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Hello- My wife and I just returned from France. I will be retiring in a few years. ( from Teaching in NY State) We are planning and wishing to relocate to SW France where a french surfing pal lives. This is the beginning step.
In France we found everyone very helpful and friendly. We speak horrible French with a very limited vocabulary. I tried and tried. I switched to Spanish and Italian but all and all we did fine.... we got by.
I have been reading the past posts and will continue to but I do have a few questions.
If we buy a house will there be any taxes because we are Americans? How londg can we stay in the country without having to leave and renew a visa? I will want to receive my pension checks, cashed automatically in a New York bank and then use an ATM Machine as not to incur some tax or another? I do not plan on working just being an artist and living....
I intend on buying a house, a car and bringing my dog. Any advice?
 

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If we buy a house will there be any taxes because we are Americans?
If you buy a house, it will be on the same basis as anyone. There aren't any special taxes on foreigners.

How londg can we stay in the country without having to leave and renew a visa?
If you get the right kind of visa, you can live in France indefinitely. However, you will have to renew your carte de séjour (residence permit, for lack of a better translation). As retirees, you need to show that you have the necessary health insurance and that you're still living as you were when you got your visa.

If you don't have a visa, you can only stay up to 90 days at a time - and that's 90 days out of every 180.

I will want to receive my pension checks, cashed automatically in a New York bank and then use an ATM Machine as not to incur some tax or another? I do not plan on working just being an artist and living....
Depends on what kind of pension, but basically other than standard income taxes, you aren't subject to any particular tax for being a foreigner.

US Social Security can be direct deposited to your bank account in France, if you like. (In fact, they kind of encourage you to do that.) The US Consulate transfers the money each month for all the US pensioners getting Social Security - and so they get a great rate on the transfer. The Consulate then has the funds deposited in the various banks around France. It's a seriously good deal.

For private pensions, you can go the ATM route if you like, though it seems a rather convoluted way to handle things. (And I'd look into the charges a US bank would make for using a foreign ATM network.)

If you're resident in France, you need to file a tax return (in addition to your US tax return), but if your pension is taxed in the US, it won't be taxed again in France, thanks to the various tax treaties involved.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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thanks Bev... so I'm not taxed twice...and US social security is not taxed... I don't know how my heath insurance will work...Empire plan for now?.. But I am sorry but I don't get the 90 day issue... I have to return to the states about every 3 months for about 3 months.( 90 days) Maybe not a bad thing but How hard is it to have the freedom to stay? and will I expect any hidden taxes and expenses?
Will I need to return home ( US) for all medical and dental care?




If you buy a house, it will be on the same basis as anyone. There aren't any special taxes on foreigners.



If you get the right kind of visa, you can live in France indefinitely. However, you will have to renew your carte de séjour (residence permit, for lack of a better translation). As retirees, you need to show that you have the necessary health insurance and that you're still living as you were when you got your visa.

If you don't have a visa, you can only stay up to 90 days at a time - and that's 90 days out of every 180.



Depends on what kind of pension, but basically other than standard income taxes, you aren't subject to any particular tax for being a foreigner.

US Social Security can be direct deposited to your bank account in France, if you like. (In fact, they kind of encourage you to do that.) The US Consulate transfers the money each month for all the US pensioners getting Social Security - and so they get a great rate on the transfer. The Consulate then has the funds deposited in the various banks around France. It's a seriously good deal.

For private pensions, you can go the ATM route if you like, though it seems a rather convoluted way to handle things. (And I'd look into the charges a US bank would make for using a foreign ATM network.)

