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Moving to France

Can’t find a thread specifically about this so here goes. God help me I’m seeking the advice of Arrsers, specifically those living in France about moving there.

Mrs SA & I have been chewing this over for a while now. Our situation is thus. Both in our early fifties. I’m retired, she is p/t. Our retirement income is just over 2k a month. We have around 300k for a house.

Currently I do a little bit of gardening for pocket money. Mrs SA speaks the lingo & would look to work p/t in France, nothing highbrow, shop work etc. I would ideally like to continue the gardening. Alternatively we have mulled over running a small B&B on a p/t basis as don’t want to be wage slaves.

we have no debt.

Looking at the Dordogne area. Ideally on the edge or nearby a town. Don’t want to be out in the stick miles from civilisation.

so the questions are;

What’s the cost of living like? Whsts a reasonable amount needed to live on. We’re not party animals, although enjoy eating out now & again, we enjoy good food, wine other than that we’re quite self contained

What are the pitfalls, I understand French bureaucracy to be a mare. What about things like health care, taxes,state pensions etc.

Areas to look at, areas to avoid?

Any advice greatly appreciated as we continue our research...
 
Houses can be a lot cheaper than here. 300k will buy you a chateau as seen on tv but will require work on it.
If you are prepared and can do the hard work houses that require work are very cheap.
 
Should we warn the locals?

1598289451442.jpeg
 

Ned_Seagoon

War Hero
There are some excellent FB groups that will give you a feel for life out here. Strictly Legal France, Strictly Fiscal France, Normandy Neighbours (probably something similar for other regions), Applying for a French Driving Licence, Applying for a CdS (Carte de Séjour - residence documents) and many others. Dip into them and see what issues folks face with day to day life. Healthcare will be significant if you are still under (UK) retirement age. Unless you have an income, however trivial, and contribute to the French State you will have difficulty getting the Carte Vitale. Without this, you will have to take out expat insurance or cover your own expenses.

We have been in and out of France for 30 years and have been resident for the last 4 years. We love it. The cost of living is generally similar to rural UK but the property that you can afford, quality of life and climate are excellent. We have lots of friends, French and Anglophone. But be in no doubt, there are frustrations: French admin is tedious, slow and, at times, incomprehensible. Only one real word of warning, a bit like speaking Oxford English North of Hadrians Wall, the natives and their attitude towards Les Rostbifs varies from region to region.

We don’t regret our decision for one second. However, having seen other who have left the move too late (my own parents included) we do intend to be back “home” by our early 70s.
 
Last edited:

Oyibo

LE
Can’t find a thread specifically about this so here goes. God help me I’m seeking the advice of Arrsers, specifically those living in France about moving there.

Mrs SA & I have been chewing this over for a while now. Our situation is thus. Both in our early fifties. I’m retired, she is p/t. Our retirement income is just over 2k a month. We have around 300k for a house.

Currently I do a little bit of gardening for pocket money. Mrs SA speaks the lingo & would look to work p/t in France, nothing highbrow, shop work etc. I would ideally like to continue the gardening. Alternatively we have mulled over running a small B&B on a p/t basis as don’t want to be wage slaves.

we have no debt.

Looking at the Dordogne area. Ideally on the edge or nearby a town. Don’t want to be out in the stick miles from civilisation.

so the questions are;

What’s the cost of living like? Whsts a reasonable amount needed to live on. We’re not party animals, although enjoy eating out now & again, we enjoy good food, wine other than that we’re quite self contained

What are the pitfalls, I understand French bureaucracy to be a mare. What about things like health care, taxes,state pensions etc.

Areas to look at, areas to avoid?

Any advice greatly appreciated as we continue our research...

It might be worth holding off for about a year before deciding - especially for Dordogneshire. Dordogne is renowned as Brit central (and quite a few other nationalities as well), and there may be a slump in the housing market if a lot of Brits sell up because of hassle over brexit (cartes de sejour, health insurance etc).

