Whether you’re dreaming of sitting in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower while savouring a delicate croissant, or basking in the soft sunlight of a summer in the French countryside, there’s no doubt that moving to France is more than a little enticing. For centuries, poets, artists, foodies, fashionistas and lovers have flocked to France, magnetized by its high appreciation for elegance and artistry.
But while this dream may sit in the hearts of many, what does it take to make the move in reality? We thought we’d help you out by answering some of your most pressing questions about moving to France.
Let’s get started with the one that is most likely front and centre in your mind:
Can I just move to France?
You might be delighted to know that it is indeed possible to move to France. Here are just some of the options available to you:
- Moving to France for work. If you are not an EU citizen, you will need an Employment Permit. One of the following types may be suitable for you:
- Talent Passport will allow you to live and work in France, provided you have skills that the country wants. These range from being an artist to a scientist to an innovator to simply being highly skilled in your field.
- Temporary Worker permits will be granted to those who are coming into France to work for a specific employer. They are granted on a short or long-term basis and require documentation from both you and your employer.
- Moving to France to study. Again, EU residents will not need a permit to study in France. For other foreign nationals, you will either need a residence permit to study or, if you are a professor, researcher or doctoral student, may be eligible for a Talent Passport for this purpose.
- Moving to France for good! If your goal is to ultimately obtain French citizenship, know that this is indeed possible once you have lived and worked in France for a period of at least five years.
Now that you know it’s possible, let’s have a look at what you can expect once you’ve made the move.
Living in France
Moving to a new country is challenging and, if you want to make the experience as positive as possible, preparation will be your best friend.
When it comes to making the move to France, you’ll be pleased to know that a 2018 Expat Insider survey revealed that 79% of expats are happy they made the move. Some of the key praise points include:
- Quality of life that is hard to achieve in other places in the world.
- The French are getting friendlier to newcomers! Many report that their social circles include a mix of locals and expats and that they feel integrated into this mixed society.
- Moving to France with children is a desirable choice. With the rich cultural and recreational elements that are so intrinsic to the French way of life, it’s no doubt that it is a place where families can thrive. Some considerations for parents are:
- Education. Public education in France is something worth writing home about. It is legislated that every child, up to the age of 16, must attend school—and this happens on the state’s bill. Be warned however, that if you want your child to attend a bilingual school, you may have to fork out for it. These schools may only be partially subsidized and, as a result, leave you with a cost that you may not have anticipated.
- Safety. France is safer than most countries on the planet and conducive to bringing up families. 83% of expats state that they are happy with their family life in the country.
It’s important to note however that the same 2018 Expat Insider Survey also reveals some concerns to be aware of.
While elements of the romance of a French life hold true, one should always remove the rose-tinted glasses (at least temporarily) when planning a big move. The more prepared you are when you land on French soil, the easier it will be for you to settle in.
Important questions to ask are:
How much does it cost to live in France?
Yes, those pastries that please the eyes and the stomach come at a cost—but it’s not only luxuries that can make life in France unaffordable for many. If you have your heart set on metropolitan living, be ready to fork out for real estate, with residents spending up to 50% of their monthly salary on rent alone.
(While the tax burden is also high, it is important to factor in the quality of life, universal health care and services that residents receive in return.)
Will I be able to find a job in France?
Many expats have experienced a struggle when it comes to finding employment. Our advice would be to make sure that you have a job lined up before you land on the ground, if this is possible in your industry. This will make the landing softer. The sooner you feel settled, the sooner you will be able to enjoy the pleasures a life in France has to offer.
So now that you know what awaits you, the next question is... how?
How to move to France
How you accomplish your move may be dependent on your current citizenship status. This would not be dissimilar if you wanted to move to Canada, the UK, Australia, or most countries across the globe.
What is vital is that you have all the right paperwork in place before you travel, including customs declarations and any visas you may need.
Depending on your specific situation, you may be asking these questions:
- Can a US citizen live in France? The short answer is yes. Here are the fast facts:
- Short-term visits: US citizens do not need a visa to enter France as a visitor and can stay for a period of up to 90 days.
- Temporary Resident Visa: If you would like to stay longer than 90 days, you will have to apply for a temporary resident visa from the French consulate before you travel.
- Permanent Residence: If you would like to stay for more than 6 months, you will need to apply for a permanent residence visa, and prove, amongst other things, your financial wherewithal to exist in and contribute to the country. Once you have been granted permanent residence, it is generally valid for 10 years, after which it is renewable.
- How long can British citizens stay in France? For now, a British Citizen can stay in France as a visitor without a visa for a period of 3 months. Moving to France after Brexit has of course raised some concerns:
- Can I move to France after Brexit? The option of moving to France is still there for British citizens, so don’t be discouraged. Until 31 December 2020, the Withdrawal Agreement provides British citizens with the opportunity to live and work in France as they had before. After 31 December 2020, you will have these same rights, provided you stay resident in the country. The British Embassy in Paris holds outreach meetings that will keep you abreast of the regulations that will impact your residency.
Ready to make the move?
Bonne chance! If it is your dream to don a beret and live amongst style, glamour and a host of cultural delights, start making it happen today.
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Here’s to a happy life in France, for you and your family.
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