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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Wife has been wanting to move back to France for a long time. My wife and children all hold dual (well triple) citizenship's with US and France and I am properly registered in the Livret De Famille so Visa and long term stay should not really be a problem.

I am looking for info on how to establish ourselves there. We are looking at the southern France region, ideally new the coast but could be drawn to the Toulouse region because they have a Waldorf school we would like to put the kids in. With that said, we are considering just packing up with no employment etc and hoping to figure it out. We have passive income from the US of about $2000 Euro a month and would apparently qualify for some social benefit monthly from the kids.

Other thoughts are to sell one or two of our assets in the US and look to buy a small farm, a vineyard or olive grove or something and work that to make some extra money. How practical is that? My internet math has led me to believe that most of these products are sold at a loss in the market place and that money is mostly made by government subsidies. Any insight?

What about other employment possibilities either part time, pick up, contract, etc?

Advise on a location as well? There are a lot of very inexpensive small villages but is that really practical? Do you become car dependent?

Anything else to consider or plan?
 

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Other thoughts are to sell one or two of our assets in the US and look to buy a small farm, a vineyard or olive grove or something and work that to make some extra money. How practical is that? My internet math has led me to believe that most of these products are sold at a loss in the market place and that money is mostly made by government subsidies. Any insight?
Hi and welcome to the forum.
Do you have any experience with agriculture, farmwork or rural living?
If the answer is no, I'd advise you to first rent in a similar environment to where you're living in the US,
settle down over here, decide if you want to stay, move, buy etc....

Then, if vines and olives are still tugging on your heartstrings, go around meeting people who are in that line of work.
There's always a market for quality produce but in my experience, it all begins with people who love what they're doing,
who produce quality for the sake of quality and are happily surprised and overwhelmed by any eventual commercial success.

There are subsidies for certain things and money to be made but that's hard-headed business and I can't help you there.

Toulouse is out of the olive growing zone: see map below:
Also follow progress of olive tree ebola (xylella) present in Italy, Spain and France.
https://www.franceinter.fr/s3/cruis...e-la-production-dhuile-dolive-15a47136142.jpg
limites.jpg
 

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A couple of caveats to your plans - not show stoppers, but things you need to consider.

While you should have no problem on the visa front, once you have arrived in France you'll have the OFII processing to deal with. You won't officially have your "work papers" until you've attended the first OFII session, which can take a couple of months to schedule. There will then be the follow on sessions (basically "civics" classes and language evaluation), included in which is normally a meeting with a Pole Emploi person to help evaluate your job options in France. Pole Emploi can't and won't "find you a job" but they can help with things like "translating" your qualifications and reviewing your CV/resumé for French use.

As far as social benefits are concerned, I think (but am not sure) that for allocation familiale, you have to be registered in the social insurance system (i.e. be paying cotisations), which means some sort of job. There is also the possibility of CAF benefits, but just be aware that the enrollment process is very bureaucratic and it can take from a couple of weeks to "several" months to get through the necessary paperwork.

Doing any sort of "farming" or "agricultural" thing can also be more bureaucratic than you may realize. For just about any sort of money-earning venture, you need to be registered in some manner with a business entity or some other manner of addressing both the cotisation and the VAT issues. Agriculture and just about anything having to do with food can be pretty strictly controlled/regulated, so the suggestion to get to know some of the local farmers in the area is a good one - even before you invest in "farm property."

And I think you'll find that "pick up, part-time" work is subject to more controls than you may be expecting. You'll need at least a sécu (i.e. social security) number, which (again) can take some time to obtain.

One thing to seriously consider is what qualifications you have that may or may not be transferable to France in some manner. French employers have a tendency to hire based on qualifications (like, academic diplomas and certificates) rather than giving much credence to experience. If your qualifications are in an area that is regulated here, you may need to have a formal evaluation of your qualifications and/or additional training before you can make use of them. (This is one place that meeting with Pole Emploi can be useful - assuming you do your preparation ahead of time.)

Oh, and you don't mention your level of French. If you have little to no French at all, you may be obliged to take (free) French classes to get you to the A1 level. Even if you opt out of the obligatory French classes, you'll want to work on your French in the first few months you're there.

On top of everything else, you will need some sort of health care insurance for your initial months in France. As a returning French citizen, neither your wife nor your kids has any "automatic" rights (though particularly in the case of the kids, they tend to treat first and worry about the insurance later). You have to be able to show 3 months of legal residence in France before you can enroll in the national plan (and don't forget, you'll need a mutuelle, too), so it may be a good idea to get at least a 6 month private policy to see you through establishing your residence and negotiating the bureaucracy to get yourselves signed up.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the input.. Much appreciated.


My french level is pretty poor, I can read and understand basic stuff but get lost in slang and stuff that is spoken too fast but I fail to recall vocabulary when trying to talk. So one of the goals would be to be able to take those free french courses.

For job qualifications, I do have a degree in Information Technology and some certifications and 20 years experience. That could lend in my favor as I've seen many tech jobs looking for strong English skills but for now my french would limit that. Hence the thoughts of acquiring some land, my wife can handle the french and I can do the work. I have some experience, grew up in a big farming/ranching community but not a ton.

For insurance.. My wife was actually registered as a resident in Belgium up until a few months ago and had full coverage there. We let it lapse so we are not sure if we might be able to transfer that or not still, not sure anyone here would be able to answer that.
 

