The best books on moving abroad to Europe

The Books I Picked & Why

The Corfu Trilogy

By Gerald Durrell

Book cover of The Corfu Trilogy

Why this book?

As an animal-lover who has spent many blissful years on holiday in Greece, I had wanted to read this much-loved classic for ages. Gerald Durrell writes about his life in Corfu with brilliant humour. Vignettes about his unconventional family and that strange assortment of hangers-on who keep appearing had me in stitches. These, and the accounts of intrepid expeditions to pursue new creatures for his collection, fill the book with colour. I found his portrayals of Corfu and its locals utterly captivating. His romance with the island is enough to inspire anyone to pluck up the courage and move abroad.

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A Year in Provence

By Peter Mayle

Book cover of A Year in Provence

Why this book?

“Read this book. You’ll love it,” said a friend. Having decided to buy a second home in France, it seemed a good choice. Peter Mayle and his wife are fed up with Brit weather and their humdrum life. They dream of peerless blue skies, gorgeous views, and a lifestyle laced with haute cuisine and those world-class wines promised by Provence. As it happens, things don’t turn out entirely as they anticipate. Who knew the Mistral wind could blow your socks off? And what about the tribulations associated with renovating an ancient property? To our cost, we now know all about that kind of stuff.

Through his vivid imagery, I was quickly enthused by the lifestyle they embrace, warts and all. It was just what we wanted too. Immersing themselves in the culture, they live among a charming befuddling group of locals. They learn about the area, delight in French hospitality, and gradually fix their tumbledown home. My friend was dead right. The book is interesting, it’s funny, beautifully written and gave me the confidence that moving to France was a great decision.

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Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds: Living the Dream in Rural Ireland

By Nick Albert

Book cover of Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds: Living the Dream in Rural Ireland

Why this book?

As a doggy person, this sounded a fun book, an added attraction being that it is a memoir about moving overseas. The author, and his wife, Lesley, buy a property in a rural part of Ireland. Sounds simple enough, but having done the same ourselves, I guessed there might be challenges ahead. Nick skillfully draws the reader into his world. I felt as though I was alongside them as he describes the properties they visit and misadventures along the way. The anecdotes about their dogs are delightful. His descriptions conjure up pictures of a stunningly beautiful country filled with enchantingly quirky people. No wonder they quickly fall in love with it.

Nick’s sense of humour is infectious and wonderfully appealing. I finished wanting more. Luckily, through the success of this first book, he launched a series. I have read and loved each subsequent episode and look forward to his next publication.

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Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools

By Victoria Twead

Book cover of Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools

Why this book?

Besides being delighted by the title, I was keen to read this highly-recommended book about moving to Spain. Victoria and her long-suffering husband really did up sticks and buy a home in a tiny mountain village in Andalucía. I was dying to know how they got on.

What a treat. This exquisitely written book is packed with hilarious tales about their property restorations, the local folks, and the battles they have with a psychotic cockerel. Really, it’s true! I learned about the region, loved Victoria’s character descriptions and finished wanting more. Rumour has it that many folks wanted to dash over to Spain to join them after reading this gem – and I’m not surprised. Happily, ‘Chickens’ is the first in a best-selling series from this award-winning author. I have read every book so far, and each has been an absolute winner.

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Living the Dream: in the Algarve, Portugal

By Alyson Sheldrake

Book cover of Living the Dream: in the Algarve, Portugal

Why this book?

The author and her husband decide to leave successful careers in the UK and settle in the Algarve. Determined to assimilate with the local culture, they buy a house on the outskirts of a village, adopt a rescue dog (who I instantly fall in love with), and begin a new life. I know the Algarve well and loved the author’s vivid descriptions of the places they visit, the scenes, sights, and customs. I could easily imagine having that daily coffee and delicious pastel de nata in the village café. It’s a delightfully Portuguese tradition.

Throughout the book, Alyson provides advice on different areas and the sometimes tortuous processes involved in becoming a resident in a country hyper-keen on bureaucracy. They manage, though, and often with refreshing ease. The book is a fun travel memoir with bags of appeal for anyone who enjoys an informative read, especially those interested in moving to Portugal. The author’s love for their adopted country shines through her writing. It has inspired the couple to discover new talents and new careers, which she writes about in her sequel. The book is a tonic. I loved it.

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