Moving To France

apartment buildings in france

So, You Want To Move To France?

It’s where Mother Nature placed the scenic River Seine and artists flocked to soak it in. It was the birthplace of Édith Piaf and creative haven for Josephine Baker. It’s Sabrina’s hometown and one of Hemingway’s favorite haunts. It’s France — a country wrapped in culture, history and that indescribable joie de vivre. No wonder you’re considering moving!

A Move To France: The Benefits

Why move to France? For starters, the World Health Organization routinely awards France top honors, bestowing it the title of “Best Healthcare System in the World.” In fact, life expectancy in France exceeds that in the United States.

In addition to top-notch medical resources, the French lifestyle values leisure, with the average person receiving five weeks of vacation per year — compared to the standard two in North America.

Other Reasons To Move To France Include:

  • Temperate but diverse climate options;
  • Proximity to some of the world’s artistic and historical treasures;
  • A safety index that surpasses the United States;
  • Affordable state-of-the-art transportation around France and other parts of the EU.

Moving To France: The Logistics

Most transplants find the transition to France easy because many Frenchmen speak English (with some exceptions, of course). Plus, Britons and Americans make up a sizable expat community.

As is the case with most EU countries, gaining permanent residency status in France is a matter of proving that you’ll be able to pay the bills and not burden society — financially or criminally.

How long can you stay in France before making things official? Visitors can be in the country for up to three months; if you plan to stay longer, secure a long-stay visa before departing. Note: it must be renewed, annually, until you gain either residency or citizenship.

Can Fido and Fluffy, the dog and cat, come? What about Mr. Slither, your son’s snake? Yes, France is a very pet-friendly country, and families can bring in up to three non-humans along. That said, dogs and cats must be micro-chipped and up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.

Thinking about shipping your car to France? You may want to reconsider. Depending on the make, model and age, importing a vehicle can cost upwards of US $20,000. Not only that, but it can take over a year, due to differing emission and operational standards.

Beyond Paris: Moving To France From the US

Just like North America, France is a land of many climates.

The western coast is similar to that of the Pacific Northwest — wet and temperate; it rains more in the Brittany region than other parts of the country. Central France is defined by untrammeled, rolling countryside and majestic mountain ranges — which are sunny in the summer and snowy in the winter. And then there’s the Cote d’Azur — the French Riviera — the nation’s resort gem. Boasting Mediterranean temperatures and crystalline seas, the South of France is where you go for beach fun, beautiful people and breathtaking yachts.

Scores of people dream of moving to Paris — and those people should keep their sights set on the City of Lights; in fact, La Marais is increasingly popular with American expats. But for people looking to escape the country’s capital, Pau, Carcassone, and Languedoc are three regions worth a look. Pau is known for its gardens and affordable living. An inspiration for Walt Disney, the Old World enclave of Carcassonne is a picturesque place for history lovers and people who appreciate small town life. Languedoc, in the coastal region of southeastern France, is an oenophile’s Shangri-La.

Combien Ca Coûte?: The Cost Of Moving To France

It would be disingenuous for us to say that France is inexpensive. After all, Paris rivals London, New York, and Tokyo in terms of cost. Plus, socialist sensibilities means you’ll probably be paying slightly higher taxes in France than you would in the United States.

 But that doesn’t mean France is cost prohibitive for the average person or family. There are trade-offs. For example, cable TV, internet, and public transportation are very affordable in France. Moreover, since taxes subsidize public programs, certain living expenses are considerably less in France than stateside, like healthcare.

Another upshot for North American transplants is that individuals who’ve lived outside of the European Union for over twelve months don’t have to pay import taxes on personal items like clothes, jewelry , and various household items. However, once you’ve lived in France for more than a year, the tax man will come knocking, and he’ll expect remittance on worldwide earnings.

Another thing to plan for is health care. Yes, a permanent French resident or citizen you’ll be able to avail yourself of the country’s stellar healthcare system. But your status may not change for a couple of years after you arrive. During that time, you’ll be responsible for carrying a private medical plan. So, don’t forget to budget.What about French real estate? Investing in a Parisian place is a sure thing. And believe it or not, there are still some affordable districts — or arrondissements. Is a city spot still out of your financial reach? Well then consider the suburbs or rural area. An idyllic country farmhouse can still be had for about US $150,000 in certain regions.

Moving The Kids To France

Are you moving to France from America with children? The thought may be daunting, but the reality is doable. Young children adapt well to new environments when they’re properly prepared. So, start talking to your child about the move months ahead of time; watch documentaries and French television programming with them. If you familiarize your little one with the things they’ll encounter on the other side of the ocean, the transition will go a lot smoother.

One thing parents should note is that French schools are a bit stricter than the average American school. Teachers are allowed to wield more discipline, and students are expected to treat their teachers with a reverence some people may consider old-fashioned.

Over 70 million tourists visit France annually. The only question that now remains: will you be one of the lucky 65 million people to call it home?

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