PokemonGo is Great For Expats. Here’s Why.

PokemonGo is Great For Expats. Here’s Why.

PokemonGo launched the week I moved to Auckland, New Zealand. I’d just spent four months backpacking Southeast Asia and before that, I was living in Seoul, Korea for two years. It felt great to be back in an English speaking country, but I had no idea where I was going.

Once of the primary reasons PokemonGo is great for expats is that it encourages newbies to explore. Of course the idea of walking around like a zombie isn’t what some would deem as “exploration,” but it’s true. I promise. Each time I went outside and opened the PokemonGo app, I was been able to discover something new in my neighborhood.

I generally like to keep my eyes on my surroundings rather than stay entranced by the game on my iPhone screen. Except for the time I walked into a pole.

Not convinced that Pokemon Go is helpful? I don't blame you. Read more to find out why I think it is, though. www.willfulandwildhearted.com


I wasn’t even that good at the game. I didn’t really fight in the PokemonGo gyms nor did I know the ins and outs of the game’s capabilities. It’s not like I was unable to research the information. I’d just preferred to collect them and admire my less-than-impressive Pokedex, reminiscent of the way I felt about my Pokemon card binder as a child.

In fact, I realized how uninformed I am just the other day. While walking back from the Parnell Farmer’s Market I noticed a mass group of people on the side of the road in front of our house. Cars were stopping, people were gathered and everyone was evidently catching a Pokemon. I asked a group standing nearby what was happening.

“There’s a Ninetail nearby,” a guy responded. “I just caught it using a raspberry and an Ultra Ball.”

“An ULTRA BALL?!” I thought.  “Wait. What in the world is a Ninetail?”

Within three weeks’ time I had barely even reached level 12, let alone received an ULTRA BALL. At any rate, we had a nice chat and I was able to catch the Ninetail without using any special tricks. I noticed some of the people were discussing going to another part of town together to hunt down another rarity. I couldn’t be bothered, so I went inside.

I’m not saying PokemonGo MADE me go outside and explore my new neighborhood. I would have done that anyway. Don’t tell me walking around looking for pretend colorful phone objects isn’t fun, though. It’s a bonding experience among fellow players and enables newbies to the city a chance to explore side streets, alleyways and local monuments that may have otherwise gone undiscovered.

"PokemonGo? More like PokemonNO." REAL ORIGINAL.

“PokemonGo? More like PokemonNO.” REAL ORIGINAL. (Photo via Pixabay)

Don’t make fun of people for playing PokemonGo unless they’re walking into poles. Or driving straight into police cars. Or illegally crossing country borders. Or copying the game entirely (LOL, c’mon Korea.) There are some downsides to this global trend, but think about the great that’s come out of it, too.

It’s helped people get over their social anxiety, it’s inspiring others to get moving and exercise and encouraged local volunteers to help some lonely animals. As with anything in life, there’s a good and a bad side to the coin.

PokemonGo isn’t the only app for travelers and expats to discover new cities. GPSmyCity offers some amazing walking tours and travel tips for cities and towns across the globe. There are plenty of self-guided city walks available in dozens of cities across the globe. It’s an excellent way for expats to safely get acclimated with a new city. It can be downloaded in Google Play and iTunes stores today!

Whichever way you choose to explore is wonderful. Just get outside! Remember to keep an open mind but more importantly keep your eyes and ears open to your surroundings.



  1. August 17, 2016 / 10:34 pm

    I didn’t even think of the benefits! Great idea!

  2. August 17, 2016 / 11:53 pm

    I find the whole PokemonGo phenomena so interesting. I didn’t even know what it was until I asked a few people about it. You’re right though – great way to get out and explore a new area!

  3. August 18, 2016 / 5:21 am

    HA! Love this spin on it. I still haven’t actually tried it…maybe I finally will 🙂

  4. August 18, 2016 / 6:47 am

    This is so true! I mean I never really understood the PokemonGo until one of my friend was playing. And it’s true! It forces you to walk around the place and explore. But I have found that many people focus so much on the game itself that they don’t stop to look around and observe what is happening.

    • August 18, 2016 / 7:11 am

      Unfrotunately, I’m definitely guilty of not *always* paying attention myself (hence why I walked into the pole – ha!!) It’s a good time, but I think the fad is sort of dying down over time – who knows. Thanks for reading! =)

  5. August 18, 2016 / 7:53 am

    I maybe the only person here not downloaded that app. Interesting read though, I’ve seen kids playing it and they look addictive to this app.

  6. August 18, 2016 / 9:38 am

    haha I like your positive take on the whole craze! It is great to get outside and bond with other travellers 🙂

  7. August 18, 2016 / 1:10 pm

    Such a positive response regarding the game. Didn’t think it’d relate to travel. My husband and his friends were addicted to the game so we hang out one time just to catch monsters. It turned out to be a great day workout and fun time.

  8. August 19, 2016 / 3:17 am

    I’m so jealous! Haha. It’s /still/ not in Korea, and all my friends in NZ have been playing it for months now :'(

    I totally agree with you on this post! I think it’s a great way to get people outside, and using it as an expat is a wonderful way to explore and to meet people. Many of my friends who used to stay inside a lot, or drive everywhere, now walk because they want to catch Pokemon.

  9. August 19, 2016 / 3:34 am

    I find this game has its pros and cons – it is getting people out of their homes and walking for miles but in the same breath people aren’t paying attention to whats actually going on around them.

    If I had spare time I would download it to see what the fuss is.

  10. August 19, 2016 / 3:58 am

    I love Pokemon Go!!! It was recently released in the Philippines and its bringing so many people together, it’s awesome 😀

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