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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I will be moving my wife and 3 small children to France early next year, and I am looking to live outside a major city (45 to 60 km), have pleasant weather conditions, and do so without a significant increase in a cost of living from where I am in Austin, Texas (where a family can live rather comfortably on $200,000 USD yearly).
Any advice on affordable, rural areas near a major French city would be great.

As a side note, in case it matters, I am expecting to be paid as a contractor directly from my U.S. based company in dollars, and may not be elligble for French mandated "benefits". I still need to find out how this works.

Thanks,
John
 

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The biggest hassle in your plans is going to be that of getting an appropriate visa. Once that little hurdle is overcome, you can live just about anywhere in France quite comfortably on $200K a year.

As far as the benefits are concerned, working as a contractor may very well booger up your visa prospects. If you come over as an employee, your employer is on the hook for getting you enrolled in the benefits system - and for paying their share of the various "cotisations" (i.e. contributions). As a contractor, you would normally have to establish some sort of business for yourself in France, and it's through the business that you handle all your mandatory benefits enrollments and payments.

Trouble is that, unless you're planning on setting up a business that will employ a bunch of French people, or one that is providing goods or services desperately needed in France/Europe, there is no way to get a visa with working privileges.

You might try contacting the French consulate Working in France - Consulat Général de France à Houston to see what your options may be, but the consulate folks are not in the business of finding ways for people to move to France if they don't fit into the pre-established categories.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Bev!

Thanks Bev! Very insightful. I am going to reach out the the French Consulat and see what my options are as an independent contractor.
 

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Basically, France and other EU countries don't want people moving there who either will not be a full employee of a company established in France and paying taxes and social security and health contributions there (i.e. work visa route, though difficult to obtain unless you are highly qualified and experienced and your skills are in demand) or an entrepreneur able and willing to invest millions into starting a business and creating local jobs. Only people who can do what you propose to do are those entitled to live and work in France, such as EU/EEA or Swiss citizen or those married to or being a partner of one.
You may be eligible for a long-term visa as one who is economically inactive, a sort of permit usually obtained by tourists who wish to stay in France longer than 90 days allowed under Schengen rule, but it does require an independent, non-work related income (such as investment or pension), as working, even as one contracted to a non-French corporation, isn't allowed.
 
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Substitute Thailand for France/EU in the above, and you would be describing a virtually identical policy situation in that country, with respect to their attitude towards awarding long-stay visas. No doubt in plenty of other nations around the world too, a position that may well harden if global economic difficulties endure.

Even married to a Thai, I still have to have a minimum sum of at least 10K euros on deposit in Thailand for 3 months a year prior to first obtaining, then applying for annual renewal of the long-stay visa. For others (eg those wishing to retire to Thailand) it is a minimum 20K. They just don't want shoestring budget backpackers any more.

The way things are I can only see more protectionist measures being brought in, both to ensure a country's nationals' jobs aren't threatened, and for political effect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Basically, France and other EU countries don't want people moving there who either will not be a full employee of a company established in France and paying taxes and social security and health contributions there (i.e. work visa route, though difficult to obtain unless you are highly qualified and experienced and your skills are in demand) or an entrepreneur able and willing to invest millions into starting a business and creating local jobs. Only people who can do what you propose to do are those entitled to live and work in France, such as EU/EEA or Swiss citizen or those married to or being a partner of one.
You may be eligible for a long-term visa as one who is economically inactive, a sort of permit usually obtained by tourists who wish to stay in France longer than 90 days allowed under Schengen rule, but it does require an independent, non-work related income (such as investment or pension), as working, even as one contracted to a non-French corporation, isn't allowed.
The direction my company goes may be to establish a new office in France, and for me to work directly for that branch. Is that something that will be very hard to do as well?
 

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The direction my company goes may be to establish a new office in France, and for me to work directly for that branch. Is that something that will be very hard to do as well?
Depends how you set up that office (i.e. what business form) and what your company does. Your chances will be better if you employ lots of locals - Sarkozy has recently come up with an "investors visa" proposal that will give you a visa if you employ 50 people in your new French office. Not sure if it has come into effect yet, though.

Take a look at the US immigration requirements. Although the mechanics of qualifying for a visa for the US are considerably different, the basic principles of who they will or will not allow into the country to work are pretty similar - although France makes a bigger deal out of making sure people can speak French before they arrive.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Depends how you set up that office (i.e. what business form) and what your company does. Your chances will be better if you employ lots of locals - Sarkozy has recently come up with an "investors visa" proposal that will give you a visa if you employ 50 people in your new French office. Not sure if it has come into effect yet, though.

Take a look at the US immigration requirements. Although the mechanics of qualifying for a visa for the US are considerably different, the basic principles of who they will or will not allow into the country to work are pretty similar - although France makes a bigger deal out of making sure people can speak French before they arrive.
Cheers,
Bev
Thanks again Bev.

It appears that the hurdles for working in France for an American company may be more than what my company will be willing to overcome... One of the attractive things about my moving to Europe is that it is easier than setting up an office now, and allowing us to delay starting a new office until after European sales for the company increases to the point to justify an actualy office.
 
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