U.S. Expatriate Handbook

U.S. Expatriate Handbook: Guide to Living & Working Abroad

The author, John Adams, is clearly a man who has done his share of traveling, likely in line with the book's European focus.

Mr. Adams, in addition to having picked up a lot of tips in his travels, has also acquired a pleasant elegance to his writing. The book is divided into nicely practical chapters, including topics such as “Health Care Overseas” and “Banking and Investment”. The elegance of expression comes in the in between pages, where Adams' relates more personal experiences and quotes at length correspondence between himself and his father, whose first travel-to-Europe experience occured when he walked into France at the Normandy invasion.

Adams' strong suits in this book are two-fold: primarily, he sets himself the task (and accomplishes it well) of posing questions, lots of questions, for you to resolve. What will you do about U.S. taxes (Chapter 8, “The Taxman Cometh”)? How can you help your children adjust (Chapter 4, “Family Matters”)? How will the work abroad help or hinder you in your career (Chapter 2, “Career Considerations”)?

All of which leads to the other strong point of this book, financial advice and career information.

Adams looks into working with a bank abroad, talks about how being away from home might affect your estate planning and many other things associated with a job overseas, such as currency fluctuations and how they can shrink what once seemed a reasonable salary, at least in dollars.

He also lays out some specifics to think about career-wise, such as the effect of being away from the home office for a few years, and how that might help or hurt your future job prospects. Like the TV commercials say, none of this should replace sitting down with a good lawyer, career advisor, best friend, your brother-in-law who bought IBM at $18.00 a share or CPA, but you'll certainly enter those meetings better informed for having read this book.

The book also includes a nice selection of addresses, phone numbers and web sites to get you started should you want to look into any particular issue further.

On the down side, by design, this book asks more questions of you than it answers. For a newcomer to the world abroad, the questions are invaluable, for many of these things (such as taxes) will be happening around you whether you care to participate or not. A more experienced expat might want to skip ahead to other sources of advice, having learned the questions through some hard experience and is now in need of more detailed answers.

The U.S. Expatriate Handbook is, in sum, quite worth your time. The writing has a style of its own that makes for an interesting read, while the layout and organization make it skimmable after that first breeze through when it is time to sweat the details.

The U.S. Expatriate Handbook is available for on-line purchase from Amazon.com

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