Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,
The sweetest pleasures of life, there for the taking. Picnics in the Luxembourg Gardens, long walks along the Seine, afternoons lost among the cobblestones of the Latin Quarter...
This city is a never-ending feast of gallery openings and special performances, museum exhibitions and seasonal celebrations, many available for little cost. You can enjoy three-course meals for US$20 or less, and you can spend hours in a café, enjoying the passing show, for the price of but a single café au lait. You can join conversation groups, discussion groups, book clubs, and cooking classes often for very little cost, even free.
Of course, walks among the centuries-old rues of the Latin Quarter and gallery openings don't substitute for dinner on the table or wi-fi access.
That's OK, because, in France, even in Paris, the more practical necessities of life also can be a bargain... if you know your way around and where to go for the best deals.
Years ago, when we were preparing for our move from Paris to Panama City, my husband Lief presented me with a budget showing that it would cost slightly more for our family to be in Panama City, Panama, than it had been costing us to live in Paris, France.
I suggested he double-check his math…
My husband, the accountant, assured me his figures were correct, and, indeed, Lief's projections have played out. Our day-to-day cost of living in Panama City is a little higher than it was in Paris.
How can this be?
Paris is the most beautiful, most romantic city in the world. It's also a place where your cost of living can be hugely variable and highly controllable.
That is to say, you don't necessarily need a royal's budget to be able to enjoy life in the greatest city on earth.
In Paris, you can live happily car-free, walking nearly anywhere you'd want to go. The butcher, the baker, the grocer, the wine shop, a half-dozen busy cafés, and as many lovely parks and gardens are all less than 15 minutes' walk from almost any point in central Paris. And, when you want to venture beyond your quartier, the Métro will transport you from restaurant to nightclub, from museum to café for around US$2.
France boasts perhaps the world's best infrastructure, and it's a bargain. Cable TV, Internet, and telephone, as well as the Métro, the bus, and the RER train system... all are likely less costly than comparable services where you're living now. Our phone plan living in Paris cost less than 40 euros per month and allowed unlimited free calls anytime to anywhere in the United States and anywhere throughout Europe. That's hard to beat.
My point is not that you should plan to move to Paris to reduce your cost of living. It is possible, in fact, to do just that, but that's not the typical agenda where Paris or France is concerned.
My point is that you shouldn't deny or delay your dreams of la vie française because you're worried you can't afford them. We lived in Paris for four years, with two children, and I'm here to tell you that we were able to control our costs within a very reasonable budget.
Return To The City Of Light
As I write, Lief and I are preparing for our return to Paris. After nine years living in Panama City, it’s time for us to launch the next stage of our ongoing live-and-invest-overseas adventures.
These past years in Panama, we’ve been hunkered down raising our son and building a business. Now that both are grown up enough to take their first independent steps, Lief and I are allowing our imaginations to wander.
If we could go anywhere, where would we go, we’ve asked ourselves…
Paris will always be the first answer to that question for me. For me, Paris… indeed, all France… is as good as life gets. And right now, this country, including its City of Light, is on sale for us dollar-holders. Our U.S. dollars go further in France today than they have in many years.
For Lief and me, it’s an irresistible window of opportunity.
Oh, What A Lifestyle
Hands down, no contest, France is the best place in the world to seek out what qualifies no question as a rich and full life. Five-star restaurants with wine lists to match... malls and boutiques offering internationally recognized brand-name indulgences... live theater... live music… movie cinemas showing first-run and foreign flicks (in English)... an active artist community... specialty food shops... wine stores offering top vintages from across France and around the world... English-language bookstores... spa and salon services... cafés full of interesting people on every corner...
All in a setting of architectural delights... historic landmarks... manicured gardens... well-tended parks...
And running through the center of everything is the River Seine with its many romantic bridges...
Everywhere you turn you find something new to explore and discover... somewhere lovely to wander and linger...
The Charms Of French Country Life
And, of course, Paris is only the beginning of France. The charms and appeals of French Country Life are likewise unrivalled.
After spending a year on the road, trying a series of places on for size, Euro-Correspondent Lucy Culpepper and her family chose to settle in the "other" south of France. Not Provence (which, yes, can be pricey), but southwest of there, in Aquitaine.
Not everyone is cut out for life in the Tropics or the developing world. If you, like Lucy, are more interested in Old World living, you, like she, could find this region of France offers just what you're looking for.
As Lucy explains, this other south of France is "colorful, eclectic, always changing, never following a formula, very open to retirees, and very affordable."
