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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Why?
I only ask, as there seems to be quite a lot on this forum, who have moved to France. I'd just like to know, why choose France over anywhere else?
I think its great myself, that you'd want to live somewhere so different to the "Home of the Land and the Brave of the Free" (y)

No insult intended
 

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OK - I arrived over here quite a few years ago, but in my case I have ancestors from France and "just happened" to have been in an experimental program in elementary school where we learned French by watching TV three times a week in school. (The novelty of that alone was worth the price of admission.)

But lately the old Homeland has gotten more and more unrecognizable to many. And more "Amis" (as they are known in Germany) are just plain looking to leave the insanity that seems to have developed back there. (Honestly, in many ways it was always there, but we just didn't see it at the time.) French is a fairly common language to have studied in school (or certainly was back in the Middle Ages when I was a student back there) - even if I did start out in Germany (and still feel somewhat more confident in German than I do in French).

Net- net, I never thought I'd wind up in France, but here I am. And have no particular desire to move on from here. How's that for a non-answer? <ggg>
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
OK - I arrived over here quite a few years ago, but in my case I have ancestors from France and "just happened" to have been in an experimental program in elementary school where we learned French by watching TV three times a week in school. (The novelty of that alone was worth the price of admission.)

But lately the old Homeland has gotten more and more unrecognizable to many. And more "Amis" (as they are known in Germany) are just plain looking to leave the insanity that seems to have developed back there. (Honestly, in many ways it was always there, but we just didn't see it at the time.) French is a fairly common language to have studied in school (or certainly was back in the Middle Ages when I was a student back there) - even if I did start out in Germany (and still feel somewhat more confident in German than I do in French).

Net- net, I never thought I'd wind up in France, but here I am. And have no particular desire to move on from here. How's that for a non-answer? <ggg>
No such thing as a non answer Bev, but thanks for not answering😂
My only experience of America I have, was in the 70s, (A long haired yobs tour) when the American dream was in full flow, so, (political leaders apart) I could see why Americans loved their country so much. Now I can only guess, hence the question(y)
 

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I haven't moved yet (still a few years away from retiring) but feel much the same way as Bev - not sure I recognize this place any more. I've always wanted to retire someplace warmer than my current home of Chicago, and will need to find a place cheaper to live. I lived in France for five years when I was young, and it made a huge impression on me. I was fluent in the language back then, and still speak it decently enough 40 years later.

My primary hobby is photography, and there is so much I want to take pictures of - you should see the pins I've dropped into Google Maps, I have hundreds of potential locations mapped out. I plan on taking some trips in the next few years to some of the areas I'm interested in, scouting for photos and for places to live.

The idea of the French health system appeals to me too - I'm lucky enough to be pretty healthy, but the drumbeat of stories in the US of people being bankrupted and resorting to online fundraising for health needs makes (pretty good) blood pressure rise...
 

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To be honest, the Americans who are seriously interested in moving elsewhere are but a very small minority back in the Old Country. (As I suspect are intrepid expat types most places.) In many cases, I think you'll find that people may not have actually chosen wherever it was they wound up (which is more or less my case).
 

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I would expect that, while there are commonalities, the actual set of circumstances that motivate an American to relocate to France are many, varied, and nuanced. I can expound on my reasons. Firstly, I love to travel, particularly in Europe. My wife, our good friends, and I have had many trips here and at some point the discussion morphed from "where are we going on our next vacation" to "wouldn't it be nice to just live in europe, then we could travel it to our heart's content." My wife and I came from military families, as kids we both spent several years in europe and felt comfortable living there. As retirement approached, the idea gained more traction. While we loved going to France, Italy, and Spain we had to pick some place. Honestly we just felt more at home in France, and the healthcare system was a big factor for choosing it over the others. We come from a fairly cold and cloudy place (Lansing, Michigan) and definitely wanted blue skies and warmer weather. Voilà, southern France! While we love the US, as you get older sometimes you get a little jaded, or in a rut, in the same place. A big motivator was to combine our love of european travel with the idea of putting ourselves in a new culture where everything isn't always so much "the same"...
 

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A reflection of my somewhat one-dimensional English education is how much I've discovered about the historical relationship between France and the USA since moving to France. Of course I knew about "New Orleans", and "Louisiana" and the rest, but I had no grasp of the significance of the old French colonies, both culturally or politically. Quebec/Canada is a different (but closely related) story.

It's only recently that I've discovered the story of Lafayette, the close links between people like Benjamin Franklin and France, the symbolism of, say, the Statue of Liberty and France, and indeed the close support given by France to the American states in fighting for independence and creating the US Constitution.

So, after this long ramble, comes a question: all of that happened a long time ago, but how does it influence the way modern US citizens regard France?
 

