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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

So i am french, never really worked in France (left when I was 22 and student) and I looking at possibly getting a job in france.

The job is in aubagne and salary would be about 30-35K

It would be me and my husband. My hubby would probably not work at least for a year. He does have a lot of projetcs to work on his own though.

Anyway. I am trying to figure what I would get with a 35K salary in france.
I currently work in the US and while I know how to find calculator to go from gross to net, I want to think about the whole picture:

All the advantages that I would not have in the US/france and really compare.
It is not all about money.

Does anyone have a good idea about usual advantages, holidays, etc.. in comparison to the US?

This is what I have:
I currently have 2 weeks paid holidays and 2 weeks unpaid, 4 paid holidays a year, no 401K match, no end of year bonus and if converting my pay in euros, I earn less than what is offered for the job in france as well as employment at will.
Insurance costs me $67/month/per person for 80% coverage and copays are $40/$50, does not include vision.

What did you guys consider before moving to france?
 

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OK, if you're looking at benefits, it's pretty difficult comparing apples and oranges. Benefits in the US are what your employer deigns to provide. In France, most "benefits" are legally mandated.

One big consideration is that, given the immigration regulations, your husband may not be able to work for the first few years you're in France. Check with your potential employer about what options there might be for your husband. (Some employers will offer to hire the "trailing spouse" thereby providing a work visa rather than a dependent visa, which doesn't carry work privileges.)

Figure about 20% of your gross salary each month goes for "benefits" - these include health care (sécu plus normally a "mutuelle" or top-up health insurance), retirement and family allocation (whether or not you have a family), plus a kind of life/disability insurance called "prévoyance"). Of all that, only the mutuelle is optional for the employer - and most employers offer a mutuelle and split the cost 40-60 with the employee.

Frankly, the mandated French social insurances are head and shoulders above what you get in "benefits" in the US. With a mutuelle, you're reimbursed nearly 100% of all your medical costs.

Lifestyle in France is considerably different from in the US. You need lots of flexibility and a good sense of humor to survive. (Speaking French really helps, too.) But as long as you understand it isn't going to be like moving someplace within the US and you're willing to kind of go with the flow as you learn your way around, it's an amazing lifestyle (both the French part and the expat part).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Bev!
We do start with a plus which is that I am a french citizen (and my first language is french) and my husband will automatically get a carte de sejour. I think it only takes a couple month to get.
He also will be eligible for nationality next september.
I think we are seeing this as a trial for him and me to see if we like it there.
I am french and come back often to France (we were just home) but have to say I am excited but scared of coming back.. I have never worked in france and I am afraid of not fitting in anymore. I left 7 years ago and just dont feel 100% french anymore.. as any expat.

I am just wondering if it would be a better lifestyle for us. It is either France or california (northern) at this point. I worry for my hubby on whether he would get used to France and being far away from family.It mostly is my project to go back there...but then again, he would be home doing what he loves and I dont see myself starting a family in the US, which might be a consideration in the very long term.

I feel like we would be having a healthier lifestyle with 35K in Aubagne than with only one income in california..(probably close to same pay).It would only be for short term (until our business pans out or we need to change direction) but I do feel we might be better off in France once I look at cost of life and quality of it.
Am I insane?
What has been the most difficult for you?
the best?
what do you miss from home?
I think we would miss the internatiional food...:)
 

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Going back after a long time away isn't going to be easy. You have to accept that things back in France have changed from what you may remember.

But for your husband, the transition is something of a "challenge" too. Obviously, he'll do better if he speaks French - and can get active in something where he can make his own friends. I know I found people just kind of assumed that being married to a French person meant you had a sort of "free pass" - but in my case anyhow, I find that my husband can't really explain some of the differences I run into or doesn't think to mention things to me because they're just second nature to him. You may be better placed to help your husband simply because you've been living in the US the last few years.

