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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey,

Serious effort and thoughts about moving to France here!!! Have done savings, have done some research and have done the endless talking about it, but now we think it is time to maybe take some steps towards moving from the UK to France. For all the things we are looking for we have decided to concentrate looking arounf the Rhone Alpes region...

I know you guys are all really clued up on all of this, I have read through lots and lots of posts and have been really impressed!!!

What we need is some serious advice. Where do we start. We have two grown ups and one little man. I could list a whole load of questions but I fear that may detract from some key issues we may have missed!

Anything you can offer to point us in the right direction to getting the ball rolling would be ace. I know once we are in the middle of it things will sort of fall into place a little but, but really, what do we need to do now!!!

Thanks all...

Wayne...
 
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1. Will you need a job when you come out here?

2. You're highly unlikely to get a job when you're out here.

3. Do you have enough moolah to keep you and your family for maybe 3-4 years in the event of you not getting a job here.

4. Do you speak french ( the real stuff, not what they teach in school) reasonably well?

Sorry to be so negative, but I'd much rather folk have a grasp on the realities before they jump ship than come out here hoping for 'something to turn up', getting more and more disillusioned and then having to go back to the uk.

I mean, something 'turned up' for me, but only after I'd lived here for three years, immersed myself in the language, and rather perversely, went quite deliberately for an interview for a job that I was wholly unqualified for.

What do you need to do now? Well number one thing for me would be to learn french to the point where you think in french.
 

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There was a time, not so long ago, when it was possible to make a living by servicing British and other English-speaking expats in France without having to be fluent in French (you still needed to speak well enough to deal with suppliers, officialdom etc). It could be construction, painting and decorating, interior and exterior designs, financial services etc. All this has changed now. Many expats have returned home or are in the process of doing so, and those who stay, or have no alternative to staying put (e.g. because they cannot sell their houses) are skimping and scraping and not spending on non-essentials. You now have to compete directly with French and expats with language skill and experience, and with high unemployment and most employers favouring local applicants, it's very tough. Your best bet is like teaching English, but you need a proper ESOL qualification (such as CELTA) and some experience, and competition is stiff. Or if you are working for a big corporation, try to get an internal transfer to their French offices or subsidiaries, but in the recession most firms are cutting back on that.
Sorry I have no positive message to give, but as minesthechevy says, one can only be realistic. But don't give up on your dreams - keep your eyes and ears open, start networking, and something may turn up!
 

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In one sense, you're lucky because you don't need to worry about a visa to just move over to France any time you like. But in another sense, having to get a visa means that you have to convince the immigration people that you have some idea what you're doing and you can support yourself for a while in France before they'll even let you into the country.

As the others have already said, the big issue is what you plan to do in France. You've selected a region you want to live in, but can you find a job there? You'll need a job (or a source of income of some sort) to be able to rent a house and do all the other stuff people seem to like to do when they get to France.

If you want to start the ball rolling, start making some exploratory trips to the region you think you'd like to live in and see for yourself what the job situation is in your line of work. Finding a job in France is tough at the best of times (certainly for foreigners), but it only takes one job. You just have to find it - or find out for yourself if you need to brush up your French, or take some additional classes or finish that certificate to qualify for something you'd like to do. Just start slow - and always have a backup plan.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks guys for your honest and open responses....

I have a successful internet business which I can run from overseas... That money covers out expenses while away....

What I was looking for is more so info on where we need to be looking at to settle into somewhere, like legal documents, rental agreements, education options, and anything we need to think about cost aside.....

Again, any info would be ace....

Also, I'll add, we have been taking French lessons on the whole for the past few months now, so am sure that when we do decide when to chip over, we will have more than a basic understanding, well as much as possible without submerging ourselves in France anyway!!!!

Thanks,

Wayne!

Wyane!
 
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Depends if you are renting, or buying as well. It's a buyer's market at the moment, but the mistake many would-be expats make is to fall in love with some beautiful place way out in the sticks somewhere, miles from the nearest facilities, overlook refurbishment costs, and assume they can make a decent income from B&B or gîtes - which you can't without a lot of factors in your favour (a long list I won't include here just yet). And then get buried under an avalanche of costs they had totally underestimated.

