Retiring in France on U.S. social security?

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Retiring in France on U.S. social security?


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Old 17th September 2010, 04:14 PM
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Question Retiring in France on U.S. social security?

U.S. Newbie here, female, and seeking information. Thank you all in advance for your kindness!

I've only visited France and, contary to what Americans are told, found the people there friendly, helpful and charming. Perhaps one reason for that is that when I traveled in Europe, including England, Holland, Italy, Switzerland and Greece, many people immediately spoke to me in French. (A language I have a less than tenuous hold upon. I guess I sort of 'look French.' )

Lo and behold, the AARP (American Association for Retired People), just published a list of places for U.S. retirees to consider, including the Languedoc region of France, on a social security income of $1300.00 or less. This is something I'd never considered and I am wondering if it's an absolute pipe dream?

I've been reading the threads here and have checked the French Embassy pages in Washington, D.C., and have yet to come up with a figure that would enable me to obtain a "long stay visa for nonprofessional purposes." Does anyone know exactly how much money they want?

Further, I don't really know what a "long stay visa for nonprofessional purposes" really means. I know it's for a year, but is there a point where I'd have to return to the U.S. to renew?

I know that at age 64, with U.S. social security retirement funds of some $1200 a month, I'm no bargain for the French nation.

Realistically, should I just give this dream up?

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Old 17th September 2010, 05:17 PM
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Hi and welcome to the forum!

I think the AARP is being a tad unrealistic if they're proposing retiring to Languedoc on $1300 a month or less. The figure some French consulates in the US have tossed around for a "non-professional" long stay visa is around $1100 a month, but that was at least several months ago - and they are kind of loathe to give out a precise figure because there are lots of other factors that are considered. I'd take any "minimum income" figure for a visa to be more of a "don't waste your time applying if you don't make at least this."

In any event the "long-stay visa for nonprofessional purposes" is the standard visa for those looking to retire to France. Technically, a visa is only a permit allowing you to enter France (or any other country). On arrival, you then apply for a "titre de séjour" of some sort - kind of a residence card, showing that you are here legally and documenting your status (i.e. that you aren't allowed to work). It's then the "titre de séjour" that you renew each year as long as you remain in France. For retirees, you must prove each year that you still meet the requirements of your residence permission, namely that you aren't working, are still drawing your pension and that you have the requisite health insurance (like that required for getting that visa).

One big consideration if your social security is your only source of income is that of the exchange fluctuation. When you're receiving social security in France, the funds are converted to euro by the Embassy in Paris and direct deposited in your bank here. They are able to get probably the best possible exchange rate, but if the dollar should take a dive (as it seems to do every now and then) or if the euro suddenly gains value, you could find that your "fixed" payment converts to a lot less euros than it used to. It's one of the real hazards of retiring overseas.
Cheers,
Bev

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Old 17th September 2010, 06:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jakbeau View Post
U.S. Newbie here, female, and seeking information. Thank you all in advance for your kindness!

I've only visited France and, contary to what Americans are told, found the people there friendly, helpful and charming. Perhaps one reason for that is that when I traveled in Europe, including England, Holland, Italy, Switzerland and Greece, many people immediately spoke to me in French. (A language I have a less than tenuous hold upon. I guess I sort of 'look French.' )

Lo and behold, the AARP (American Association for Retired People), just published a list of places for U.S. retirees to consider, including the Languedoc region of France, on a social security income of $1300.00 or less. This is something I'd never considered and I am wondering if it's an absolute pipe dream?

I've been reading the threads here and have checked the French Embassy pages in Washington, D.C., and have yet to come up with a figure that would enable me to obtain a "long stay visa for nonprofessional purposes." Does anyone know exactly how much money they want?

Further, I don't really know what a "long stay visa for nonprofessional purposes" really means. I know it's for a year, but is there a point where I'd have to return to the U.S. to renew?

I know that at age 64, with U.S. social security retirement funds of some $1200 a month, I'm no bargain for the French nation.

Realistically, should I just give this dream up?
Don't give up just yet - do some research on-line into houses/rentals that you would like to live in. Contact the owners or real estate agents and figure out the annual costs of running that property. Then factor in food, gasoline, health insurance, car insurance, house insurance etc. etc. There are quite a few threads on here dealing with costs of living. I'm personally figuring I'll need about $2000 a month to be comfortable in a house that we will own free & clear.

Also, don't forget that you will still be subject to US Income tax - use the IRS website to find the "tax-free" amount for overseas residents.

Good luck


David

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Old 9th December 2010, 07:10 PM
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Hi Jakbeau,

I am also a 58 yrs old female, looking for same information and have done some research. It seems that sometimes I go in circle with some of the contradictions I hear. I have been told that it is possible to live a moderate life in the outskirts of Paris, if you budget yourself to your income. A $2000/month would probably sufice without luxuries, but at our retirement age, we have already been used to life within our means. I love Europe, specially France and UK. I find the UK to be of faster pace of living than France for me. However, everyone is entitled to their opinions. French are not unfriendly, they are shy and are very proud of their heritage...that it's understandable. I am presently learning French and will not give up my dreams, I will continue researching until I get enough information to make a more educated decision.

Undesputable, the quality of life in France is absolutely better than in the USA and that is what I am looking for. My advise (if possible) to contribute agressively to a Roth IRA, so that it can help supplement the difference in your SS income. My plan is to travel to France and stay for 6 months and come back to the States, that way you do not need a long stay visa or Retiree visa. This is based on what I have been told. A person can travel from France to any other country in a matter or a couple of hrs and for a very reasonable amount of money and then re-enter. Also if you were to find someone that you could share living expenses with, that would be very beneficial to you. Explore all possibilities and options.

I am extremely interested in communicating with you, regarding this topic. What ever you do, do not give up....Good look with all your wonderful retirement's possibility.

