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Discussion Starter #1
I recently came to Vietnam to check out the possibilities of maybe moving here. Recently I have read a couple of articles of how affordable France is; and it would be a dream come true to live in Europe again (I was born there). Have been to Paris a few times and love it but too expensive for me to live on my retirement income. I understand if you go south in France it is a lot more affordable. I am one of those odd people who really don't need to be in warm climate all year or near the beach. I am looking for a place where you get 4 seasons; nice warm summers (not hot) and snow in the winter. Not a small village but it does not have to be a big city. A place that has Cafe's, supermarket, an inside mall to walk in, on those cold winter days and sufficient medical care if an emergency were to happen. In other words a place that has everything one needs as far as necessities and entertainment. Is there anyone that has info (or the experience living in a place on $1500 comfortably in France). Hope to hear from as many as possible so I can decide if it is worth pursuing. In advance, thank you very much, itstime.
 

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As with many questions, the answer for you is "maybe." First of all, where did you read "how affordable France is?" So much depends on your exact circumstances and resources - just converting your monthly outgo into US$ or whatever really doesn't give you a very clear picture. But that said, plenty of people here get by on what sounds like a fairly paltry income.

First of all, you say you were born in France - do you have French nationality? If you do, that eliminate one hurdle altogether. If not, you'll be subject to having to prove that you have adequate resources - from a pension or other sources - to sustain yourself without resorting to working. If you need a visa, figure you'll have to show you have at least the minimum wage (SMIC) to live on - currently about 1450€ a month. That's not a hard and fast policy, but it's a rough guideline you can work with.

Secondly, how well do you speak French? In Paris you can get by in the tourist areas with limited French, but in the countryside, where the cost of living is a bit less, you'll be hard pressed to find folks who can or will speak English with you. Not thinking here of friends and family, but rather more like doctors, dentists, hairdressers, workmen and other service people you'll ultimately need.

And there is lots of variety in the south of France. Some areas are every bit as expensive as Paris (think Nice, Cannes, St. Tropez) and to a lesser extent, some of the larger towns, like Montpellier (mainly because of its popularity), and Toulouse. The smaller towns can be quite rural in character, but for someone contemplating retirement, you need to consider availability of medical services and, in many locations, transportation. Outside of most larger towns, public transport is spotty at best.

Actually, the easiest way to pursue this idea would be to make a few visits (in different seasons) to areas that sound tempting and start to research the services and facilities you'll require up close and personal.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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One way to spend a few months exploring an area cheaply is to house sit using sites on the internet which show vacancies. Nothing to pay in return for just being there or perhaps some maintenance work or cat/dog feeding while owners are away.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have spent a lot of time and money exploring and travelling in Asia, Central America including Ecuador and Europe. I was born in Europe but not France, have visited many countries in Europe and have always considered it too expensive to retire there. Lately I have read a couple of articles how affordable some places in Europe has become and decided to first reach out to people that actually live there and know first hand what the cost is and what the place has to offer as far as Healthcare, basic necessities like a supermarket, mobility around town and entertainment like cafes, malls, movie theatre etc. Was hoping to narrow my search to a couple of places before going there. As I am sure most of you know; when you are retired, the budget becomes tighter and have to make sure there is enough for trips to the US and Europe to visit family. I hope to get a lot more advice and info in the days and weeks to come and thanks to "Bevdeforges" and "cufcgr66" for their input
 

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It really depends on what you are expecting your USD1500 p.m. to cover. Frankly, if that budget were to include rent, heating, utilities, taxes, health cover, cafes and cinemas, then I would say that sum is inadequate. Also, it sounds like you would be wanting to live in a town, where housing costs are higher. I wouldn't say France is 'affordable' when compared with the other countries you have been looking at.

BTW, I live on approx. 1600 Euros p.m. (but I have access to additional revenue if required), I own my apartment, I don't generally go to cafes and restaurants, nor to movies. Allowing for taxes, health cover, and everyday living costs, there is not much left. My holidays are generally spent visiting family here in France, otherwise I would be hard-pressed to go away and certainly wouldn't be able to travel overseas without accessing my other income or savings (so I figure maybe one or two trips back to Australia over the next 15 years).
 

