Expat Book Reviews

Expat life is great … except when it’s not.

Imagine the adventure of learning a new culture and language… living on the other side of the globe to reinvent yourself, learn and grow. How can you know what to expect in the new country, where should you settle down, which place is right for you? And where will you turn in a crises; where should you turn if you feel lonely?

Beginning down the path of research ahead of you dream can consume a lot of hours searching the web to find answers to the thousands of questions you have not only about the new place you will call home, but everything that is involved–good and bad–in your new endeavor. Reading about other’s experiences overseas can provide the courage you need to make the next step-or answer the question about which place may be right for you.

I’ve read good and bad books about expatriation, I’ve reviewed some here so you don’t have to.

1. Expat Women: Confessions – 50 Answers to Your Real-Life Questions about Living Abroad

This book is organized around major themes (Settling In, Career and Money, Raising Children, Relationships, Mixed Emotions, and Repatriation), so it isn’t necessary to read it cover-to-cover to benefit from its wisdom. The authors are experienced expatriates who have seen and heard it all, which may explain their refreshing lack of moralizing. It reads like a chat between two good friends.

Price on Amazon for a new physical copy is $19.32, Kindle version is $9.99.

2. The Truth About Moving Abroad and Whether It’s Right for You: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

This book is a good resource about working overseas, but it was pretty lacking just about every where else. Though it is the most thorough I have seen as far as jobs go and the book provides some excellent advice on how to go about finding a foreign job, and also how to position yourself to get the job after you find it.

The chapter on expat contracts is a great source explaining various compensation issues you will face overseas and what the norms are for expatriate benefits and allowances.. It describes how compensation packages are structured and what to cover in your contracts, including a very complete outline of an expat contract at the end of the chapter.

New book price is $17.00 on Amazon.

3.GenXpat: The Young Professional’s Guide to Making a Successful Life Abroad

Short and simple survival manual for GenX expats, particularly good for the strategic planning phase if you haven’t thoroughly looked into moving abroad. It will have you reviewing your expectations and reasons for moving overseas, and gives a good overview of the ups and downs of expatriation (i.e. Switzerland is expensive and expect to experience culture shock and home sickness). The chapter on negotiating contracts in a foreign country is worth the price of the book alone. New on Amazon from $19.96


4. Moon Living Abroad in Spain

Here is a good resource for essential information on setting up daily life in Spain, like getting a visa, a bank account and what you need to work there.

It has advice on education, health care, and renting and even buying a home. The book is filled with tips, snippets of history, (which demonstrate reasons for why things are the way they are in certain areas) photos, drawings, and maps and is told from the point of view from a two time expat to Spain. The author’s first attempt failed, so you can learn from, and avoid, her mistakes made the first time around.

This book provides a clear illustration of the ridiculous bureaucracy we all deal with here, even the natives. It’s resource section is decent, and includes essential Spanish phrases. Currently selling new for $15.60, a great deal for how thorough this book is and I am surprised there are no reviews yet (hmm, maybe I should leave one…)


5. I’m not an Alcoholic, I’m just European!: Living in Spain, Adventuring Through Europe

Despite the dumb name, this is a pretty funny book about living in his adopted Madrid and dealing with a very different culture than that of his home state Vermont. It offers short stories with a sub plot of a romance throughout the book, but somethings personal accounts are the best way to get a true feel for what to expect from a place-they provide things a list of resources and answered questions cannot. So supplement it with a book of resources if you are looking for basic information about Spain.

$14.99 for physical book and just $4.99 for the Kindle version.


6. Live & Work in Spain: The Most Accurate, Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Living and Working In Spain

Honestly I didn’t read this book as it deals with UK residents only, who have quite different (and fewer, in my opinion) challenges that US passport holders. But it has good review as a great resources for Britons, so I’m putting it here as a recommendation.

Currently $24.95 new from Amazon.
Another book written from a British perspective, so as above, I didn’t read it… though it was recommended as a helpful resource by many UK expats.

New physical books from $25.95, and $9.65 for the Kindle version.

Other Resources

Be sure to check out the Getting around in Spain post with details on transportation and the best methods to get where you need to go in Barcelona. While specifically about the city of Barcelona, the modes of transport and advice apply to nearly all the major cities in Spain.

And of course, be sure to read the blog to learn more about life and living in this fine country.