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My wife and I are planning on retiring in France in the southern area near Villefranche Sur Mer. We are selling our residence here in the U.S. and plan on renting an apartment in the village Villefranche. We have read many of the forums here as well as information online from the French Embassy in the U.S. about visas. My questions surround this Visa process. Our move is planned for about a year from now. From what we gather we need to make a personal appearance at the French consulate in L.A. (we reside in AZ) approx 6 months prior to our desired departure date. The financial proof should be no problem...the health insurance is somewhat confusing...we have health insurance here in the U.S. but I am assuming that we need to show proof of global health insurance that would cover us in France..which would mean we need to change our current policy to a global coverage one ? Since we plan on renting an apartment to reside in ...will the Consulate require an exact address of said apartment prior to actually moving over ? We will both be retired at time of departure with no plans on ever working again in France ..just enjoying retirement. What type of Visa should we be applying for ? Thanks for any help anyone can offer us.
 

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Check the website of the LA consulate, but I think you won't be able to apply for a visa more than 3 months before your planned departure. (May have changed, but that's what it used to be.)

You'll want to apply for a visitor long-stay visa.

You will need to show proof of health insurance that is valid in France (and roughly speaking equivalent to what the French national coverage is). For an idea of cost, take a look at the AARO site: AARO AARO is an association of American expats and they have health insurance available for their members that meets the visa requirements. It's also a good association to belong to, at least for your first few years of living overseas. (Just as an aside, US Medicare is pretty much worthless overseas, though you can return to the US to get treatment under Medicare if you like.)

Probably not a good idea to sign on an apartment before you go over. Plan on making arrangements to stay in a short term rental (usually a vacation rental of some sort) for your first month or two while you look for a longer term place. You should be aware that residential leases in France run for 3 years for an unfurnished place, but you can get furnished accommodation for shorter periods of time. The consulates in the US generally seem to accept such an address for the visa application.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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