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Hi everyone,

I am a veterinarian living in southern California. I fervently want to relocate to the south of France in the area around Nice. I have been trying to accomplish this for about two years now but I have not been able to attain my goal.

The problem is the extreme difficulty involved in a non-French non-EU person obtaining a long-term work Visa. I am not able to survive without a source of income so I would have to generate income while living in France.

I recently received an email newsletter from someone in France who told several stories of expats trying to deal with French governmental agencies. He told of how he was able to help those people. Since he seemed knowledgeable with expat issues in France, I emailed him and told him my story and asked him if he had any tips or suggestions for me in my quest to relocate to France.

He suggested something to me that no one else has suggested before. He suggested that my being a native English speaker would be considered a valuable asset to some businesses. He suggested that I could offer my services as a consultant to American businesses in France - veterinary and otherwise.

While I think this is an intriguing idea, I am having difficulty coming up with ideas as to what consultant services I might be able to offer since my level of French is beginner at best. It seems to me that being bilingual in both English and French would be necessary to offer any kind of services in France.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what kind of consultation services I might be able to offer in France and what businesses might be interested in those services?

Or does anyone have any other innovative ideas as to how I could generate income to allow me to live in France?

I really appreciate your help!

-Rachele
 

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Hi Rachele

Welcome to the forum. We have a wide range of people, backgrounds, professions here. Just don't expect us to agree!

I'm not a vet and I can't talk about specifics to your situation. But here are a few ideas.

You need to get the visa situation sorted out.

You need to be clear how transferable your vet qualifications are to France. Expect lots of paperwork and the need to get official translations.

Really, to work and live in France you have to have a reasonable level of French. Yes, you can bum around with a few words, but for working you need to be able to hold your own. This is true even if you work for an anglophone company. France is not multi lingual.

You need to think about (your!) healthcare. Others here are knowledgeable.

Probably you need to be clear which route you are going - either a vet in a "cabinet" or a salaried role in a company that does Vet type work. This may range from clinical research to marketing?

Lastly, why France? All the posters here have their own reasons for coming to France. Most of us recognise that settling down in France was a lot harder /longer than we anticipated. I'm not trying to put you off, just that there are some shocks along the way.

Lastly, why not come to France and knock on a few doors of Vets and Vet companies? There's nothing like having boots on the ground.


DejW
 

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One of the regular posters in here is a US-qualified vet, but is here as a trailing spouse - unfortunate term, but that's what she is - & Mum. She isn't allowed to work here as a vet in any capacity, although informally she does give free advice.

In terms of being an Anglophone, I'm afraid there's heavy competition from all the EU folks who have freedom of movement and no need for visas, and by that I mean not only the Brits, but also the Dutch, Belgians and Scandinavians who are acknowledged multi-linguists. One of the vets in our local practice is, in fact, Belgian, for example.

I quite honestly don't rate your chances, Rachele, sad tho' that might be to hear.

hils
 

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Thank you, DejW, for your words of encouragement and helpful suggestions.

I have spent a good deal of time researching the requirements for me to become a licensed veterinarian in France. It would require my taking a three-day examination (entirely in French) held once a year in April in Nantes. Since I do not think that I will truly become fluent in French until I live in France and am surrounded by native French speakers, I am not pursuing veterinary licensure in France at this time. That is why I am looking for other ways to support myself while living in France.

I am studying French at home on my computer with Fluenz French. The program includes reading, writing, and verbal skills. I also watch movies in French (with English subtitles) in order to improve my French language skills. My level of French is beginner but it is very important to me to become fluent in French.

As to your question of "why France," I can wax poetic for a long time... I read every book I can find about people living in France. I watch videos about France. I want to truly immerse myself in French culture. I want to enjoy shopping for fresh produce at the outdoor markets and sit outside at cafes and watch people go by. I want to enjoy and explore the wonders of French food including the wine, the cheese, and the olives. I want to experience the special quality of light in the Cote d'Azur. I want to drive through the vineyards and lavender fields and thoroughly explore the country. I am totally fascinated with France and French culture.

I have read enough to know that relocating to France will be difficult and will take some time. I am prepared to face whatever challenges lie ahead.

A visit to France to establish contacts is a very good suggestion. Thank you.

