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Contemplating a move to France. Advice please.....

(20 Posts)
mumyoga Sat 09-May-15 08:03:39

We are months away from an empty nest!!! We need an adventure. Dh can work from anywhere. I am considering the Perpignan area as Dh needs to fly out of Barcelona (or other major airport). We are in our late 50's, and don't speak French, but are willing and keen to learn. Is this madness?

Ashbeeee Sat 09-May-15 08:30:24

Hope it's not madness because I want to do the same..... Let me know how it goes !

Booboostoo Sat 09-May-15 10:13:16

You need to consider various implications.

You need to learn French as the french are very reluctant to speak English and you will struggle to integrate without the language.

Perpignan is beautiful but very touristy. Will you be happy with the influx of tourists in season and equally with the quiet time off season?

French taxes are quite complicated, look into how this will affect your DH's business and issues like inheritance before so much as thinking about France.

mumyoga Sat 09-May-15 15:23:08

I think DH will still run his business from the UK, but it would make his european travel a bit easier. I would be happy to learn French. I am wondering how tolerant they would be of my mistakes. I am quite a chatty person so it might be a problem. I was thinking of the outskirts of Perpignan or anywhere in the area. We are quite open at the moment. Any tips by those who have done it would be appreciated. Can anyone post it on theirs to get a wider audience, if I am understanding how this network works correctly.

MmeLindor Sat 09-May-15 20:35:06

You are on the Blogger's Network section of the site, Mumyoga, which is why you aren't getting much of a response. If you search for the 'chat' or 'living overseas' topics, you'd get more answers.

I actually read this earlier today, and you inspired me to write a blog post I've been meaning to write for ages - about moving overseas. You can read it here, but it boils down to researching VERY carefully before you go.

MmeLindor Sat 09-May-15 20:36:49

re your DH running his business from UK - you definitely need to speak to an account re taxes, and how long he's allowed to be resident in each country. I've a friend who earns in Switzerland, and has a home in UK and he's only allowed a certain amount of days in UK. Makes it tricky when planning holidays!

TheOnlyOliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 10-May-15 09:49:50

We've moved this to our overseas living topic
Bonne chance what ever you decide

pastaofplenty Sun 10-May-15 10:58:42


I think it's great to be thinking of an adventure and can recommend France as a wonderful place to live however I think you need to think seriously about how you go about it.

First things first - please DON'T sell up in the UK - consider renting for a while to get a taste for the country and where you want to live. There are many rental opportunities available (from ex-pats with properties to let to French estate agents and private landlords - look on Leboncoin under "location" to get an idea of prices in your area.

Secondly I would take a serious look at health insurance and how you would fund any future problems or current health issues. The French system (in our opinion) is great and efficient however you need to be in the system to benefit fully.

Thirdly, check out the many French property/ex-pat websites for advice on issues such as taxation, benefits, buying/renting etc...

Finally, if you are going to look at properties and areas go out of season (when the tourist season is over and many restaurants/bars/facilities are closed) Some parts of France are like "God's waiting room" from September to May which may suit some but can be depressing for others. Flights are often seasonal too so this is a consideration. The great thing about France is that there is so much variety so you could consider living somewhere not necessarily popular (not Perpignan for example) but you can benefit from visiting places and holidaying in different spots (especially out of season if you are not restricted by school times etc...)

Either way good luck

magimedi Sun 10-May-15 11:40:28

I would also be waiting until after the referendum on whether we stay in the EU or not.

If we don't it is going to have huge implications for ex pats in Europe.

I think I am right in saying you need to be in France for 5 years & have a very good level of French to apply for French citizenship.

castlesintheair Sun 10-May-15 13:19:42

If you are living in France but a UK resident and paying tax there you need to spend a lot of time in UK (6 months approx but it is always changing). I would advise you look into it carefully.

Lots of good advice already and I strongly agree with renting here first and not selling up in UK. Also come in February, especially if you are moving to the countryside: if you like it there in winter, you'll love it in summer!

're the language - learn as much as you can now and if possible from a French person native to the area you are moving to. People in rural France won't speak English to you. In my experience it is easier for non-French speaking expats to live in a big town/city at least to begin with.

Drinkstoomuchcoffee Sun 10-May-15 13:35:10

Don't forget to factor in the cost of health care. The UK system is residence based so EU nationals living in UK receive the same treatment from the NHS as British nationals do, irrespective of whether they have paid into the UK system. The French system is contribution based, so British nationals in France are not entitled to anything unless they have paid into the French system. Once you no longer reside in UK you will not be entitled to an EHIC (emergency health care in Europe). Nor will you be able to return temporarily to the UK to access the NHS - even if you have a full National Insurance contribution record to date. You will become eligible for UK funded treatment in France once you reach retirement age. There is something profoundly wrong about the way this works.