There's more international cuisine available in France than there used to be - and some surprising things have become popular in the last few years - including taco chips, salsa and other forms of Mexican food. Plus, you can always slip over the border and get the "authentic" stuff - Spanish, German, Italian, and if you run up to the UK, there is Indian and other kinds of international cuisine.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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There's more international cuisine available in France than there used to be - and some surprising things have become popular in the last few years - including taco chips, salsa and other forms of Mexican food. Plus, you can always slip over the border and get the "authentic" stuff - Spanish, German, Italian, and if you run up to the UK, there is Indian and other kinds of international cuisine.
Cheers,
Bev
Plenty of Chinese/Vietnamese/Thai food too, as well as Maghrebain specialities that have been around for ever... unless you count couscous as French fare rather than international, these days!
 
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When my wife and I started discussion our retirement we knew it wasn't going to happen in England. No way, ho-say. The UK is a country that is hell-bent on self-destruction, and I didn't want to be an old person when it hits the buffers.

So, we looked at places to go - we have a few mates 'here and there', including SoCal. We looked at Oregon, but the cost of living on our pensions would have seriously dented our lifestyle.

So, after (it has to be said) a lot of thought, we chose France, about 30 km away from the friends we 'grew up with' in our 20s.

There isn't a day goes by when I don't think Im the luckiest bloke on earth, nor one when I have to remember my blood pressure ( no-one will be surprised if I say that this is usually to do with fonctionaires..); I spot at least three bits of paper that could have been 'saved', or combined. It's a gas here, come on in, you'll be fine as an 'used-to-be-frog' returning. It'll all soon come flooding back.

As for hubby, he'll do fine - just make sure he knows to leave shops at 1159 each morning, that 2-hour-lunch thing is a real culture shock at first.
 

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When my wife and I started discussion our retirement we knew it wasn't going to happen in England. No way, ho-say. The UK is a country that is hell-bent on self-destruction, and I didn't want to be an old person when it hits the buffers.

So, we looked at places to go - we have a few mates 'here and there', including SoCal. We looked at Oregon, but the cost of living on our pensions would have seriously dented our lifestyle.

So, after (it has to be said) a lot of thought, we chose France, about 30 km away from the friends we 'grew up with' in our 20s.

There isn't a day goes by when I don't think Im the luckiest bloke on earth, nor one when I have to remember my blood pressure ( no-one will be surprised if I say that this is usually to do with fonctionaires..); I spot at least three bits of paper that could have been 'saved', or combined. It's a gas here, come on in, you'll be fine as an 'used-to-be-frog' returning. It'll all soon come flooding back.

As for hubby, he'll do fine - just make sure he knows to leave shops at 1159 each morning, that 2-hour-lunch thing is a real culture shock at first.
Your husband's experience in France will very much depend on his attitude. Is he open to different ideas and cultures or is he rigid and inflexible? Is he American-Centric? I just invented that word for those Americans having the attitude that Americans are number 1 and everyone else is inferior. This seems to be the number one criticism I hear from Europeans about Americans and the complaint is not without justification. This used to be referred to as the "Ugly American Syndrome".

I lived and worked in Germany for 20 years and it was truly a rewarding and enriching experience. An experience like that can open up vast new horizons and enormous possibilities, if one goes with the right mind-set. I went there with an open mind recognizing there would be cultural differences as a fact of life. All cultures have their own Idiosyncrasies. The Germans certainly have their own peculiararities that can sometimes be frustrating but you just have to go with the flow and accept the differences.

I met my French wife in Giessen, Germany and we married in 1986. We 're moving to the South of France in November to be closer to my in-laws and for my wife to help in the family business. Her parents are getting on in years. (No decent Orientale restaurants nearby so I'll have to buy a decent wok, but there'll be plenty of oysters).

One thing I'll miss is the flora and fauna; the brilliant autumns in the mid-eastern region, the large diversity of wildlife, such as deer and racoon just outside our yard, the spectacular plumage of the cardinals, bluejays, goldfinches and the huge variety of birds. I certainly won't miss the traffic and congestion. :ranger:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everyone for all your input.
I realized something when reading all your post. I am comparing apple to oranges in more than one sense.. Comparing chicago's nightlife and dining options to Aubagne's is just plain unfair competition :) it is just is a bigger town!

