Living in France.

An area for those members in France to discuss things that are specific to France. Normal discussion should be in the main forum areas.

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Greggorio

Re: Living in France.

Post by Greggorio » 30 Mar 2010, 11:44

pffft most English don't speak fluent english

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Moriarty
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Re: Living in France.

Post by Moriarty » 30 Mar 2010, 12:01

All good answers and really comprehensive. We came over two years ago but had owned a holiday home for 12 years prior, so were quite familiar with a lot of French ways. However, I know of several people who are going back to the UK and it is usually about money - there is little work around, particularly in country areas, and if you don't speak good French then forget it, the only work you might find is working for other Brits, usually gardening or oddjobs and they don't pay well. The pound/Euro slide has hit a lot of people hard. The other reason people go back is because of family commitments like the arrival of a first grandchild, and they realise their family life is in the UK.
If you have money coming in, then life is good here. Electrical items are certainly more expensive - I bought a little whisk mixer in Tescos for £4.18 whereas pretty much the same item over here was 18euros! But food, particularly from local markets, is cheaper and better quality. But a warning - it goes off really quickly, and I mean seriously quickly, because it's not treated with preservatives. That was a shock to me, buying a week's worth of fresh fruit and veg in one go and seeing that it was all limp or mouldy after three days !!! But it tastes better, certainly does.
Location? Well our holiday home was in the Limousin, centre of France ... very cheap properties there and you can find some real bargains. But is can rain a lot, and winters can be severe, and the climate was too much like England. It is a beautiful area, trees and lakes and there is real space ... if you don't mind a temperate climate then it is probably the cheapest area of France to buy. We wanted more sunshine and moved further south here, a Mediterranean climate, long hot summers, shorter winters but with a bit of a bite. Property here is more expensive and council taxes (habitation and fonciere) certainly much more so, but still about half of what we were paying in the UK for a house half the size and a tiny garden. Whereas in the Limousin our house and plenty of land cost us around £300 a year for all taxes.
Medical costs put people off. You either have to be receiving a UK state pension or working in France and paying the social charges to receive your 'Carte Vitale' which entitles you to 70% of the cost of medical care. The remaining 30% is usually paid by taking out a medical insurance policy but some people don't bother. But a good thing - medical care here is excellent, fantastic! If a doctor refers you for a blood test, it is taken the same day and results can be back later that day or the following morning. You can see a consultant within a week. An operation can be carried out in a fortnight. French hospitals (and I've seen about four or five, so it's not comprehensive but just my experience) are clean and efficient. But the worry about paying for health care, if you are under retirement age or not working, is a difficult issue for some and has in face forced a few people back to the UK.
Paying tax over here usually is cheaper ... depends on your circumstances.
Another good thing is the devolvement of power to the local mayor. He has the power to make very local decisions and get involved in things that concern the citizens. Both mayors (in the Limousin and here) got personally involved with things that were a problem - in the first place, a dangerous dog that was loose on the streets in our village and whose owner didn't care. The mayor came down in the same day to sort it out. And here I know that I can just walk into the office and see our mayor and discuss things with him and he is interested in getting things done. I can't imagine that kind of thing happening at our local Council in the UK.
And language? Start taking lessons now, and continue. Read books, learn learn and learn. It's daunting at first but you'd be surprised how many English and French words are identical or very similar. Speaking - or even attempting to speak - the language can give you a huge advantage here as shops, offices, neighbours will take the time to listen and seem pleased that you are trying. We are surrounded by French neighbours who gabble away ten to the dozen but are pleased that we are taking the time to learn and converse as well. I have made some truly awful clangers - asking a farmer for a trap to catch the prostitute in my loft (got it mixed up with the similar word for polecat!). Going into a shop to ask for a tin of polish ... now what's the word for polish? Ah, polonais! So a tin of polonais, please .... and the whole shop rocked with laughter. Instead of asking for a tin of polish, I'd asked for a tin of Polish (people)!. It happens...
Remember also that if you buy in France and commit your funds here, it might be difficult to move and buy back in the UK. Many people keep a foothold in the UK, rent out their house (we do) as a contingency, for their pension fund, whatever. House prices in France generally don't fluctuate in the same way as the UK - many French are surprised that we buy a home as an investment and expect to sell it ten years later for a profit. It really isn't the same here, houses can be the same price for years and years and many Brits have bought places, done them up to a fantastic standard and wonder why they can't sell them for what they paid for them + the work done + a handsome profit. Just doesn't happen.
Sorry I've rambled on. Like you I asked a lot of questions. Ultimately it comes down to money. If you have enough money to live on comfortably and don't have to worry about the fluctuating exchange rate, then great, take a chance and come over. Don't rely on finding work at all. Be prepared with a basic grasp of French to get you by and help with introductions, making friends, so you are not isolated.
Good luck. Hope this answer helps a bit ...
my chooks: Sage&Onion, Roger the randy cockerel, Squawkbox, Bonnie 'N' Clyde, Pancakes, Custard, Omelette & EggNog. Plus four garden cats and another half dozen feral ones that I feed. And a nursery of pipistrelle bats in the verandah roof ..

