This is one of the most sought dreams – and perhaps the most romantic one! Drinking a coffee in a small cafeteria with the Eiffel Tower in sight is surely something that you’ve thought about. A move to France will certainly give you a culturally rich experience and great entertainment and this isn’t just because it’s the European home of Mickey Mouse and his gang! France is well-known for its high-quality of life, arts, education, history, and cuisine. It is a good choice for expats as it has little crime rate and offers families freedom and a pleasurable lifestyle. Being part of the European Union, France’s currency is the Euro and it has its own language, French, however, research shows that around 40% of the population speaks English as well. An interesting fact about France is that more than 15% of the total population living in France is over the age of 65, hinting that it is a popular destination for those who want to retire abroad.
France has its borders along four different seas, the North Sea, the Channel, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. As a result, the country sees all kinds of weather conditions depending on where in France you’re located. Other than the seas, you’ve also got (the Jura, the Pyrénées, and the Alps – the mountains which also are a factor for the weather. Basically, the north of France sees a weather similar to that of the south-east of England, as it’s affected by the Atlantic coast. Expect it to rain throughout the year, but you won’t have hot summers or cold winters. central and eastern France have cold winters, but rain is not very common. Here, summers are also warmer. On the other hand, living in the south of France will give you a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers. Lastly, the south-west has a lot more sunshine and a lot more rain! Keep the climate in mind before you start looking for a house ahead of your move!
Getting from one place to the next shouldn’t be a problem! France has some of the world’s fastest high-speed trains as well as tram lines in cities. Let’s go over the public transport first. Buses here are cheap but less luxurious and slower than the other alternatives. Unfortunately, buses only run locally – there aren’t any buses for a long-distance journey. Another option is the metro, which is the easiest way to get around the city. Additionally, there is the train, which you can use to travel to French cities. France is home to the Train à Grande Vitesse, the TGV, which is the country’s high-speed network connecting all major cities. If you’re planning to use the train frequently, go for a France Pass, which allows you to travel with just one ticket. On the other hand, you may want to buy or hire a car. Most cities are connected by highways. In order to drive, you must have either a European driving license or an international driving license, which has to be applied for. In order to drive, you must possess la carte grise, a certificate of registration and a certificate of insurance.
Cost of Living
Contrary to what many think, France’s cost of living isn’t much more expensive than that of other countries in mainland Europe. Consumer goods have a relatively high levels of value-added tax added to them, but then, healthcare, bread, cheese, and wine are relatively cheap. The issue with the French market is its competitiveness – traders operate on tiny profit margins. If you’re living outside Paris, a 700 sq. ft. one-bedroom could be rented out for 450 euros/month, which is relatively cheap. The French capital was placed in the 50th position in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey.
France’s education system is considered one of the best in the world. Most public and private schools in France follow the curriculum set out by the Ministry of Education. If you can show a proof of residence, your children may attend public schools for free. Children aged between six and 16 must attend school, but younger ones aged two onwards may be enrolled to the maternelle, kindergarten. Other options other than public schooling are private and international schools.
According to the French institution, all residents of France must have health insurance, be it public or a private scheme. Ever since 2016, when the Protection Maladie Universelle (PUMA) was listed in the constitution, expats became eligible for state French health insurance known as l’assurance maladie. France’s public health insurance covers all residents that been living there for at least three consecutive months every year as well as those workers via their social security contributions. Additionally, the public insurance system automatically covers children, irrelevant of their nationality. This usually covers costs for doctors, emergencies, specialists, medicine, dental and maternity care. In order to apply for such an insurance, you must visit your local Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie, CPAM or through the social security system. Furthermore, you can opt for a private insurance, which will increase the types of consultations, including psychologists, osteopaths and chiropractors.
France has three main types of personal taxes: the French income tax (impôt sur le revenu), the social security contributions (charges sociales/cotisations sociales) and the taxes on goods and services (taxe sur la valeur ajoutée TVA, or VAT). In 2019, a new system called PAYE (Pay-As-You-Earn) was introduced whereby residents pay taxes at the source of the income, in monthly payments. Retirement income, relevant overseas income, sick and maternity leave and rental income are all subject to PAYE. In 2021 income tax in France is as follows:
- Up to €10,084: 0%
- €10,085–€25,710: 11%
- €25,711–€73,516: 30%
- €73,517–€158,222: 41%
- €158,223+: 45%
If you would like financial advice about living tax in France, you can contact a specialist expat adviser here.
If you and your family moved in France before the 1 January 2021, you will have to apply for a residence permit marked “UK withdrawal agreement from the European Union” before 1 July 2021 online. This can be done at https://contacts-demarches.interieur.gouv.fr. If you’ve been living in France for over five years, Brexit’s Withdrawal Agreement, you will be able to stay here and continue to work and access education and healthcare. The agreement will also cover your needs if you’ve been in the country for less than five years, you’ll still be allowed to stay to make up these five years. You should seek to get a cartes de séjour. It’s important to note that Brexit will not affect your UK state pension. On the other hand, if you’re still looking to move to France, you are subject to national legislative provisions and must obtain a long-stay visa before applying for a residence permit.