The best books on moving abroad to Europe

Who am I?

Beth Haslam grew up on a farm in Wales and was mostly seen messing around with her beloved animals. When she and her husband, Jack, bought a second home in France, their lives changed forever. Computers and mobile phones swapped places with understanding French customs and wrestling with the local dialect. These days, Beth is occupied as never before raising and saving animals, writing, and embracing everything their corner of rural France has to offer. And she loves it!

I wrote...

Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 1

By Beth Haslam,

Book cover of Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 1

What is my book about?

Buying a country estate in France seemed such a simple thing to accomplish. When Beth, her irascible husband Jack, and their two fat dogs set off, little do they know that it will become such an extraordinary adventure. Surviving near-death experiences, they drive thousands of kilometres around French estates steeped in history and crazy aristocrats. Will they find their dream home, or return to Britain defeated?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of My Family and Other Animals

Beth Haslam Why did I love 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.

By Gerald Durrell,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked My Family and Other Animals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The inspiration behind ITV's hit family drama, The Durrells.

My Family and Other Animals is Gerald Durrell's hilarious account of five years in his childhood spent living with his family on the island of Corfu. With snakes, scorpions, toads, owls and geckos competing for space with one bookworm brother and another who's gun-mad, as well as an obsessive sister, young Gerald has an awful lot of natural history to observe. This richly detailed, informative and riotously funny memoir of eccentric family life is a twentieth-century classic.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket sized classics…

Book cover of A Year in Provence

Beth Haslam Why did I love 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.

By Peter Mayle,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked A Year in Provence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A personal description of Provencal life as seen through the eyes of the author and his wife when they move into an old farmhouse at the foot of the Luberon mountains between Avignon and Aix. The bestselling work of non-fiction in paperback of 1991 in the UK.

Book cover of Living the Dream in Rural Ireland

Beth Haslam Why did I love 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.

By Nick Albert,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Living the Dream in Rural Ireland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nick and Lesley Albert yearn to leave the noise, stress and pollution of modern Britain and move to the countryside, where the living is good and has space for their dogs to run free. Suddenly out of work and soon to be homeless, they set off in search of a new life in Ireland, a country they have never visited. As their adventure begins to unfold, not everything goes according to plan. If finding their dream house is difficult, buying it seems almost impossible. How will they cope with banks that don’t want customers, builders who don’t need work, or…

Book cover of Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools

Beth Haslam Why did I love 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.

By Victoria Twead,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

★ Wall Street Journal Top 10 bestseller ★

★ New York Times Bestselling author ★

If Joe and Vicky had known what relocating to a tiny mountain village in Andalucía would REALLY be like, they might have hesitated... 

They have no idea of the culture shock in store. No idea they'll become reluctant chicken farmers and own the most dangerous cockerel in Spain. No idea they'll help capture a vulture or be rescued by a mule. 

Will they stay, or return to the relative sanity of England?

Includes Spanish recipes donated by the village ladies and a link to FREE…

Book cover of Living the Dream in the Algarve, Portugal

Beth Haslam Why did I love 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.

By Alyson Sheldrake,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Living the Dream in the Algarve, Portugal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Could you leave everything behind and start a new life in the sun?

Have you ever been on holiday abroad and wondered what it would be like to live there?

Alyson and Dave Sheldrake did. They fell in love with a little fishing village in the Algarve, Portugal, and were determined to realise their dream of living abroad. They bought a house there, ended their jobs, packed up everything they owned and moved to the Algarve to start a new life.

Follow them as they battle with Portuguese bureaucracy, set up their own businesses, adopt a rescue dog and learn…

You might also like...

Hayley and the Hot Flashes

By Jayne Jaudon Ferrer,

Book cover of Hayley and the Hot Flashes

Jayne Jaudon Ferrer Author Of Hayley and the Hot Flashes

New book alert!

Who am I?

I grew up in a small town, with wonderful librarians who introduced me to books I remember fondly to this day. The Flicka, Ricka, Dicka series, the Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, and, of course, Little Women shaped my love for stories about relationships and the simple pleasures of daily life. Whether it’s a mystery or a memoir, I want interesting interactions between the main characters, meaty descriptions of daily activities and affairs, and, of course, a happy ending. As I’ve gotten older, I like books with older protagonists; those are hard to come by—one reason I wrote a novel about the adventures of five middle-aged girlfriends!

Jayne's book list on entertaining stories about relationships

What is my book about?

Country music diva Hayley Swift has fallen off the charts and into a funk. Desperate to regain her place in the limelight, she agrees to a low-budget tour of Southern venues, starting with her 35th high school reunion.

There, in an unexpected but fortuitous reconnection, The Girls Next Door —who sang together in their teens--become Hayley and the Hot Flashes as they embark on a road trip that will forever change their lives. You'll laugh out loud as the ladies deal with stage fright, stalkers, attitudes, egos, harmonies, hormones, and more. Middle age has never been moodier—or more melodic!

Hayley and the Hot Flashes

By Jayne Jaudon Ferrer,

What is this book about?

When five middle-aged girlfriends trade in carpools and casseroles for microphones and music halls, look out!

Hayley Swift, a country music diva who has slipped out of the limelight, gets more attention when she's mistaken for Taylor Swift's mom than for her former glory days. When she's invited to perform at her 35th high school reunion, a bus accident puts her back-up singers in a hospital, Hayley begs her long-gone-domestic quartet from high school to join her onstage for the gig. They're such a hit that she invites the women to fill in on a low-budget tour for a couple…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Europe, Provence, and Spain?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Europe, Provence, and Spain.

Europe Explore 872 books about Europe
Provence Explore 23 books about Provence
Spain Explore 186 books about Spain