Print Posted By Lost in France on 24 Sep 2005 in Living in France - Moving to France

A new life in France?

The attraction of cheaper housing and a better quality of life draws many people to France without fully considering the consequences and it has been estimated that as many as two thirds of Britons who move to France return to the UK after only 2 years, if you want to avoid being one of them then plenty of research and preparation is needed before embarking on your new life in France

A new life in France?

Which French region should I live in? No one can really answer this for you, research different areas thoroughly and then visit them to find out which is the best area for you. If you have family or elderly relatives in the UK it is also worth considering the proximity of transport and ferry links back to the UK.

Take into account different factors such as: the climate which varies enormously between the north and south of France, employment prospects, cost of living, proximity of local amenities - schools if you have children, shops, public transport etc. Weigh up the pros and cons of living in a rural or isolated location in France to living in a village or town. A rural position can rapidly loose its charm in the depth of winter when your car breaks down.

Unless you are lucky enough to have a source of income what will you do for money when you live in France? Unemployment is higher in France than in the UK and also if you're unable speak French how will you compete with others also looking for work - work out realistically how you will earn an income. If you plan to set up your own business, research your market, business and taxation costs thoroughly before moving and remember that business & self employment costs are a lot higher in France and must be paid regardless of whether your making a profit or not.

Learn the language

Try and get a least a basic knowledge of French before relocating. Once you have moved to France try and use the language daily, this can be hard for couples living in rural areas who may not see anyone else for days at a time. Try to get involved in your local community this will help not only with French language and culture but will also help you to integrate and build up a network of friends, your Maire's office will normally have a list of events.


Many things are done a lot differently in France, if you understand French culture it will be a lot easier for you to integrate. Take some time to learn about the history and culture of France and its people. Also make use of expats forums and groups and talk to other people already living here, these forums can be a valuable source of advice and can raise points that you might not have even considered.

Choosing a property

Remember that although property can be much cheaper in France particularly for houses in need of restoration the cost of renovation can actually be far higher than in the UK particularly if you need to employ a builder or artisan, this is mainly due to the higher costs involved in running a business or being self employed in France. Make certain you can budget for this and be sure that you allow for unexpected costs; is there mains drainage, does a new septic tank (fosse septique) need to be installed or indeed is there a septic tank? Many people have been caught out by purchasing a property without mains drainage and not enough land in which to install a septic tank.

When you've decided on a property or location try visiting the area at different times of the day - what seems like a quiet road at lunchtime may not be the case in the morning or evening. Another point not often considered when buying a rural property with land is the hunting issue. Hunting is a national pastime in France and runs from September through to May, it can be very noisy, the sound of gunshots can upset nervous pets and hunters have the right to shoot on your land unless you take steps to stop them by going to your local Maire and putting up special notices. Doing so might not go down very well and may even alienate you with the locals. Many English people are very unprepared for this cultural difference and are often quite shocked by the sheer volume and popularity of hunting in France.

What do you think?

Join Our Newsletter - Today