I should probably start by comparing a smaller town to a smaller town :)

In regards to my hubby... well he is definitely not american centric, if anything I believe part of the reason I feel slightly like a fish out of water here is because he kept telling me how the usa dont work and europe does it so much better... He loves france, but living there is a different question...
His french is quite good but very slow since we speak no french what so ever at home. His main fear I believe is the cockiness of french guys, arguments, etc.. the slight aggressivity that is not seen as such at all in france but can be for any american person trying to socialize.
He's a pretty strong and confident guy and I think he does not like the fact that he would be at a disadvantge for a while.. out of his comfort zone.

I just don't want to be selfish and push to go back to France for him to be miserable..But then again i have done it the other way for 7 years (4 with him in the US, 3 in london) and still can't succeed to finally say: "that is it, I am settling in the US"..there is always that will to go to france even though we have it pretty good.

we'll see I guess..
 

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Speaking as one who had significant problems adjusting to Life in France at the beginning, I would suggest that the decision to move back to France needs to be a joint one. Your husband will inevitably run into something that bugs him about living in France - whether it's being away from his family or the "aggressive" manner that people display in socializing or the work environment. Or it may be something completely different that neither one of you expects.

At that point, he either needs to find a way to deal with whatever it is that is bugging him or he needs to decide whether he wants to go back home - or someplace else. I know when I ran up against some of the bad stuff, I decided that my husband would probably be more miserable living in the US than I was at the time living in France. And so I stayed.

Or, you can decide to give it a go for some set period of time - and decide mutually at the end of that time whether to stay or move on.

I was pretty miserable at first - for the first seven years or so - until I found my own group of friends and a bit of perspective on the things that were bothering me. On visits back to the US, I realized that I definitely didn't want to go back there to live, so I might as well find a niche for myself in France. Your mileage may vary.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I was pretty miserable at first - for the first seven years or so - until I found my own group of friends and a bit of perspective on the things that were bothering me. On visits back to the US, I realized that I definitely didn't want to go back there to live, so I might as well find a niche for myself in France. Your mileage may vary.
Cheers,
Bev
Hi Bev,
I'm concerned about the being miserable for 7 years! Less than 1 year ago we moved from one state in the US to the next and now my company is asking me to move to France. And my spouse has been MISERABLE just moving to another state. I've been offered the opportunity of a lifetime but I don't know if I could deal with multiple months or years of spousal misery. My spouse even speaks French (I don't) so I thought the opportunity woudl be exciting, but it's a harder sell that I'd have thought it would be. I'm rambling a bit. What words of advise (as we try to make this decision) woudl you give to limiting the misery? I did read the post (I think it was yours) about making the adjustment (learn French, etc.).

Regards,
Jennifer
 

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Hi Bev,
I'm concerned about the being miserable for 7 years! Less than 1 year ago we moved from one state in the US to the next and now my company is asking me to move to France. And my spouse has been MISERABLE just moving to another state. I've been offered the opportunity of a lifetime but I don't know if I could deal with multiple months or years of spousal misery. My spouse even speaks French (I don't) so I thought the opportunity woudl be exciting, but it's a harder sell that I'd have thought it would be. I'm rambling a bit. What words of advise (as we try to make this decision) woudl you give to limiting the misery? I did read the post (I think it was yours) about making the adjustment (learn French, etc.).

Regards,
Jennifer
It's a common stereotype in Europe that Americans move "all the time" and have no difficulties with big moves. Obviously, that's not always the case, though I will say that most Americans seem to be more open to moving great distances for career opportunities than the French are.

You need to sit down with your spouse and decide just exactly what is in this move for him. The trailing spouse usually gets the short end of things in a move like this, and it can be lots harder for a man to get into the trailing spouse role.

