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Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

Old Nov 13th 2022, 11:59 am
  #1  
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Default Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

Hi everyone,

Forgive what might be a long post but just looking for some open advice and feedback. My husband is French, from Normandy, and we have lived in the UK for the past ten years. We actually planned to move to Canada and are almost there with our PR application but circumstances have changed slightly - I'm now pregnant so we have to wait until the baby is born to add them to our application and frantically get them PR as well and with the application having already taken 2 years we've kind of become disillusioned with it.

Hence, we've been thinking of the alternative of moving to France instead. We both don't really want to live in the UK anymore for various reasons and think it would be good to have family around now we're having a baby.

The issue is, my french skills are pretty poor at the moment and I'm much more sociable than my husband. I'm also very independent and the highest earner. Luckily my husband's job will likely be in demand (data analyst / business intelligence) and we have worked out, based on the amount of money we have from our house etc., we could technically live off of his salary for a while and still afford a nice house in the areas we are considering.

I was therefore looking for some advice about living in France as a couple in our early thirties:
1. Has anyone got experience of finding a job with imperfect french? Ideally I would like to work in the future once my French is better but I think for it to improve, I need to be mingling with French people and work would be ideal for this. For reference, I'm a construction project manager at the moment and mainly work for international clients on projects in Europe and I think I could get a job working remotely in an identical role but I don't think this will help with my French and getting embedded in the culture!
2. We'd ideally like to move to Normandy or Brittany (definitely not Paris even if we work there and have to commute) - are there any areas people would recommend for a young family?
3. My husband keeps saying there are loads of British people in France but I think it would mainly be retirees outside of Paris. Am I wrong about this? I've lived abroad before and personally try to stay away from sticking with British people so I hope I would meet people from other cultures or locals in the long run but it might be comforting to know if there are some young British communities anywhere.
4. In general, are there any things you wish you'd known before moving? Or highlights of life in France?

Short term our plan is to potentially go and live in France during my maternity leave as a trial run for 3-6 months. I can get a visa as a spouse but need to do more research on what that would mean for taxes etc. and my husband would either need to work in France or keep his current remote job and get agreement. So it might not be possible but I think it's a good plan in theory. We've just sold our house so we can rent and be mobile when we do decide.

​​​​That's a lot of info and questions so I will leave it there but thank you for reading and for any insights!


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Old Nov 13th 2022, 4:45 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

My best advice for you is to study French to the highest level that you can-and I mean serious study not just "tapes in the car"-showing my age there.Agree with your husband on certain times/days when you will speak only French,listen to French radio channels,watch French TV read French news websites etc.
I can only comment on Brittany but in my area a lot of young families have moved here post covid as they can see a better life in Brittany-they are mainly French from the big cities.There are Brits but most are older with pensions who moved in the good old days.There are some Brits with teenage children wo are working/self employed but young Brit families are few due to Brexit
Personally I would be looking to move ASAP if I were in your shoes even if just for the maternity care
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Old Nov 13th 2022, 5:26 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

It is certainly possible, as we have. Having a partner who speaks French will be invaluable but not essential. The maternity care has been excellent but likely varies region to region.

Kung Fu Dana blogged about her life in Paris and pregnancy. Her stories are wonderfully memorable.
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Old Nov 14th 2022, 12:56 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

Hi, if you're pregnant and your French is "pretty poor", it won't be straightforward to find a job. Apart from the language problem, employers aren't likely to employ you, even for short-term projects, knowing that you'd be absent for your Maternity Leave. Does your status of an EU citizen with a Spouse Visa allow you to work? If your husband continues to work remotely for his present company, they must accept to follow the French procedure and pay French S.S. contributions (apparently higher than in the UK), or he must set up a business entity and bill them for his work.
On the social front, a new baby restricts the possibilities of getting out and making friends, except in baby circles. On the actual birth front, I was "fluent" in French when I had my two, which was as well, as the staff in the delivery room were yelling to me what to do, in French. French OH wouldn't have had much time to interpret, if my level was poor.... It's unlikely that any one, even if they speak English, will risk getting lost in translation at the wrong moment... As suggested, get your French to a high level, if only for communication with medical staff and professionals in your field.
Sorry to sound like a wet blanket, but it's such issues which should be considered. Things have changed in France in the last ten years!
Fore-warned is fore-armed!
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Old Nov 14th 2022, 3:01 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

