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English members who have moved to France.

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br17/07/2021 13:35:05
697 forum posts
3 photos

Wife would like to move to France

Any help / advice from members via PM would be very much appreciated.



speelwerk17/07/2021 13:39:21
414 forum posts
1 photos

I take it you live in the UK and moving to France will now be problematic to say the least, thanks to Brexit, Niko.

Martin King 217/07/2021 13:52:04
857 forum posts
361 photos

Hi Bill,

Presumably she would like you to go with her............?

I'll get me coat!


IanT17/07/2021 14:44:14
1882 forum posts
182 photos

Moving to France, Spain or anywhere else in Europe is now like emigrating to any other part of the world (including places like Australia, Canada and New Zealand). The national government involved will have it's own tests that it will apply to vet your residency application. You will effectively become a citizen of that country.

You may also lose some of the benefits that you might currently enjoy as a UK citizen.

Moving to France



Tim Rowe17/07/2021 15:45:15
32 forum posts
4 photos

Big question you have to ask yourselves is why? And be honest because living in a different country is hugely different from visiting it for holidays or business.

I moved to Mallorca in 2007 and it was my then wife's initiative. I was ambivalent but actually it turned out to be a good career move and I had just turned 50. I learned Spanish quite quickly and I am now fluent. That is the biggest single integrator in your new life. My wife didn't and we struggled a bit with our relationship (31 years),When grandchildren came along she wanted to move back to the UK and did. We divorced and I stayed. This is not uncommon. I am still working and hope to retire in 3 years.

I am now very happily integrated into a Spanish family and wouldn't change a thing. When we get the opportunity we love to visit the UK but I no longer think of it as home.

I don't think you really become a citizen of a country unless you hold a passport. I could have a Spanish passport but I would have to renounce by British one. I am not ready for that but have got close on a few occasions. My official status is that I am a resident of Spain, taxed and spend in Spain, Spanish healthcare which is excellent and I can vote in local and European elections but not for the national government so a part of me always remains an outsider.

Brexit is supposed to be killing freedom of movement but of course it works both ways. Fortunately I can now get a resident card that has a photo so it serves as ID. I can therefore travel around Europe without joining the passport queues. Other aspects of our departure from Europe have not been so easily solved and are proving expensive.

Don't get stuck in an expat enclave and keep in touch with friends. Expect a honeymoon period for the first 6 -9 months and then you have to work hard at the change and stick it out. If you do, you will reap the rewards and make a success of it.

Good luck


Dave Halford17/07/2021 16:38:48
1671 forum posts
19 photos


What about health care?

Bill Phinn17/07/2021 17:08:01
562 forum posts
86 photos

To echo what Tim says about language, it will handicap you enormously if you either don't know French already or don't learn it quickly.

To illustrate the point, I know countless native Chinese people who have moved to the UK. In every single case I can think of, the ones who struggle to integrate and succeed are the ones who have not learned and, for one reason or another, cannot learn English. They are handicapped in all their dealings with English speakers.

When these English speakers are tradesmen, utilities companies and local government, for example, the handicap is generally a big inconvenience; when the English speakers are the emergency services and medical personnel particularly, the handicap can be a matter of life and death.

A serious question: has your wife understood the nature of your health condition - that it is not likely to improve and therefore is not a good starting point from which to learn French and build a life in a foreign country?

J Hancock17/07/2021 17:24:53
699 forum posts

If you intend to continue an interest in 'model engineering' , take everything + + + with you for a lifetime.

Clive Barker17/07/2021 18:00:31
51 forum posts
29 photos

I don't know about the legal status issues etc, but I agree with the comments about learning the local language and trying to integrate into the local culture if this is be a serious long-term move. This will also require a certain amount of energy and commitment if you are to be successful. I think it is also important that both of you are fully committed to this move and the whole undertaking. Clive.

Tony Jackson18/07/2021 09:06:05
11 forum posts
10 photos

Hi Bill,

A few notes from one who did it a few months *before* Brexit...