Hils, I am sorry to hear that you "honestly don't rate [my] chances" of being able to move to France and find a way to support myself there. There are many people that move to France from countries outside of the EU every year so obviously there are ways to accomplish this. I posted this thread because I am looking for ideas to help me to achieve my goal. I think that what the guy that sent me the email earlier today was trying to say is that there are ways to make money other than by working as an "employed" individual such as by providing necessary services to individuals or businesses.

Since I am a veterinarian with over twelve years of experience, that means that I have a level of expertise that sets me apart from other English speakers living in France. I think that can be parlayed into some kind of useful service. I'm just not sure what yet. I would love to hear what ideas others on this forum might have.

-Rachele
 

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I wonder if you have ever been to France? Or have you fallen in love with the idea of France?

You have been thinking about moving to Fance for 2 years. Would it be possible for you to save for say another two years, improve your French, and then take 6 to 12 months to live in France to see what everyday life is like, see where you would like to live, make professional contacts?

To reduce the cost you could perhaps stay with a French family, or work out an exchange? You could contact the veterinary schools and see if they have any students interested.

Perhaps you might find that frequent holidays in France are sufficient - you can enjoy all the things you list wholeheartedly without having to deal with the downside of living permanently as an expat.
 

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Hi Rachele

You say
" I read every book I can find about people living in France. I watch videos about France. I want to truly immerse myself in French culture. I want to enjoy shopping for fresh produce at the outdoor markets and sit outside at cafes and watch people go by. I want to enjoy and explore the wonders of French food including the wine, the cheese, and the olives. I want to experience the special quality of light in the Cote d'Azur. I want to drive through the vineyards and lavender fields and thoroughly explore the country. I am totally fascinated with France and French culture."

Yes, of course, these things exist and are there to be enjoyed, but every day? You will experience poor weather, dismal days in France alone can be difficult. There's also the mind bogging administration, poor customer service and a VERY high unemployment rate.

FWIW I moved to France in 2001 with the intention of doing 4 - 6 months of international consultancy work and the rest of the time "enjoying " France" in a manner similar to you, but in Normandie. The bottom fell out of the consultancy market at that time so I tried to turn my hand to other things. I offered my brain, muscles and English sense of humour to a number of associations (charities). No takers for the first 6 months! Eventually I found a charity job for 2 days a week, but it was not easy to find. France is not welcoming as is the US.

By accident, and I mean accident, I was asked to teach my professional skills in English at well known business school - so I started there and did more and more work over time. The accident was that I had drunk too much at the Christmas party of a language school. Another student was head of department at the school and she had also drunk too much. Apparently she asked, and I said "yes" for help on her new MSc course, but I don't remember.

I believe that you need to come to France for at least 3 weeks to see if it really is for you. Any shorter period and you will still be a tourist when everything is just wonderful.

DejW ....writing from the south of France where I can see a 10 century ruined castle and snow on the mountains. Now, these things are great pleasure, but not unique to France!
 

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If you are really serious and you want to achieve an income, either as a consultant or possibly an employee (where you might just be able to find something that is linked to your current profession, since you have more to offer in that field than just being a native English speaker), then you really should be looking at a more intense French language program than Fluenz. After all, you have been planning this for 2 years now and you classify your current level as beginner, a level of French that could prove to be a real barrier to your goals. Sure, once there you would look to significantly improve your French, but, as you yourself have noted, you will definitely need good French to get work that will support you.
 

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First of all, do NOT send this individual any money. This is a classic scam.

Our forum is full of native English speakers hoping to find jobs where you don't have to have much French. Basically, they do not exist. Large companies that have English as their "company language" generally do this primarily to allow them to transfer in top executives without having to give them French lessons. But most of the employees speak French among themselves on a day to day basis - and you wouldn't like what they have to say about the transfered-in executives. (Having been on both sides of that fence.)

No, unfortunately, whatever newsletter it is you got, they are selling a lovely dream that is close to unachievable. But that's how they make their money.

To be able to work in France mostly in English, you would need to be working with and for the anglophone expat community - and not all anglophone expats need or want to work with English speaking tradespeople. Plus, as others have pointed out, there are plenty of excellent English speakers (native or not) available just north of France - the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands in particular, and those folks don't need visas to be able to work.

As a non-EU national, you pretty much have to find a job first and then let your employer sponsor your visa application. It is possible to apply for a visitor visa for a year, with the intention of starting up a business - however, even if you plan to work solely with English speakers, all the necessary paperwork for doing a business is in French (and in "bureaucrat French" at that). But on a visitor visa, you don't have the fallback of taking a regular job to make ends meet. (And, you have to show up front that you have the financial resources to maintain yourself for the first year, plus paid up health insurance.)