If you're resident in France, you need to file a tax return (in addition to your US tax return), but if your pension is taxed in the US, it won't be taxed again in France, thanks to the various tax treaties involved.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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But I am sorry but I don't get the 90 day issue... I have to return to the states about every 3 months for about 3 months (90 days). Maybe not a bad thing but how hard is it to have the freedom to stay? and will I expect any hidden taxes and expenses?
Will I need to return home (US) for all medical and dental care?
If you don't get a long-stay visa (and converted within France for a carte or titre de séjour), you are bound by Schengen visa-waiver rules that stipulate you can only stay 90 days in any 180 days inside the Schengen area (which includes France, and much of Western and Central Europe).
If you want to stay in France continuously, you have to get a non-working long-stay visa. It can be quite a hassle to get (details from the French consulate that covers your State) - you need to show that you have enough money to support yourself and your spouse without working or relying on French welfare benefits, you have adequate health insurance valid in France (as you aren't eligible for French state health scheme), you are of good character (criminal record clearance), suitable accommodation in France, free from certain diseases and conditions (medical certificate) and so on. Different consulates may ask for different things, and all say that submitting all requested documents doesn't guarantee a visa will be issued. So you may be kept waiting for some time (months even) while your application is sent on to Paris for consideration and ruling. Once armed with a suitable visa, you can come over, apply for carte or titre de séjour at the local town hall, and when granted, you can stay usually for a year (with renewals permitted).
You will find most US medical plans only cover you for emergency care outside of US (if that) so you want a separate policy. There are costly expat plans, but you may find French private policies more reasonably priced and meet your needs.
 

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thanks Bev... so I'm not taxed twice...and US social security is not taxed... I don't know how my heath insurance will work...Empire plan for now?.. But I am sorry but I don't get the 90 day issue... I have to return to the states about every 3 months for about 3 months.( 90 days) Maybe not a bad thing but How hard is it to have the freedom to stay? and will I expect any hidden taxes and expenses?
Will I need to return home ( US) for all medical and dental care?
Whoa - I didn't say that US social security isn't taxed. It depends on your circumstances, but it can be anywhere from 0 to 100% taxable in the US. If you're resident in France, all pension income is considered taxable - though it's subject to the tax treaty rules to avoid double taxation.

I think maybe you're a bit unclear on the idea of a visa. If you want to go live in France, you need to apply for a long-stay visa through the French consulate nearest you. The consulate website will give you an idea of what's required - but generally you need to show that you have the income to support yourselves without resorting to working (or that you have jobs and an employer willing to sponsor your visa application) and that you have adequate health insurance, seeing as you won't qualify for French national coverage.

On the health care coverage for a long-stay visa, you normally need to look into an expat policy that will cover standard French care on site. People say that these policies are expensive, but compared to what health coverage costs in the US, they're really not that bad. Check AARO - Association of Americans Resident Overseas for information about their medical coverage for members - it will give you some idea of the cost of a typical expat coverage geared to American tastes.

Your visa is your admission ticket into France. Once that's stamped and validated, you then apply for your residence permit - and that's what you renew each year. No need to leave France or return back to the US once you're "in."

The 90 day thing works exactly like the VWP (Visa Waiver Program) for the US - as a tourist, you are admitted to France, with leave to visit any country in the Schengen area, for up to 90 days at a time. But with this kind of a "visa" you do not have permission to set up house in France - you're there as a tourist, not a resident.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Whoa - I didn't say that US social security isn't taxed. It depends on your circumstances, but it can be anywhere from 0 to 100% taxable in the US. If you're resident in France, all pension income is considered taxable - though it's subject to the tax treaty rules to avoid double taxation.

I think maybe you're a bit unclear on the idea of a visa. If you want to go live in France, you need to apply for a long-stay visa through the French consulate nearest you. The consulate website will give you an idea of what's required - but generally you need to show that you have the income to support yourselves without resorting to working (or that you have jobs and an employer willing to sponsor your visa application) and that you have adequate health insurance, seeing as you won't qualify for French national coverage.

On the health care coverage for a long-stay visa, you normally need to look into an expat policy that will cover standard French care on site. People say that these policies are expensive, but compared to what health coverage costs in the US, they're really not that bad. Check AARO - Association of Americans Resident Overseas for information about their medical coverage for members - it will give you some idea of the cost of a typical expat coverage geared to American tastes.

Your visa is your admission ticket into France. Once that's stamped and validated, you then apply for your residence permit - and that's what you renew each year. No need to leave France or return back to the US once you're "in."

