5 things to consider before moving to France

France has long been a honeypot for expats. Whether you are moving for work opportunities, pleasure, or a combination of the two, careful planning can certainly set your French adventure on the right track.

Palace of the Popes

As an International Health Insurance provider, Cigna Global understand what it takes to make a painless transition to foreign shores. So from getting your paperwork in order, through to making everything as stress-free as possible for the family, here Cigna Global provide five things to think about before you get there...

1. Paperwork: how to make sense of French visas and work permits

If you are emigrating from an EU, EEA country or Switzerland, the position is straightforward; you are free to live and work in France without restriction (the only current exception being citizens of Croatia, for whom work permits are required for the time being).

For most other people intending to stay in France for longer than 90 days, an extended stay visa (visa de long sejour) is required. You must apply for this from the French consulate or embassy in your own country before coming over.

Likewise, expats from outside the EU or EEA who intend to work require authorisation, which in most cases involves sourcing an employer before they arrive. Highly skilled workers may be eligible for the EU Blue card, enabling you to work across the EU without the need for a work permit.

To find out which specific rules apply to you, visit France Diplomatie (the English version of the French Foreign Ministry website), and OFII, the French immigration agency.

2. Language: how to get a head start

France is famously and justifiably proud of its language. From work and social situations through to day-to-day transactions, you will soon find that your efforts to at least try to use the language are much appreciated.

These efforts are appreciated by the authorities, too. Notably, if you apply after five years for permanent residency, one of the acceptance criteria is evidence of good knowledge of the language.

There’s no reason to wait until you get there, so consider enrolling in a class right now. Alliance Francaise is worth a look; a well-regarded not-for-profit organisation with a worldwide language learning network that enables you to gear your learning to your specific objectives, whether professional or social.

3. Property: in the beginning, take advantage of the thriving holiday-let scene

In cities, rental rather than ownership is the norm, and French law is refreshingly ‘pro-tenant’ on issues such as security of tenure and rent controls. But of course, you will want to get a feel for your city or area of choice before you make any long-term commitment.

As such, sourcing a short-term let can be ideal for an expat. In the larger cities, you will find property agencies who specialise in this. Elsewhere, remember that France’s large holiday-let market can be extremely useful for expats looking for short-term accommodation while they get their bearings.

4. Schools: how to weigh up your options

Your child will be entitled to free education under the French system. The question is whether you want to take advantage of this, or else enable them to continue following their current curriculum.

There really is no right or wrong answer here. The age of the child, the proposed length of the stay, your religion, the type of expat experience you want your child to have: these are just some of the factors to weigh up.

The important thing is to get the full lowdown on each of your options. As a starting point, check out the French Ministry of Education’s official website or visit Cigna Global International Schools Finder tool to search, locate and find details of thousands of international schools across the world, including France.

5. Healthcare: IPMI means you have one less thing to worry about

France enjoys high levels of healthcare, but making sense of the dual presence of state-run and private treatment facilities can involve a steep learning curve - especially for new arrivals with a shaky grasp of the language.

International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI) makes sense on multiple fronts. For one, if France is going to be your main base but you intend to work on secondment elsewhere, the portable nature of IPMI means you can have consistent cover - wherever you happen to be. It can help to fill in the gaps in your company policy in important areas such as maternity cover and repatriation. It can also be highly reassuring to have customer service available in a language you’re fully comfortable with.

For more information on the benefits of IPMI when moving to France and to get a quote, visit www.cignaglobal.com today.

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5 things to consider before moving to France
France has long been a honeypot for expats. Whether you are moving for work opportunities, pleasure, or a combination of the two, careful planning can certainly set your French...

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