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Hello --

I've decided to take the plunge and move to Europe in mid-2022. I'm buttoning things up at work and will have a good amount of savings to live on.

I've traveled often to France but almost all of my time in Paris. While I love the City of Light I think I'd prefer a bit warmer climate in the south.

The only firm decision I've made thus far: I'm going to rent someplace before purchasing a house/condo/apartment.

I'm scheduling a trip for mid 2021 to scout out some of the best ex-pat locations. I've allocated 6 weeks for me to get boots on the ground and check out some locales. I thought I'd make a post here and get some of your recommendations for my scouting trip.

I hope to be an active reader and someday active contributor to this site.

Thanks for your time and ideas for me!
 

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The first and most obvious question here is "where are you coming from?" Followed closely by "what is your level of French?"

Chances are you will need a visa in order to move to France and for that you'll need to understand the visa requirements at that time. (After all this virus stuff has settled, I would expect there may be some changes to the visa and residence permit requirements by mid 2022.)

But normally the two main paths to a visa are either a job (which means the employer takes care of much of the visa stuff for you) or a tie of some sort to the country (a spouse, a project of some sort, which may include retirement). Living on savings may or may not get you a visa, depending on what your "project" is, your age and the state and amount of your savings.

And you need to give some thought to just what you mean by "the best ex-pat locations" - that depends heavily on what you're planning to do when you get here. Some folks want to find others nearby from their home country, while others do everything they can to avoid "foreigners" so they can throw themselves into the French way of life.
 

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... normally the two main paths to a visa are either a job (which means the employer takes care of much of the visa stuff for you) or a tie of some sort to the country (a spouse, a project of some sort, which may include retirement). Living on savings may or may not get you a visa, depending on what your "project" is, your age and the state and amount of your savings. ...
There is another option, a basic visitor visa. this would entitle you to remain in France for an extended period and could be renewable. This type of visa is commonly used by people who are retiring or taking a long period of time off from work. For example, a sabbatical. You would not be allowed to work and would be expected to demonstrate a sufficient income to support yourself while in France.

On the topic of where to look, are you thinking about city life, small town, country village or totally isolated? What about proximity to travel. Like airports trains highways etc.? What type of terrain, seaside, hills, mountains, farm lands? And, what are your interests, what do you like to do, social, hobbies, activities, etc.?

And, last thing for now... you mention ex-pat locations. Being overly broadly general here, outside of Paris the only real ex-pat communities you tend to find are British (English). I would say that, in general, people on this forum are of the type that would have gone, or have a tendency to go, “native.” So, you might want to keep that in mind as you read further responses.

Good luck, you are starting off with plenty of time to come up with a good direction for yourself.
 

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You have good advice in the posts above.

Here are some questions for you that may help you to progress your ideas. I'm not asking you to post your replies here.

1. What is it that attacts you to France? Expats here have different reasons, but it does help to have clarity.

2. What will you do, experience here that you cannot in your home country? (US?) The glamour of just "living in a different country" may well wear off quite quickly.

3. How do you see yourself in 10 or 20 years? Old age has a nasty habit of changing opinions and lifestyles. For example a remote house in the mountains may be attractive now, but with limited mobility and frequent visits to doctor and hospitals etc it can be difficult.

4. Do you intend to die in France? This question tends to define one's commitment go France!

5. As Bev says a reasonable level of French is highly desirable, especially outside Paris.

Good luck!

DejW
 

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You also need to ensure that you look at everything with an open mind. You don't say how much experience you have of France or even of Europe. If you have no experience at all, you may well be advised to come to Europe (in general) for an extended holiday. Bear in mind that, as with the US or Canada, the climate affects a lot of what is available and one's experience and the climate of the North is very different from that of the South. For example southern Spain is vastly different from northern Spain both in the the climate and the nature of the people.

So, best of all, is to take an extended holiday to Europe and travel around, see what grabs you but, bear in mind, that it might be vastly different at another time of the year (tourists both local and foreign.)
 

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Welcome to the forum! You do well not to rush into this project. Very good advice all round.