If the internet business doesn't pay a lot more than pocket money, then you would either need some way of increasing this drastically, or you need to think about being in very close proximity to a big urban area. In the countryside today, as Joppa suggests, there just aren't the jobs available these days. With a big city like Lyon (you mentioned looking at the Rhône-Alpes) at close hand, then you're in with a chance - but not much of one, that is, not until you have a good command of French. Unfortunately that only comes after a year or three of immersion and learning, not a few months.

The exception to that would be your son, who after six months at a state school (very cheap), will be pretty fluent.

Renting (or buying) in, or within commuting distance of a big city is not cheap. It would help to have some idea of budget to know if either would be possible for you.

It's mainly about finances - the rest would fall into place around these. For a Brit to move to France there are no major obstacles. The state is obliged to provide you with a place for your son at the nearest school. To rent, in most cases you have to prove your means, which is little different to anywhere else. But really, to add anything else, some idea of circumstances, skills, budget, is needed :)
 

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In addition to what Frogblogger said, you will need to look into establishing your Internet business in France in order to get registered with the appropriate caisses to pay your social insurances, and other taxes. Your level of turnover will determine what registration options are open to you - and what your status is for VAT.

Leases for residential property are normally for 3 years, with specifics built into the contract regarding rent increases and how, when and for what reasons you can break the lease mid-term. Depending on your Internet business, you may need to check the sort of Internet service available wherever you are considering renting, as there are still a few "black holes" or areas that can't support high-speed lines or "de-groupé" service. If you get a professional contract for your phone service, they will promise 24 hour response in the case of disruption of service, but out in the country you can't count on them to actually make repairs in that time frame. (Last week we went almost 3 days with no phone and thus no ADSL line - and we're not that far from Paris.)

One thing that seems to surprise most Brits here is that the health care system (the sécu) only covers about 60 - 70% of most routine medical bills. It's a reimbursement system, so you pay the doctor (or lab or pharmacist) and then you're reimbursed into your bank account by the state for their share. If you want 100% reimbursement, you need to get a mutuelle, which is a kind of top-up insurance (and for which you pay by the number of persons you are insuring). They aren't terribly expensive, but you may want to arrange for this through your business if you can find a better deal this way.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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What do you need to do now? Well number one thing for me would be to learn french to the point where you think in french.
The French love their language. It is pretty clear that you need to be basically fluent or else you will drown and doors will be closed in your face. It's evident in the fact that even the applications are all in French. You either are competent in speaking, reading, and writing in French or you are packing your bags to go back to where you came from.

Your other suggestions were a bit harsh but the reality of finding your way in a foreign country is harsh, the options are few, the choices are limited. Might help to try to soften the blow a bit though. Many people turn to forums like this one for hope and answers.
 
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<<<Your other suggestions were a bit harsh >>>

Yes, they were, and I am - usually. Better for people to be disillusioned up-front than ending up broke, jobless, possibly homeless, in an alien culture, and disillusioned.

<<<< Might help to try to soften the blow a bit though. >>>

Why? If its a 'blow' then it needs to be seen for what it is up-front.

<<<Many people turn to forums like this one for hope and answers >>>

Hope, whether false or not, is for others to give, I just try and supply answers based on my own experience. Hopefully, that will enable folk to make SOUND judgements on what to do.
 
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I've seen otherwise intelligent, wise and sensible people turn into glassy-eyed, naive and gullible chumps at the prospect of a move to their personal idea of utopia, and lose fortunes (1), relationships and/or health in plunging ahead regardless of the advice of those who have lived the reality of such a move.

Much better to tell it as it is. Grass mostly only looks greener from a distance.

(1) Including one example of a French-speaking retiree couple (school inspector and head teacher) who ignored my offer of advice, and lost their life savings of £300,000 as the result of an abortive move to France. After this fiasco their son, following an exchange of emails with me where I advised him to use a far softer and more subtle approach, then decided to try to browbeat the French authorities into submission in order to recoup his parents' losses, via court cases and appeals to higher authorities. All of which predictably failed, thereby throwing good money after bad. It's a long story - I've blogged about the first episode before, must update soon with the latest farcical developments.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Wow,

What a crazy thread! Okay, firstly, thanks to you all for taking the time to throw your thoughts and suggestions out there.