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tweedy
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Re: Living in France.

Post by tweedy » 30 Mar 2010, 12:04

Its called dialects gregg, same the world over.

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Re: Living in France.

Post by kated » 30 Mar 2010, 12:34

Really good answer Moriarty - sorry to butt in but it was excellent :thumbright:

Greggorio

Re: Living in France.

Post by Greggorio » 30 Mar 2010, 15:49

haha yeah our house was valued recently and it was a habitable 2 bedroom house when it was bought and is still so. The French don't careabout decorating or new kitchens or bathrooms. Can you live in it?... yes? ok same price.


You can go on leboncoin a sort of online market over here and they will sell their entire kitchen worktops, sink etc when they move. They literally are selling a house, nothing else

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Re: Living in France.

Post by mojo » 30 Mar 2010, 16:22

its not necasary to be fully fluent in french having enough to hold a conversation will get you by but do try to have basic language skills before you arrive...............the secret in my opinion is to holiday in several parts of france to see which you prefer......then make a list of must haves.........ie schools/doctors/hospital close by........broadband internet?........close to shops..........easy route to ports....(keep it short)......then do not compromise on MUST Haves compromise on would likes.............never buy a house and land that you cant look after when retired..........land is relatively cheap in france but remember its required you manage it not just leave it rough
Give a smile away every day to a stranger............and a hug to a friend

Greggorio

Re: Living in France.

Post by Greggorio » 30 Mar 2010, 16:32

you can get by in France on "bonjour, au revoir, oui, non" and "merci". Well that and a few basics like bread... milk and "how much is that"

If you want to integrate well then learn French but you can get by as do many Brits on a very limited knowledge. Some French will resent that but the majority don't care so long as you're friendly and let them be nosey occasionally.

If you want a job then you have to be fluent, even then if there's a French person going for the job chances are they'll get it.

If you can't or don't want to learn French... then don't frankly. You can get by without it. There are loads of good reasons to learn the language but you won't be lynched or kicked out because you can't.
I can't speak French well atall but I have had many a rant at an English person who said "I only left England because it was full of foreigners and they didn't integrate" when they themselves weren't trying. That irks me but it happens all the time

buckinghamshire bird

Re: Living in France.

Post by buckinghamshire bird » 30 Mar 2010, 16:51

Talking of costs....
We have at present a cottage in Nomandy that we are renovating and take most of the materials and tools over every time we travel. ( every other month ) It's a joy.
We work like mad for two weeks then come back.
We have discovered it would have been a lot cheaper to buy a place with the work done, but thats not what we wanted because we actually enjoy the work .
Houses are still no where near the price of a house here, We make huge savings by buying in uk before we go, Then return with a loaded van full of real wood furniture and antique finds we buy in France at street markets and car boots.
We make enough of a second income from this to at least pay for the next trip.
I think even if we move out there full time this is so much fun and a great way to meet new people. We are hooked and think we could supliment our income in this way.
I lived out there for 10 years a long time ago and came back broke.....So I'm doing it right this time . Do not under estimate the cost, then times by 2. Good luck.

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Re: Living in France.

Post by Lily » 28 Oct 2010, 09:30

Brilliant replies, thank you so much.
:grin:
Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home."

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Moriarty
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Re: Living in France.

Post by Moriarty » 28 Oct 2010, 10:11

If one of you is of UK state pension age then they will automatically qualify to go into the French health service and get the 'carte vitale'. The spouse then qualifies as well, regardless of how much age gap there is. However, this means that 70% of your health bills, medical visits, etc., are paid and you have to fund the other 30% which is why many people take up a 'top up' insurance. How much it costs depends on your age and health factors - it's not obligatory but could save you a few surprises. However, if you have a life-threatening condition, e.g. cancer, then all your treatment is free.

Health care if you are below retirement age is one of the main worries amongst my friends as they either have to stay fit and healthy or fund all medical care. That's OK for the odd doctor and prescription here and there, but if you needed ongoing medical treatment, say for a bad back or broke your leg or something, then the cost would be 100% for you to pay. The only way to get into the French health service and get your carte vitale is to find work or start a business but you have to be (in my opinion) mad to start a business in France and employ people. The paperwork involved, and the costs of employing staff and the social charges, are frightful.