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OK - well, the free French lessons are something of a question mark. They tend to "exempt" anyone from the classes who can string together a sentence or who knows more than a few words. The stage you're at sounds very much like most of us when we first arrived in France. Keeping up with someone speaking at a "normal" pace (which is, admittedly, very quick) is perfectly normal, even for folks who studied French for a few years in school (many years ago).

The IT qualifications and experience will definitely come in handy, but you need to consider what area you will be moving to. Too far "out in the country" and there won't be much of an infrastructure for finding a job - in IT or anything else. What you could do right now is start to do some "job hunting" online - whether the Pole Emploi site or LinkedIn, Monster, StepStone or whatever, just to see where the jobs are that you would be interested in and qualified for. That should give you a better idea what parts of France would support your family and your lifestyle the best. (Plus, it's a handy way to pick up some of the job hunting and technical lingo related to your line of work.)

Your wife's recent residence in Belgium probably won't count for anything on your move to France. The one advantage of her French nationality, however, is that she doesn't have to "prove" that she can support you in order to get you a spouse visa.

I'd be a bit careful about falling back on the "living off the land" route, though. The agricultural sector is very regulated (as are most things) in France and while it can definitely help feed your family, it can be difficult to break into the farming or agricultural "metier" in terms of being able to make a living from it.

But definitely start looking at the job postings wherever you can find them. While, in general, you'll need conversational French for most jobs, it only takes one job where your qualifications line up with what the employer is looking for. Plus, you have the advantage that you're the spouse of a French national, so no employer "authorization" necessary to get you a visa.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks! Seems Toulouse is our most likely spot, at least to start initially. It has the school we want for our kids and seems to be an abundance of jobs mostly revolving around Airbus who seems to be looking mainly for English speaking candidates. We would love to be on the Mediterranean but it seems Montpellier and Narbonne don't have as many jobs available in my field. And my wife says Marseille is not really a great place to live.
 

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The Toulouse - Agen - Montauban zone is well known for its stifling hot weather during the summer months but one can say the same about Grenoble, Avignon and even Clermont-Ferrand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Define stifling hot?

Currently live in Southern California. Low humidity, summer average is probably 80+ with highs up to 120 occasionally summer lows are in the 60's and 70's. (silly Fahrenheit numbers I know..)

We spend a year in mexico and central america area, the worst place we were in mexico it was over 110 and 100% humidity and raining. We also spent a year in Virginia where it gets over 100 with 80-90% humidity. Neither of those places cool off at night either, it is equally miserable all the time for months. Heck, southern mexico and central america doesn't really dip below 80 any time of the year.

I see Toulouse as having an average high of 82 and average low of 61 in July. That seems fine to me, pretty much CA weather. But averages have lied to me before..
 

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Well, if you're familiar with those kinds of temperatures, nothing you'll experience around Toulouse should cause you any additional stress.

I've noticed watching weather forecasts over the years that when things get hot over here (32 - 36°C / 90 - 97°F) Toulouse can score 38 - 42°C / 100 - 108°F.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Continuing on with ideas. It has crossed our mind that maybe we would enjoy using the transition period between jobs/country to explore France. We are considering trying our hand at the wwoof-ing trend. We could explore the different regions of France to find a place we actually like, meet people, etc etc.

Now the question... It would be great if we could establish residency upon arrival to qualify for health insurance, etc etc. However, if we don't actually have a single place that we live just then how would we do that? In there US you can establish residency more or less by decree and you can support that through any one of hundreds of companies who will sublet mailboxes/physical addresses to people who don't live there. Is there anything similar in France?
 

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Continuing on with ideas. It has crossed our mind that maybe we would enjoy using the transition period between jobs/country to explore France. We are considering trying our hand at the wwoof-ing trend. We could explore the different regions of France to find a place we actually like, meet people, etc etc.

Now the question... It would be great if we could establish residency upon arrival to qualify for health insurance, etc etc. However, if we don't actually have a single place that we live just then how would we do that? In there US you can establish residency more or less by decree and you can support that through any one of hundreds of companies who will sublet mailboxes/physical addresses to people who don't live there. Is there anything similar in France?
It could be difficult. Stamps in your passports will be essential. It's the fixed address that could be an issue, although I guess you could ask for attestations d'hebergement from your hosts. You certainly can't do it in the same way as in the US.

Edit: As the spouse of a French citizen, I believe you will need to make an appointment with OFII (within I think 3 months of arrival), which would be problematic if you don't have a fixed address. Other will know if you can use a care of / chez address for example with relatives in France.
 

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As EH says, "residency" in France involves quite a bit more than having a mail drop somewhere in France. Though, as the spouse of a French national, you probably won't have to show proof of accommodation in order to get your spouse visa. On arrival, however, you will need to be contactable during those first three months in order to get registered with the OFII so you can go through that drill.

But when it comes to the OFII and other administrative functions, you'll need things like utility bills to establish your residence - particularly for something like enrolling in the national health system.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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A word of warning, if I may.

You make a comment about mailboxes as found in the US. My advice is not to assume that France is like the US. France is different, which is why it is popular with expats.

In general you can't do much in France without proof of address in the form of a utility bill.

DejW

Continuing on with ideas. It has crossed our mind that maybe we would enjoy using the transition period between jobs/country to explore France. We are considering trying our hand at the wwoof-ing trend. We could explore the different regions of France to find a place we actually like, meet people, etc etc.

Now the question... It would be great if we could establish residency upon arrival to qualify for health insurance, etc etc. However, if we don't actually have a single place that we live just then how would we do that? In there US you can establish residency more or less by decree and you can support that through any one of hundreds of companies who will sublet mailboxes/physical addresses to people who don't live there. Is there anything similar in France?
 
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