Capital City: Paris
Climate: Temperate (Regional)
International Dialing Code: +33
Chief of State: Emmanuel Macron
France is the fairytale land of romance, culinary excellence, delicious wine, and beautiful architecture. Thanks to countless movies with a love story that unravels in Paris or some quaint French town, many of us view France with rose-tinted glasses. For many, this rose-tinted ideal is not far off from the reality of living in the most visited country in the world.
France has something to offer everyone; a metropolitan capital, laid-back, rustic living in the Occitanie countryside, outdoor mountain life in the French Alps, or glamorous, beach-side living on the Côte d’Azur. With a mainly temperate climate, sun-seekers will be content in the south, while those who prefer cooler weather will enjoy milder temperatures in the north.
Famous for its vineyards, France is home to some of the world’s best wines. Enjoy a glass of local wine only a few kilometers from where it was produced. Paired with world-renowned gastronomy, French wine and cuisine alone are almost worth the move.
Often termed the fashion capital of the world, France is home to some of fashion’s greats: Coco Chanel and Christian Dior. This is reflected in the well-dressed, stylish society of today. Not only known for its fashion, France is also renowned for its art galleries, with Paris’ Louvre being one of the most famous museums in the world.
France is steeped in rich history, which can be seen in its beautiful architecture, charming traditions, and heavenly food culture. From the countless churches and cathedrals, to the dozens of museums and hundreds of galleries, to the universities and varied classes of all kinds you could enroll in… this country offers the culture vulture a lifetime’s worth of fodder.
Offering the best quality of life in Europe, France is the perfect place for retirees. Moving here takes an adjustment to a much slower pace of life. The French value quality time with family members or friends, sharing interesting conversations over an espresso or a glass of wine, any time of the day. There are vibrant expat communities in many parts of France, including Pau, Bordeaux, and Saint-Chinian to name a few. These communities are welcoming and make the transition to the other side of the world much less daunting.
The French have a reputation for being unfriendly, but this is simply a stereotype. French people are direct, maybe not putting on an act as we may be used to, but they are genuinely friendly. Any effort made to speak the language will be appreciated, be it just a simple bonjour or merci. Most French people speak basic English, which should be enough for both of you to get by.
France isn’t a budget destination, but it doesn’t need to be as expensive as you may expect. Living in the center of Paris is going to cost you, but in certain arrondissements, renting or buying an apartment is cheaper.
Venture out of the capital into other cities or towns, and the cost of property drops dramatically. Those searching for the idyllic French cottage dream will be happy to find the prices of cottages in the French countryside to be extremely cheap.
Taxes in France are high, which adds to the cost of living here. In return for these high taxes, you are rewarded with (almost) free health care and some of the best infrastructure in the world. Utilities and day-to-day living in France can be a bargain compared to the States. Enjoying high-quality, locally produced food and eating out in restaurants is affordable.
Although efficient and reliable, public transport isn’t the cheapest in Europe, with high train prices. That said, the costs of living in France balance out, and although it’s not a cheap destination, you can live a high-quality life on a budget; you just need to know where to settle. Find out the ins and outs of the cost of living in France here.
France offers the best health care in the world according to the World Health Organization. Even better; it’s mostly free. In France, every resident is required to be covered by health insurance, with most residents benefitting from state health insurance. This also applies to expats, who are granted access to the public health care system after three months of residency in France. Read our article on health care in France for a more detailed account of how the system works.
Traveling to France from the States is straightforward; you can hop on a direct flight from New York to Paris and arrive in less than eight hours. Depending on where you’re coming from and where in France you’re headed, you may need to get some connecting flights.
Moving all your stuff with you may be the most daunting part of making this transition. The good news is that today there are lots of companies ready to transport your belongings either by boat or by plane. We have a detailed video explaining the logistics of moving your belongings from one side of the world to another, here.
France varies so greatly in its regions that it has a lifestyle opportunity for everyone; you just need to know where to find it.
Its larger cities, such as Paris, Lyon, and Marseille, are bustling with life and endless picturesque streets to explore, filled with art, music, good food, and boutique shops. City life usually means living in an apartment, most of these maintaining the old, charming architecture of over a century ago.
In the countryside, in regions such as Occitanie and Carcassonne, life is not so action-packed. You can spend your time casually browsing fruit and vegetable markets, chatting to local farmers about their produce— a good opportunity to practice some French. Spend the rest of the day exploring ruins of old castles and churches or simply soaking in the beautiful weather and tranquility.
Lifestyle opportunities in France don’t stop there; the jaw-droppingly beautiful Côte d’Azur is a popular retirement destination for many expats. Here bright blue waters contrast with the dramatic cliff faces, where beautiful old villages perch. Life on the ‘Blue Coast’ can be glamorous, with Monaco and its luxury private yachts and casinos only a stone’s throw away.
France’s mountain ranges are playgrounds for the adventure seekers out there, with year-round outdoor activities on offer. The French Alps, featuring Europe’s second-highest peak, Mont Blanc, are a popular skiing destination during winter. The Pyrenees are another beautiful mountain range in France, and many expats settle in the nearby town of Pau. Relocating here will mean you can perfect your skiing skills during the winter and enjoy the stunning hiking trails during the summer.
Lief and I are on a plane as you read this... repositioning from Paris to Panama. While I'm always eager to return to our base in the Hub of the Americas... bidding au revoir to Paris this weekend isn't coming easy. This city is delightful in every season... and perhaps never more so than when transitioning from one to another. As summer turns to autumn in the City of Light... and Lief loads our bags into our Uber for the...Read more