I live in a very expensive part of France. I haven't lived in the UK for many years, but my top of the head observations on cost of living (based on where I live rather than Dordogne) are:
  • Buying a house - cheaper in France (but read up on it - there's some very good ways to 'cheat the system' on the fees and taxes to be paid)
  • Running costs of property - be careful how big the house is because the yearly taxes can get very high.
  • Eating out - there are some excellent value places for good food and wine, but you have to know where they are. Going out on spec can be pricey. Lunchtime is a good time to wine and dine as cafes, bistros, and restaurants do reasonably priced dishes of the day, and 'menus' of the day - they often include a glass or two of your favourite wine or beer. Lunchtime is relatively cheap compared to the UK.
  • Electronics and other consumer goods tend to be more expensive in France (although Amazon prices are broadly similar)
Bureaucracy:
  • The horror, the horror.
  • In fairness, it depends on where you are. Some Mairies and Prefectures are absolute f*cking nightmares. It's okay where I am now. But:
  • The French system of government can arbitrarily change regulations (and often does) far more easily than the British Government. So this could apply your questions about healthcare, taxes, B&B etc
My best time in France was in the south when I just took a long-term let off a British couple and was effectively on holiday for two years (as far as French officials were concerned). It might be worthh you both trying that before taking the plunge.

Good luck though.

PS The rural areas have quite a few chunky chicks that might be to your liking
 
Oddly enough myself and OC Domestic (who speaks French) are in similar circumstances and are also considering moving to the middle of FA where the locals don't speak the Queen's. Have you considered Wales?
 
I mulled over moving to France a decade ago and lived near Dordogne for three months as a trial run without commitment. I ended up staying in the UK but it was a useful exercise and threw up some points that may be useful in your decision making:

You absolutely must speak French. Properly speak it, there is no substitute and our Brit forgiveness of no speaking English isn’t replicated in France. Do-able but not necessarily easy.

The main reason expat Brits ‘failed’ was because they didn’t have a solid source of income. Many sold up in London/the SE and bought the proverbial beautiful French pile for cash, only to find that getting a job/income in France is not easy. Employment laws are very different and self-employment an absolute administrative and tax nightmare. And that’s if you do speak French!

The French system of government is very localised. The Mairie is much more powerful and getting on the wrong side of their bureaucracy can be endex. Speaking of bureaucracy, the French are the absolute professionals at it in all areas: utilities, government, banking and every other organisation. By professional, I mean incredibly, absolutely incredibly, complex, illogical, inefficient and burdensome. You must be ready for this and do your research beforehand.

The locals can be very friendly and helpful but only on their terms. If they see you making an effort it will be reciprocated but any demonstration of entitlement or frustration about the French ways will again be endex.

Be ready for the weather. Summer begins abruptly around April and is hot. Very hot sometimes. Winter can be colder than you expect, particularly inland.

It’s become much more expensive to live day-to-day. Your budget is definitely do-able but don’t expect luxury for it. You must research healthcare costs/insurance. Again this is do-able and there are some lesser known ways around it, again research is key.

French law on inheritance is very different to ours. This absolutely must be researched before you buy a place but the information is out there online.

Do not under any circumstances offer on a property as a Brit; you are seen as the golden goose. Either hire a truly independent (English speaking) French lawyer to negotiate on your behalf or find a tame Frenchman to do it. Some places can be on the market for years and eventually sell for half of the asking price; this will not be an option if you present as ‘rich’ Brits!

The food and lifestyle can be incredible. This isn’t universal but certainly it is a beautiful and gastronomically incredible place, especially the Dordogne. The wine is, well no need to talk about that except to say find where the locals buy it in quantity.

The lifestyle is definitely very laid back. This applies to all things however, so if you’re the type of people who expect things done quickly then you must adjust your expectations. Again, do-able.

It’s stunningly beautiful there. Some of the houses, villages and towns are absolutely amazing and there is a lot to do outdoors.

