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France is a popular ex-pat destination and there are many reasons why this is the case. The majority of ex-pats that move to this country do so because they want to improve their quality of life. From the delightful weather to good food, France has many attractive qualities. Most ex-pats also report having a healthier lifestyle in France, thanks to the food, environment and healthcare. If you are planning on moving to France, keep on reading for ten of the best tips for a smooth and successful relocation…
Learn the language
The locals really appreciate it when ex-pats learn French. We have a tendency to assume that everyone speaks English and thus we ignore the importance of learning a new language when we relocate. Nevertheless, this is especially crucial in France, whereby foreign languages are not commonly spoken. French people take pride in their language and thus if you at least demonstrate a willingness to try the language it will make a huge difference.
Assess education options before you move
If you are moving abroad as a family it is imperative to determine whether you want your child to go to an international school or a French school. There are approximately 30 international schools in France. However, if you go for this option you will need to budget for it effectively, with fees costing roughly around 10,000 euros. On the other hand, if you have young children you may wish to send them to a French state school. It will take them time to acclimatise. Nevertheless, not only is this option free, but the level of education is generally very high and the discipline is excellent.
Research work and residence permits
If you are an EU national you can work in France without any formalities. However, there is a stringent procedure in place for those who are non-EU nationals. You will need to be issued a long-term visa prior to your move to France. If you don’t have this you are going to find it difficult to obtain your residence permit once you are in France. After this, your prospective employer will then have to contact the authorities to request a work permit for you.
Choose your new destination with care
France is a diverse country. From Provence, which is a region filled with ex-pats, to isolated areas, such as those in Mayenne; you have many different areas to choose from. The thought of living in a secluded location captivates a lot of ex-pats. This is something you need to give a lot of thought to. It could end up being lonely and convenience will be a big issue.
You will need to pick up the language quickly and you will likely have to go on a long drive every time you need to purchase necessities. Is this a way of life you can envision enjoying? If so, great! If not, you should consider looking at areas where there is a considerable number of ex-pats and convenient living is on offer. Examples include the likes of Toulouse and Nice.
Make copies of all of your important documents
To say they love their paperwork and red tape in France is an understatement. Therefore, make sure you have both originals and copies of all vital documents. This includes the likes of your driving licence, marriage certificate, birth certificate, passport and so on and so forth. You will require these when you want to open a bank account or if you want to set up your own company, amongst many other things.
Learn about French etiquette
French people hold their traditions and culture very dear. You should learn about French etiquette prior to your move to make sure you do not offend anyone. One of the most important things you will need to learn about is greeting people correctly. You must greet everyone individually and no matter if you see the same person every single day you still need to give him or her an individual and friendly greeting. When greeting someone you will either be expected to shake their hand or kiss them on the cheek. Generally, women kiss everyone on the cheek to say hello, whilst men kiss women on the cheek yet they shake other men’s hands.
Rent before you buy
It is always a good idea to rent a property before you buy one in France. More than anything, this will give you a good idea as to whether France is right for you. Rental contracts are only for a set period of time and thus they are easier to get out of. However, once you buy a property you are making a huge commitment. You may not decide you want to leave France, but you may wish to be based elsewhere, and thus it’s always good to rent first. Renting first is also an effective way of reaching the 183 days that you require to be nominated as a fiscal resident and this will give you financial benefits.
One of the biggest mistakes ex-pats make is underestimating their budget. If you are moving to France and you do not have a job waiting for you it is advisable to make sure you have enough money to last you a minimum of 18 months without earning anything. This may sound like a long time. But you certainly don’t want to take any chances and end up having to give up on your dream before it has even got started. It is always better to overestimate than to underestimate.
Get to know your neighbours, join local clubs and societies and look for ex-pat forums online
You will make your move a lot easier if you get to know people as quickly as possible. By joining local societies and clubs you will meet people with the same interests as you. You should also invite your neighbours around to get to know them. They are likely to appreciate the gesture. Moreover, if you look on the Internet you will find forums for ex-pats in the same position as you as well as those that have already taken the plunge and relocated to France. From luggage storage to the best local cafes, you will discover all of the top tips! This is a great way of getting to know people and picking up more tips.
Acquire international health insurance before your move
Last but not least, one of the most important things you need to do is take out a global medical insurance policy before you move. Whilst the public healthcare system in France is impressive, it is advisable to get an ex-pat health insurance plan so that you are covered no matter where you are – whether you’re in France, visiting relatives in your home country or on holiday elsewhere. Moreover, with an insurance plan, you will be able to make the most of France’s impressive health care offerings, as you will have access to the best network of hospitals, doctors and facilities.