Print Posted By Lost in France on 2 Nov 2011 in Real France - Expat Interviews

Living in the French Alps

Patrick Owen moved to France after working in London and Nigeria, he now lives in the Alps with his French wife and their two children.

GrenobleWhat made you move to France and how long have you lived here?
I moved to France after living in London and then Nigeria. I was working for an NGO in Nigeria and, at the end of my contract, didn't want to return to the London rat race. In addition my wife is French. I've been here ten years.

Which part of France do you live in, and what's it like to live there?
I live in the Alps, not far from Grenoble. There is plenty of work as Grenoble is the French silicon valley. The mountains are magnificent and it's a pleasure to see them every morning from my kitchen window. The only problem is the traffic as everyone commutes to work.

Do you have children, if so how easy was it for them to adjust to a French school?
I have two children who were born in France, so no problems of adjustment. We just try to make sure they can speak both French and English, and understand they share both cultures.

Open quote. Interviewee gives their moving to France tips Persist, that's what the French do and it usually pays off in the end... Close quote

WWhat is your age?
I'm 39.

Where were you born?
I was born in Melton Mowbray.

Do you work, if so what do you do and how difficult was it to find work or start a business in France?
I teach English. I started working for schools in Grenoble, teaching business English. There is plenty of this type of work. In 2008 I became an independent English teacher/ translator. The process was complicated because no one was able to provide answers to all my questions. It took a lot of research and time, but in the end proved to be relatively simple.

What was the worst mistake you made when buying in France?
I don't think I made any serious mistakes. We first bought a flat which we sold for a profit. Now we have a house. Perhaps we underestimated the amount of work, but I enjoy DIY. We have had issues with neighbours about property rights which are only becoming resolved after seven years.

Your best tip or advice to other people considering moving to France?
Keep an open mind. Be prepared for plenty of frustration, especially with administration. Persist, that's what the French do and it usually pays off in the end. Be friendly, the French seem to be scared of the English, or perhaps the risk of having to speak English, and you will have to make the first move in terms of friendship.

Did you find it hard to integrate or adjust to your new life in France and do you have any tips to help others?
I still get frustrated with the points above. I didn't make enough of an effort to befriend people or understand their fears. I have been pleasantly surprised by people I thought were unfriendly.

What's the best thing about living in France?
The food and the scenery.

And the worst?
The people, no that's a joke! The bureaucracy and rules. There are rules for every aspect of life.

What do you think?

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