Living and working in France
Choose an area with options and opportunities
Things to think of when choosing a place to live in France.
- Finding work for you: If your level of French is limited, it is good to consider remote working with a UK company whilst you get up to speed. Looking in France, positions where you predominantly speak English exist but usually require a minimum level of French. These tend to be in larger cities.
- Rural tranquillity…or a city vibe?: Bringing a young family to rural France offers certain advantages: more for your money with peaceful and beautiful surroundings. However, as children get older they will develop new interests which may mean you are driving around the French countryside a fair amount! Living in a larger town or city may be less tranquil but means less travel and a better social life for your kids (and maybe you too!).
- Shops and leisure facilities: How accessible and diverse are the range of shops and leisure facilities (e.g. swimming pools and sporting amenities)?
- English speaking communities: However good your French is, you may prefer to be able to mix and communicate socially with English speakers locally.
- Weather: Do you prefer a sunny spot in the South and South West or the more temperate climates of the North West?
- Communication networks. Not all rural areas in France have perfect networks for telephone and internet. If this is important to you, do your research first.
- Healthcare: If you plan to live in France you will need proof that you have healthcare insurance in place and it is an essential element of your visa application. Once you are in the French health system and you have obtained your Carte Vitale, Top-Up Health insurance will provide more affordable cover.
- Visas: To live and work in France, you will need to obtain a visa. Check your eligibility with the French government’s Visa Wizard.
- Taxes: You will need to register with the French tax office but France has a double taxation agreement with the UK which means you will not be taxed twice.
- Driving: Permanent French residents require a Permis de Conduire and must apply for a French driving licence. Do not forget to check out the regulations for importing any vehicle into France.
- Plan your move: Do you need the help of a removal company? Read our blog on “Moving to France after Brexit”
Things to consider when moving to France with your family.
- The ages of your children. Young children under 5 years will find integration into a new language and culture easier – and after a short while they may even correct your French! However, if you have older children (8/9 years+) think carefully about their ability to make new friends, learn French and adapt.
- Schools: do your research. If you are enrolling your child in a local school, the Mairie can provide you with useful information. Depending upon where you live, an international school may also be an option. Local or international school; there are pros and cons to both to weigh up. Most importantly, plan ahead: for example, by considering the quality and distance of lycées and universities from your home.
- Start learning French now. Learning French takes time. Access to adult learning can be difficult to find once you have arrived in France and so attending online or evening classes in the UK can be a really simple way of getting a solid base. Equally, when in France the French will appreciate your efforts and this will also help your integration into the community.
Choosing, financing and buying a property
When choosing your property, consider the following:
- Are you seeking employment or planning to work for yourself? This is vital in your choice of property. If you will be working from home or setting up a business you need to think carefully about separating your personal and work spaces.
- Do you want a garden? This may be great for the kids or for your relaxation, but can be high maintenance when you have a busy life and perhaps a business to run.
- Do you want room for friends and family to visit so that they can share in a part of your new life?
Financing your property purchase
It is important to consider how you will finance your property purchase and make enquiries at an early stage of your project.
If you buy a property with a mortgage from a bank in the UK, most loans are as a capital repayment loan (with a variable or fixed rate mortgage) or an interest only mortgage. However, in France most mortgages are fixed rate repayment loans, providing the homeowner with stable monthly payments over the whole term. Variable rate mortgages are also available.
A French mortgage fixed interest rate can be up to 25-years compared to an average of 5 years in the UK.
The ‘loan to value’ ratio is an important calculation when assessing the affordability of your mortgage loan. This figure shows the amount of the loan compared with the value of the property/purchase price.
Applying for a mortgage is generally straightforward. You will need to provide copies of bank statements, proof of income, annual loan statements for existing mortgages and details of your project as well as other information.
Make plans for the future:
Things to consider;
- what are your plans for winding-down into retirement?
- do you need to put a savings plan in place now?
- how can you maximise tax efficiency on your investments?
Buying a property in France is different to the UK.
- The role of the Notaire. Unlike the UK where two legal representatives are involved, the Notaire is responsible for ensuring that the transfer of the property is handled correctly – and all duties paid following completion.
- It's a two staged process. The first step is the preparation and signing of the Compromis de Vente. Both the seller and the buyer sign once an offer has been made and accepted. The second and final step is the Acte de Vente. This is when the completion takes place: the money is transferred, the Acte de Vente is read out by the Notaire, the document is signed and the keys handed over. In England, deed of sale is signed in advance by the parties although not dated.
- Inspection reports. French property transactions require detailed inspection reports such as energy efficiency ratings and a whole wealth of information. In England, the process is arguably less detailed. For further information, you may wish to take a look at these articles on the notaires site
- Check out French inheritance laws. Your notaire will be able to advise you.
- Insurance. Ensure that you have adequate insurance for your new French home and its contents.
The easiest way to integrate is through language. It gives you the confidence to have conversations with others, make new friends and make the most of your life in France. The French will appreciate your efforts.
Another tip is to join a club or association. Being proactive by joining clubs/ associations in the area are all good ways of meeting and exchanging with people. This takes time and effort but will ultimately make integration easier.
English speaking communities can also help. However good your French is, you may prefer to be able to mix and communicate socially with English speakers locally. they may also have local knowledge on places to visit or good restaurants!
Enjoy living and working in France!