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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Are there any American retirees out there that can answer a couple of questions?

My wife and I, as well as another US couple, would like to retire to France, probably in about two years time. We'd like to stay indefinitely, but maybe returning when we become less mobile. We will be living off retirement income accounts and later US Social Security.

1. Which visa and residency categories are appropriate for us? I am guessing we will need a Visa D (long stay, visitors). Is that true, or is there a different visa for retirees? Also, if I understand it correctly, we will need to apply for a carte de séjour after we arrive, and eventually apply for a carte de résidence. Right?

2. According to a document I downloaded from Le Ministère de l'Interieur, we might be asked to enter into a contrat d’intégration républicaine (Republican Integration Contract) as part of the residency process. None of the other materials I've looked at mention this. Is this really required for retirees? As I understand it, there's a French language requirement as part of this contract. All four of us speak French to wildly differing levels ranging from three years of college french to next to nothing.

3. To whom will we pay income tax on retirement income drawn from US based accounts.

4. I recently read that it will become easier for US expats to become part of the french healthcare system. How does that work for retirees?

Any clarification would be appreciated. Really looking forward to connecting with US retirees to help us along our planning.

Thanks,
Jeff
 

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Welcome to the forum - and you're far from the first folks to retire to France. Let's see if I can help with some of your questions:

1. Which visa and residency categories are appropriate for us? I am guessing we will need a Visa D (long stay, visitors). Is that true, or is there a different visa for retirees? Also, if I understand it correctly, we will need to apply for a carte de séjour after we arrive, and eventually apply for a carte de résidence. Right?
For retirees, you'll apply for a visitor visa (one of several variations on the Visa D long-stay visa). Basically it does not allow you to work while resident in France, though on retirement that's not a big issue. It could change, but usually you get annual cartes de séjour for a while until you become eligible for a "carte de residente" which is just a multi-year carte de séjour (residence permit).
2. According to a document I downloaded from Le Ministère de l'Interieur, we might be asked to enter into a contrat d’intégration républicaine (Republican Integration Contract) as part of the residency process. None of the other materials I've looked at mention this. Is this really required for retirees? As I understand it, there's a French language requirement as part of this contract. All four of us speak French to wildly differing levels ranging from three years of college french to next to nothing.
On a visitor visa/carte de séjour there is no contract of integration - at least not at present. The contract applies primarily to those on spouse visas and a few other long-term types of visa that you get to settle in France with working privileges.
3. To whom will we pay income tax on retirement income drawn from US based accounts.
You'll pay income tax to the IRS on your US based Social Security and IRA and similar "government" pension accounts. Private pensions may be taxed differently. You'd have to check with the US-France tax treaty on that. You will, however, need to file tax returns/declarations with both the US and France - even if you owe nothing to the French Fisc. (The tax assessment document you get, even if you own nothing, is one of those vital documents for living in France.)

4. I recently read that it will become easier for US expats to become part of the french healthcare system. How does that work for retirees?
When getting your visa, you will be required to have private health coverage for, I believe, your first year in France. Once you have established residence in France (technically, after 3 months - but the paperwork can take "a few" months to pass), you can apply to the CPAM to join the French health care system. Once admitted, you pay based on your income (this is where that tax declaration comes in handy) - basically a flat percentage of your income over a certain amount.

The trick here is that the French national system normally only reimburses for part of your health care costs - up to about 70%, depending on the type of service or treatment. You will need to find a mutuelle, a top-up insurance, to pay what the national system doesn't cover. The cost of this kind of cover varies and is usually on a fixed fee per month per person basis. You choose a mutuelle based on your particular needs - especially for dental and eye cover, since the national plan isn't great in those area.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Excellent. That all makes good sense to me. The only bit I'm still fuzzy on is how we will be charged la cotisation subsidiaire maladie (CSM), which I understand is 8% of eligible income. If our income is disbursements from retirement accounts (IRAs, SEPs, 401Ks), and later Social Security, does that count as eligible income?
 

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Excellent. That all makes good sense to me. The only bit I'm still fuzzy on is how we will be charged la cotisation subsidiaire maladie (CSM), which I understand is 8% of eligible income. If our income is disbursements from retirement accounts (IRAs, SEPs, 401Ks), and later Social Security, does that count as eligible income?
Yes. Remember, you have to report all worldwide income - even that not taxed in France. As I think I mentioned, there is a separate form (in addition to the regular tax form) where you indicate foreign source income (that you have already included on the regular tax form) and the nature of it - so they can determine what is taxable or not, and what is subject to "cotisations" or not. Ultimately, they calculate an "income of reference" (even if you owe no taxes on that income) and that, I believe, is what they use to calculate your health care payment.

They can do this from copies of your US tax returns, but it's simpler (for them) and less subject to "discussion" if they have the French tax assessment you'll get after filing your first French tax return.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Bev,

Are SS pensions considered 'gov'? I though it was taxed in country of residence as with IRAs.
 

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Bev,

Are SS pensions considered 'gov'? I though it was taxed in country of residence as with IRAs.
SS pensions are considered "government" pensions - and what country gets to tax them depends on the terms of the relevant tax treaty. In France, it's the US that has the exclusive right to tax US SS. In the UK, I believe it's the UK that taxes US SS. (As it is in Germany.) As long as the taxpayer is resident in the UK (or in Germany).

This is why these things get so complicated. Also, at least for the purposes of the French tax treaty, withdrawals from IRAs, 401Ks and other tax deferred programs are considered US "government pensions" too. Not sure how that works for the UK, though.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I'm also interested in retiring to France, even though I'm nowhere close to retirement age and don't have a pension. How hard is it for someone of working age (I'm 49) to come and stay in France indefinitely so long as they have independent means of support (i.e. savings) for the duration of their stay? I trade stocks for a living, which is an uneven source of income at best, but I would have savings to cover my expenses. Thank you.
 

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I'm also interested in retiring to France, even though I'm nowhere close to retirement age and don't have a pension. How hard is it for someone of working age (I'm 49) to come and stay in France indefinitely so long as they have independent means of support (i.e. savings) for the duration of their stay? I trade stocks for a living, which is an uneven source of income at best, but I would have savings to cover my expenses. Thank you.
It can be tricky to get a long stay "visitor" visa if you're considered to be of "working" age. Living on savings is fine if you have a finite project or stay in mind and won't wind up spending down your entire life savings in the year (or maybe two) that you'll be in France - as long as you have a reasonable "reason" for your stay.

Ideally, you'd want to be living off the interest and not touching the nest egg. If you'd be dependent on your day trading activities, that's not as likely to fly. Plus, if you're going to be trading while you're in France, you'd need to register so they can get your cotisations (social insurance) and taxes. And in that event, you'd need some sort of "entrepreneurial" or work authorized visa.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Thanks, Bev. So make my fortune first, live off the interest, then retire to France. I haven't read of a retirement age minimum for emigrating to France as a retiree. Is there one?
 

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Thanks, Bev. So make my fortune first, live off the interest, then retire to France. I haven't read of a retirement age minimum for emigrating to France as a retiree. Is there one?
There is no "retiree" visa - you wind up with a "visitor" visa, which means no work permit and, to qualify, you usually have to have a pension you're receiving on a regular basis. (Though living off the interest tends to work, too.)
Cheers,
Bev
 
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