I'd agree with dmu and it doesn't seem that straightforward with international jobs and pay is not always great easy in other sectors + you need to follow the French procedure. I often take the boat to Cherbourg and know quite a few French here in Ireland and they say there doesn't seem to be many opportunities for people who don't speak French . You might find a job at the port, but Cherbourg isn't really the nicest place with high rises around you and the issue again is pay. You would be better off working remotely and maybe you can find some leisure groups to integrate/learn the language.
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Old Nov 14th 2022, 4:22 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

Persuading an employer outside of France to employ you as a remote worrker based in France might not be so easy. If you're based in France your employer is legally obliged to put you on a contract that complies with French labour law and pay French social security contributions for you, and as you probably know, France has a high standard of worker protections/workers rights, with correspondingly high social taxes for employers and employees.

I think a trial period would be good if you can arrange this without burning your bridges. Not wanting to stay in the UK has never struck me as a very robust reason for moving to France. There will be challenges and difficult times and if you have no real motivation for wanting to be here apart from that it's not the UK, it can be a bit hard to keep your enthusiasm up when you start banging your head against walls of French bureaucracy and noticing that certain things were actually better/more convenient in the UK - and probably everybody does experience that. But on the other hand, it would be a shame not to give it a go if it's what you fancy.
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Old Nov 14th 2022, 4:42 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

Originally Posted by Listen Very Carefully
My best advice for you is to study French to the highest level that you can-and I mean serious study not just "tapes in the car"-showing my age there.Agree with your husband on certain times/days when you will speak only French,listen to French radio channels,watch French TV read French news websites etc.
I can only comment on Brittany but in my area a lot of young families have moved here post covid as they can see a better life in Brittany-they are mainly French from the big cities.There are Brits but most are older with pensions who moved in the good old days.There are some Brits with teenage children wo are working/self employed but young Brit families are few due to Brexit
Personally I would be looking to move ASAP if I were in your shoes even if just for the maternity care
Thank you, I definitely agree I need to develop working French. My husband isn't the most patient but he really does want to move back and be close to family - he's not lived there for 12 years (we met in Canada when we were both living there!) so I think he will also have a culture shock having never worked in France. But I think I'm very goal orientated so if it looks like we COULD do this and set the wheels in motion, it will be a huge motivator for me to buckle down.

Funnily enough, all of my husband's cousins have moved back to Normandy or Brittany since COVID - all with young families and now working in Paris but only going to the office occasionally so I can definitely see the appeal. I would love to move pre- maternity for the hospital's (my mother in law has just retired from a long career as a midwife in Caen!) but I get very good maternity pay with my work so the plan is to either test the water after the baby is born or wait until after my maternity leave (and a lot of french practice!).

Thank you for the reply!!
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Old Nov 14th 2022, 4:45 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

Originally Posted by graham.miln
It is certainly possible, as we have. Having a partner who speaks French will be invaluable but not essential. The maternity care has been excellent but likely varies region to region.