However, I do think that the majority of responses have been way over the top, negative and a little out of the box. Now, I am no stranger to travelling and sending substantial time overseas in countries with different culture s and different languages. I haven't settled anywhere where a different language is spoken, but I have spent periods of up to 3 months in that sort of situation. I have also immigrated to NZ before and found out all about packing up and moving away for years.

One thing I do know is that in life, anything is possible. There may be obstacles and hurdles along the way, but if you really want something, then it is always achievable!!! Some responses here, it appears to me, and not just me it seems, have been put on here as if to discourage me from exploring this option in my life. I don't really know why.

Why do you feel it is acceptable to tell me that if I want to move to France, it would be almost impossible? How did you do it? Where did you start?? And comments about having people that will close doors in my face if I do not speak perfect and fluent French?! That is crazy. Why not advise me to learn French to a high level? I honestly cannot believe how negative this thread is.

If I have experienced something wonderful and reached my goal, I would not shy away from sharing my experience and tips on how to make this achievable to others.

I will add, there have been some good feedback in relation to my situation, with the comments about the health service and registering my business, so thank you for that and to anyone who posted positive feedback and advice.

To all the others, I suggest you actually think about why you take the time o come here and answer threads such as mine...
 
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TWE, the definition of what is 'over the top' is when someone exaggerates the point either for effect, or for some other ulterior motive. I can guarantee that is not the case as far as I'm concerned, and from what I know of MTC, who has posted here for some time, he is only speaking his mind based on his own knowledge and experience.

France has been in the doldrums economically for some time now. The French are extremely protectionist with respect to jobs and speaking the lingo, and unless you have independent resources and/or special talents that are in demand internationally, it is extremely difficult to find work. It is a fact that many would-be expats come unprepared for the difficulties they will inevitably encounter - witness the numbers currently returning to the UK, by way of example, having not thought to factor in the strength (or otherwise) of sterling into their original plans. There are all manner of obstacles that lie in wait, particularly for the more naive.

Yes, some of us posting here have been successful. Others have struggled, and survived to tell the story. In my opinion would-be expats are fortunate to have this resource, with people prepared to tell them of the difficulties they might encounter, warts 'n all, whether they appreciate it or not ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The French are extremely protectionist with respect to jobs and speaking the lingo, and unless you have independent resources and/or special talents that are in demand internationally, it is extremely difficult to find work. It is a fact that many would-be expats come unprepared for the difficulties they will inevitably encounter - witness the numbers currently returning to the UK, by way of example, having not thought to factor in the strength (or otherwise) of sterling into their original plans. There are all manner of obstacles that lie in wait, particularly for the more naive.
Thanks...

I am quite sure I understand the defenition of over the tiop... thanks...

During the thread I have detailed I do have independant resources, a couple of times... Maybe read back. And again, during the thread I did state that I am looking for advice on locations, medical care, education, taxes, legal documents... Not merely on how I have to become fluent in French, which everyone is tremendously hung up on. I am under no illussion about that, whiich everyone seems to think I am...

gain, thanks for your reply, but maybe as I mentioned in my last post, people may want to try and be a little more helpful rather that give off an impression that they are part of an elite group and to join it I would have to be very very lucky and daft to even contemplate it... :-(
 
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If you prefer to mistranslate honesty and realistic advice as negativity coming from some sort of elitist club determined to put off new members, then you have completely misunderstood the motives of those posting here. Of course, that is entirely your prerogative, just as it is entirely your right to completely ignore any advice that doesn't contribute to a more optimistic outlook.

It is not a question of being 'hung up on' speaking French. The reality of the situation is that to speak a language sufficiently fluently for the purposes of job-seeking takes more than a few months, if learning from scratch. You were asked to provide a few more details to help us to advise you - budget, skills, circumstances etc - in good faith. As you didn't answer, you've received a range of responses, including some pointing out the major obstacles for those who set out ill-prepared. It is virtually impossible to provide useful advice on "locations, medical care, education, taxes, legal documents", without some idea of what you have planned.
 

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<<<Your other suggestions were a bit harsh >>>

Yes, they were, and I am - usually. Better for people to be disillusioned up-front than ending up broke, jobless, possibly homeless, in an alien culture, and disillusioned.
Your delivery was harsh, I was otherwise agreeing with you (e.g., "but the reality of finding your way in a foreign country is harsh, the options are few, the choices are limited").

