Moving to France

Moving to France can be a big move, especially if you aren’t familiar with the country. It need not be stressful if you carry out extensive research first though. From learning how to overcome the language barrier to choosing your international moving company, there is a lot to consider. First of all you need to decide where to live and find out everything you need to know about the local area before learning about the local culture, what there is to see and do, and how you will manage with essential day to day living. From choosing the climate you want to live in, to organising your visas and permits, we take a look at what life in France is like.

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Why France?

There may be specific reasons that you have chosen France as your destination. You may be relocating with your job, or there may be personal reasons for moving there. If you are looking for a different lifestyle and it is on your shortlist of prospects, there are lots of benefits of living in the largest country in Western Europe. Let’s start with the food – immediately images of fresh bread, croissants and cheese come to mind as well as a good bottle of red wine. Yes, the French do food and drink well, not to mention coffee! The working rules mean that you work 35 hours a week. If you work for longer than that, you are entitled to overtime with 13 bank holidays and 5 weeks annual leave. Culture is another reason that makes it such an attractive choice. From the D-Day beaches of Normandy to the vineyards of Bordeaux the country is teeming with history, museums, art galleries, monuments and sights that you will never tire of. Its capital city, Paris, is the largest in Europe and has so much to see that you will want to visit time and time again. With a good education system and excellent transport infrastructure, it is harder to find reasons not to move to France.

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Where to live in France

With 4 different climatic areas, you need to decide what is important to you when moving to France. If you want the sunshine and beaches, then you may prefer the south-east and its Mediterranean climate. For others, the oceanic climate of the west may be preferable. The continental climate of the east will bring cold winters and hot summers and then, for those of you who love to ski, there is the mountain climate. The country is so large that you really can take your pick. Of course like anywhere, certain areas will be more expensive to live than others. Pick a rural location, and you will pay a lot less than choosing to live in Paris, Lyon or Marseilles. While it isn’t cheap to live in France when compared to other countries, you can enjoy a good standard of living for less in more rural areas and towards the south of the country. It is important to check out the surroundings of the city, town or village that you are considering, the local schools (if applicable) and the transport links to other areas or regions.

When to move to France

If you are relocating or moving for personal reasons, the choice of when to move may be restricted. For others who have plenty of time, you may want to consider when to move. While you may be keen to start your new life sooner rather than later, you will want to ensure that you have everything in place first. First of all, have you got enough money or would it be good to save for another six months to give you a bit more flexibility when you first arrive. If you are going to need to work when you get there having a financial buffer will afford you the time to get acquainted with your new home first and look for a job that you will enjoy rather than the first thing you come across. It may also be worth checking with your international moving company if there is a variation in cost at different times of the year. It may cost less to move outside of the busy season. Another consideration is the weather. If you want to arrive when the sun is shining and everything is looking beautiful, then you may want to move in spring or summer as opposed to the middle of winter. With 13 public holidays, it is also good to avoid these. You don’t want to arrive at your new home only to find that everything is shut.

Carry out your research first

There are many sources of information online about moving to France. As it is one of the more popular locations to move to you will find much more than you will about other countries. If you are familiar with the country and have visited before, then you will probably already have some knowledge of what to expect. However, if you have never been, it may be worth visiting for a survey first. If you can’t, then there are lots of ex-pat forums that will guide you in the right direction and certainly give you an overview of where to live and what to expect. The more you can find out about your new home the easier it will be to adapt to your new surroundings and manage the expectations of you and your family. If you are moving with your family, you will want to check out the schools in the local area (it is well known for its excellent education system), the transport links to other places and if you can get everything you need locally or nearby. Conducting research will also add to the excitement for you and the family as you learn new things about what it’s like to live in France.

Administration

If you are moving to France, you will need to find out what, if any, visas you need to live or work there. If you are moving from another EU country then you won’t need a visa however you can apply for an EU-citizen residence card. If you are moving from a non-EU country and intend to be in France for more than 90 days, you will need to apply for a residence permit and long-stay visa. In addition to this you will need to consider the tax implications – will you be working and paying tax? Also, consider your social security contributions. If you are employed or self-employed you will need to make social security contributions to entitle you to sickness benefit, maternity, paternity pay and certain types of healthcare. Other administration will include opening a French bank account and organising your utilities. It is much easier to do all of this research before you move so that you can organise as much as possible before you arrive.

Language barrier

French is one of the more widely recognised languages across the world and is often taught in schools in English-speaking countries. It is not a difficult language to learn, and you will find in the more suburban areas that they speak good English. It will help you, however, to be able to understand and converse in French where possible. If you have small children they will soon pick it up at school but for older children and adults it can pose a real barrier if you are suddenly surrounded by people speaking French while you have no idea what they are saying. As soon as you make your decision to move to France, it is advisable to start learning the language. This may be at a local college, night school or by learning through audio tapes as a family at home. If all else fails Google translate is a very handy tool.

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Getting around

As a large country, the infrastructure of France is very good on the whole. Infact it is one of the best in Europe. An interesting statistic is that there is 146km of road per 100km2 in addition to this there is 6.2km of rail line to every 100km2. As well as a good road infrastructure it is also home to Europe’s fastest passenger train. With the channel tunnel being introduced in 1988 France is now linked to the UK by a rail tunnel that allows travel between the two countries in around 3 hours. With subways, waterways, rail, road and even a good cycle network, you can choose from a variety of ways to travel around the country. If you choose to live a rural existence though you may need to consider a car or at least a bicycle to travel to other local towns and villages.
France is a well-developed country and it is safe to say if you choose to move there you will find everything you need from education to transport and even the daily necessities. With a good quality of life and a number of places to live to choose from, if you carry out your research first you should find that moving there is a lot more enjoyable than stressful.