Yes, I'm being discouraging. But then again, I arrived here 20 years ago, all bright eyed and bushy tailed and went through 7 years of hell trying to adjust to how things here work (or sometimes don't). I had the right to stay here because I married a French citizen (though I still had considerable immigration hassles the first two years).

You'd do better to make as many trips to France as you can - extended ones, if possible - where you can start to network, and find out what life here is like for the long-term residents. Practically speaking, you may need to consider living and working elsewhere in France - the Cote d'Azur is lovely, but there are more jobs in the north, where the weather isn't nearly as nice (but you still have the weekly markets and much of the other ambiance you are looking for). There's also the little matter that more jobs are found by "knowing someone who knows someone" than by applying to a posted ad.

It's not an impossible dream, but it's one that can take a long time to realize. You need to lay the groundwork now so that you're available should that golden opportunity suddenly appear. But in the meantime, work on your language skills, network like crazy, travel and get to know France and keep your eyes open for what develops.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I want to enjoy shopping for fresh produce at the outdoor markets and sit outside at cafes and watch people go by. I want to enjoy and explore the wonders of French food including the wine, the cheese, and the olives. I want to experience the special quality of light in the Cote d'Azur. I want to drive through the vineyards and lavender fields and thoroughly explore the country.
Perhaps you might find that frequent holidays in France are sufficient - you can enjoy all the things you list wholeheartedly without having to deal with the downside of living permanently as an expat.
I have to say I think jenniferlynn has hit the nail on the head. Take long holidays in France, just long enough so the novelty doesn't wear off; do all those things, go home while you're still in love with the country and come back again a year or two later and do it all again.

I totally understand what you want to get out of France, but it's less obvious what you want to put in, your dreams seem a little vague on that aspect. I would have agreed with DejW that trying to somehow use your existing skills and experience would be the thing to focus on, but you've ruled that out. Or do you have any other professional experience at all outside the veterinarian world, that you could build on?

I'm struggling to see how one could offer business consultancy services in France, with no knowledge or experience of how business works in France, and without the language skills to find out. When a company employs a consultant, it's buying in a high level of expertise that it doesn't have within its own workforce, and it expects the consultant to deliver measurable benefits that will exceed the cost of employing them. In choosing a consultant it looks for a track record that shows the consultant is capable of delivering. If you're finding it difficult to think up ideas of what services you might offer, I'm afraid you'll find it even harder to get the gigs, harder still to deliver promises and get more gigs, and Nice isn't a cheap place to live.

I realise that this isn't what you want to hear and you'll probably reject it, and you also won't like it if I suggest not clinging too hard to the advice of someone who sends round self-promotional email newsletters. When it comes to helping expats to deal with the state, well if you look at this forum alone, Bev and the other regulars - hils, DejW et al - are all knowledgeable about expat matters and they must have helped literally thousands of expats, for free. They give realistic answers. Yes of course it's possible to come here and make a living without being a salariée, but for anglophones who aim to work at a professional level rather than doing gite changeovers etc for other expats, the obvious services to offer are translation and interpreting and language tuition, for which you need good French. There was a very good thread a while back that evolved into a fairly intense discussion on making a living without being employed, http://www.expatforum.com/expats/fr...ng-france/303905-process-reintegration-2.html, have a read of that and bear in mind that this is about EU citizens who don't have the added issue of getting a visa.

You have a good job in the States, think carefully before you throw it all up. It isn't always summer here, even in Nice the sun doesn't always shine. There will be days when you can't sit outside cafés and the lavender fields are empty and the vineyards are tiny stunted black twigs and there are no olives on the trees, and that's also the time of year when all the tax bills come through your door plop plop plop one after the other, and it's easy to start wondering if it was all worth it.
 

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As to your question of "why France," I can wax poetic for a long time... I read every book I can find about people living in France. I watch videos about France. I want to truly immerse myself in French culture. I want to enjoy shopping for fresh produce at the outdoor markets and sit outside at cafes and watch people go by. I want to enjoy and explore the wonders of French food including the wine, the cheese, and the olives. I want to experience the special quality of light in the Cote d'Azur. I want to drive through the vineyards and lavender fields and thoroughly explore the country. I am totally fascinated with France and French culture.

I have read enough to know that relocating to France will be difficult and will take some time. I am prepared to face whatever challenges lie ahead.

