You have just had it with massive snowstorms! You recall your holidays in the south of France, where the weather was just fine.
A tentative Internet search reveals that the climate in that region is always balmy. How you'd love to live there!
Moving to another country should not be a decision lightly made. Starting a new life abroad requires deep thought and careful consideration of all aspects of the human experience.
Where in France would you live? In the countryside or a city, like Marseilles – France's third-largest metropolis?
What will you do for money? Unless you are retired or otherwise independently wealthy, you will certainly have to work for your wages; so finding work abroad should be of prime consideration.
Do you have school-aged children? France's education system needs to be investigated.
What about elderly family members moving with you? Or maybe you have a serious health concern that needs close monitoring. In any case, you will want to know all about the healthcare system in your new home country.
So many questions!
Not the least of which is how to deal with being an expatriate in a country where the currency is different and mass media does not broadcast in the language you grew up speaking.
All of these factors and more can have a detracting effect: How can one leave home and heartland, kith and kin, and simply relocate?
It's all fine and well to be a tourist in a foreign country, but adopting their way of life?
And where in the world will you find a pasty so far from British shores?
Take heart, dear Briton! After reading these benefits of living in France, you may find that relocating is doable after all!
The British Diaspora
According to the the Foreign Office, there are more than 13 million British expats scattered across the world.
In fact, they calculate that almost half a million Britons move overseas every year.
Yes, the British Diaspora is a very real phenomenon.
The question is: why is everyone leaving?
If you polled the British citizens living in different countries, you would find a variety of reasons:
- Retirement: people want to spend their sunset years experiencing different cultures
- cost of living and quality of life run close seconds for retirees finding new pastures
- Work: more lucrative offers abroad, for anyone willing to relocate
- whether recruited by a foreign company or on assignment with a company in the UK
- Starting a new business – some countries offer advantages and incentives for expats to set up shop within their borders
- Some people become serial expats, always looking for new challenges and broader horizons
- they tend to stay in one location for only a few years before moving on
- Conversely, some expats choose one country and set up a permanent home there
- Greener pastures: expats who believe life would be better in another country
That last may well prove true for those who relocate in France!
What France Has to Offer
Setting Up Your Household
As a foreigner hoping to relocate to France, perhaps your first concern would be finding a place to live.
Would you want to rent, or buy a property right off?
The answer to that question may lie in where you choose to start your new life.
Do you dream of a house set in the vast, green expanse of the Loire valley, or would you prefer an apartment in the French city of your choice?
This question may be rendered moot if you already have a job in France. Obviously, you would want to live within reasonable commuting distance from work!
As a British citizen, it is entirely possible for you to shop the French property market, and you may even come away with more house for your money than you might have gotten back home.
All you have to do, once you've found your dream home, is follow the guidelines for buying it!
Working in France
Perhaps the most attractive feature of working in France is its 35 hour work week and plenty of leisure time.
Of course, the allegedly shorter work week is not necessarily so; plenty of expats in France report that their schedule is much more demanding!
If you are an entrepreneur looking for new vistas to to grow your business from, you could hardly go wrong in France.
An Ernst &Young report lists France as one of the cheaper, less complicated countries to start a new enterprise in.
You would still have to meet all of the criteria – valid residency and work permits, appropriate certifications for that business and proper education credentials.
To encourage startups, French banks are required to offer financial assistance to any new business.
Furthermore, the government scheme NACRE offers interest-free small business loans and advice for anyone just starting out, on any subject from taxation to paying social charges.
Learning in France
Generally, the first thought that comes to mind when you think of education is adorable cherubs toddling off to primary school.
If you do have concerns over your young ones keeping up in school after your move to France, rest assured that immersion is the very best way for them to pick up language skills quickly.
You might also engage a French tutor through Superprof to get your tykes to speak French faster.
You may consider enrolling your school-aged children in an international school. France has no fewer than 105 such facilities, scattered throughout the country.
In your quest for the perfect prefecture to settle in, you may want to investigate such institutions.
That takes care of the little ones; what about your educational needs?
To work in France, you must be properly educated and certified by the French government to operate in that field.
That may necessitate enrolment and a period of study, be you an architect or freelance photographer.
France has plenty of top-rated universities, where you can study just about any subject you have your mind set on!
Find out about useful French phrases which will come in handy after you relocate.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, France is most open to innovation.
This is due, in a large part, to its superbly maintained motorways, fast trains, and airports with fewer restrictions than any other European country.
Imagine how great it would be, travelling throughout southern France on a high speed train!
Furthermore, its long coastal area is not only suitable to lounging on beaches, but provides plenty of harbours for the international shipping and receiving of cargo.
If you are not in any business that ships anything, you might be interested to know that all of France's telephone lines are already capable of broadband Internet access.
This country is considered light-years ahead of others, as far as technology is concerned.
If your working abroad depends on instant communication, you would be well-served with France's advanced systems.
Concerns about infrastructure – from transportation to telecommunication, is one criterion for moving abroad that you can cross off your checklist should France become your new country!
Healthcare in France
The French healthcare system is generally recognised to be one of the best in the world.
Compared to the UK, France has more doctors, more than twice the number of hospital beds and nearly half again as many nurses.
French people maintain their system works very well, even though it is faltering of late, due, to an aging population and rising health care costs.
When planning your relocation and life in France, you must budget for social fees which, in part, help offset these growing expenses.
Furthermore, your wages will see a deduction for health care tax. If you are self-employed, you may be required to pay slightly higher social charges to offset any healthcare costs you and your family may incur.
If you are considering retiring abroad, you may pay particular attention to geriatric health insurance options.
No matter what, you must invest in expat health insurance to enjoy medical benefits in France.
Immersion Into Language and Culture
Immigration is both a linguistic and logistical challenge.
You will have so many things to think about, not the least of which would be banking and finding a job.
You may consult Numbeo for the cost of living in the area you hope to settle in.
As exciting as it can be to start life anew in other countries, there is still the element of integration.
No matter how eagerly you anticipate your move, you will suffer a measure of culture shock.
The best way to transition is to find old hands to advise you on settling in a new country by joining an expat forum, while still in the UK.
There, you can find people in your area who know about everything from public transport to transferring citizenship, if that is your goal.
Once you move, if you can arrange a meetup with other English people where you live, form friendships and maybe even plan to travel together, the sense of disconnect will not overshadow the start of your new life.
Take a leap of faith! Plan well and arrive soon. Whether for work, travel or living abroad in France is your prime motivation – with job recruitment being a means to an end, you will surely find that choosing expatriation offers substantial rewards.
International relocation might just be the life for you! If so, you may need to brush up on your French language skills; searching for a French course London produces the most results on Superprof but there is a lot more choice if you're willing to learn French online.