Expat Forum For People Moving Overseas And Living Abroad banner

1 - 20 of 29 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi
We (me, hubby and boys 7 and 10) and thinking of moving to France, but my head is spinning with all the should we shouldn't we's, so I thought i would ask for you honest opinions on out thoughts so far.........
Right firstly, (don't know which is the bigger of the two) ok we don't speak french! We wouldn't be moving for at least 18 months, which would give us a chance to take lesson and get some basic french under our belts. Our initial plan would to be to move to Dordogne area where english is more widely spoken, although i don't want to move to 'little england' as I DO want us to learn French and the french culture etc, I don't just want to be english in a warmer country, but Riberac etc maybe, to ease the transition for all. Eventually (years, not months) becoming fluent and be able to move away from the more English areas.

Second biggy, my hubby would continue to work in the UK and commute home on days off. We understand that this is quite common practice, but reading mixed things about paying tax etc. Do he/we just pay english tax, but then surely we would be allowed to use anything french, healthcare, schools etc, would we have to pay BOTH taxes? Would he pay english and I pay french on the 'housekeeping' money. Again years down the line once he had mastered french, he hopes to get a job in Toulouse.

Things spinning round and round my head?
Kids schooling: how much would it suffer while they pick up french.
Setting up initial bills, dealing with mairie etc when we have no/limited french
We have moved around in our lives, and we down have any close friend where we are now, but i do get 1/2s chat with the mums at the school gate everyday, how lonely would I feel not being able to talk to anyone, or are the areas we are looking at really as full of brits as they say and I could talk to someone occasionally?
(background, we have wanted to move from the UK for many years, we were set for going to Oz, but my Dad died and I didn't feel I could leave my mum, we both like Canada, but my mum can't fly and we couldn't afford to keep flying home, hence France, but they speak french lol although we would learn, I don't want to just be a Brit abroad)
Any thoughts appreciated
Thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
363 Posts
I think the best way of knowing if it'll work or not is doing a trial run - ie, coming to the area over summer break, that way your kids don't miss any school, and you guys can see how it works with your husband commuting. That way, if you end up feeling too isolated, or your husband is too exhausted from said commute, nothing will be lost, and you will have given it a shot without losing too much. If you feel things are going well, you'll be well-placed to get tips from other ex-pats who are around (assuming they haven't gone elsewhere for vacation, but of course not everyone leaves at exactly the same time). Of course, now we're in July it's probably too late for this summer, but at least y'all can start fantasizing about your lovely French vacation next summer. :) And hopefully next summer we won't be suffering through such awful heat.

I will let someone else answer your question about taxes, because as an American I haven't had to deal with that.

Concerning the kids, it's going to depend on a) are your kids as invested in this as you are? b) are they excited about learning a new language? Kids are sponges and can pick things up pretty quickly. It'll be a bit harder for your older one. But a lot depends on the school's being accustomed to dealing with ex-pat kids and your kids wanting to really be able to get new French friends. If they're not into this idea as much as you, it's going to be rough. Just my two cents. I don't have kids but I am a teacher and I've seen it go wonderfully great, but also terribly wrong.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What a good idea. We have actually just returned from france, but not that area. Do you have any tips for founding cheap accommodation? Hubby wouldn't be able to try the commute though, I dont think we could afford it (the mortgage/rent in france would be lower to ofset it)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
363 Posts
I would try Airbnb if you're considering a month long rental, usually people will offer you deals when you stay for an entire month.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
thanks will look at that rental page
'smegged' god that sounds awful lol, take it hes a person who likes the whole french experience then lol. Anyone on here live in the more english zones then?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
363 Posts
thanks will look at that rental page
'smegged' god that sounds awful lol, take it hes a person who likes the whole french experience then lol. Anyone on here live in the more english zones then?
I have to admit, Gypsycob's response made me laugh. She called it that because (I assume) she is referring to the user who uses the handle smeg.

OOL - I am nowhere near other anglophones, so can't help there. Sorry!
 

·
Registered
'you can take the boy out of Sarf London, but you can't take Sarf London outta the boy'
Joined
·
1,757 Posts
Many questions there cammi, most of which i am not qualified to answer, but you will get good advice here.

Being smegged is something evetyone has to go through . It is part of the experience of living in 'real' france.

Just my tuppenyhalfpence worth. No matter how hard you study in the next eighteen months, your "basic french" will seem to fall short when and if you arrive. That is not to say things will be impossible, but it will be hard. I guess it will be easier in a popular expet area, but you should be under no illusions otherwise.

Bon courage....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,992 Posts
I won't smeg ya to bad :)

Unlike the contributors so far, I am not old, retired and I have kids in school. I would say that a non French speaking 10 year old is far too old to enter the French schooling system. They will undoubtedly have to repeat a year or maybe two. Repeating years is not good in France. It would therefore IMHO be very unfair and I don't see what life in the dordogne is going to offer as compensation. I am not saying it can't be done if there was no other alternative but given the choice (and you seem to have that choice) no one (I am taking French people) in their right mind would take such a gamble. So really the crucial question you have to ask yourself is, what do you think the Dordogne will offer you in terms of quality of life that makes taking that risk acceptable. Personally, if I had to move from where I live now in France with my kids and the choice was between the Dordogne or in the UK I would probably go for the UK......and the kids are born and bred in France with a French parent. The Dordogne will not offer my kids any quality of life.

