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April 18, 2007

Book review: Getting Out

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Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America by Mark Ehrman. Reviewed by Jason Erik Lundberg

Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America (previously mentioned here) is volume 2 in Process Media’s Self-Reliance series, and aspires to be an all-purpose guide for expatriation from the USA. Written with a pessimistic slant toward the current state of the nation (only natural, since Process’s books tend to lean firmly to the left), the book presents a compelling case for leaving the country, be it for political or economic reasons, or for a chance at adventure.

Ehrman splits up the book into eight parts — Ways to Leave; Getting In; Foreign Citizenship and How to Get It; Work, Study, or Slack; Choosing a Country; The Top 50 Expat Meccas (which takes up fully half of the book); Doing It; and Web Resources — each presenting the details necessary for a move abroad (including website links when available), and peppered throughout with testimonials on living in a foreign country. Of especial note are the sections on obtaining a visa, working overseas, and health care (although this section could have been much expanded, as it is one of highest worries on an American’s mind today).

The greatest resource in the book, however, is its biggest chapter: The Top 50 Expat Meccas. Broken down are the statistics on style of government, population, currency, languages spoken, religion, ethnicity, cost of living, visa requirements, climate, infrastructure, internet access, health care, popular expat professions, taxes, crime rates, and attitudes toward cannabis use, homosexuality, and abortion. This information, coupled with the aformentioned testimonials, as well as first-person experiences, provide a wealth of information on choosing a new country in which to live.

Notably absent to this list, however, is Singapore, to which I just immigrated only two weeks ago. It is a country with one of the best health care systems in the world, excellent public transportation, and a hunger for recruiting foreign workers (specifically English teachers and professionals in science and engineering). It may have been overlooked because of its small size (approximately only as big as New York City), or possibly its socialist style of government, but there is no way to know; the criteria for which countries made it into the top 50 and why are not evident within the text, and the reasoning behind the choices made is vague.

There is also a surprising lack of deepness to the book, in that Ehrman provides a lot of information, but does not go as in-depth as similar books on the subject. This gives a broad but shallow reading experience, which may help to narrow down your choices on where to move, but is lacking in what to do after that. All the space given to first-person accounts is helpful (word of mouth is a powerful persuader), but Ehrman relies on it overmuch, and some of that space could have been re-allocated to more research from third-party sources.

Still, if you are considering moving overseas, Getting Out is a good place to start.

The book is available direct from the Process website, as well as through BookSense
and Amazon.

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