I'll only add a tangential comment: carefully review what you think you 'know' about places. Holidaying gives a very different point of view. For example, you mention the south as being 'warmer': it certainly is, but it can also get cold! Rugby is a popular sport in the south of France which seemed quite illogical to me at first. But having been here for some years, I appreciate that it's a good way to keep warm in winter!
 

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Please note that France does not generally regard "savings" as "income" Therefore if you are coming from outside the EU you will have no freedom of movement and will have to show that you can support yourself either with a job a business or income stream So it may be prudent to look at converting your savings into an income stream eg a rental property
Do not underestimate the daily cost of living in France eg health charges etc and bear in mind exchange rate fluctuations
 

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Please note that France does not generally regard "savings" as "income" Therefore if you are coming from outside the EU you will have no freedom of movement and will have to show that you can support yourself either with a job a business or income stream...
To make this a bit clearer for the 0P, you will certainly be able to move around freely, what Crabtree is referring to, I believe, is you will not benefit from the EU citizens’ right to “freedom of movement,” which is a thing in and of itself.

Regarding living off of your savings, there are ways to approach that that might work to resolve the issue. have your banker or broker write a letter stating that your regular withdrawals on a monthly basis will be sufficient to meet the French SMIC. That is basically the minimum wage, they’re not exactly the same thing. You will have to research to find the appropriate number at the time the letter is written.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you - thank you - thank you ALL
I posted this query just yesterday and expected a few responses to filter in over time.
But WOW... all of the above is wonderful.
I'll respond to all in a master post later tonight - am still doing that work thing from 9-5 for now.
Truly appreciate all your thoughts and will respond accordingly.
Steven
 

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Bev, I follow your well informed posts closely. Can you be any more specific about "some changes to the visa and residence permit requirements by mid 2022". Tougher for people wishing to retire on a Long Term Stay Visa. Less demanding?




The first and most obvious question here is "where are you coming from?" Followed closely by "what is your level of French?"

Chances are you will need a visa in order to move to France and for that you'll need to understand the visa requirements at that time. (After all this virus stuff has settled, I would expect there may be some changes to the visa and residence permit requirements by mid 2022.)
 

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How one views healthcare costs and reimbursements may well have to do on your home country perspective. From what I am gathering on this forum, for Brits having to buy a mutuelle in France and having to pay for some costs up front yet be reimbursed later may seem expensive. For Americans who have to pay higher monthly insurance premiums (even after Medicare kicks in) and still have to pay for many co pays for Dr visits/procedures/medications the French system seems to be a dream come true. From what I gather the chance of one going bankrupt in France is virtually nil while in the US is is a real possibility. All that said I could be simplifying things and not understand things clearly.







Please note that France does not generally regard "savings" as "income" Therefore if you are coming from outside the EU you will have no freedom of movement and will have to show that you can support yourself either with a job a business or income stream So it may be prudent to look at converting your savings into an income stream eg a rental property
Do not underestimate the daily cost of living in France eg health charges etc and bear in mind exchange rate fluctuations
 

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The only firm decision I've made thus far: I'm going to rent someplace before purchasing a house/condo/apartment.
Smart move.

I'm scheduling a trip for mid 2021 to scout out some of the best ex-pat locations. I've allocated 6 weeks for me to get boots on the ground and check out some locales.
Good idea.I would suggest that (if you have the time and money) you come to France a year before the move, rent a car, and roam around the country for a month. Visit as many cities/areas as you can and spend at least a few days in each to get "the vibe' of a place.

I've decided to take the plunge and move to Europe in mid-2022.
This may appear to be an odd question but do you have a parent or grandparent that was born in Ireland, Italy or Poland? If so, you may qualify for citizenship in that country. Once you have a passport from an EU country you have eliminated any need to apply for a visa or resident's card to live in France. There are other EU countries that allow some eligibility for descendants to acquire citizenship but in some countries the requirements can be obscure and difficult to fulfill. For example, if your ancestors were stripped of their citizenship by the German government in the 1930s for being Jewish, you might qualify for German citizenship.

Best of luck.
 

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Bev, I follow your well informed posts closely. Can you be any more specific about "some changes to the visa and residence permit requirements by mid 2022". Tougher for people wishing to retire on a Long Term Stay Visa. Less demanding?
Afraid I can't be more specific than that - just an indication to keep watching the French consulate web pages on visas to see what develops over the next months and years.