The 90 day thing works exactly like the VWP (Visa Waiver Program) for the US - as a tourist, you are admitted to France, with leave to visit any country in the Schengen area, for up to 90 days at a time. But with this kind of a "visa" you do not have permission to set up house in France - you're there as a tourist, not a resident.
Cheers,
Bev
Thank yo Bev...I don't want to waste your time with simple questions. I figured these were issues many of the members have dealt with and would be able to easily answer. Residents - Show the ability to support yourself and have the language issue under control? Do residents have any health coverage in the event of an emergency? Thanks for all the info...
 

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Residents - Show the ability to support yourself and have the language issue under control? Do residents have any health coverage in the event of an emergency? Thanks for all the info...
In France, you become eligible for the health care system by working and paying "cotisations" (what you'd call withholdings in the US). If you're not working, you don't get coverage and must show private insurance coverage equal to the French national system in order to get a visa in the first place. Each year, when you renew your residence permit, you have to show that you still have the health coverage.

In an emergency, you won't be refused treatment - but you'll be expected to pay for it yourself if you don't have a carte vitale (the national health plan card). In any event, the French health care system is a reimbursement system - you pay when you receive services (for the most part) and get reimbursed later.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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In France, you become eligible for the health care system by working and paying "cotisations" (what you'd call withholdings in the US). If you're not working, you don't get coverage and must show private insurance coverage equal to the French national system in order to get a visa in the first place. Each year, when you renew your residence permit, you have to show that you still have the health coverage.

In an emergency, you won't be refused treatment - but you'll be expected to pay for it yourself if you don't have a carte vitale (the national health plan card). In any event, the French health care system is a reimbursement system - you pay when you receive services (for the most part) and get reimbursed later.
Cheers,
Bev
Bev,

Thanks for your info to Bruce. If I understand you, Social Security is taxed BUT due to treaties, if it is taxed in the US, it is not taxed further in France?? As for private pensions, likewise? What about annuities? (My wife converted her 401k to several annuities for monthly payments and they are taxed in the US).

Bruce, I am similarly located. I have Medicare and Blueshield/Blue Cross. I called BSBC and they have "network" doctors in France as I have been told. I plan on returning to the US every 6 months for med check up and DDS and visiting son's family. Then right back to France. You might check with your health plan to see if they have "network" doctors in France. Also, the "American Hospital" in Paris is AMA approved and they may be able to tend to your needs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Bev,

Thanks for your info to Bruce. If I understand you, Social Security is taxed BUT due to treaties, if it is taxed in the US, it is not taxed further in France?? As for private pensions, likewise? What about annuities? (My wife converted her 401k to several annuities for monthly payments and they are taxed in the US).

Bruce, I am similarly located. I have Medicare and Blueshield/Blue Cross. I called BSBC and they have "network" doctors in France as I have been told. I plan on returning to the US every 6 months for med check up and DDS and visiting son's family. Then right back to France. You might check with your health plan to see if they have "network" doctors in France. Also, the "American Hospital" in Paris is AMA approved and they may be able to tend to your needs.
well that is a relieve..At least there is hope in terms of doctors.... as a teacher I do not retire wealthy but , I do have a pension and health care. I also wonder how much an average visit - lets say a sinus infection that needs treatment, would cost. With a co payment it is about $20 plus med total $40. Perhaps a visit to the local French doc would not be much more...( YOU CAN'T TELL BUT my fingers are crossed)The Feds here let the wall street guys get their huge bonuses but will not let me off the hook for taxes when I retire... At least the French will not beat up on me twice.
 

