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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok - Here goes.... I'm going to try to post all of the questions I can think of here, but I'm sure I'll forget some and have to come back with more... normalement :)

My husband, daughter and I are looking into a move to southern France. I am fluent in French (I'm a French/English teacher), daughter is learning French and husband can ask "Où est le poulet?", which is about all the remembers from high school French.

I apologize if some of these questions seem a little silly. I'm starting out knowing nothing, and hoping you guys can start my education!

I understand that I cannot teach in the public school system, because I don't have a EU passport, which is fine. Are other jobs in the teaching sector readily available? For example teaching English or something along those lines?

I assume that you need to have a carte de séjour in order to work?

How difficult would it be for my non-French speaking husband to find employment? He is an insurance broker here in Canada, but obviously his certifications are useless in France. Do you think it's possible for him to find work without being able to speak the language?

How difficult is it to get visas to stay in the country? I think we'd like to try it out for a year, and then decide if we want to stay or not.

What is the cost of living like?


Well, that's enough for now I guess. I don't want to bombard you all with too many questions all at once! Thanks in advance for your advice!
 

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OK, I'm not Canadian, but I think I can help answer some of your questions.

I understand that I cannot teach in the public school system, because I don't have a EU passport, which is fine. Are other jobs in the teaching sector readily available? For example teaching English or something along those lines?
You may be able to find something in a private, international school, depending on their requirements. Teaching English is a possibility, but to get hired to do so may be difficult, as non-EU nationals can only be considered after all available EU nationals (i.e. Brits in France, of which there are many) have been considered. Freelancing may be a possibility, but rates of pay for teaching English can be pretty low in an area where native English speakers are working under the table. The trick is getting work authorization in the first place (which means you need to find the job before you apply for the visa).

I assume that you need to have a carte de séjour in order to work?
Sort of. Basically to get a working visa, you need the job offer before you can apply for the visa - your employer sponsors your visa application. If you're on a "trailing spouse" visa (i.e. your spouse has a job, so he can bring his family), you won't have work permission, at least not for the first couple of years.

This is slightly complicated by OFII - Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration whereby they no longer issue a carte de séjour for the first year. Instead you have your visa (in your passport) validated by the OFII after your arrival in France.

How difficult would it be for my non-French speaking husband to find employment? He is an insurance broker here in Canada, but obviously his certifications are useless in France. Do you think it's possible for him to find work without being able to speak the language?
Very, very difficult unless he can arrange for a transfer from a company in Canada to their French office. (And that is most likely to be located in the Paris region.)

How difficult is it to get visas to stay in the country? I think we'd like to try it out for a year, and then decide if we want to stay or not.
Take a look at the website for the French consulate covering the area in which you currently live. They outline the basic requirements, which include lots of documents, an interview (usually best if you can handle it in French) and a disclaimer that says that just because you submit all the required documents doesn't mean they have to give you a visa. They normally don't give much detail about a working visa (i.e. one allowing you to work) because for that, it's assumed your employer will take care of the details.

Once you have a "long-stay" visa, you then get a carte de séjour (or have the visa validated) for one year at a time - primarily to show that you still meet all the requirements for the visa at each renewal date.

What is the cost of living like?
Hard question to answer without knowing quite a bit about how you live and what you expect. Figure that most things in France cost about 20% more than in the US or Canada, simply due to the VAT (at 19.6% on most items). It gets more complicated if you try to adjust for the exchange rate. OTOH, the French live considerably more simply than most North Americans do. There isn't nearly the gadget-mania, cars are smaller (gas is much more expensive!), homes are (lots) smaller and you will probably find that you spend your money very differently in France than you did back home.

You may want to consider making a "busman's holiday" run to France for a vacation trip so you can investigate job possibilities for yourself in the areas you are thinking about.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Canadian in France

Canuck Beth,

I think Bev answered most of your questions so I'll just add a little Canadian experience that I've experienced.

I've been in Provence for over a year now and one issue I had was maintaining my Ontario Health Benefits. If you are away from the province for more than 182 days (not sure of the exact days) you will lose your privileges unless you apply for an extension. Since I'm working here, it was easy for me to ask for an extension. I therefore only have to purchase travel insurance. If I didn't have my health insurance, I'd have to buy something like Expat insurance which is considerably more.

As a generalization of the cost here in Provence, I'd say that difference in cost is equal to the exchange rate with some items being even more i.e. if lunch cost you 5-10 CDN dollars; it'll be about 5-10€ here. I rent a small flat of 80m² for about 800€ a month not including utilities in a small village. A small house with 3 bedrooms might be in the range from 1000-1500€. Of course it's difficult to narrow the range down for you. I only have experience in the Alps de Haute Provence region. As you get closer to bigger cities or the sea, things tend to get more expensive.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for your responses. Bev: I've looked at the French consulate pages and they are so hard to figure out! Just to clarify, is that 19.6% a sales tax added to the price of things?

CMMKK: Thanks for the info on the health care. I knew about that but had completely forgotten about it.

Obviously, I have a lot to look into. Anything we do is a couple of years off yet, so I've got time to get this all figured out. We're hoping to make a trip over there this summer if it's possible for at least 2 weeks to see what it's like. I also discovered that Canadian teachers can do a 'job swap' sort of things for a year. There are other teacher-related things available as well, which I'll have to look into more carefully.

Thanks guys!
 

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The consulate web pages are deliberately a little ambiguous, to allow for the exercise of "discretion" by the consulate and immigration authorities. Basically, they give you the general terms for issuance of a visa, but they do make a point of saying that, just because you meet all the terms outlined, they won't automatically issue you a visa. All governments are pretty much like that these days.

The 19.6% VAT is pretty much like a sales tax. In Europe, the VAT is simply included in the posted price of things, so it just makes everything look a little more expensive.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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