France has again beaten Spain to be named the top European destination of choice for Britons leaving the UK to live permanently abroad and it is also liked for its food and shopping, surveys reveal.
Some 18,000 Britons are estimated to have moved to France during 2010, nearly a third more than moved to Spain, according to data from the UK National Statistics office.
In the HSBC Expat Explorer 2011 France tops the Raising Children Abroad league table, making it a great place to bring up children, ranking first for childcare and integration and second for health and wellbeing.
Expats in France are the most likely to say the cost of raising children has decreased, 44% against the global average of 21%, since relocating. But they are no more likely to see an improvement in quality of education or childcare than average.
France also has very low average monthly childcare costs, with expat parents spending just $463.54 per month, compared to a global average of $627.89. These low costs are also seen in expenditure on education where the average annual fee is $6780.30 compared to a global average of $11,558.94.
Expat parents in France are more likely to report that their children are not missing friends and family, perhaps because children here are more likely to keep in touch with those back home and expat children are less likely to experience homesickness as a result of relocating.
Children have a healthier lifestyle in France, with 53% spending more times outdoors, and 47% spending more time playing sports, which is above the global average of 47% and 46% respectively.
Parents in France also report that the social integration of their children has either improved or stayed the same, 89%, compared to the average of 78%. Some 27% of expats also said that they strongly agreed that they were able to spend much more time with their children in comparison with their home country and 62% said that they felt their children were safer since relocating.
France has a mid-table ranking for Overall Expat Experience in sixteenth place but excels in Integration at fourth place.
Although expats in France are more likely to be worried about the language barrier, some 44% compared to a global average of 27%, the vast majority, 93%, try to use or learn the local language.
Expats in France are also likely to enjoy the local food (71%), local shopping (86%) and feel welcome at work (89%).
At the same time, average house prices have continued to rise in value during the twelve months to the end of June, with values increasing by an average of 7.8% across the country. Prices in the capital rose by 22.5% in some parts, whilst in other areas popular with British expats such as Nice and Cote D’Azur, the rise was 8.4% over the same period, according to independent data produced by the Notaires de France.
‘The French lifestyle has always appealed to the British and now those who want to move to France but who may have been putting off the decision due to the adverse publicity surrounding the Euro area can see that property market has been a good investment for many Britons too,’ said Tim Harvey managing director of French mortgage specialists offshoreonline.
Unlike in the UK market, French mortgages are more widely available with interest rates varying from 3.40% to 3.8% for basic variable rate repayment products. Home buyers should budget on having at least a 15% deposit whilst for those with more, interest rates costs are likely to be lower.
In this respect, the French market compares favourably with the UK market where overseas property buyers currently need to find a 30% deposit in many cases.