Lucy also spends a lot of time with her extended family at the other end of the Pyrénées, in the Languedoc region. This part of this country has a long history and a lot of heart. Today it’s building a reputation as well for its wine, producing world-ranking reds…
And, again, this part of this country is cheap. Lucy explains that a retired couple could live comfortably in the Languedoc region on a monthly budget of US$2,000, including rent.
The World's Best Health Care—
France is a country of superlatives.
Its health care, for example, is the best in the world. For years, the World Health Organization (WHO) published an index rating and ranking the quality of the health care in all the countries of the world, and, year after year, France came out the winner.
If you're a legal resident, health care in this country is also highly subsidized by the government, sometimes even free.
Which raises a critical question: Should you become a full-time legal resident of France?
It can be easier to do than you might imagine. The truth is, becoming a resident of this country isn't necessarily the challenge. The challenge is managing the tax liabilities that can ensue. However, you can plan for and mitigate your tax burden as a full-time foreign resident in France, if you get the right help from the start.
This is one of the many important questions we will address in person and in full during our first-ever Live and Invest in France Conference.
If for you (as for us), nothing compares or competes with life in France, then this special event is your chance to make a realistic plan for realizing your dream of la vie française.
Paris is at the heart of Lief and my long-term plan, and, as I mentioned, as I write, we are preparing to reposition ourselves back to the City of Light.
This time, though, we’re not moving to a new country but returning to a city we love with the help of long-established infrastructure. Indeed, some of our best friends and most trusted advisors in the world live in Paris… and we can’t wait to once again be part of their community.
I've been spending time in France for more than 30 years, and, in that time, I've known dozens of expats, in Paris and elsewhere in the country, residing in the country full-time or only now and then, some operating businesses, some raising children, some soaking up la vie française in retirement...
Each case is different, and, as a result, the plan, the process, and, yes, the paperwork required can vary greatly.
To launch a new life in any foreign country, you need help. But, in France, not getting the right help and the right advice in advance of your move can have costly consequences.
Years ago, a friend, an American who'd been living, investing, and doing business all around the world for decades, relocated his family from the States to France. Because he had so much general international experience, he didn't think to seek out professional tax advice for his move to France.
Five years later, he found himself on the wrong side of a conversation with the French tax authorities. In the end, he had to pay fines that amounted to several thousand dollars.
I don't share this story to scare you, but to forearm you.
How can you best prepare for addressing things like taxes, residency, and health care in this country that invented the word bureaucracie?
You need guidance from folks with firsthand experience addressing all those issues… the kind of guidance we and our France experts and expat friends will share when we meet in Paris for our first-ever Live and Invest in France Conference Oct. 23–25, 2017.
I'm not writing today to sell you on the idea of living or investing in France. A new life in France isn't an idea that needs to be sold. It's an idea whose appeal speaks for itself.
I'm writing today to invite you to avail of a one-of-a-kind chance to access all the information, experience, and support you need to navigate both the benefits and the downsides, the ups and the downs, the ins and the outs of spending time and money in this beautiful country that for so many epitomizes the very notion of the good life.
Of course, nowhere in the world is perfect. Our objective for our Live and Invest in France Conference, therefore, is not simply to arm you with everything you need to know to indulge in the glories of life in France but as well and more important to equip you with the resources and the know-how necessary to manage and mitigate the frustrations.
Getting Down To Brass Tacks—
"There is a great diversity of property for sale in the region of France where we've chosen to settle," reports Euro-Correspondent Lucy Culpepper. "I've just discovered a lovely stone barn that has been converted to a three-bedroom house on offer for 150,000 euros... a typical local farmhouse with outbuildings available for 150,000 euros... and a 60,000-euro renovation project..."
If you are prepared to go small, then you could own right now in some parts of southern France on a budget of as little as 30,000 to 40,000 euros (that is, about US$50,000).
And you could maybe even own for a little less. We've just found a one-bedroom duplex/apartment in a lovely French country town on the market for 28,000 euros…
Or how about a three-floor, one-room-wide ancient stone townhouse in need of renovation. The price is US$42,700 at today's exchange rate, including the agency fees!
Also on offer as of this writing are...
We’ll discuss many of these kinds of opportunities to own the French country house of your dreams during this year’s Live and Invest in France Conference. Whether you're looking for something fully fitted out and ready to move into or are in the market for a labor of love, a renovation bargain set amidst the sunflowers and the lavender... we’ll showcase your best current choices.
We'll tempt you with appealing Paris pied-à-terre options, as well… introducing you to the chicest Parisian addresses... the most up-and-coming arrondissements... and the most affordable places to own in this country right now...