Kung Fu Dana blogged about her life in Paris and pregnancy. Her stories are wonderfully memorable.
Thanks so much for sharing. This is really great to hear. We won't be moving until post the baby is born unfortunately but my mother in law was a midwife in Normandy so I have a lot of faith in the system compared to my experience so far in the UK. I will have to keep following to read about your journey!
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Old Nov 14th 2022, 5:15 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

Originally Posted by dmu
Hi, if you're pregnant and your French is "pretty poor", it won't be straightforward to find a job. Apart from the language problem, employers aren't likely to employ you, even for short-term projects, knowing that you'd be absent for your Maternity Leave. Does your status of an EU citizen with a Spouse Visa allow you to work? If your husband continues to work remotely for his present company, they must accept to follow the French procedure and pay French S.S. contributions (apparently higher than in the UK), or he must set up a business entity and bill them for his work.
On the social front, a new baby restricts the possibilities of getting out and making friends, except in baby circles. On the actual birth front, I was "fluent" in French when I had my two, which was as well, as the staff in the delivery room were yelling to me what to do, in French. French OH wouldn't have had much time to interpret, if my level was poor.... It's unlikely that any one, even if they speak English, will risk getting lost in translation at the wrong moment... As suggested, get your French to a high level, if only for communication with medical staff and professionals in your field.
Sorry to sound like a wet blanket, but it's such issues which should be considered. Things have changed in France in the last ten years!
Fore-warned is fore-armed!
I definitely appreciate the honest feedback! No need to apologise at all. We're not planning to move until we have the baby - I get very good maternity pay with my company and I'm also type 1 diabetic so I really don't want to add this stress and all of the good points you raise about the language barriers during the birth and want to use the next 6 months to improve (for moving or at least to understand my husband as the plan is to bring up our baby bilingual regardless of where we live!). My mother in law is a midwife so that would definitely be of help but definitely not enough to make it worth the move.

My plan was also not to aim for a job like mine until I was fluent and if we did move before this, get a job where I could be exposed to French in a less challenging role. I actually do work with people in equivalent roles to mine who speak exclusively English at work but live across Europe so I do think it's possible in an international company but personally I think this would be bad for me socially and developing my language skills so I'm not keen to do that until I'm settled.

But thank you for the frankness - it's a big decision to make and I predict of all the EU counties to move...France probably isn't the easiest so we do need to go in with open eyes.
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Old Nov 14th 2022, 6:37 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

Originally Posted by EuroTrash
Persuading an employer outside of France to employ you as a remote worrker based in France might not be so easy. If you're based in France your employer is legally obliged to put you on a contract that complies with French labour law and pay French social security contributions for you, and as you probably know, France has a high standard of worker protections/workers rights, with correspondingly high social taxes for employers and employees.

I think a trial period would be good if you can arrange this without burning your bridges. Not wanting to stay in the UK has never struck me as a very robust reason for moving to France. There will be challenges and difficult times and if you have no real motivation for wanting to be here apart from that it's not the UK, it can be a bit hard to keep your enthusiasm up when you start banging your head against walls of French bureaucracy and noticing that certain things were actually better/more convenient in the UK - and probably everybody does experience that. But on the other hand, it would be a shame not to give it a go if it's what you fancy.
Not wanting to live in the UK is definitely not the only reason. Personally, I love France from a social / cultural perspective and what I perceive lifestyle would be like. For my husband though, he's lived in the UK because of me for ten years and would love to be near family so I'm also willing to make the same sacrifice for a while or indefinitely all being well - I have no doubt it's going to be incredibly tough on me but I also think as a family it will be a great place to bring up our kids and like, you said, worth testing the water. But I do want to make it as pain free as possible by being prepared for the challenges so thanks for the insights on the work situation. For the 'testing' phase, I need to see how long my husband could work in France before it's an issue - I think there would be a short period he could but if it's only two weeks we might need a plan b because I doubt his company would want to deal with the paperwork.
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Old Nov 14th 2022, 7:53 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

This may help re being employed in France
https://www.urssaf.fr/portail/home/e...ns-etabli.html
or
https://www.urssaf.fr/portail/home/w...companies.html
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Old Nov 15th 2022, 5:11 am
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Default Re: Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

Originally Posted by Rhe
Hi everyone,

Forgive what might be a long post but just looking for some open advice and feedback. My husband is French, from Normandy, and we have lived in the UK for the past ten years. We actually planned to move to Canada and are almost there with our PR application but circumstances have changed slightly - I'm now pregnant so we have to wait until the baby is born to add them to our application and frantically get them PR as well and with the application having already taken 2 years we've kind of become disillusioned with it.