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well that is a relieve..At least there is hope in terms of doctors.... as a teacher I do not retire wealthy but , I do have a pension and health care. I also wonder how much an average visit - lets say a sinus infection that needs treatment, would cost. With a co payment it is about $20 plus med total $40. Perhaps a visit to the local French doc would not be much more...( YOU CAN'T TELL BUT my fingers are crossed)The Feds here let the wall street guys get their huge bonuses but will not let me off the hook for taxes when I retire... At least the French will not beat up on me twice.
Bruce,

I understand the problem.. I am also not rich and will need to be cautious about money, especially the first year. I will use the first year to track my expenditures closely to see exactly what I am spending and will use that guidepost for further spending. I am not going to buy a house (at least not immediately). I am selling my house in California and will not use that for any expenditures. I am going to try to get by on only my income from annuities/pensions. I will be moving as soon as the house sells and already have my visa. I am not moving a lot of household items. Only taking wife, dog and some of the bare minimals. The two big ticket items will be health care costs and rent. Good luck.
 

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Bev,

Thanks for your info to Bruce. If I understand you, Social Security is taxed BUT due to treaties, if it is taxed in the US, it is not taxed further in France?? As for private pensions, likewise? What about annuities? (My wife converted her 401k to several annuities for monthly payments and they are taxed in the US).
As with all important stuff "it depends." Social Security can be tax free in the US or 100% taxed or anywhere in between. It depends on your filing status, your other income, etc. etc. You still report it on the French tax forms as retirement pension and then indicate on a separate form that it came from overseas (or how much of it came from overseas).

I'm not certain about how the annuities will be taxed. (Actually I'm rather interested in that option myself, but am not close enough to retirement to bother to look into it.)

Bruce, I am similarly located. I have Medicare and Blueshield/Blue Cross. I called BSBC and they have "network" doctors in France as I have been told. I plan on returning to the US every 6 months for med check up and DDS and visiting son's family. Then right back to France. You might check with your health plan to see if they have "network" doctors in France. Also, the "American Hospital" in Paris is AMA approved and they may be able to tend to your needs.
Has the consulate indicated that they will count your BCBS arrangements as acceptable for getting a long-stay visa? They usually require you to have expat health insurance in order to issue the visa. Medicare won't do you any good here in France.

The American Hospital in Paris is nice - and you can find English speaking doctors there - but they are expensive in comparison to French doctors and hospitals. Many expat medical plans require you to get pre-approval before going to the American Hospital (because the insurers negotiate lower rates for their patients).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Bruce,

I understand the problem.. I am also not rich and will need to be cautious about money, especially the first year. I will use the first year to track my expenditures closely to see exactly what I am spending and will use that guidepost for further spending. I am not going to buy a house (at least not immediately). I am selling my house in California and will not use that for any expenditures. I am going to try to get by on only my income from annuities/pensions. I will be moving as soon as the house sells and already have my visa. I am not moving a lot of household items. Only taking wife, dog and some of the bare minimals. The two big ticket items will be health care costs and rent. Good luck.
what did the visa entail? and good luck to you to you too . I hope to hear more as the story unfolds. I figure on selling the house. I am house rich...buy another small cheaper one Where? Almost anywhere will be unbelievably cheaper ( similar to the sirtuation in Calif. I believe) and do the same. dog, surfboard and oh yea the wife..rent at first.
 

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I do have a pension and health care. I also wonder how much an average visit - lets say a sinus infection that needs treatment, would cost. With a co payment it is about $20 plus med total $40. Perhaps a visit to the local French doc would not be much more...( YOU CAN'T TELL BUT my fingers are crossed)The Feds here let the wall street guys get their huge bonuses but will not let me off the hook for taxes when I retire... At least the French will not beat up on me twice.
Check your health care plan for coverage outside the US. On many plans, it may be limited to emergency care - though medical costs are far less in France than in the US.

If you stick to the agréé doctors (i.e. those that agree to charge no more than the government price list), a regular doctor's visit will cost 22€, and a specialist visit 27€ plus any charges for specific treatment performed in the office. The French health care system reimburses about 70% of that, and most folks have a mutuelle that reimburses the rest.

Pharmacies are strictly regulated and they have a price list they have to stick to, which is much lower for most things than prices in the US. The government reimbursement rate varies, depending on the type of medication or other item prescribed.