Laptopwieldingharpy Mon 11-May-15 07:35:36

is your heart set on Perpignan for any reason? Why not Barcelona?

MerdeAlor Mon 11-May-15 07:39:22

Would you consider a long term house sit somewhere in France?

There are many beautiful properties that need house sitters. It is cost free (no bills, only food). Many house sits are for several months, it would give you a perfect, relatively risk free french trial.

propelusagain Mon 11-May-15 07:40:05

France is fine= food is crap though.

Steadycampaign Mon 11-May-15 07:40:49

Yes, agree with the person who said start learning the language now.

The bottom line is that friendships depend on language and it can take a long time to get to the point where you can understand colloquial chat. And that might be very relevant to you if your dh is working away for half of the year.

juneau Mon 11-May-15 08:01:10

My DM and DSF have had a house in France since 1986 and they considered moving there full-time in retirement. However, after spending more and more time there over the years they have opted instead to live in England and just spend as much time in France each year as they like, with their French house purely as a holiday home. Why? There are two main reasons:

1) French inheritance law (second marriage on both sides and they want their two estates to be distributed according to English rather than French law);
2) Their family is here and so are all the friends they've had their whole lives and you simply cannot replace people like that, however nice new friends you make are. This led to my DM, in particular, finding life in France very lonely after the novelty of being there wore off.

If you're seriously considering this huge life change I would urge you, having lived OS myself, including in France, to apply yourself immediately not just to learning holiday French (Hello! Goodbye! Where's the bank? Two ice-creams please), but really learning the language. If you want to buy a house, do it up, connect the gas, get a phone line, understand your French bank statement, and make any friends, you will need to speak decent, conversational French. Just think about all the interactions you have every week in this country with service providers, friends and neighbours - you will need to be able to do all those things in French. Don't rely on them speaking English! For buying property you'll need a bilingual lawyer and that shouldn't be too hard to find, but all the other stuff you will need to be able to deal with on your own in French. In your 50s it will take some considerable effort on your part to learn a new language, so I would sign yourself up for an intensive course and see how you get on. The Institut Francais in London has excellent intensive French courses. I took one myself and made really fast progress

TBH, if I was you, I'd arrange to spend a few months (three-six, say), in a rented house in the area you're interested in and give it a try before you commit yourselves to selling your home here and moving lock, stock and barrel.

MmeLindor Mon 11-May-15 09:17:59

I echo PastaofPlenty's advice. Go to the area you are interested in off-season. We lived in Geneva, close to the ski resorts - they were fabulous in winter, but dead as a dodo in summer. The only one that was a bit more lively was Chamonix, due to tourists visiting Mont Blanc.

Booboostoo Mon 11-May-15 12:27:54

If your DH is not declared an auto entrepreneur (self employed) in France and neither of you has a salary from a company that pays French taxes you won't have rights to public health care or other social welfare provisions. In fact you will need to have fully covered private health care for the first five years you live in France before being eligible for anything.

France does not have the six month residency criterion, it's more whether our centre of activities is considered to be in France. A case has to be made for each instant, and things like working in France, having children in French schools etc go towards this.

tb Thu 21-May-15 18:22:12

If you've retained British nationality, you can now leave your estate in accordance with UK testamentary law but inheritance tax, droits de succession, will be charged according to French legislation. These are paid according to the legatee's relation to the deceased. Both the % and the tax-free amount vary considerably

All that needs to be done is to state in a will that you are taking account of the EU law in your will. The trick is to find a notaire that knows about this to draw up the will.

Regarding your DH's business, it's my understanding that once you are living in France on a permanent basis, he will have to pay cotisations (equivalent of NI) in France as well as tax.

Domicile for the purposes of tax is never a matter of choice, rather a matter of fact depending where you spend 183 days in the tax year. Also you have to bear in mind that the tax year in France runs from 1st Jan to 31st December, and it's the French tax year that the Finances Publics take into account.

We moved to France 8 years ago, and I find tax considerably simpler than in the UK. We are taxed as a family, and are about £8k a year better off as we get 2 1/2 parts a year against our income - 1 for each of us, and 1/2 for our 17-year old DD.

specialsubject Thu 21-May-15 21:33:11

also think of a backup in case it doesn't work. All expats need a plan B for a return, when you will find yourself in the UK with no access to benefits and will need a good stash of money to rent a property.

I would strongly advise against selling up. Rent it out (with all the cautions, insurances and research that requires), go have some fun on a VERY long holiday but keep your house. Or a house at least.

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