If this transfer is for a limited period of time (say, 2 to 5 years) you may be able to work a compromise - like, after this one, you then move to someplace he would like to be, or his career takes precedence for a while, or whatever. Normally, if the wife is the trailing spouse, a tour of duty in France can be a great chance to start a family - France has super maternity care. But that's kind of out in your situation, especially if you're the primary breadwinner.

Has he ever wanted to go back to school? Could your employer pop for some form of training for him while in France that would give him "something to do" and maybe even help advance his career a bit? (an MBA, for example, or pull a Julia Child and send him to chef school for a prestigious change of career when you return?)

From my own experience, I can tell you that it's the "loss of identity" that really hurts when you switch countries and are subject to various limitations (lack of the language, lack of the ability to work, not understanding the local business culture, lack of the proper qualifications, etc.). You need to address his concerns and his career path for the time you will be living in France.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I could not help but chime in on this subject :). I think coupled with the "loss of identity"comes the fact that you suddenly have only one label: "the foreigner". During the beginning of an integration, it seems that everything is about how different it is , how similar it is etc.. and every situation makes you feel how different you might be.
It comes in 2 parts, it is tough to suddenly not feel much in common or a certain comfort (oh you did that too! kind of feeling) and it is also tough to loose the certain edge that your own personality had in your home country.
suddenly it does not matter that you are the indie rock music lover-vegan-travel lover, you take the role of the foreigner/the American (or other nationality ) in most social situation and it takes time and experience to relate to your new environment.

I have not lived it in France, but in the Us and I am pretty sure it is about the same anywhere. Somehow in a building of 500 employees, every knows my name (I am the" french girl") but I don't know a quarter of them :)
 
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That's not so hard...leave him to be miserable and go to France or will you later be the martyr who gave all for your man who drove you crazy then left. There's great soriety in France but I warn you now if you decide to take a man home to bed make sure he is from a very distant village and doesn't normally visit yours. The gossip on expats isn't kindly....same as anywhere.

MY opinion is absolute...go there...ask if he wants to go, if he says "oh ok" tell him make sure you understand this...if you start complaining I will not be leaving, you will, if you try to stuff up my life and work it will be not tout a l'heure but au revoir. Understand this...he could be hit by a car or drop dead anytime after you refuse the job and you'll hate yourself and him forever. Don't ask us, tell himhow it's going to be. great arts there and you'll make easily women friends. If I might quote that great american Doc' Holliday "you'll be a daisy if you do"

In closing the agressiveness is a mannerism, that's how they are and learning french and dealing with the French and not other expatriots and asking advice from even a kindly Notiare or someone at the Mairie will help sort that out over a time. If you show you are trying to learn French and to fit in they'll be ok.
 

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Hi,

So i am french, never really worked in France (left when I was 22 and student) and I looking at possibly getting a job in france.

The job is in aubagne and salary would be about 30-35K

It would be me and my husband. My hubby would probably not work at least for a year. He does have a lot of projetcs to work on his own though.

Anyway. I am trying to figure what I would get with a 35K salary in france.
I currently work in the US and while I know how to find calculator to go from gross to net, I want to think about the whole picture:

All the advantages that I would not have in the US/france and really compare.
It is not all about money.

Does anyone have a good idea about usual advantages, holidays, etc.. in comparison to the US?

This is what I have:
I currently have 2 weeks paid holidays and 2 weeks unpaid, 4 paid holidays a year, no 401K match, no end of year bonus and if converting my pay in euros, I earn less than what is offered for the job in france as well as employment at will.
Insurance costs me $67/month/per person for 80% coverage and copays are $40/$50, does not include vision.

What did you guys consider before moving to france?
I am American, my hubby is British. The most important issue to us was quality of life. We have been here ten years, and I would never move back to the US. I love my country very much but I love and love living in my adopted country. However, we are in the south of France [ Perpignan area] where the air is clean and the water is pure and from the mountains. Food is fresh and without chemicals or hormones, and our climate is wonderful. My husband is just recently retired. I sometimes cannot believe that we are so lucky.
 
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