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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all. My husband & I (both retired, now in our late-60s) are in the very early stages of researching the possibility of relocating to rural France where English relatives also have a property (Lot et Garonne).
We are currently permanent residents of Australia, but also hold NZ citizenship, and we have current passports for both countries. To further complicate matters, we were both born & raised in the UK until our 20s and 30s, and have EU passports as well!
I speak a little French & am keen to learn more as is my husband, and our wish would be to retire to France & buy a small property where we would live permanently.
We would like to know how difficult it would be for us to gain the required visa(s) to enter the country permanently, and whether we would be best advised to apply as British nationals or as Australian residents. Any help/advice you can give us would be most welcome.
Obviously, we are willing to do other research ourselves but we thought this forum would be a good place to obtain information from like-minded people who have been through the system & are now happily settled in their country of choice.
 

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With your EU passport you don't need a visa! Even if you didn't have an EU passport, to get a visa as an Australian citizen wouldn't be overly difficult because you'd be retiring and not looking for work.

If you have the choice to use your EU citizenship to skip the visa, go for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Many thanks Sarah for your help. You have certainly set us on the path to discovery! We will now start to do some more research regarding our pension payments, health insurance, tax implications, etc. Exciting times ahead, no doubt. All the best.
 

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Many thanks Sarah for your help. You have certainly set us on the path to discovery! We will now start to do some more research regarding our pension payments, health insurance, tax implications, etc. Exciting times ahead, no doubt. All the best.
Plenty people here have lots of knowledge in this area, though I myself am completely ignorant. Just hang around and you will get lots of feedback. All the best with your research.
 

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Yup, like Sarah said, if you have an EU passport (UK, I presume) you don't need to worry about visas at all.

As far as pensions are concerned, you need to check into the mechanics of having your pensions paid into a French bank account (if possible), or how to transfer from your bank back home to your bank in France without incurring too many wire transfer fees. Don't know what arrangements other governments have, but the US social security system has an arrangement to transfer its retirement benefits to France, do the conversion to euros and then direct deposit funds into the beneficiaries' French bank accounts.

As far as taxes are concerned, you'll have to find out what the tax situation is for your pensions, depending on the source of the pensions. Government pensions are usually taxable by the government that is paying them, though here in France you always have to declare worldwide income once you're resident. (There's a separate form for detailing "foreign source" income according to its taxable status.)

Health care can be tricky. If you are entitled to NHS care in the UK, you need to get a statement from them (from "Newcastle" according to those who have done this) as to your eligibility for benefits, and if you are qualified, you can turn that into a Carte Vitale (a French social security card). If you're not qualified for UK health care, then you'll need to have a private insurance - check the big international insurance companies for "expat health insurance." (Travel health insurance usually includes sending you back to your "home country" for long term treatment, which doesn't seem to be what you have in mind.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Hi all. My husband & I (both retired, now in our late-60s) are in the very early stages of researching the possibility of relocating to rural France where English relatives also have a property (Lot et Garonne).
We are currently permanent residents of Australia, but also hold NZ citizenship, and we have current passports for both countries. To further complicate matters, we were both born & raised in the UK until our 20s and 30s, and have EU passports as well!
I speak a little French & am keen to learn more as is my husband, and our wish would be to retire to France & buy a small property where we would live permanently.
We would like to know how difficult it would be for us to gain the required visa(s) to enter the country permanently, and whether we would be best advised to apply as British nationals or as Australian residents. Any help/advice you can give us would be most welcome.
Obviously, we are willing to do other research ourselves but we thought this forum would be a good place to obtain information from like-minded people who have been through the system & are now happily settled in their country of choice.
This is almost our situation and as has been said - with a UK passport no visa required. If you are entitled to a UK government pension (no matter how small) Newcastle will issue an S1 document as soon as you give them your date of arrival and address in France. Take this to the CPAM with a whole bunch of other documents and they will issue a Carte Vitale. You will need top-up insurance (mutulle) to cover the parts that don't get reimbursed and extra bills for hospitals.

However, I suspect your biggest issue will be the language. At our time of life learning skills and memory are fading and it becaomes harder to acquire new knowledge. We have certainly found this to be a problem, my only advantage is I learned a lot of French in High School and that stays with you for life (it needs refreshing but not learning).

Good luck
 

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This is almost our situation and as has been said - with a UK passport no visa required. If you are entitled to a UK government pension (no matter how small) Newcastle will issue an S1 document as soon as you give them your date of arrival and address in France. Take this to the CPAM with a whole bunch of other documents and they will issue a Carte Vitale. You will need top-up insurance (mutulle) to cover the parts that don't get reimbursed and extra bills for hospitals.