AFAIK, to get your visa, you're required to have coverage that at least equals the standard government plan (i.e. 70% coverage of actual cost).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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As with all important stuff "it depends." Social Security can be tax free in the US or 100% taxed or anywhere in between. It depends on your filing status, your other income, etc. etc. You still report it on the French tax forms as retirement pension and then indicate on a separate form that it came from overseas (or how much of it came from overseas).

I'm not certain about how the annuities will be taxed. (Actually I'm rather interested in that option myself, but am not close enough to retirement to bother to look into it.)



Has the consulate indicated that they will count your BCBS arrangements as acceptable for getting a long-stay visa? They usually require you to have expat health insurance in order to issue the visa. Medicare won't do you any good here in France.

The American Hospital in Paris is nice - and you can find English speaking doctors there - but they are expensive in comparison to French doctors and hospitals. Many expat medical plans require you to get pre-approval before going to the American Hospital (because the insurers negotiate lower rates for their patients).
Cheers,
Bev
Thanks Bev..
As for the annuities, we have them taxed in the US and will continue to do so. I will probably need to check with an accountant in France the first year that I need to pay taxes.

Regarding the BSBC, the consulate accepted BSBC as approved and granted my visa. the BSBC covers the immediate care rendered in France (I believe it is pay & chase unless it is at an in-plan doctor). My BSBC is part of my retirement benefits.

Bev, from your experience, do French doctors and Rx (refills) cost more or less than in the US?

Thanks, Griff
 

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what did the visa entail? and good luck to you to you too . I hope to hear more as the story unfolds. I figure on selling the house. I am house rich...buy another small cheaper one Where? Almost anywhere will be unbelievably cheaper ( similar to the sirtuation in Calif. I believe) and do the same. dog, surfboard and oh yea the wife..rent at first.
Bruce,

I heard horror stories about getting a visa. However, ours went very easy. We have taken french courses for the last few years and therefore speak some basic french. I suggest you do the same (Rosetta Stone or some other source).

The three things that could become problematic are : 1) language; 2) health insurance; and 3) having all of the documents translated by a translator (cost us about $700). When we actually applied (by appointment), the consulate personnel were real friendly and we had our visa 3 days later.
 

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Thanks Bev..
As for the annuities, we have them taxed in the US and will continue to do so. I will probably need to check with an accountant in France the first year that I need to pay taxes.

Regarding the BSBC, the consulate accepted BSBC as approved and granted my visa. the BSBC covers the immediate care rendered in France (I believe it is pay & chase unless it is at an in-plan doctor). My BSBC is part of my retirement benefits.

Bev, from your experience, do French doctors and Rx (refills) cost more or less than in the US?

Thanks, Griff
I wouldn't worry too much about the annuities, as that's how private pension funds (the French version of American IRA's) have to be paid out. There is NO problem declaring them as "retraite" and then just noting the foreign sourcing on the form for listing your foreign source income.

Aside: I really wish they'd require you to annuitize your US pension funds the way you have to do it here - it would make life so much simpler!

Medical expenses in France are WAY cheaper than in the US. See my reply to Bruce for standard doctor visits. And I can tell you that the one prescription drug I take (the Sally Fields once-a-month anti-osteoporosis thing) costs about 1/3 the price I see them asking for it online in the US!

The one caveat is that some of the fancy high-tech tests are not as easy to come by. You generally have a wait of 3 to 6 weeks for an MRI or some kinds of scans because there aren't as many scanners available. And French docs are less likely to order up the latest and greatest treatment-of-the-week or prescribe you the highest priced new drugs until they have worked their way through the old standards. But that suits me just fine.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks Bev..
As for the annuities, we have them taxed in the US and will continue to do so. I will probably need to check with an accountant in France the first year that I need to pay taxes.

Regarding the BSBC, the consulate accepted BSBC as approved and granted my visa. the BSBC covers the immediate care rendered in France (I believe it is pay & chase unless it is at an in-plan doctor). My BSBC is part of my retirement benefits.

Bev, from your experience, do French doctors and Rx (refills) cost more or less than in the US?

Thanks, Griff
BSBC ? is what?
 
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