5 must-see expat movies

Despite all those poolside photos and cultured check-ins, expats do like to spend time inside watching movies too. Hey, we can’t always be out living our dream lives… Just kidding! If you need some movie inspo for your next rainy day, here are five required viewings when living abroad.


1. Lost in Translation (2003)

This movie perfectly encapsulates the negatives of expat life, namely culture shock and homesickness. If you’re struggling to break down the barriers in your new home and need a bit of a pep talk, Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray are here for you. They also show how you can always find a friend in the most unlikely of places.

Watch when: Life is getting you down and you need to escape into some dreamy cinematography.

2. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)

You’ll often hear people say that they wished they’d moved abroad “when they had the chance” and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is here to debunk that adage. If your image of expats includes fresh faced twenty-somethings or career-minded business moguls, you’re forgetting that anyone can be an expat. In this film, seven retirees move to India and get up to all the hijinks you’d expect an expat to. Any expat.

Watch when: You need a reminder that the adventure doesn’t have to end.

3. Casablanca (1942)

The ultimate expat movie, Casablanca, is here to remind you that being an expat is nothing new. Rick Blaine is a nightclub owner in, you guessed it, Casablanca, and faces all the troubles any typical expat might face… and maybe a few more seeing as it all takes place in the midst of World War II.

Watch when: You’re struggling with your decision to move and need reassurance that somehow people managed to do it without smartphones.

4. Like Crazy (2011)

One of the biggest tribulations of expat life has to be finding and losing love. If you want a great look at the issues that can face expat couples – particularly those who have visa issues – then Like Crazy is sure to open your eyes and then make them cry uncontrollably. As great as this film is, it’s maybe not one for people who worry this will happen to them.

Watch when: You feel like drowning in floods of tears and wishing border control measures weren’t so complicated.

5. The Beach (2000)

Finding hidden gems off the usual touristic beaten track is all part of the expat dream. Most of the time they turn out to be great, but sometimes you end up getting dragged into some strange island cult. Don’t you hate it when that happens? Leonardo DiCaprio might have gotten out unscathed, but maybe stick to the beaches not guarded by armed cannabis farmers next time.

Watch when: you need a reminder that things could be worse.

What are some of your favourite expat movies?

Rosy Parrish

Rosy Parrish grew up in Britain and now lives in Madrid. She divides her time between teaching English, writing about expat life, and befriending dogs in the street.

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