Some further points. Moving to the Dordogne because a lot of people of speak 'English' is really not a good reason to move there. A high paid job is a good reason. ;) The only people who speak English are the people who can't speak French. The French will speak French to you. How will you communicate to set up bank accounts, telephone, administration, doctors, artisans, car, insurance ect. If you were looking for a life without stress, just dealing with the administration without any adequate French will give you high blood pressure.

If you think you can learn French in a couple of years think again.

Lastly, houses are not cheap in France. They look cheap but they are not.

Good luck
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
721 Posts
Have you thought which airports your OH could use for his commute? And how frequently he could fly over etc?
I ask this because prices into and out of the obvious Bergerac seem to have shot up, so much so that we routinely now use Bordeaux which would then leave a long drive to some parts of Dordogne. In addition the flights to Bergerac seem to be less frequent than they were I.e. operators not running any flights there at all on some days. In the event that your OH has to fly back to another UK airport then there are significant additional travel costs too.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with holidaying in the Dordogne in summer I don't think it will give you a genuine feel for the area's "mum friendliness". I'd suggest a half term stay, as fewer resident families will have left the area. You will also be able to better judge the liveliness level of the towns e.g. some are dead on non-market days. If you can, bring another adult with you who can mind the children whilst you go off doing research.

I have to admit that I think you will not be overrun with young expat families, even in Dordogne, since obtaining work is such an issue. It would be better to plan to be totally self-sufficient and then you can be pleasantly happy to find an expat with whom you can be friends.
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
I think you need to really question why you want to move to France (i.e. beyond the 'climate' and the 'culture'). You can certainly experience the 'culture' by holidaying in France, which would involve far less risk.

I commend you for planning to take French lessons before the move and would suggest you start straight away. That, at least, will give you some idea of whether or not you will find the language difficult to learn (the ability to learn the language is really a very individual issue, some people don't find it too hard at all, but many, especially those who are essentially mono-lingual, can find it extremely hard to learn - plus learning a language does take time and effort).

As for looking to start your life in an area where English is widely spoken: Firstly, you may find it is not that widely spoken for all the practical matters of life - administration, utilities, banking, shopping, medical and dental, etc etc. Also, the more you mix with Anglophones, the less likely you will really improve your French. It it's just for friendships, you would probably do just as well to not worry about whether there is a significant Anglophone community, but rather make the effort to speak French and make friends with the locals. That said, having some people in your network who speak English can make life more 'comfortable'. Also, Smeg's correct, many of the Anglophones in English speaking areas retired so not part of your generation.

I suspect you are currently toying with the idea. Do some research, read some of the books available in the UK on moving to France, and really ask yourselves why you want to make the move.

Finally, if money is tight for your family, bear in mind that moving to France maybe a real financial risk for you. Whilst housing appears cheap here, there are significant costs attached to it, eg. you would find renovations etc far more expensive to undertake here, and other Brits on the forum seem to indicate that otherwise the cost of living here is very similar to the UK.

BTW, if you move with children and even just one of them really hates it you'll be facing major issues.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,421 Posts
I see you're getting all the necessary advice about the living situation. Let me add a little bit about the tax situation. That may wind up being the real land mine here. While "lots of people do it" trying to commute back and forth between the UK and France is a quick way to seriously complicate your life, and the legalities of that sort of situation are anything but clear.

France has three basic determinants of being "tax resident" - if you meet any of the three, they claim you as their own for tax purposes. Briefly put, it's 1) if you work or carry out a business in France; 2) if your primary home/place of residence is in France; or 3) if your "primary centers of interest" are in France.

In your case, you wind up meeting #2 hands down, plus there is that #3, which can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Most UK employers will fight to the death to avoid recognizing their employees as French resident, because the "cotisations" (social insurances) that are due on a French employee are considerably higher for the employer than if they can just consider them a plain old UK employee. So most UK HR departments will insist on taking out UK taxes and social insurances - but when you draw the attention of the French tax authority, chances are they'll insist you are French resident and should be paying French taxes and cotisations. And each side leaves you to work your way out of the middle. (No, they won't talk directly to each other.)

Your UK health coverage does not transfer over to France. (Used to, but now only once you or your husband starts drawing a UK pension.) So either you'd have to return to the UK for other-than-urgent/necessary medical care, or you'd have to carry private health insurance in France.

Oh dear, I may have just out-smegged our own Smeg here. But the tax and social insurances side of your plan really do tend to mess things up for folks. Think this through carefully before you decide what to do.
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
526 Posts
I won't smeg ya to bad :)

Unlike the contributors so far, I am not old, retired
Oh Smeggy, you do love your seeping statements and generalisations!
I am 50 years old, not retired; I work! I have experienced the full brunt of la France; renovation, integration and administration and do not have a French spouse to smooth the process!