Emattar

Quote:
Originally Posted by jakbeau View Post
U.S. Newbie here, female, and seeking information. Thank you all in advance for your kindness!

I've only visited France and, contary to what Americans are told, found the people there friendly, helpful and charming. Perhaps one reason for that is that when I traveled in Europe, including England, Holland, Italy, Switzerland and Greece, many people immediately spoke to me in French. (A language I have a less than tenuous hold upon. I guess I sort of 'look French.' )

Lo and behold, the AARP (American Association for Retired People), just published a list of places for U.S. retirees to consider, including the Languedoc region of France, on a social security income of $1300.00 or less. This is something I'd never considered and I am wondering if it's an absolute pipe dream?

I've been reading the threads here and have checked the French Embassy pages in Washington, D.C., and have yet to come up with a figure that would enable me to obtain a "long stay visa for nonprofessional purposes." Does anyone know exactly how much money they want?

Further, I don't really know what a "long stay visa for nonprofessional purposes" really means. I know it's for a year, but is there a point where I'd have to return to the U.S. to renew?

I know that at age 64, with U.S. social security retirement funds of some $1200 a month, I'm no bargain for the French nation.

Realistically, should I just give this dream up?


Last edited by emattar; 9th December 2010 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 10th December 2010, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by emattar View Post
My plan is to travel to France and stay for 6 months and come back to the States, that way you do not need a long stay visa or Retiree visa. This is based on what I have been told.
In fact, you need a visa for any stay longer than 90 days. The UK will allow an American to remain for up to 6 months, but as far as I know, the UK is the only country in Europe that has this extended "free entry" period.

For a 6 month stay in France, you will need a visa, though you probably won't have to go through the "carte de séjour" process (or at most a very abbreviated process).
Cheers,
Bev

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Old 10th December 2010, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Bevdeforges View Post
In fact, you need a visa for any stay longer than 90 days. The UK will allow an American to remain for up to 6 months, but as far as I know, the UK is the only country in Europe that has this extended "free entry" period.

For a 6 month stay in France, you will need a visa, though you probably won't have to go through the "carte de séjour" process (or at most a very abbreviated Bev
Hi,process).
Cheers,


Thank you for your post. Yes you are correct, if you are an american you can stay in the UK for 6 months and enjoy the "free entry" period. I guess I was not making my self clear....the process of la "carte de sejour" is what you do not need go through; all you need is a visa. Thanks for your clarification. Also anyone that is interested in this topic can see information of the best places to retire, specifically France and the cost of living. Anyways, I hope this answers some of the questions, offered.
Emattar

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Old 10th December 2010, 10:50 PM
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Bevdeforges, I'm interested in your remark that, "When you're receiving social security in France, the funds are converted to euro by the Embassy in Paris and direct deposited in your bank here."

I plan to return to France permanently in the next 12-15 months, and although I have had a French bank account since 2002 or so, I had intended to have my Social Security benefits continue to go to my US bank account, from which I would make withdrawals as needed.

Naturally, that exposes me to both currency conversion risk and "foreign transaction" fees from my US bank. After 10 years of living with the former every time I go back for several months, I've accepted that there's nothing to be done about it (at least not by someone of my modest means), and as to the latter, I hesitate to move my accounts from the US bank with which I have a long-standing relationship in order to find a US bank that doesn't charge such fees.

I'd certainly like to get the best possible conversion rate available: does the situation you mention involve anything more formal than simply advising the Social Security Administration that I have relocated to France? To be honest, I only received my first benefit check 3 weeks ago (hurrah!), so my dealings with SSA have been minimal so far. And while I like to keep a low profile when I'm overseas, I'd be willing to be on the Embassy's radar screen if it might save me some of my long-awaited retirement money.

I'd appreciate any further information you may have, or reference to any relevant website where I could find details.

Thanks for the time you spend on this forum, by the way - your advice is invariably on point and accurate.

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Old 11th December 2010, 07:05 AM
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Newyorkaise, here is the Paris consulate's iinfo page on social security benefits: Embassy of the United States Paris, France - Social Security Benefits

From my days in AARO, I can tell you that most US retirees in France do simply notify the Social Security office at the Consulate of their French bank coordinates and have their benefits direct deposited. The Consulate is able to get the best exchange rates each month (probably due simply to the bulk of the transaction) and you can have immediate and direct access to your funds.

I wouldn't close out the US bank accounts, in any event. I keep a couple of accounts open back in the US - in part because it's handy to have a US account both to make purchases in the US and to have a source of funds when you're visiting back there. (It can also be very useful to have a US credit card - even if it has a French billing address.)
Cheers,
Bev

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Old 11th December 2010, 07:27 PM
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Appreciate the prompt response, Bev! Since the US government won't let me keep the benefit of the Medicare I paid for over all these years, the least it can do is help me get a favorable exchange rate on my Social Security :-)

I wasn't planning to close out my US accounts: aside from the convenience when I return on visits, I have several significant credit lines that it would be foolish to give up. And I know that my US banks didn't (with one exception) balk at my having a French mailing address when I lived in Paris for several years a while ago.

Again, thanks for the valuable advice you provide.

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Old 12th December 2010, 06:40 PM
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Default Re: Social Security

Hi. First time poster here. Bev, are you saying that Social Security recipients can have their benefits direct deposited into their foreign accounts? And the US Embassy will do that? Any idea how long that will take?

I am looking at relocating to Italy (San Marino, actually) in 2012 and I receive SSA and a pension. Have been trying to figure out how expats handle their banking. My bank charges 5% to transfer and was told the European bank will also charge a fee on their end.

Any ideas or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Newyorkaise, what do you mean about Medicare? I assume it isn't accepted in Europe but why won't the government let you keep it?

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