In France, Financing Is An Option
Plus, our experts will walk you through the property purchase process... and even help you consider all your options for arranging financing in France.
Yes, this is possible.
At our Live and Invest in France Conference, we’ll introduce you to our favorite France mortgage broker, who can help you shop your best financing options.
Our top financing contact in the country reports that French banks, which had pulled back a couple of years ago and become more restrictive in their lending policies, especially toward foreign buyers, are loosening up. If you qualify, you can borrow up to 90% LTV in the current market.
Lief and I have borrowed locally to buy in Paris ourselves, and, when we meet in Paris in October, we’ll share details of our own experience.
Everything You Need To Know About Renting In France
Renting can be a challenge in France (if you want to rent legally and not off the books... our experts will discuss the pros and cons of each approach), because a French owner will require lots of proof and guarantees that you are able to pay. Remember, when in France, it's all about the paper, the paper, the paper. They'll drown you in documentation and paperwork if given half a chance.
But we won't let that happen to you. Again, the experts and friends we will introduce you to at our Live and Invest in France Conference in Paris in October will walk you through the process of renting, both in Paris and elsewhere throughout France.
They will arm you not only with the step-by-step details of how to rent an apartment or a house in this country... but they will also suggest creative solutions and workarounds. All completely above board, of course! We don't want to get anyone into any trouble. But one thing you'll learn about doing business in France is that you have the protocols and the procedures... and then you have strategies for how to get things done. Everyone understands this, especially the French themselves. Our experts and expat friends will discuss all your creative options.
How much to rent? In rural France, in the region of the country Euro-Correspondent Lucy Culpepper so loves, you could rent a small apartment for as little as 250 euros per month.
In Paris, again, if you're willing to go small and you don't need to be at a super-chic, center-of-the-city address, you could rent for as little as 700 euros per month... maybe even a little less.
One Of The World's Most Proven
France is the most-touristed place on earth. This country attracted almost 83 million foreign visitors in 2016, maintaining its ranking as the world's top tourist destination, and France’s tourism sector continues strong through the first half of 2017.
As a result, Paris is perhaps the world's most proven rental market. If you're considering a real estate purchase in the French capital, think about a place you could use yourself from time to time and long-term... and then rent out when you're elsewhere.
When we moved from Paris to Panama City nine years ago, we didn't sell our Paris digs. We knew they figured in our long-term retirement plan and that eventually we’d be returning. That time has come, and Lief and I are counting down the days until we return to our little pad in Paris’ 7th arrondissement.
We kept our apartment when we moved to Panama both so we could eventually reposition to the City of Light and also so we could return as often as possible in the meantime. Over the past nine years we’ve enjoyed many extended stays in our favorite city on earth in our own apartment.
Those were the overriding reasons not to sell our Paris pied-à-terre nine years ago. The other, more pragmatic reason was provided by the Paris rental manager we met with when we were preparing for our move to Panama.
When Linda told us how much we'd be able to rent our Paris place out for and what occupancy rate we could expect, Lief and I were sold on the idea for sure!
Lief and I have been long-distance landlords in many countries around the world. We've had delightful and profitable experiences... and we've had disastrous and costly ones. The difference, we've learned, is the rental manager. A good one is both the key to success and often a very difficult thing to find.
And, in fact, you need not only a rental manager, but a property manager, too, if you're not residing locally yourself. That is, you need someone to find renters for your rental, but you also need someone to look after the place while you're away. Someone to manage inventory and cleaning (if you're renting your place out furnished). Someone to pay local bills. Someone to deal with repairs and maintenance. Someone you trust to look after your property as if it were his (or her) own.
Again, not always an easy thing to find.
In Paris, I'm delighted to report, the lady we found just before moving to Panama has acted as both property and rental manager for us and has done a bang-up job on both fronts. Linda has kept our place rented and has made sure, these past nine years, that our Paris home has been well taken care of in the process.
Right now Linda is having the place painted in advance of our return. That’s what an excellent property manager can mean for you… someone who both safeguards and enhances the value of your investment.
Bottom line, an apartment in Paris can be one of the smartest things you could do with your money right now. It's a hard asset that can double as a yield-producing one, as well, in a market that will always see renters. A Paris pied-à-terre can be a solid part of your long-term portfolio, a wise buy with both personal and financial upsides.
We and our France team will share all the details for where, how, and for what return you should consider buying a rental investment property during our Live and Invest in France Conference in Paris, Oct. 23–25, 2017.
The Best Living On Earth...