A visit to France to establish contacts is a very good suggestion. Thank you.
Hi!
I am usually very positive and encouraging people with a dream, but I am afraid this time it will not be the case.
Life in the Nice area is NOT what you describe. Lavender is not here, but more in the drôme. Vineyards aren't seen before the var. Fresh markets, is what I thought I'd get moving here but is unfortunately not that obvious in everyday life. Weather is not that nice at all. It rains A LOT. It is humid (mold in many houses). The Nice area is called Alpes Maritimes which is very representative of the mountains getting in the sea. Hence the roads are narrow and mountain roads and after a few months, you realize you drive a lot around to only cover a short distance.
Anyway, a 3-6 months visit would allow you to understand this.

As per your vet qualifications, pharmaceutical industries could be interested in your knowledge. Alpes-maritimes - Sant? et industrie pharmaceutique I know Arkopharma is in Carros. I have driven by biotop and INRA INRA - Careers and jobs. The two latest being more related to plants than animals. But Inra may be interesting in case you'd consider going back to being a student and having an exchange.

The expats community is great here. But you have to understand that the UK is very close and that many many expats are from the UK. If an employer needs someone who is native english speaking there are so many people from the UK that the position will be filled without going through the hassle of sponsoring someone who is non EU.

I am sorry not to be more encouraging. I know it is not what you want to hear. And I know that until you experience it all by yourself you won't be willing to hear it.
 

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By accident, and I mean accident, I was asked to teach my professional skills in English at well known business school - so I started there and did more and more work over time. The accident was that I had drunk too much at the Christmas party of a language school. Another student was head of department at the school and she had also drunk too much. Apparently she asked, and I said "yes" for help on her new MSc course, but I don't remember.
!
I don't recommend this as a way of getting a job though - you might possibly end up with something completely different. :eek:
 

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I wonder if you have ever been to France? Or have you fallen in love with the idea of France?
Yes, I have been to France. I stayed in a youth hostel in Paris during the summer of 1995.

You have been thinking about moving to Fance for 2 years. Would it be possible for you to save for say another two years, improve your French, and then take 6 to 12 months to live in France to see what everyday life is like, see where you would like to live, make professional contacts?
Along those lines, I have thought about saving up enough money to live in France for 3 months, which I can do without obtaining any kind of visa.
 

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If you are really serious and you want to achieve an income, either as a consultant or possibly an employee (where you might just be able to find something that is linked to your current profession, since you have more to offer in that field than just being a native English speaker), then you really should be looking at a more intense French language program than Fluenz. After all, you have been planning this for 2 years now and you classify your current level as beginner, a level of French that could prove to be a real barrier to your goals. Sure, once there you would look to significantly improve your French, but, as you yourself have noted, you will definitely need good French to get work that will support you.
The problem is not with my French language program. The problem is with my consistency with doing my French lessons. I get wrapped up in other things and my French lessons go by the wayside.
 

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Hi R

I think that most expats here (from many countries) would agree that there is big difference between speaking / writing French in a classroom environment (even in cyberspace) and being dropped into French life where French is essential for a reasonable level of survival.

Of course, you must prepare in the classroom before coming to France. I did evening classes and tape cassette on a walkman (remember those?) before coming to France. However, talking to French neighbours, coffee machine discussions at work, buying something out of the ordinary in a shop all require something more than "classroom French".

One example that often had me confused was dinner parties. As in English there's lots of slang, abbreviations etc. Often, I had just worked out that the subject of conversation had changed, when it changed again. I found that VERY tiring.

Anyway, good luck, and come to France soon to realise your dream?

DejW
 

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Hi R

I think that most expats here (from many countries) would agree that there is big difference between speaking / writing French in a classroom environment (even in cyberspace) and being dropped into French life where French is essential for a reasonable level of survival.

Of course, you must prepare in the classroom before coming to France. I did evening classes and tape cassette on a walkman (remember those?) before coming to France. However, talking to French neighbours, coffee machine discussions at work, buying something out of the ordinary in a shop all require something more than "classroom French".

One example that often had me confused was dinner parties. As in English there's lots of slang, abbreviations etc. Often, I had just worked out that the subject of conversation had changed, when it changed again. I found that VERY tiring.

Anyway, good luck, and come to France soon to realise your dream?

DejW
Thank you DejW for your kind words and your support. It means a lot to me.

-Rachele
 

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Yes, I have been to France. I stayed in a youth hostel in Paris during the summer of 1995.
I've been living in France since 1995. It has changed quite a bit in the interim.