First, don't count on being able to 'homologate' your car in France. It is incredibly bureaucratic, and without a French numberplate you will have a lot of trouble finding insurance. I persuaded my Bank, Crédit Agricole, to insure my car – for several times its value per annum. I gave up on getting my RHD Mercedes homologated, partly because the local Merc. dealers, who I needed t porovide me with a 'certificate of conformity' were so solidly poisonous. Told bare-faced lies about headlights, disgustingly sexist behaviour in their office. So I bought a Citroën DS Break in Holland, where I have some friends. I relied on a very respectable Dutch contact to check it over... The homologation process took months, but I think I've cracked it, except I'm now waiting for my local coachworks to repair some rust on it – without which I can't get a 'Carte Grise' and start using it on the road again.

I bought quite a large house from the local notaire. Its survey declared it to be in good order. I didn't realise that the legally-required survey provided by the seller, as many pages as it runs to, is worthless. The first sign of trouble was getting inside doors to open and close. Turned out the entire centre of the building was sinking. One day I put some washers on the dining-room door hinges to lift the door. Worked fine. For nearly two days, after which the door was as before.

The problem was the result of renovation work 35 years ago which had buried many of the oak wall timbers in concrete. This had caused the oak (150 years old at the time the work was done) to turn to powder. French builders are no more knowledgeable about the use of mortar than English ones. The consequences are visble all over the village. When my house is finished I shall start crusading on this, with the help of the mayor

Which reminds me – in rural France it is indispensable that you should find some one respectable to introduce you to the mayor. My mayor was brilliantly patient and helpful. Alas, he was 85 years old, and has been replaced in the recent elections. A notable neighbour (retired Pompier, complete with 'Légion d'honneur' brought the mayor round. Trouble is that with the pandemic I don't feel I can just bowl round to the Mairie and have an informal chat, masks and all.

I've only spoken to one couple of the UK residents of the village; my French is reasonable, though it would have been better had I not been locked up due to the Corona-virus.

I only have a modest state pension, so I was able to join the French health system. This was dealt with quickly, efficiently and in a friendly manner, as was getting a 'Carte de Séjour', although the latter required four visits to the Préfecture, 25 km away. You have to learn to relax and accept that French bureaucracy is needlessly long-winded by rest-of-the-world standards, but it is generally fair, and if you are polite, often pretty helpful and friendly. Impatience is not accepted as a substitute for courtesy, however. I had the misfortune of having to follow a stroppy English guy of about may age at the Préfecture once. Took me several minutes to nurse the woman behind the counter back to her usually helpful self!

I'm sure I've been unlucky, but the French resident chief builder (English, but resident in France for 30 years) was hopelessly slapdash, and introduced equally slapdash French tradespeople. An old roof had to be rebuilt before I moved over – it still awaits quite serious attention. I had to redo much of the work of the plumber/electrician, who ignored the plans and installed kitchen lighting where I would have no choice but to work in my own shadows. Three oak doors made my a local menuisier were disastrous - made from comb-jointed scraps, warped, split, completely ignoring the clear instructions I'd given three times in writing, three times in person when he visited. I now have a fresh menuisier who lives in the village whose work looks good, but it is hard at the moment to find dry oak – a lot of local oak gets spirited away to Spain at night.

To be continued (just this once!)

Tony Jackson18/07/2021 09:06:22
11 forum posts
10 photos

The aforesaid bank, like, afaik all French banks, is hopeless. I spent two months recently trying to nurse through a bank transfer to an employee. The bank is about 50 metres away, and they know me well – and they are sitting on the above negligible proceeds of selling my UK home. Still, nothing but terminological inexactitudes to explain their failures. Oh, and a monthly fee for the privilege oh having them look after my money. And another monthly fee for my Carte Bancaire.

On the other hand, at a personal level I've been made very welcome, and chance encouters happen all the time. Yesterday I went to my local Weldom (ironmonger chain) for some paint for the oilcan which sits on the Britannia lathe – lots of plain bearings to oil!. Another customer arrived at the same time as me, and admired the 42-year-old Citroën Visa I travel around in. It has its original paint (no sign of any shine to it) and he declared how he liked to see a car in its 'original' state. He was after paint, for his letterbox, so we wandered around together. By the time we waved good-bye we'd covered the Dutch-sourced Citroën, the oil can and the 1890 (I think) Britannia lathe and much else besides!

