with another provider that’s not listed. A brief search of their list showed me that they covered most if not all of the companies that I would receive SMS’s from. Unlike VOIP.MS they are not cheap. One line costs $10 a month. With that plan however I did get unlimited calls and texts. Not that I use it. It feels expensive however in the end it was cheaper than buying the cheapest mobile phone plan and simply not use it except for verifications.
I kept two numbers for me. One for personal communication and one for the SMS short code verifications. That was deliberate. VOIP.MS is very flexible in how I can route calls so I keep my personal number with them. The client I use will allow me to do call recording, change my caller id, route to different places with a lot of granular control. Line 2 the provider I use for SMS short codes only lets you use their client or a basic call forwarding.
Overall i am very pleased with both serviced. Line2 is relitivly expensive however it was cheaper than some other service providers i looked at. Their recievibg SMS Short codde options also seems better than most other solutions out there. i would (and have) reconend either provisers to anyone looking.