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I did notice your mention of "malls." That can be a rather touchy subject here in France. Yes, they have malls, but they are pretty much exiled to the outskirts of most town. Some malls are starting to develop the "mini town center" aspects you see in the US, but that isn't generally the case here. (OTOH, many, if not most, malls here include a "hypermarket" - combination of a large supermarket and all purpose goods store - like a SuperWalMart.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I would be very surprised if anyone is able to live "comfortably" in France on $1500 per month, especially if you need a car. Petrol is very expensive here, as is insurance and general maintenance.

You might be able to scrape by if you don't have to repay a mortgage/loan/rent but you won't be living in much comfort.

Sorry to be negative, but unless you are able to supplement your income by working at least part time, I don't think it's possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Most responses are as I thought they might be; It would not be easy to live on $1500 a month in France. My SS check is a little more than that and thank God I have other funds available (401k and some other investments) but the articles I read claimed $1300 were sufficient to live on in some places in France. $1500 is an around about amount I was hoping to live on for everyday expenses; Housing, food and utility bills and dip into the other funds for travel and luxury items. It may have been a vice choice to come here to Asia, right now I am in Vietnam checking that out. Here you can live very well on a lot less than $1500 as well as other places here in Asia but I will not give up that easy on Europe yet. That is where my hearth is set on but not willing to live on the "poverty level" either. If anyone has first hand knowledge of other places or countries in Europe that are truly affordable, be able to live on about $1500 a month. Please send me a note. Have also heard Portugal and Spain are getting more affordable then before. Croatia is interesting but again; I like to hear from people that has been there or live there. Thanks for all the info so far, hope to continue my search for a place in Europe and if not feasible; Asia is not the worst place one can be either. In fact it is a very good place but ones roots are playing a big role and that is probably not a bad thing either.
 

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I think one of the key factors in living in Europe on a modest retirement is the portability of healthcare coverage between the EU countries. Coming from outside the EU, you generally have to show adequate health care coverage - and that will run you "a few" thousand dollars a year. Within the EU, if you're drawing a pension from another EU country, you generally can get into the local health care plan as a retiree.

The other big factor is the exchange rate. If you're dependent on US SS or a US pension, you can be helped or hurt pretty severely in a big currency swing. (Those here from the UK have the same risk - though being eligible for the French health care system definitely helps.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #11
That is a very good point. Is there a point in the future after living there, you can or will be integrated into their health care system?
 

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I would suggest you pose your affordability question on the Spain and Portugal forums. Maybe other European forums also.
 

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As you say, you could live very comfortably on your pension in Vietnam.

So why not consider being based there (or elsewhere in Asia) and saving from your income to allow yourself regular and extended holidays in Europe? That way you get the best of both worlds.
 

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AND on reflexion, maybe you and FLETCH could work out an exchange scheme: swopping homes in Vietnam/France...... just a thought!
:plane:
 

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That is a very good point. Is there a point in the future after living there, you can or will be integrated into their health care system?
It depends on which country. A few countries base their health care coverage on residence alone. Others on residence plus some base of having contributed to the system (normally during your work career in either that country or a country that grants reciprocal benefits).

In France, if you're there on a "retirement visa" (i.e. from a non-EU country), you can't just join the French health care system by paying in since the health coverage is part of the requirement for renewing your residence permit each year. However each country in the EU seems to have their own way of doing these things.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I am the same way as the well not quit, I have never been there but want to so badly. But my income is low and would need a roommate or two to afford it but in the rest of it I am the same don't like it to hot and love the seasons. Don't need a big city but not to small, close to bus and good doctors. Thanks Ps I have yet to decide for sure where I want to be but it makes you pick a place. France, Ireland are my top two of most wanted to move to. Thank You for all your help and I am so glad that you are here and offer such great advice for newbies.
 
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