How about packing up and spending a year renting there? There are plenty of places to rent longer term for much less than the UK equivalent and it would give you the chance to get a real feel for the place and way of life.
 
fFrance!? Oh, Mr SA. *shakes head sorrowfully*

You’ve let me down, you’ve let ARRSE down, but most of all...
 
Can I give a piece of advice. I was told some years back that if buying a property cash in France you should do it as a French limited company. You should then include yourself, your wife and children as officers of the company.

In the fullness of time when the kids inherit the place they will then not have to pay any of the transfer fee's, inheritance taxes, or other malarky to do with deceased estates and property transfer. Being a company it more or less continues on its way with a simple change of directors..

It was a piece of advice from someone we knew with a house in France, but I never looked into it other than tucking the info away should we ever move there.
 
It might be worth holding off for about a year before deciding - especially for Dordogneshire. Dordogne is renowned as Brit central (and quite a few other nationalities as well), and there may be a slump in the housing market if a lot of Brits sell up because of hassle over brexit (cartes de sejour, health insurance etc).

I live in a very expensive part of France. I haven't lived in the UK for many years, but my top of the head observations on cost of living (based on where I live rather than Dordogne) are:
  • Buying a house - cheaper in France (but read up on it - there's some very good ways to 'cheat the system' on the fees and taxes to be paid)
  • Running costs of property - be careful how big the house is because the yearly taxes can get very high.
  • Eating out - there are some excellent value places for good food and wine, but you have to know where they are. Going out on spec can be pricey. Lunchtime is a good time to wine and dine as cafes, bistros, and restaurants do reasonably priced dishes of the day, and 'menus' of the day - they often include a glass or two of your favourite wine or beer. Lunchtime is relatively cheap compared to the UK.
  • Electronics and other consumer goods tend to be more expensive in France (although Amazon prices are broadly similar)
Bureaucracy:
  • The horror, the horror.
  • In fairness, it depends on where you are. Some Mairies and Prefectures are absolute f*cking nightmares. It's okay where I am now. But:
  • The French system of government can arbitrarily change regulations (and often does) far more easily than the British Government. So this could apply your questions about healthcare, taxes, B&B etc
My best time in France was in the south when I just took a long-term let off a British couple and was effectively on holiday for two years (as far as French officials were concerned). It might be worthh you both trying that before taking the plunge.

Good luck though.

PS The rural areas have quite a few chunky chicks that might be to your liking

Many thanks, yes, it is probably a 12 month plan from now, With all events going off, but thought best to start researching properly now.

Dordogneshire is our starting point, but pretty open minded, I liked Brive & equally like the idea of the Pyrenees as we both enjoy walking.

Sadly my knowledge of other areas is limited. We want seasons & walking country other than that happy to look at any location as long as it’s not deserted.

Sadly Mrs SA would have my nads of with a blunt spoon re the chubbies.......
 

philc

LE
Taxation, tax and more taxation. You say you get 2K a month in pension, is that you or joint? Say you pay UK tax on that at 20% after the first £11500 off allowances France may not recognize the £11500 allowance and want the difference, they also may start base tax at 25%. Then overseas assets, whilst all the books talk about a dual taxation agreement, yes its dual in so much they will allow you to choose the cheaper country ie: UK then they will take their cut. Its a mine field.
 
fFrance!? Oh, Mr SA. *shakes head sorrowfully*

You’ve let me down, you’ve let ARRSE down, but most of all...

It’s purely missionary work, I intend to make it my life’s work to enlighten the garlic munching tw*ts...
 

slick

LE
I considered moving to France and did a bit of research over the last year, but have been put off it by a few people who have lived there. Out of the half dozen people I asked, the majority reckoned Portugal was a better bet nowadays. How true that is I don`t know.
 
