Book Review: The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide

qThe Expat Partner’s Survival Guideby Clara Wiggins is nothing short of volume full of incredible resources, personal accounts, and tips from an expert expat and 70 contributors. Clara is a fourth generation expat and has lived in twelve countries on five continents. Her worldliness shows in her approach to this guide and anyone who is considering a life overseas should read this book first before making the leap.
As I was reading it, I wish I had this guide before we moved to Sweden. It was one of those, “Man, why couldn’t I have read this before we moved instead of after?” thoughts. It remains at the top of my recommended resources for anyone considering a move abroad or relocation.
Clara’s narrative style is like that of a good friend guiding you through one of the most difficult life-decisions you’ve ever made over a nice cup of coffee (or tea since she is British). She is calm, humorous, and keeps things in perspective. The world “trailing spouse” is one that should be abolished as Clara makes it clear that accompanying partners are anything but “trailing.”
Clara walks you through many of the decisions that you’ll need to make when moving abroad:
  • Before you move
  • What to do during the move
  • What arrival feels like and the “honeymoon” period
  • Finding accommodations, furnishings, and transport
  • Shopping, making yourself understood (a hard one!), and safety
  • Domestic staff (not applicable in our case but still interesting)
  • Settling in and protecting your sanity (still working on this one)
  • Culture shock and ensuing depression
  • Preserving you, your partner, and your relationship
  • Children, Third Culture Kids, and Global nomads
  • Schooling
  • Pets
  • Working abroad
  • Health and having a baby overseas (I loved this chapter!)
  • What to do if it all goes wrong
  • Same-sex relationships and male accompanying partners
  • Resources, resources, resources
A brief excerpt from the Health and having a baby overseas chapter:
“Overall, leave your expectations at the door, be prepared for things not to be as you would perhaps like them to be/they would be at home and gather as much support around you for the postnatal period—wherever you are for the birth.”
As you can see, this book covers almost every topic and the kitchen sink. I would recommend purchasing both paperback and ebook. Why? Because it is so helpful to have a physical book in your hands for easy reference and the ebook is hyperlinked to a gazillion websites that are much easier to click than type in by hand.
While there is no way to prevent culture shock, at least you can expect the unexpected with this book. Clara’s extensive personal experience combined with her contributor interviews of over 70 expats will leave you feeling like you just consulted with some of the world’s top experts on living abroad.
The tips, stories, and anecdotes within this book are beyond helpful in reassuring you that while there will be bumps along the road, you are on the right path for a successful relocation and can handle whatever life throws at you.

 Clara’s chapter in Knocked Up Abroad is all about her time in St. Lucia and I am so happy that she is planning to contribute to the next book in the Knocked Up Abroad family.
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