However, I suspect your biggest issue will be the language. At our time of life learning skills and memory are fading and it becaomes harder to acquire new knowledge. We have certainly found this to be a problem, my only advantage is I learned a lot of French in High School and that stays with you for life (it needs refreshing but not learning).

Good luck
I wish people would stop the stereotype that as you get older you lose learning skills and learning anything takes longer. Goes hand in hand with TV adverts which show older people as being deficient in computer skills , etc. I would recommend you concentrate on speaking and listening to spoken French and learning the main verbs. Working together, act out situations in the bank, shop, making phone calls - EDF is essential!

Once here as long as you change your mindset and actually really live in France. Watch French TV, listen to French radio, shop on French online shops and speak French as much as possible — it soon sinks in. Try to set up as many utilities, insurances and banking before you move here. If you think you will find learning French difficult - you have set up a problem and will have difficulty. Bonne chance.
 

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Hi BabsyM

I see you have had lots of advice but I thought I'd add a bit more. France financial rules seem to require you to provide a huge amount of paperwork to prove the origin of funds when you buy a house so make sure you have lots of documentation with you when you get to the stage of buying. Credit Agricole Britline in Normandie have English speaking staff and I have found them really helpful with financial matters and to be honest I have not found this with some of the other banks where the communication can be painful if your French is not really great. I'm actually fairly fluent but I still have trouble with some of the formal and technical language the banks tend to use and they are not all helpful.

Lots of luck with your move - it is a fabulous country.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yup, like Sarah said, if you have an EU passport (UK, I presume) you don't need to worry about visas at all.

As far as pensions are concerned, you need to check into the mechanics of having your pensions paid into a French bank account (if possible), or how to transfer from your bank back home to your bank in France without incurring too many wire transfer fees. Don't know what arrangements other governments have, but the US social security system has an arrangement to transfer its retirement benefits to France, do the conversion to euros and then direct deposit funds into the beneficiaries' French bank accounts.

As far as taxes are concerned, you'll have to find out what the tax situation is for your pensions, depending on the source of the pensions. Government pensions are usually taxable by the government that is paying them, though here in France you always have to declare worldwide income once you're resident. (There's a separate form for detailing "foreign source" income according to its taxable status.)

Health care can be tricky. If you are entitled to NHS care in the UK, you need to get a statement from them (from "Newcastle" according to those who have done this) as to your eligibility for benefits, and if you are qualified, you can turn that into a Carte Vitale (a French social security card). If you're not qualified for UK health care, then you'll need to have a private insurance - check the big international insurance companies for "expat health insurance." (Travel health insurance usually includes sending you back to your "home country" for long term treatment, which doesn't seem to be what you have in mind.)
Cheers,
Bev
Bev, all this information is so helpful...thank you very much. We now have plenty of advice from this one forum to set us on the right track. I really appreciate the time you have taken to offer your help.
 

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I wish people would stop the stereotype that as you get older you lose learning skills and learning anything takes longer.
It's not a stereotype - its scientific fact. Anything you learn prior to age 20 (or so) will remain with you for life, just needs recalling via appropriate triggers. Anything you learn later than this has to be constantly practised or it lapses. This process takes longer and longer as we age. Don't take my word for it - do the research.

Cheers
 

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It's not a stereotype - its scientific fact. Anything you learn prior to age 20 (or so) will remain with you for life, just needs recalling via appropriate triggers. Anything you learn later than this has to be constantly practised or it lapses. This process takes longer and longer as we age. Don't take my word for it - do the research.

Cheers
Research keeps changing and is not always correct. My point was that if you start thinking you will have difficulty learning French you will have difficulty. So start with a positive mindset and you will succeed. I am 64 and hardly anything I learned before I was 20 is relevant in 2012...
 

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I agree that language learning gets harder as you get older, but I think your natural skills are as important as age, and research also shows that if you already speak more than one language it's easier to learn others. I learned French at 25 and it was certainly easier for me than learning Russian at 16...but more because it was my 5th language and I already knew how my brain worked and how foreign language learning worked. But now at 35 I find myself frustrated because I feel I've reached a plateau and am not really improving in French - and I know my four-year-old will soon be speaking better French than me. But I guess it's also to do with my own laziness - now that I can do everything in French without making an effort, I don't spend time studying anymore. But I should.
 