Oddly enough myself and OC Domestic (who speaks French) are in similar circumstances and are also considering moving to the middle of FA where the locals don't speak the Queen's. Have you considered Wales?
Wales? I’d rather eat my own foot....;)
 

anglo

LE
I mulled over moving to France a decade ago and lived near Dordogne for three months as a trial run without commitment. I ended up staying in the UK but it was a useful exercise and threw up some points that may be useful in your decision making:

You absolutely must speak French. Properly speak it, there is no substitute and our Brit forgiveness of no speaking English isn’t replicated in France. Do-able but not necessarily easy.

The main reason expat Brits ‘failed’ was because they didn’t have a solid source of income. Many sold up in London/the SE and bought the proverbial beautiful French pile for cash, only to find that getting a job/income in France is not easy. Employment laws are very different and self-employment an absolute administrative and tax nightmare. And that’s if you do speak French!

The French system of government is very localised. The Mairie is much more powerful and getting on the wrong side of their bureaucracy can be endex. Speaking of bureaucracy, the French are the absolute professionals at it in all areas: utilities, government, banking and every other organisation. By professional, I mean incredibly, absolutely incredibly, complex, illogical, inefficient and burdensome. You must be ready for this and do your research beforehand.

The locals can be very friendly and helpful but only on their terms. If they see you making an effort it will be reciprocated but any demonstration of entitlement or frustration about the French ways will again be endex.

Be ready for the weather. Summer begins abruptly around April and is hot. Very hot sometimes. Winter can be colder than you expect, particularly inland.

It’s become much more expensive to live day-to-day. Your budget is definitely do-able but don’t expect luxury for it. You must research healthcare costs/insurance. Again this is do-able and there are some lesser known ways around it, again research is key.

French law on inheritance is very different to ours. This absolutely must be researched before you buy a place but the information is out there online.

Do not under any circumstances offer on a property as a Brit; you are seen as the golden goose. Either hire a truly independent (English speaking) French lawyer to negotiate on your behalf or find a tame Frenchman to do it. Some places can be on the market for years and eventually sell for half of the asking price; this will not be an option if you present as ‘rich’ Brits!

The food and lifestyle can be incredible. This isn’t universal but certainly it is a beautiful and gastronomically incredible place, especially the Dordogne. The wine is, well no need to talk about that except to say find where the locals buy it in quantity.

The lifestyle is definitely very laid back. This applies to all things however, so if you’re the type of people who expect things done quickly then you must adjust your expectations. Again, do-able.

It’s stunningly beautiful there. Some of the houses, villages and towns are absolutely amazing and there is a lot to do outdoors.

How about packing up and spending a year renting there? There are plenty of places to rent longer term for much less than the UK equivalent and it would give you the chance to get a real feel for the place and way of life.
This applies to all things however, so if you’re the type of people who expect things done quickly then you must adjust your expectations. Again, do-able.

If he wants some practice, come to Cornwall
 
I mulled over moving to France a decade ago and lived near Dordogne for three months as a trial run without commitment. I ended up staying in the UK but it was a useful exercise and threw up some points that may be useful in your decision making:

You absolutely must speak French. Properly speak it, there is no substitute and our Brit forgiveness of no speaking English isn’t replicated in France. Do-able but not necessarily easy.

The main reason expat Brits ‘failed’ was because they didn’t have a solid source of income. Many sold up in London/the SE and bought the proverbial beautiful French pile for cash, only to find that getting a job/income in France is not easy. Employment laws are very different and self-employment an absolute administrative and tax nightmare. And that’s if you do speak French!

The French system of government is very localised. The Mairie is much more powerful and getting on the wrong side of their bureaucracy can be endex. Speaking of bureaucracy, the French are the absolute professionals at it in all areas: utilities, government, banking and every other organisation. By professional, I mean incredibly, absolutely incredibly, complex, illogical, inefficient and burdensome. You must be ready for this and do your research beforehand.

The locals can be very friendly and helpful but only on their terms. If they see you making an effort it will be reciprocated but any demonstration of entitlement or frustration about the French ways will again be endex.