I know several people who are going back to England after several years here. Amongst the reasons: (1) run out of money. As Greggorio says, living on the capital from tour UK house sale means you're rich at first and then it runs out. The exchange rate means many pensioners are returning - a few years ago their £1 bought them €1.5 and a comfortable income from their state pension but now they've had a 30% drop or so in the exchange rate then they're finding things hard.
(2) can't get health care - mostly for younger people. Oh, and they can't find work either because you need good French to get a reasonable job and be eligible to get into the health system. (3) language - if you want a job you need the language. The alternative is, around here, seasonal and very low paid farm work. (4) Being isolated: living somewhere a little away from people can either be bliss or drive you bonkers. One chap I know says he goes for days without speaking to anyone as he lives at the end of a lane and nobody goes by, his neighbours are never there, and there's nothing to do.

That's all the negatives. But there are loads of positives: property is cheaper, you can live somewhere without your neighbours being right next door with their blaring radios and car alarms going off all night (I lived in London). Rates are cheaper. Utilities are a bit higher. There's more of a sense of community - your local mayor runs the show and you can ask him / her anything, recommendations for tradesmen, advice, etc. If you have a problem you can speak directly and get something done about it, rather than going through a faceless town hall and months of committees. Weather is generally better so you can live outdoors more. The expat community has strong links so you often won't be a lone 'anglais' ... they'll find you and give you a social life if that's what you want.

Above all, learn the language or learn some language. Just trying to speak - even if you make clangers - makes a huge difference in how the French will welcome and treat you. It's easier to pick up once you are here but having some basics is necessary so I would suggest you sign up for evening classes.

Anyway, sorry to ramble. Just my thoughts. Good luck.
my chooks: Sage&Onion, Roger the randy cockerel, Squawkbox, Bonnie 'N' Clyde, Pancakes, Custard, Omelette & EggNog. Plus four garden cats and another half dozen feral ones that I feed. And a nursery of pipistrelle bats in the verandah roof ..

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Re: Living in France.

Post by Lily » 28 Oct 2010, 13:19

Thanks Moriarty, thats a very well thought out reply.
The retirement age is different in France, so if we went out when hubby is say 62
Would he be eligible for the healthcare?
Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home."

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Re: Living in France.

Post by mojo » 28 Oct 2010, 13:32

usually healthcare invoves the ability to pay top up assurance to a level you find acceptable........having said that i have had wonderfull care and attention in the french health service and by heck aint they quick...vist doc arrange specialist visit specialist arrange operation have op and all within a month or so................but do bring a full medical printout(get from your doc in uk)..........been here part time for 5 years now 10 after that full time..........super
Give a smile away every day to a stranger............and a hug to a friend

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Moriarty
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Re: Living in France.

Post by Moriarty » 28 Oct 2010, 13:55

I think you have to be of state pension age in your own country to qualify, so currently 65 for Brits (and soon to be 66 !). But when you first come out to France your E106 (I think, or is it a E121 ... well it's your European travel card) usually covers you for two years and then you are own your own ... either in the French health system or outside it but funding it 100% yourself or taking medical insurance. Some people keep an address in the UK and then fix up to visit their own doctor and dentist on visits back and get those free services. I'm not an expert in all this, just found it as I am going along.

Of course, in your sixties, an alternative is to rent somewhere in France for as long as you want. Rents are cheap and you can't be evicted during the winter months, even if you don't pay the rent nor trash the place, because French law says no-one can be thrown on the streets during winter (or something like that). But regardless, you would be well advised to rent out your UK home for a couple of years, rent somewhere in France to see how you like it and then, after two years, and when your UK medical card is coming up to expire, you will be in a position to make an informed decision about where you want to be. Plus you won't have burnt your bridges in England.
my chooks: Sage&Onion, Roger the randy cockerel, Squawkbox, Bonnie 'N' Clyde, Pancakes, Custard, Omelette & EggNog. Plus four garden cats and another half dozen feral ones that I feed. And a nursery of pipistrelle bats in the verandah roof ..

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Re: Living in France.

Post by mojo » 28 Oct 2010, 14:22

if anyone is thinking of moving to france print off the above post stick it on the fridge door and read it daily for a week .............then decide
Give a smile away every day to a stranger............and a hug to a friend

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Re: Living in France.

Post by Lily » 28 Oct 2010, 14:27

Thanks guys, great answers. :grin:
Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home."

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