When visa processing for those outside the EU starts up again, there could be "adjustments" to the rules depending on whether various countries actually have the pandemic under control or if they are still experiencing successive waves. Or, the economic situation in the wake of the pandemic may change how they look at "living on savings" or maybe just affect the exchange rates.

And, as I've always noted, it's actually quite important the reason you give for wanting a long-stay visa to come to France. Someone planning out a year or two needs to just keep an eye on developments.
 

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Thank you - thank you - thank you ALL
I posted this query just yesterday and expected a few responses to filter in over time.
But WOW... all of the above is wonderful.
I'll respond to all in a master post later tonight - am still doing that work thing from 9-5 for now.
Truly appreciate all your thoughts and will respond accordingly.
Steven
As you may have noticed we are bumbling around a little in the dark because we don't know:
  • Where you are now
  • What experience you have of life in general on the side of the pond
  • Whether you have spent any or how much, time in France or any other European country or, indeed any other country outside your country of birth/life up till now.
So filling in those gaps will maybe help us to advise you better.
 

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How one views healthcare costs and reimbursements may well have to do on your home country perspective. From what I am gathering on this forum, for Brits having to buy a mutuelle in France and having to pay for some costs up front yet be reimbursed later may seem expensive. For Americans who have to pay higher monthly insurance premiums (even after Medicare kicks in) and still have to pay for many co pays for Dr visits/procedures/medications the French system seems to be a dream come true. From what I gather the chance of one going bankrupt in France is virtually nil while in the US is is a real possibility. All that said I could be simplifying things and not understand things clearly.
There are a huge number of people going bankrupt in France at the moment, in fact there have always been people going bankrupt - it is not uncommon. It is also something that you should bear in mind if you are relying on foreign income, because exchange rates can and do vary, sometimes wildly if there is a crisis of some kind in the foreign country.
 

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I guess my point, and I could be wrong, is that citizens in France don't often go bankrupt "specifically" due to racking up hundreds of thousands of euros of debt in health care expenses. This is not uncommon in the US as I'm sure you are aware. They now may be going bankrupt by losing jobs due to Covid and that lost income but are they going broke due to health care costs? Please enlighten me if have have misinformation or am harboring some myth about health care debt and bankruptcy in France.





There are a huge number of people going bankrupt in France at the moment, in fact there have always been people going bankrupt - it is not uncommon. It is also something that you should bear in mind if you are relying on foreign income, because exchange rates can and do vary, sometimes wildly if there is a crisis of some kind in the foreign country.
 

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I guess my point, and I could be wrong, is that citizens in France don't often go bankrupt "specifically" due to racking up hundreds of thousands of euros of debt in health care expenses. This is not uncommon in the US as I'm sure you are aware. They now may be going bankrupt by losing jobs due to Covid and that lost income but are they going broke due to health care costs? Please enlighten me if have have misinformation or am harboring some myth about health care debt and bankruptcy in France.
Well, no, not because of hundreds of thousand of euros of debt in health care expenses. Though I suspect most Americans who are in a position to plan to move do currently have appropriate cover via their employment.

Health care is definitely less expensive in France, although I suspect that might well change in the near future, perhaps more so for people coming from non EU countries, and I also suspect that accessing PUMA might be more difficult in the not too distant future. There is no doubt that the health care system in France is in extreme trouble which is going to have to be addressed very soon. How that might pan out for non-EU citizens I don't know, but they would appear to be an easy target. So watch this space and keep track of what is happening in France.
 

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Just a brief note of explanation for any lurkers here - according to some sources, health care debt (usually the result of some sort of accident or catastrophic illness in the family) is the leading cause of personal bankruptcies in the US.
A CNBC report from February 2019 says that 66.5 percent of all US bankruptcies were tied to medical issues.

That is sad.
 

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Well, I did say that people in France don't go bankrupt because of hundreds of thousands of dollars of health care debt :thud:

I note though that many US pensioners are only too happy to retire to France, join the French health system and not have to pay a cent for what is actually a contributory system, i.e. funded by defined contributions. There are also a fair few US retirees here who don't even (under the tax treaty) have to pay the CRDS or CSG. Like bees to a honeypot.
 
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