France is the good life defined. The food, the wine, the art, the shopping, the history...
This country boasts the most beautiful and romantic city on earth plus the best of country living and dramatic Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. On top of all this, France is home to the world's best health care, the world's best infrastructure, top international schools, and, in some regions, zero crime and a wonderfully relaxed way of life...
If you've ever day-dreamed about la vie française, here's your chance to make that dream come true.
France is a land of superlatives... including, perhaps, most bureaucratic nation on earth. Meaning that, no matter what form your French dreams take, you'd do well to enlist some help making them come true.
I've been spending time in France for more than 30 years. In that time, I've also spent time in more than 70 other countries. For me, nowhere else compares. France gets under your skin. It captures your imagination in a way that is impossible to ignore.
Eventually, I was able to realize my own French dreams and to make a home in Paris. My family and I spent four years savoring the charms of this city. During that time, we made many contacts and friends, including French attorneys and notaries, real estate agents and property managers, bankers and finance brokers, residency experts and tax advisors, doctors and logistics experts, architects and antique dealers, plumbers and cabinet-makers...
Plus, of course, we got to know other expats, not only fellow American expats, but also people from all over the world who have sought out new lives in this appealing country.
If you dream of joining them, again, you'd do well to engage some help.
And that's what I'm writing today to offer: Help.
Meet Me In Paris…
During this year’s Live and Invest in France Conference, taking place Oct. 23–25, 2017 in Paris, Lief and I will open our Rolodex and introduce you to our top resources in this country. This is your chance to have every one of your France questions answered by people who know from firsthand experience what they're talking about...
In short, when we meet in Paris in October we will provide everything you need to know about residency and taxes... bank accounts and mortgage financing... rental management and health insurance… shipping, cell phones, decorating an apartment, furnishing a house, enrolling your children in school, learning French, and becoming part of your new community…
We’ll introduce you to your many and varied opportunities and options for savoring la vie française. If you're dreaming of a new life, either full- or maybe part-time, in France, you need to know about the cost of living, health care, renting, buying, paying your utility bills, opening a bank account...
Those things are all important. However, we want to make sure that, while addressing them, you don't lose sight of the big picture.
For, when it comes to France, the big picture is pretty appealing. The big picture is a chance to make all your French daydreams come true... to make a new life in France, full-time, part-time, or maybe just now and then...
I've enjoyed life in this country, and I'm here to tell you: It's everything you imagine it to be and so much more. You might even say it's the best this world has to offer…
Who else do you need to know?
This One-Of-A-Kind France Event Will Feature Everything You Need To Know
Our Live and Invest in France Conference will include everything you need to know about medical care and health insurance in France... current real estate markets, both for purchase and rentals... obtaining a visa and qualifying for residency... opening a bank account... shipping your household goods to the country... everything right down to how to have the electricity turned on in your new home, how to arrange for cable and a cell phone, and how to go about furnishing your new France digs...
Plus, during this special France event, we will walk you through a detailed and fully itemized budget for living in France, both as a property owner and as a renter. In fact, we’ll present you with more than one budget, for the cost of living in Paris, for example, would be quite different from that in the other South of France that we’ll introduce to you.
The Discount Period Is Ending Soon, And This Event Is
Bottom line, here's our promise to you: Join us in Paris in October, and we’ll introduce you to France, from Paris to the coast, from country villages to mountain hideaways. The real France. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the workarounds. This is the real deal, based on real firsthand experience.
No place is perfect. This may be the land of "la vie en rose," but, even here, we understand that a rose-colored view does you no favors.
An important part of our agenda during our Live and Invest in France Conference will be to show you these downsides... so you can decide whether you could live with them, too.
Our first-ever Live and Invest in France Conference is a one-of-a-kind program conceived to help you to experience France, not as a tourist, but with the help of long-time residents... while, at the same time, making every connection and contact you'll need to make your own France dreams come true.
And you can reserve your seat in the room now as a VIP and taking advantage of the special Early Bird Discount, saving you as much as US$500 off the regular price.
I very much look forward to meeting you in Paris, the most glorious city in the world.
P.S. If you dream of la vie française, you owe it to yourself to take this exciting step toward making that dream come true.
Our first-ever Live and Invest in France Conference will deliver all the support you need to launch a new life enjoying what qualifies in many ways as the world’s best quality of life.
P.P.S. Remember, you’ll need to sign up now to get the Early Bird Discount and, importantly, secure your complimentary VIP status! Follow the link to secure your seat now!
Reach us with questions and comments at CustomerService@liveandinvestoverseas.com