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So, after this long ramble, comes a question: all of that happened a long time ago, but how does it influence the way modern US citizens regard France?
Indirectly, probably yes - though most Americans aren't really conscious of the influence. One very early "link" between the US and France you missed is that of Alexis de Tocqueville who was more or less run out of France due to political issues and violence there and wrote his observations about this strange and curious new republic titled Democracy in America. Definitely worth a read for more insight on the Franco-American relationship.
 

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A reflection of my somewhat one-dimensional English education is how much I've discovered about the historical relationship between France and the USA since moving to France. Of course I knew about "New Orleans", and "Louisiana" and the rest, but I had no grasp of the significance of the old French colonies, both culturally or politically. Quebec/Canada is a different (but closely related) story.

It's only recently that I've discovered the story of Lafayette, the close links between people like Benjamin Franklin and France, the symbolism of, say, the Statue of Liberty and France, and indeed the close support given by France to the American states in fighting for independence and creating the US Constitution.

So, after this long ramble, comes a question: all of that happened a long time ago, but how does it influence the way modern US citizens regard France?
I honestly don't think that the critical role that France played in the American revolution (and consequently the role the American revolution played in helping the French revolution get going) is very prominent in the thinking of most US citizens. We've far too much of an American exceptionalist worldview to really acknowledge the fact that, had it not been for France's direct military and economic intervention, independence would not have been gained like it was. That and the woeful state of the US educational system in educating its citizens about its own history. That being said, many Americans are (secretly) in awe of French people and culture feeling that the French have a much deeper history, are more sophisticated, more nuanced, and more cultured.

If one looks deeper, one can see the cultural influences that France has had on our language and institutions. However, I'd put France in distant fourth place, behind England, Germany, and now Latin America/Spain in how US natives see themselves and the development of their values and attitudes.

If you are interested in the life of Lafayette, there is a brand new book out called "Hero of Two Worlds: Lafayette in the Age of Revolution" by Mike Duncan. It's very good and quite accessible. Duncan is my favorite podcaster with a series on the history of the Rome and his current series on Revolutions. If you're looking to understand the French revolution(s), the Paris commune, and how they fit with other world revolutions, Duncan is your guy.
 

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Indirectly, probably yes - though most Americans aren't really conscious of the influence. One very early "link" between the US and France you missed is that of Alexis de Tocqueville who was more or less run out of France due to political issues and violence there and wrote his observations about this strange and curious new republic titled Democracy in America. Definitely worth a read for more insight on the Franco-American relationship.
I'll take a look, thanks for the suggestion. Still got a lot to learn!
 

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I started out on the West Coast. I used to think L.A. was the centre of the universe. Money was easy to come by and entertainment was everywhere so I never bothered with further education. Then America's foreign policy got in the way of my enjoyable lifestyle so I left. I had family in England so that is where I headed at age 23. It was serious culture shock. Same language made it easy but everything else was a nightmare. Compared to Southern Cal everything seemed to be an uphill frustrating battle. Not having qualifications or education was clearly a problem. Skills that had been hobbies now became means of feeding myself. This was only barely keeping a roof over my head until the 90s when I began seriously thinking about making another move. Looking to reduce my overheads I bought a boat, rebuilt it totally and planned to set off to see a bit more of the world. Ended up in France as first logical port of call. It blew me away. Houses with land costing less than a decent second hand car. Places that I could only dream about in UK. Needless to say, I bought one and sold the boat. That was 20 years ago. My only regret is that I wish I had bought somewhere with better weather.
 

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I'll take a look, thanks for the suggestion. Still got a lot to learn!
What is so interesting about the de Tocqueville book is that he picked up on so many characteristics of American culture and society that have changed very little over the decades and centuries. Many of the same sorts of remarks you hear today from French or British folks commenting on "those strange Americans." Maybe it's something in the air or the water! <ggg>
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I haven't moved yet (still a few years away from retiring) but feel much the same way as Bev - not sure I recognize this place any more. I've always wanted to retire someplace warmer than my current home of Chicago, and will need to find a place cheaper to live. I lived in France for five years when I was young, and it made a huge impression on me. I was fluent in the language back then, and still speak it decently enough 40 years later.

My primary hobby is photography, and there is so much I want to take pictures of - you should see the pins I've dropped into Google Maps, I have hundreds of potential locations mapped out. I plan on taking some trips in the next few years to some of the areas I'm interested in, scouting for photos and for places to live.

The idea of the French health system appeals to me too - I'm lucky enough to be pretty healthy, but the drumbeat of stories in the US of people being bankrupted and resorting to online fundraising for health needs makes (pretty good) blood pressure rise...
"While the music played, you worked by candlelight"(y):)
 

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A reflection of my somewhat one-dimensional English education is how much I've discovered about the historical relationship between France and the USA since moving to France.
I think it cuts both ways though ;) Years ago I was at the 14 July celebrations in Paris. We were standing in the packed crowd (oh those happy pre-Covid days) just in front of an American family and when the band started playing "Scotland the Brave" Dad was completely mystified, Isn't that Scotland the Brave, why the heck are they playing that? and his wife had no idea either. So the "auld alliance" doesn't seem to part of an American education, but then I suppose why should it. Actually I'm not even sure it's part of an English education. I don't remember "doing" it at school.
 