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I am 64 and hardly anything I learned before I was 20 is relevant in 2012...
Oh so true - but relevance is not what this is about. Can you recite a 12 times table? or 16 times? I can but I can't imagine why I would want to anymore ;)

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
David, thank you for your help too. We have been overwhelmed with the response to my initial post. I did live & work in Geneva for 2 years many moons ago so have a smattering of conversational French and am sure I will pick it up quickly. I think our biggest problem could be with regard to our Aussie pensions - also the fact that my husband doesn't get a UK pension....but we will see what we can do about these two issued.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I wish people would stop the stereotype that as you get older you lose learning skills and learning anything takes longer. Goes hand in hand with TV adverts which show older people as being deficient in computer skills , etc. I would recommend you concentrate on speaking and listening to spoken French and learning the main verbs. Working together, act out situations in the bank, shop, making phone calls - EDF is essential!

Once here as long as you change your mindset and actually really live in France. Watch French TV, listen to French radio, shop on French online shops and speak French as much as possible — it soon sinks in. Try to set up as many utilities, insurances and banking before you move here. If you think you will find learning French difficult - you have set up a problem and will have difficulty. Bonne chance.
Thank you for your input too....every bit of information we can get will be helpful in our research, I'm sure & I much appreciate the tips and tricks we have received. :ranger:
 

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David, thank you for your help too. We have been overwhelmed with the response to my initial post. I did live & work in Geneva for 2 years many moons ago so have a smattering of conversational French and am sure I will pick it up quickly. I think our biggest problem could be with regard to our Aussie pensions - also the fact that my husband doesn't get a UK pension....but we will see what we can do about these two issued.
If you qualify for a UK pension in your own right you can get an S1 with your husband as a 'dependant' - that's what we did last year as I hadn't reached retirement age (by about 2 months!). Worth checking out

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hi BabsyM

I see you have had lots of advice but I thought I'd add a bit more. France financial rules seem to require you to provide a huge amount of paperwork to prove the origin of funds when you buy a house so make sure you have lots of documentation with you when you get to the stage of buying. Credit Agricole Britline in Normandie have English speaking staff and I have found them really helpful with financial matters and to be honest I have not found this with some of the other banks where the communication can be painful if your French is not really great. I'm actually fairly fluent but I still have trouble with some of the formal and technical language the banks tend to use and they are not all helpful.

Lots of luck with your move - it is a fabulous country.
Janine, it sure is a fabulous country! We had visited it many times on our various return trips to England to catch up with family and would love to be able to come and live there permanently. Thanks so much for your finance information...I can imagine the difficulties involved with trying to communicate with such institutions but we have family in France who are fluent French speakers now so I am sure they would be able to assist if necessary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
If you qualify for a UK pension in your own right you can get an S1 with your husband as a 'dependant' - that's what we did last year as I hadn't reached retirement age (by about 2 months!). Worth checking out

Cheers
Hi again, David. Thanks for that - it could be one of the problems half solved. He has reached pensionable age but didn't work for long enough in the UK when he was young to qualify for the British pension - unfortunate, but true! It is worth checking out his eligibility as a "dependant" though.
 

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Just to endorse and amplify what's already been said:

the French do love their paperwork - you don't exist unless you can prove it, etc ..... In practice, this means as much source original documentation as you can gather, including full (not abbreviated) birth certificates, marriage (& divorce if relevant) certificates, health records if you can get them (you can't in the UK 'cos they belong to the Home Secretary !!!), eyewear prescriptions, driving licences, banking & income records, & any financial, residence etc references you can get. And if you're planning to import anything "big" like a car or furniture, bring your original receipts because you may be liable to pay import tax - this particularly applies to vehicles/caravans when you want to re-register them here.

You might not need all of it but in the event you do, it's easier to collect before you leave rather than try to get anything missing once you've moved. I know that some places say you have to have some of these things as "certified translations", but I've never found having the UK originals a problem.

It seems mind-boggingly daunting at first, but once you get launched into it, it'll be done - and then it's done :)

Good luck

Hils
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Just to endorse and amplify what's already been said:

the French do love their paperwork - you don't exist unless you can prove it, etc ..... In practice, this means as much source original documentation as you can gather, including full (not abbreviated) birth certificates, marriage (& divorce if relevant) certificates, health records if you can get them (you can't in the UK 'cos they belong to the Home Secretary !!!), eyewear prescriptions, driving licences, banking & income records, & any financial, residence etc references you can get. And if you're planning to import anything "big" like a car or furniture, bring your original receipts because you may be liable to pay import tax - this particularly applies to vehicles/caravans when you want to re-register them here.

You might not need all of it but in the event you do, it's easier to collect before you leave rather than try to get anything missing once you've moved. I know that some places say you have to have some of these things as "certified translations", but I've never found having the UK originals a problem.

It seems mind-boggingly daunting at first, but once you get launched into it, it'll be done - and then it's done :)

Good luck

Hils
Many thanks for the additional information.....always better to be armed with the proof as we found when we moved from NZ to Aussie years ago! Happy Easter. :ranger:
 
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