Some further points. Moving to the Dordogne because a lot of people of speak 'English' is really not a good reason to move there. A high paid job is a good reason. ;) The only people who speak English are the people who can't speak French. The French will speak French to you. How will you communicate to set up bank accounts, telephone, administration, doctors, artisans, car, insurance ect. If you were looking for a life without stress, just dealing with the administration without any adequate French will give you high blood pressure.

If you think you can learn French in a couple of years think again.

Lastly, houses are not cheap in France. They look cheap but they are not.

Good luck
I agree!

Gypsycob x
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,271 Posts
Well you seem to know the major problems you'll have to face (being a Brit abroad which you say you don't want to be, your OH having to commute which isn't great for family life) but it's not very clear what you're hoping to gain. You're hoping to get into French culture and hubby wants to get a job in Toulouse - but do you have a clear concept of what it is that you're hoping to find here, that you couldn't find in the UK? As everhopeful says, you need to ask yourself this and decide whether it's worth it. (If perchance 'becoming mortgage-free' is a main attraction - don't do it. Moving to France because you think you'll be better off financially is IMHO the very worst reason, it's an illusion and it usually ends in tears.)

As regards taxes and healthcare, if your OH continues to work on UK soil for a UK employer, he will continue to pay income tax and NICs in the UK. HMRC/DWP will issue him with a workers S1 (he will have to apply but as a cross-border worker he seems to meet all the criteria) which will cover his family for heathcare in France (you'll get carte vitales and he'll use his EHIC in France, and in the UK you'll use CEAMS and OH will be 'in' the NHS). As regards tax, you'll make an annual income declaration in France declaring total household income from all sources worldwide, but you'll declare OH's earnings as taxed in the UK and the DTA will apply so you're unlikely to have to pay much more tax, if any.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
363 Posts
Oh Smeggy, you do love your seeping statements and generalisations!
I am 50 years old, not retired; I work! I have experienced the full brunt of la France; renovation, integration and administration and do not have a French spouse to smooth the process!


Gypsycob x
Ha! I read that and thought, ":( I am neither old nor retired." I'm in my early 30s and working, thank you very much! I just don't have kids. But I have had a French husband to help me.

I do have to agree with what smeg said about the kids. It was put it a bit more bluntly than I did, but it isn't wrong. Last year I had a 12 year old student in one of my classes who spoke only Arabic at the beginning of the school year. While the school was able to provide him with FLE classes to help him improve his French somewhat quickly, there were still many, many communication issues throughout the year. And when you have to learn an entirely new language while taking classes at a grade level at the same time (and the French will not make any exceptions, trust me), being held back is pretty much inevitable. He was smart, but it was just too much stress for a kid his age, and I'm afraid he is not going to want to continue his studies as a result of very significant frustration. I don't think any parent wants to see their kid go through that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,992 Posts
Oh Smeggy, you do love your seeping statements and generalisations!
I am 50 years old, not retired.
Fifty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :eek:

I apologise Gypsycob...I thought you were old :D

Good point about my spouse being there to smooth things over with the administration. If I lived rural on my own I could cope but I would go mad. In a city, life is easy even if you don't speak French as you can deal with people face to face and you get by. Rural backwater and you are reliant on the phone. There is speaking and understanding French and there is speaking and understanding French on the phone. Add into the equation call centre mentality and French lack of patience and you are stuffed.

Trouble is, Britishy expats prefer the cheaper houses in the rural backwaters but they all invariably come a cropper when they need to communicate. Like I said, life is more expensive in more ways than one when you go rural. ;)
 

·
Read Only
Joined
·
18,642 Posts
In a city, life is easy even if you don't speak French as you can deal with people face to face and you get by. Rural backwater and you are reliant on the phone. There is speaking and understanding French and there is speaking and understanding French on the phone. Add into the equation call centre mentality and French lack of patience and you are stuffed.
Not sure that even in a city you can totally avoid speaking on the phone, sooner or later it becomes a necessity.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Many questions there cammi, most of which i am not qualified to answer, but you will get good advice here.

Being smegged is something evetyone has to go through . It is part of the experience of living in 'real' france.

Just my tuppenyhalfpence worth. No matter how hard you study in the next eighteen months, your "basic french" will seem to fall short when and if you arrive. That is not to say things will be impossible, but it will be hard. I guess it will be easier in a popular expet area, but you should be under no illusions otherwise.

Bon courage....
Believe me I am under no illusions of my short term french capabilities LOL thats what worries me, dealing with all the official stuff that will need to be done, if we need a doctor etc......
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Blimey I feel totally smegged all round. I'll try to reply to bits.
Things to clear up hubby commutes now anyway (granted not as far) but as far as family time is concerned his time home/away would be hardly any different. He is self employed contractor.
Reasons, for moving to France, what I dare not respond in fear of another smegging, so can I ask why all of you moved to France.
No its not the idea of being mortgage free.
Yes I had read we would need health insurance.
Feeling very deflated, but thanks for honest answers
 
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
Top