Along those lines, I have thought about saving up enough money to live in France for 3 months, which I can do without obtaining any kind of visa.
That would be a really good idea for starters. Although you wouldn't have any of the "fun and games" of dealing with the administration as a visa holder, it would give you a better idea about how day to day life works here.

I know the folks here tend to come down pretty hard on "newbies" who aren't aware of some of the pitfalls of moving to France. But some of us have seen people flame out rather spectacularly if they turn up unprepared. I spent the first seven years here in France hating the place, thanks to immigration hassles and having to discover "the hard way" that things aren't at all the way I had expected.

Now that I've been here for nearly 20 years, you couldn't get me to move back. There are still things I find "stupid" or "annoying" but you're going to get that any place you live. It's getting through those first few years and finding a way to make a place and a life for yourself that's tough enough without running head first into administrative and cultural problems.

I had a reason to stick it out (married to a French citizen), but I'm not sure what you do if you don't have a reason to "have to" adapt. And, with some of the newbies I've known over the years, it seems to be a necessary stage to go through a certain amount of anger and frustration over what you see as being "lost" in the big move. Whatever folks are pointing out here is intended to try to spare you some of the avoidable hassles - cause you'll probably run into more than enough of the unavoidable ones as it is.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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The problem is not with my French language program. The problem is with my consistency with doing my French lessons. I get wrapped up in other things and my French lessons go by the wayside.

It takes extraordinary willpower and motivation to learn anything on your own. Which is why it is usually better to do things in a group context, with a teacher and other learners and fixed goals to achieve.

For instance do you have night school in the US? Can you enrol in classes which meet regularly (at least once a week)?

At the same time can you make contact with a French speaker - preferably a native - who can provide conversation on a regular basis?

It's also easier to work towards a fixed point in the future - can you provisionally set yourself a date for going to Fance towards which you can work, a kind of deadline by which time you need to have reached a degree of fluency?

Lastly, your profession has its own vocabulary and it might be useful to subscribe to a French paper or magazine related to your work so that you can familiarize yourself with the correct terms.

Good luck!
 

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The problem is not with my French language program. The problem is with my consistency with doing my French lessons. I get wrapped up in other things and my French lessons go by the wayside.
So isn't that a matter of will and self-discipline. Whether you want to work or want to qualify as a vet in France, you will need much better than beginner level French. I suggest that when you make your future 3 month visit to France you ensure you get enrolled in a good immersion program - that way you will not only get lots of conversation, the classroom experience, and the necessary grounding in grammar and spelling (both of which are hugely important in France), you will also have no option but to really getting on with your learning program even in the face of other distractions. You might try checking out what the universities have to offer - this might well be a less expensive option for you as they often provide accommodation on campus or arrange for lodging with host families (where once again you will find yourself immersed in the language).
 

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The problem is not with my French language program. The problem is with my consistency with doing my French lessons. I get wrapped up in other things and my French lessons go by the wayside.
Since you're fond of French culture, why not get into the habit of listening to French radio and let your brain absorb the accent, the sounds and the intonation, even if you don't fully understand the words? And listening to French pop is a good way of latching on to a few common phrases, plus it's an insight into the culture - if you're going to live there you need to know about French icons like Johnny Halliday, Renaud, Polno, Clo-Clo et al.

I believe there's also a website where you can listen to the French news in very easy French, but I can't find the link now.

And when/if you get closer to moving, I recommend you get yourself a real live French tutor that skypes you once a week and talks to you and keeps you motivated.
 

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I moved to France last March, and I have not enjoyed much of my staying. All the administrations I have to deal with, even the kids in school/no rights to use canteen daily as I do not work in France...etc. If I would have the choice, I would prefer not to LIVE here... However, I had loved every bit of my vacations in France every year in the past 15 years. I move to France because my husband (French) ended his expatriation in Asia and his company moved him back. I did not make less income than him in the other part of world, but here...I won't be able to find the same level of work as my french level is not great (currently intermediate level), not to mention the unemployment rate is high.
As an Asian, I feel the language of french is at least ten times more difficult than English. But it is not impossible! It plays very important role for better integration in France.
Personally, I feel if you have the dream you should try your best to make it happen - it wouldn't be easy but at least you do not regret at later part of your life.
I am confident that my integration will become better and better (am making great efforts at the same time), and I take the opportunity wishing you good luck!
 
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