Guide to Essential Books on Expat Life: From How-Tos and Memoirs to Fiction

BEFORE YOU GO

• “Should I Stay or Should I Go? The Truth About Moving Abroad and Whether It’s Right for You” (2010) takes readers through a series of questions about whether they might be moving for the wrong reasons, whether they have the temperament for expat life, and where they might go. “Now is the time to make up your mind and really start living,” writes author Paul Allen.
• “Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America” (2012) by Mark Ehrman covers everything from visas, the Peace Corps and drugs to electricity adaptors. He has a chapter for each of 61 countries, from Cambodia to St. Kitts and Nevis.

HOW TO/HOW WE DID IT

• “Expat! Thoughts for Your First Month Living Abroad” (2013) is just 22 pages. Author David Miretti is less detailed about the steps to go through but encouraging about the “mindset that will help you thrive as an expat anywhere in the world.” He includes an annotated resource section for those who want to dig deeper.
• “The Expat Almanac: Sell It All, Pack a Bag, Hit the Road” (2014) introduces authors Louise Lague and Tom Lichty, who realize they have a window of opportunity in their “second fifty years.” They embark on a year-long adventure that begins in Spain. According to their blog, they now live in France.
• “At Home Anywhere: Six Proven Expat Secrets for Making Yourself at Home in Any Foreign Country” (2012) is less about secrets and more about common sense. But author Rob Robideau does deserve some street cred for relocating from the U.S. Midwest to Nepal. The book, he writes, is “aimed at foreign missionaries, aid workers, migrant workers, diplomats, international retirees, business travelers and anyone who wants to make the best of living in a new and foreign society.”
• “Expat Women’s True Tales of Life Abroad” (2002) is a collection of 22 first-person essays, edited by Christina Henry de Tessan, written by women who have lived abroad, from Belize to Bangladesh.
• “The Expert Expat: Your Guide to Successful Relocation Abroad” (2007) uses the wisdom of diplomatic spouses Melissa Brayer Hess and Patricia Linderman, based on 33 years of international living and 19 international moves. Chapters have useful checklists that include questions to ask, such as whether housing is provided or what’s involved in getting a visa.
• “Expat Etiquette: How to Look Good in Bad Places” (2014) provides very detailed advice, from how to use a squat toilet, how to handle an affair, and how to behave in a Pentecostal church. Authors Michael Bear and Liz Good use humor, the occasional f-bomb, and a heavy dose of satire to get the point across, with a special emphasis on sometimes dangerous lands.
• “Expat Life Slice by Slice” (2012) is the autobiography of Apple Gidley, born in Africa, who has lived as an expat for most of her life and writes a colorful tale of her family and her travels through Asia, Africa and the Americas.
• “The Mobile Life: A New Approach to Moving Anywhere” (2014) by Diane Lemieux and Anne Parker uses the model of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 expedition to the Antarctic as a parallel experience.
• “The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide” (2015) opens with a scene describing author Clara Wiggins’ life in Islamabad, Pakistan. Using advice from more than 70 expat partners, Ms. Wiggins says this is not a self-help, but a support book. Even so, there are chapters on having a baby overseas and how to treat domestic staff with respect.
• “The Grown-ups’ Guide to Running Away From Home: Making a New Life Abroad” (2008) is aimed at empty-nesters, early retirees and even established executives. “Midlife is the ideal time to turn travel fantasies into real and rewarding experiences,” Rosanne Knorr writes. She and her husband picked France, but she explores the possibility of other places and even suggests that some middle-aged expats might want to take aging parents along with them on the adventure.
• “Survival Kit for Overseas Living: For Americans Planning to Live and Work Abroad” (2001) by L. Robert Kohls is a book for Americans who have never before lived abroad. The book takes a more scholarly approach, but also has chapters on the “ugly American,” language and culture shock.
• “Foreign to Familiar: A Guide to Understanding Hot – and Cold – Climate Cultures” (2000). Sarah Lanier has written what she calls a “handbook of cultural observations” to help people understand cultural gaps, especially between “hot” cultures like Chile and “cold” cultures like Switzerland.