Hence, we've been thinking of the alternative of moving to France instead. We both don't really want to live in the UK anymore for various reasons and think it would be good to have family around now we're having a baby.

The issue is, my french skills are pretty poor at the moment and I'm much more sociable than my husband. I'm also very independent and the highest earner. Luckily my husband's job will likely be in demand (data analyst / business intelligence) and we have worked out, based on the amount of money we have from our house etc., we could technically live off of his salary for a while and still afford a nice house in the areas we are considering.

I was therefore looking for some advice about living in France as a couple in our early thirties:
1. Has anyone got experience of finding a job with imperfect french? Ideally I would like to work in the future once my French is better but I think for it to improve, I need to be mingling with French people and work would be ideal for this. For reference, I'm a construction project manager at the moment and mainly work for international clients on projects in Europe and I think I could get a job working remotely in an identical role but I don't think this will help with my French and getting embedded in the culture!
2. We'd ideally like to move to Normandy or Brittany (definitely not Paris even if we work there and have to commute) - are there any areas people would recommend for a young family?
3. My husband keeps saying there are loads of British people in France but I think it would mainly be retirees outside of Paris. Am I wrong about this? I've lived abroad before and personally try to stay away from sticking with British people so I hope I would meet people from other cultures or locals in the long run but it might be comforting to know if there are some young British communities anywhere.
4. In general, are there any things you wish you'd known before moving? Or highlights of life in France?

Short term our plan is to potentially go and live in France during my maternity leave as a trial run for 3-6 months. I can get a visa as a spouse but need to do more research on what that would mean for taxes etc. and my husband would either need to work in France or keep his current remote job and get agreement. So it might not be possible but I think it's a good plan in theory. We've just sold our house so we can rent and be mobile when we do decide.

​​​​That's a lot of info and questions so I will leave it there but thank you for reading and for any insights!


​​​​
I guess you’re set on Brittany or Normandy. Otherwise I’d recommend you consider Strasbourg. Strasbourg is basically France for softies.
Loads of young families from all over Europe and quite a few Americans. An active English-speaking community if you want it. Quite a few highly paid, tax free job opportunities at the Council of Europe with excellent conditions. Check out their website.
The climate is drier than out West. Hot in summer and cold in winter.
The healthcare is fantastic. No medical deserts here.
There are international schools if that’s what you want.
And compared with other parts of France, the locals speak quite slowly so it’s not too difficult to understand them.

There’s lots of employment at the moment but I should point out that - unless you work for one of the European institutions - you will really struggle to get a well-paid job without truly excellent French. A friend of mine was a psychologist in the UK but since moving to France many years ago (to join her French husband) her strong English accent means she’s struggled to get even menial jobs like cleaning or working as a supermarket cashier. As soon as prospective employers heard her accent, they lost interest. Things are easier for her now because employers are desperate but we’re still talking very low-wage work.



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Old Nov 15th 2022, 8:30 am
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Default Re: Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

Everyone’s experience will be different but Brits’ general lack of skill around languages is well known, but I would encourage you to think of family first and language second. There is no reason for you not to succeed in France if you are motivated to learn the language and absorb it in the country where it originates. Those mocking an accent just need to be ignored. You already have a bunch of advantages on your hands, so go and enjoy life..it’s far too short.
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Old Nov 15th 2022, 3:47 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Young Family Thinking of Moving to France

Not sure anyone was mocked for their accent? Just, having a strong foreign accent is likely to put you at a disadvantage when you're competing against the locals for work.
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Old Nov 15th 2022, 3:52 pm
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I should imagine it gets even worse with regional dialects and dissimilarities..
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