The local shops – my village is 1,000 or so soulls, the one with the ironmongers is 7 km away – are generally pretty good, but there are things you need to learn. I bought a 'Broyeur' (for chipping the prunings from my rather overgrown garden) via an online shop called Mano-Mano. It worked for about half an hour, before failing terminally. Two months of email hassle ended with their refusal to take it back, and the suggestion that I but the special tools required to dismantle it and send them photos of whatever had gone wrong inside. I replied sayiing there must be some misunderstanding. I'd wanted to buy a broyeur, not a maintenance curse. Theoretically they culd have been foced to stump up the €150-odd via the courts or the local equivalent of Which?, But none of that really works, and the time I'd have had to spend on it would have been endless.

The solution was to buy one from a local shop, for €10 more. And when it failed, I was in a position to persuade the shop to get it repaired. Not with the greatest grace, but a few weeks later I was back in business. Luckily I already knew that the shop in my village which might have provided a replacement are widely known as a load of spivs, to be avoided by all but the richest and most stupid!

On a few good notes. The countryside here is heartbreakingly beautiful, (I lived in North Devon for 50 years before coming here, so I know of what I speak). The roads are brilliant – the most extreme contrast with N. Devon! I'm a member of the 'Amicale André Citroën du Sud-Ouest', and going to meet them early on a spring morning, with the sun low, the mist scattered, the forests casting long shadows ...

I live alone, and doubtless that is harder.

Were it not for the pandemic the organised life of the village would put any UK equivalent to shame. I have a Cinema opposite, the 'Espace Ressources (help with pretty much anything, filling in forms, dealing with tax, shops phone companies...) Lots of societies, a library with helpful staff, La Poste also opposite, No need to pay for car parking, even in quite big towns. The Spring Fair included a meal for the village, a funfair and plenty to drink. Many people in attendance, of all sorts of ages.

The weather is a welcome few degrees warmer. And we eat quite nicely here, albeit expensively...

Sorry, this has turned into a long off-topic screed. I shall do my best not to repeat!

Best regards, Tony.

Tony Pratt 118/07/2021 09:24:41
1648 forum posts
8 photos

All I can say is why? Seriously make sure your head rules your heart or else you could end up in deep s***, I know a few.


br18/07/2021 10:16:57
697 forum posts
3 photos

Thanks replies one and all. Should have said I do speak french, un petit peu.

Special thanks to Tony Jackson for his time and effort in providing so much helpful info.

Special Thanks to Tony Pratt 1 - she has now decided to take your advice.

Take care all.


PS This came about as doctor advises sea air to help her breathing problems - Cost of property close to sea made it a no go in this country - france being affordable.

Speedy Builder518/07/2021 10:34:22
2392 forum posts
184 photos

Its not quite as bad as Tony makes out - I would not go back to the UK out of choice.

You will loose your winter fuel allowance (if you get it) as France with winter temps of -16 C is too warm !!

Currency fluctuations

Most official applications are now via the internet - make sure you have a reasonably up to date computer and where you settle has reasonable Internet speed.

Dave Halford18/07/2021 10:53:42
1671 forum posts
19 photos
Posted by br on 18/07/2021 10:16:57:

PS This came about as doctor advises sea air to help her breathing problems - Cost of property close to sea made it a no go in this country - france being affordable.


Bill Phinn18/07/2021 12:00:29
562 forum posts
86 photos

Some fascinating reading there, Tony (J.). Thank you!


Edited By Bill Phinn on 18/07/2021 12:01:56

IanT18/07/2021 12:12:23
1882 forum posts
182 photos

I've lived and worked in various places around the world - including Germany and Italy.

I remember that moving my wife and furniture to Milan was relatively easy but that's just the beginning of the challenge really. As others have said, learning the local language is really essential and fortunately I had enough Italian to get by - but my wife never really got to grips with it. So whilst I was busy at work, she had a lot more problems with settling in and never really made any friends away from work colleagues.