Be ready for the weather. Summer begins abruptly around April and is hot. Very hot sometimes. Winter can be colder than you expect, particularly inland.

It’s become much more expensive to live day-to-day. Your budget is definitely do-able but don’t expect luxury for it. You must research healthcare costs/insurance. Again this is do-able and there are some lesser known ways around it, again research is key.

French law on inheritance is very different to ours. This absolutely must be researched before you buy a place but the information is out there online.

Do not under any circumstances offer on a property as a Brit; you are seen as the golden goose. Either hire a truly independent (English speaking) French lawyer to negotiate on your behalf or find a tame Frenchman to do it. Some places can be on the market for years and eventually sell for half of the asking price; this will not be an option if you present as ‘rich’ Brits!

The food and lifestyle can be incredible. This isn’t universal but certainly it is a beautiful and gastronomically incredible place, especially the Dordogne. The wine is, well no need to talk about that except to say find where the locals buy it in quantity.

The lifestyle is definitely very laid back. This applies to all things however, so if you’re the type of people who expect things done quickly then you must adjust your expectations. Again, do-able.

It’s stunningly beautiful there. Some of the houses, villages and towns are absolutely amazing and there is a lot to do outdoors.

How about packing up and spending a year renting there? There are plenty of places to rent longer term for much less than the UK equivalent and it would give you the chance to get a real feel for the place and way of life.
I mulled over moving to France a decade ago and lived near Dordogne for three months as a trial run without commitment. I ended up staying in the UK but it was a useful exercise and threw up some points that may be useful in your decision making:

You absolutely must speak French. Properly speak it, there is no substitute and our Brit forgiveness of no speaking English isn’t replicated in France. Do-able but not necessarily easy.

The main reason expat Brits ‘failed’ was because they didn’t have a solid source of income. Many sold up in London/the SE and bought the proverbial beautiful French pile for cash, only to find that getting a job/income in France is not easy. Employment laws are very different and self-employment an absolute administrative and tax nightmare. And that’s if you do speak French!

The French system of government is very localised. The Mairie is much more powerful and getting on the wrong side of their bureaucracy can be endex. Speaking of bureaucracy, the French are the absolute professionals at it in all areas: utilities, government, banking and every other organisation. By professional, I mean incredibly, absolutely incredibly, complex, illogical, inefficient and burdensome. You must be ready for this and do your research beforehand.

The locals can be very friendly and helpful but only on their terms. If they see you making an effort it will be reciprocated but any demonstration of entitlement or frustration about the French ways will again be endex.

Be ready for the weather. Summer begins abruptly around April and is hot. Very hot sometimes. Winter can be colder than you expect, particularly inland.

It’s become much more expensive to live day-to-day. Your budget is definitely do-able but don’t expect luxury for it. You must research healthcare costs/insurance. Again this is do-able and there are some lesser known ways around it, again research is key.

French law on inheritance is very different to ours. This absolutely must be researched before you buy a place but the information is out there online.

Do not under any circumstances offer on a property as a Brit; you are seen as the golden goose. Either hire a truly independent (English speaking) French lawyer to negotiate on your behalf or find a tame Frenchman to do it. Some places can be on the market for years and eventually sell for half of the asking price; this will not be an option if you present as ‘rich’ Brits!

The food and lifestyle can be incredible. This isn’t universal but certainly it is a beautiful and gastronomically incredible place, especially the Dordogne. The wine is, well no need to talk about that except to say find where the locals buy it in quantity.

The lifestyle is definitely very laid back. This applies to all things however, so if you’re the type of people who expect things done quickly then you must adjust your expectations. Again, do-able.

It’s stunningly beautiful there. Some of the houses, villages and towns are absolutely amazing and there is a lot to do outdoors.

How about packing up and spending a year renting there? There are plenty of places to rent longer term for much less than the UK equivalent and it would give you the chance to get a real feel for the place and way of life.
Appreciate that, thanks. Yes, renting for 12 months may well be a good option.
 

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