I also agree with you frogblogger, that family's fate that you spoke of was awful. However, anecdotal evidence of financial failure is not the first thing someone contemplating a change of scene should hear about.

<<<Many people turn to forums like this one for hope and answers >>>

Hope, whether false or not, is for others to give, I just try and supply answers based on my own experience. Hopefully, that will enable folk to make SOUND judgements on what to do.
No amount of sound advice can prevent people from ruining their lives.
 

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It is not a question of being 'hung up on' speaking French. The reality of the situation is that to speak a language sufficiently fluently for the purposes of job-seeking takes more than a few months, if learning from scratch.
My understanding is it takes years. Many, many years. In other countries, the government bends over backwards to accommodate individuals from English speaking countries, it's easier to get by. In France, "getting by" is practically impossible, especially if you want to be employed. In France, you speak French.
 
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I also agree with you frogblogger, that family's fate that you spoke of was awful. However, anecdotal evidence of financial failure is not the first thing someone contemplating a change of scene should hear about.
Why ever not? If all the necessary precautions are taken, then would-be expats have little to fear, other than bad luck. And even bad luck should be factored in, to an extent. The moral of that little story is that even the most educated and financially secure can come a cropper, in that particular case because they took themselves too seriously and believed they had no need whatsoever of advice from anyone else.

Anecdotal accounts are occasionally useful, and can serve as a reality check to people contemplating a major move of this kind. And if you think that I make a habit of providing anecdotal evidence, then you can only have taken a very cursory look at my contributions to this forum - or indeed, my first contribution to this thread.

It is not a question of being 'hung up on' speaking French. The reality of the situation is that to speak a language sufficiently fluently for the purposes of job-seeking takes more than a few months, if learning from scratch.
My understanding is it takes years. Many, many years. In other countries, the government bends over backwards to accommodate individuals from English speaking countries, it's easier to get by. In France, "getting by" is practically impossible, especially if you want to be employed. In France, you speak French.
I don't know about "many, many years" - it rather depends on the individual. But on the whole, that's a pretty accurate summary.
 

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Wow,

One thing I do know is that in life, anything is possible. There may be obstacles and hurdles along the way, but if you really want something, then it is always achievable!!! Some responses here, it appears to me, and not just me it seems, have been put on here as if to discourage me from exploring this option in my life. I don't really know why.

Why do you feel it is acceptable to tell me that if I want to move to France, it would be almost impossible? How did you do it? Where did you start?? And comments about having people that will close doors in my face if I do not speak perfect and fluent French?! That is crazy. Why not advise me to learn French to a high level? I honestly cannot believe how negative this thread is.
I enjoy your optimism. Anything is possible and no one should attempt to stomp out your "dreams" or goals.

I don't know if I would equate the mood at this forum as "elitist" but I agree with your idea that some responses are very discouraging. No one should be forced to hear the negative first or almost exclusively.
 
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I enjoy your optimism. Anything is possible and no one should attempt to stomp out your "dreams" or goals.

I don't know if I would equate the mood at this forum as "elitist" but I agree with your idea that some responses are very discouraging. No one should be forced to hear the negative first or almost exclusively.
Membership of the forum is voluntary. No one is compelled to read it, indeed anyone who joins hoping only to hear what they would like to hear in response to their questions would do better asking the opinion of real estate brokers and the like. As for daft comments about "stomping out dreams"... dreams have turned into nightmares for enough expats to make it important to be made aware of all the pitfalls as well as the positives of making a move abroad.

If you take the trouble to read a broad cross-section of enquiries to this forum, you will find that only a very small percentage contain pointedly 'realistic' remarks in response. Usually this occurs in replies to posts that come across, at first sight, as rather idealistic, or in this case, particularly vague.
 

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Membership of the forum is voluntary. No one is compelled to read it, indeed anyone who joins hoping only to hear what they would like to hear in response to their questions would do better asking the opinion of real estate brokers and the like. As for daft comments about "stomping out dreams"... dreams have turned into nightmares for enough expats to make it important to be made aware of all the pitfalls as well as the positives of making a move abroad.

If you take the trouble to read a broad cross-section of enquiries to this forum, you will find that only a very small percentage contain pointedly 'realistic' remarks in response. Usually this occurs in replies to posts that come across, at first sight, as rather idealistic, or in this case, particularly vague.
"Dreams" was in quotation marks.
 
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