Then of course there are the other things that you never imagine will cause you sleepless nights. It took me a year to get my dustbin 'licensed' - so sneaking out late at night to stuff our rubbish in the neighbours bins was quite stressful (and I'm pretty sure they all knew we were doing it too)

If I ever had to leave the UK, it would be to Canada. We have family there, there are no language issues and we would be welcomed. But I still know that it would be hard for us - that old saying "There's no place like Home" has a good deal of truth to it. After working abroad, I was always very happy to get back to UK - rain or not.



Calum Galleitch18/07/2021 12:16:25
96 forum posts
27 photos

br, what about Ireland? Not cheap in the way parts of France can be cheap but depending where you're coming from, it can be very affordable - especially if you're willing to take on something needing some work - and a lot less culture shock. And though it rains regularly, the south and west climate is very mild.

Ady118/07/2021 13:08:24
4689 forum posts
713 photos

I spent a bit of time in Ireland and was put in mind of the USA

Same language, totally different culture, almost alien

A beautiful place to visit though, albeit pretty expensive

edit: great thread btw, very interesting

Edited By Ady1 on 18/07/2021 13:09:43

Tony Jackson18/07/2021 14:10:57
11 forum posts
10 photos

Hi Speedy,

I have friends who bitterly regret(ted) returning to the UK.

You will loose your winter fuel allowance (if you get it) as France with winter temps of -16 C is too warm !!

Currency fluctuations

Most official applications are now via the internet - make sure you have a reasonably up to date computer and where you settle has reasonable Internet speed.

Temperature here never gets below -5 afaik, and I've time and experience to insulate my new home seriously, and to install a big heat pump!

As to currency, I presume, as do most people here, that the value of the pound will sooner or later collapse. So I'm going to have to be earning a living of some sort in my eighties!

While the government believes that we can all do everything on the internet, they are mistaken. II arranged a meeting with my local tax people (they come to the village once a week) concerning a form which had been sent to me in the post. Not very many of its questions needed answering, but a few did, and there was no way I could answer them truthfully. E.g. home much did you pay for your house? Well I bought a single property, which was a house and some stables, above which there was the remains of an apartment. I paid for them as a single lot, and set about making hte apartment habitable, so I could move in there while work was done on the house. The revenue insisted that I now owned two properties, which I think was a bit unfair, but with only one life to live not worth trying to correct.

The lady from the Impôts said "Oh, don't worry about that, we don't care what you paid for it." The next question was "When will the work be finished". "Oh, just put next year. They'll send this form every six months, you can throw it away until yoou are ready". (Something I'd not felt able to do hitherto because the form proposed thousands of Euros of fine and possible imprisonment if I didn't get it back to them within 30 days).

I have a 9-month old MacBook Air, and my fibre internet connection runs at 70 Mb/s down, 23 Mb/s up today. Not as fast as I was promised, but adequate, given that it has only once gone off for a few hours.

I would pass on, however, that the internet here seems to me exceptionally full of parasites. Firms promising to tell you of the "ten best plasterers in your area", but actually only sending details of the luckless dupes who've been conned into paying up for the privilege of being listed, even if they a hundreds of km away. Very few firms seem to have their own sites, so the only hope is to try and find quangos whose advice is at least moderately trustworthy. I was given four names of 'experts' who could prepare an official "Étude thermique:" for me, as my heating firm had asked. One didn't answer the phone, had no 'répondeur', no email address. One never replied, another, a one-man band, came round and gave me a quote 50% greater than I'd already got from a big firm a bit further away, plus he attempted to persuade me of a bunch of things I knew to be incorrect. The fourth, who did respond, following a recommendation from a local architect, needed at least three prompts before he would reply to anything (and I discovered that his office had the same address as our man with the nonsense answers (who did at least visit!).

So while it is useful to have a good internet connection, it needs using carefully and appropriately. E.g. I've ordered an MT1 spigot for a drill chuck for the Britannia via, and some cup-oilers from Ebay recently.

Best, T.

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