READ MORE: An African Memoirist on Her American Expat Life

READ MORE: Repatriation Blues: Expats Struggle With the Dark Side of Coming Home

READ MORE: For Expat Marriages, Breaking Up is Harder to Do

RAISING THIRD CULTURE KIDS

• “Raising Global Nomads: Parenting Abroad in an On-Demand World” (2006) is author Robin Pascoe’s fifth book for expat families, covering parenting styles, the special issues of third culture kids, and how moving around the world will change children forever, even after they stop moving.
• “Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds” (2009) is the second edition of a 1999 book. TCKs often feel as if they don’t fully belong anywhere, write authors David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken. But, like TCK President Barack Obama, they can also learn resiliency.
• “The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition” (2010) is a fun read for college students. Author Tina Quick helps college students understand just how tough it can be to start college as a TCK and what to do about it.
• “Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child: practical storytelling techniques that will strengthen the global family” (2011) is a workbook from Julia Simens for families to understand their emotions and reflect on their experiences.

RETIREMENT/CASHING IN

• “The Global Expatriate’s Guide to Investing: From Millionaire Teacher to Millionaire Expat” (2014) by Andrew Hallam shows expats how to use index funds to make the best of their money, with profiles of expats who did just that.
• “How to Retire Overseas: Everything You Need to Know to Live Well (for Less) Abroad” (2011) covers details such as the top retirement havens and where to get good tax advice. Author Kathleen Peddicord describes her own expat experiences in Ireland, France and Panama. In some retirement havens in Mexico, she writes, you’re more likely to hear more English than Spanish spoken. One suggestion she makes for supplementing a retirement income is to “set yourself up with a laptop-based business.”
• “The International Living Guide to Retiring Overseas on a Budget: How to Live Well on $25,000 a Year” (2014) finds affordable havens. Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher suggest Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Uruguay.
• “Retirement Without Borders: How to Retire Abroad – in Mexico, France, Italy, Spain, Costa Rica, Panama, and Other Sunny, Foreign Places (And the Secret to Making It Happen Without Stress”( 2008) asks why choose Arizona when you can choose Panama or why North Carolina when you can go to Provence. Author Barry Golson, also author of “Gringos in Paradise,” zeroes in on 10 countries: Mexico, Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, France, Italy, Croatia, Spain and Portugal.
• “The Financial Guide to Retiring Abroad: How to Retire Overseas, Avoid Tax, Invest Wisely, and Save Your Money” (2010) by financial adviser Rick Todd recommends figuring out whether a country has a stable currency, asking about the banking system and finding out where you can invest your money.

REPATRIATION

• “The Art of Coming Home” (2001) by Craig Storti has sections for employees, their families, plus the military, missionaries and exchange students.
• “Homeward Bound: A Spouse’s Guide to Repatriation” (2000) by Robin Pascoe discusses re-entry shock and ways for trailing spouses to make professional use of their expat experiences. This is the place where Ms. Pascoe talks about the repatriation experience as being like having a contact lens in the wrong eye.
“Re-entry: Making the Transition from Missions to Life at Home” (2013) is specifically for missionaries and those doing religious work overseas, with tips on how to re-connect with a church at home, comparing the experience to an astronaut returning to Earth after a space mission. Author Peter Jordan was born in China to missionary parents and has traveled as a missionary in Asia and the Pacific.
• “Burn Up or Splash Down: Surviving the Culture Shock of Re-entry” (2007) by Marion Knell is for those on mission work returning home. She mentions that a “crisis evacuation” of expats can bring a greater sense of reverse culture shock.

THE FICTIONAL APPROACH

In many cases, expats have found that creating fictional worlds is the only way for them to capture the juicier, scarier and more daring aspects of their lives abroad, without naming names. Move over, Graham Greene.

• “Expatriate” (2012) is poetry by Dorothy Bendel based on her expat life in eight cities in Asia and Europe.
• “EXPATS” (2011) is a television sitcom script by Leontina Tomei set in the Dordogne region of France. The expats in this story are all fleeing something.
• “The Expats: A Novel” (2012) is a mystery bestseller by Chris Pavone, set in Paris and Luxembourg. People are not who they seem to be.
• “ExPat,” Robert Hatting (2011) is a “romantic caper novel” with zany characters in Mexico and Panama with something to hide.

original article taken from http://blogs.wsj.com 

 

 

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