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We picked France because:

We were tired of the same old same old where we lived in the US and wanted a change. What time we spent in Europe on vacation was very enjoyable and we wanted to travel here a lot more, but we were not inclined to do it in chunks of a few weeks at a time. Initially our thinking was that we’d split the year between the US and here when we retired. We are EU citizens through my ancestry and so could come and go as we liked. Eventually, our family situation changed so that there was little keeping us in the US and the question naturally arose: Why split the year between continents if there’s nothing to keep us here?

We are not rich by US standards. Until just a few months ago, retiring in our mid 50s (long before Medicare age) and staying in the US would have meant health insurance and health care costs would make such a BIG dent in our income that we’d probably not be able to travel much. (That has changed at least temporarily and probably for good because of changes in health insurance subsidy eligibility in the US.) Moving somewhere with more manageable health care costs would enable us to retire sooner rather than later and still maintain our standard of living, especially if we could limit the tax bite. We researched a few EU countries and how to get health coverage, misinterpreted a few tax treaties, and eventually someone on this forum mentioned France as an option. Because of favorable tax treatment for US retirement income, eligibility for health coverage at very low cost and quality health care, really good food, beautiful countryside, cities with many enjoyable activities, and affordable housing in many places where we’d actually like to live, we decided to give France a shot. We’ll see how it goes.


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A reflection of my somewhat one-dimensional English education is how much I've discovered about the historical relationship between France and the USA since moving to France. Of course I knew about "New Orleans", and "Louisiana" and the rest, but I had no grasp of the significance of the old French colonies, both culturally or politically. Quebec/Canada is a different (but closely related) story.

It's only recently that I've discovered the story of Lafayette, the close links between people like Benjamin Franklin and France, the symbolism of, say, the Statue of Liberty and France, and indeed the close support given by France to the American states in fighting for independence and creating the US Constitution.

So, after this long ramble, comes a question: all of that happened a long time ago, but how does it influence the way modern US citizens regard France?
I wonder if it's the other way around — that many French citizens regard Americans in a de facto welcoming, curious way. In France students learn more than in the US about history and the 'special relationship' between our two countries.

I've heard many anecdotes about Americans surprised at receiving an open warm welcome in Normandy. Most Americans don't even connect the dots on WWII. We are taught that history doesn't matter, only the present moment and the future. WWII was 'over there'. It's a whole different perspective when your country is the one being invaded.

On a more visceral level some French people definitely fetishize American 20th century pop culture (Route 66, Coca Cola, hamburgers, Hollywood, muscle cars, Harley Davidson, etc.). If you live in a highly structured, analytical, detailed culture, you might long for casual and loose and loud sometimes, even if on the other side it's a stereotype. I wonder if other Americans on this forum feel they get a bit of leeway and acceptance — do you feel there's a positive curiosity when we travel in France?

Certainly we are a novelty compared with UK, EU tourists, etc. There's many fewer of us and we tend to travel in ways that insulate us from language and culture.
 

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We picked France because:
... of favorable tax treatment for US retirement income, eligibility for health coverage at very low cost and quality health care, really good food, beautiful countryside, cities with many enjoyable activities, and affordable housing in many places where we’d actually like to live, we decided to give France a shot. We’ll see how it goes.
How easy was it to sign onto the French healthcare system? How is it working for you? What are the pros and cons? Would you ever want to get healthcare services back in the USA or in another country?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
There does seem to be a more welcoming approach towards Americans in Normandy. It might be just me, but around the "World War 2 Sites" there looks like more USA flags than UK. Its not a issue that concerns me greatly, in fact good luck to them, their country paid a massive price, but it does look more welcoming
 

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How easy was it to sign onto the French healthcare system? How is it working for you? What are the pros and cons? Would you ever want to get healthcare services back in the USA or in another country?
It depends entirely on what your situation is when you get to France. For a long stay visa for France you must show health insurance cover for your first year (unless you have a job lined up where you'll be enrolled in the French social insurances through your employer).

If you come to live in France it is not a choice. Special Note for Residents in France
It takes a little getting used to, but once you learn how things work, it beats anything available back in the States.

And if you're retired in France from the US and receiving US SS benefits, you are covered by Part A of Medicare and can be covered by Part B if you're willing to pay for it (although why you would, given that you'd have to fly back to the States to receive treatment under Medicare). Being part of the French system means that you are eligible for an EHIC card for any travel you do within the EU - good for "necessary" health care (like accidents or emergencies) in other EU countries.

But over here, you usually have to enroll in the health plan based on which country you are resident in.
 
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