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Moving to France

Moving to France

Old Aug 11th 2021, 7:30 am
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Default Moving to France

Morning all. My wife and I are considering relocating to Midi Pyrenees region of France. Primarily due to high real estate prices in UK, and of course, in search of better weather. We will be going over end September for a look around. We want something in the country, with some land, etc. I would be most grateful to receive any suggestions and comments pertaining to our plans, good areas to look at, where to find the best value, pitfalls, etc. We are in our 60's, but active and not scared of a challenge. Thank you, in anticipation. Kind regards
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Old Aug 11th 2021, 8:36 am
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Default Re: Moving to France

Originally Posted by NevilleWalsh View Post
Morning all. My wife and I are considering relocating to Midi Pyrenees region of France. Primarily due to high real estate prices in UK, and of course, in search of better weather. We will be going over end September for a look around. We want something in the country, with some land, etc. I would be most grateful to receive any suggestions and comments pertaining to our plans, good areas to look at, where to find the best value, pitfalls, etc. We are in our 60's, but active and not scared of a challenge. Thank you, in anticipation. Kind regards
We often drive through the area and cross the border to Spain (own a place around 330 km from Toulouse). Better weather is relative and due to location/terrain you will find all sorts of weather and over the years it seems to be more extreme.
Climate in Tarbes would be very different to climate in Millau and in-between you can get anything from extreme heat in summer, endless rain (flooding), severe thunderstorms and snow in winter. Then again some locations can be very pleasant and autumn is a nice time of the year but the coast is just more pleasant for us. Apart from location you might have the issue with Brexit if you only have a British passport?

Last edited by Moses2013; Aug 11th 2021 at 8:58 am.
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Old Aug 11th 2021, 11:18 am
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Default Re: Moving to France

Hi
Welcome to the forum
This has become more difficult post-Brexit because you now have to apply for a visa and prove that you can support yourselves and obtain health insurance until you become eligible for the French healthcare system.
Be aware that the French healthcare system does not generally provide 100% cover - more like 70% with the remaining 30% cover with a mutuelle health insurance policy.
I do not think that all of the UK has high real estate prices - there are plenty of areas where housing is more affordable,
The reason that French house prices are lower is because there is less demand especially for old stone buildings in a rural location.
The housing market is totally different to the UK because it can be difficult to make a profit on a house sale in France even if you improve / upgrade the property.
Property - particularly rural property - can take years to sell because the French don't want them.
There can also be healthcare issues in rural France because of a shortage of GPs and distance from hospitals, clinics etc.
You should also think about climate change.
In Touraine, when we came here summer temperatures were normally mid-to-high 20s.
Today, mid-to-high 30s is becoming more common and that is in north(-ish) France.
Do you speak French?
I think that it would be a good idea to perhaps rent a gite for several weeks and explore your chosen area.
This would give you an idea of the housing market and let you investigate the weather to see if it is to your liking.
You could do this several times at different times of the year to get a better picture of the area.
If you have children then you should also check out French inheritance tax which is very different from the UK.
If you have company/private pensions then the 25% tax-free cash is taxable in France and you should take this before you become tax resident in France.
What you are proposing is certainly possible but you need to make sure that you understand the changes that you will experience in France.
HTH
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Old Aug 11th 2021, 11:36 am
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Default Re: Moving to France

Originally Posted by NevilleWalsh View Post
Morning all. My wife and I are considering relocating to Midi Pyrenees region of France. Primarily due to high real estate prices in UK, and of course, in search of better weather. We will be going over end September for a look around. We want something in the country, with some land, etc. I would be most grateful to receive any suggestions and comments pertaining to our plans, good areas to look at, where to find the best value, pitfalls, etc. We are in our 60's, but active and not scared of a challenge. Thank you, in anticipation. Kind regards
Hi, and welcome to the forum!
Agree with Moses that the former Midi-Pyrénées (it's now included in Occitanie) stretches from the Toulouse area to the Cévennes and the Med west of the Rhône, with unpredictable and often extreme weather everywhere, nowadays.
- If neither of you has an Irish or other EU Passport, you'll have to obtain a long-term Visa before being able to move here. If you aren't in receipt of UK State Pensions, this would involve having to prove private healthcare insurance until you're accepted into the French S.S. System, and in any case justifying a sufficient income.
- You may be fit now, but you should think 15 years from now. You may find that "some land" will prove too much to upkeep and become a burden. Another factor to take into account is the large number of "medical deserts" in the country (North Hérault is one, and the older one gets, the more one tends to consult (speaking from experience). You'd be advised to check the nearest medical facilities before you sign anything.
- If you have children from previous marriages, consult the Notaire dealing with the sale concerning the minefield of French Inheritance/Succession Laws. Idem if in fact you are "partners" and not married.
- How is your French?
Sorry to play the Devil's Advocate, but best to know of any pitfalls now, rather than find out too late. As I'm wont to say, fore-warned is fore-armed.
Post crossed with Cyrian's!
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Old Aug 11th 2021, 12:08 pm
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Default Re: Moving to France

Hi dmu
Very similar thoughts.
@Neville
You use the word "relocating".
Does this mean that you intend to continue working or set up a business when you move to France?
If so then you need to check the rules for setting up a business structure in France.
This is not as simple as in the UK.
HTH
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Old Aug 11th 2021, 2:05 pm
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Default Re: Moving to France

You need a visa to move permanently to France and you need to remember that without a VIsa you can only stay 90 days in 180 in the whole Schengen area so you need to plan trips carefully
Here is a link but the site is down at the moment
https://france-visas.gouv.fr/
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Old Aug 11th 2021, 3:09 pm
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Default Re: Moving to France

I am sure there is a lot you left unsaid about your reasons for wanting to live in France. But taking your post at face value, the cost of houses in the UK, seems to be a very strange reason for moving to France!
Yes it is possible to buy a cheap property in France. But that doesn't mean that France is a cheap country to live in, nor an easy country to get to grips with when you arrive as a foreigner. If the only thing prompting you to swap the UK for France is UK house prices, I fear you might end up feeling that the hassle and expense of moving to France post Brexit wasn't worth it.
On the other hand if you love France, and you can get a visa, then go for it! As suggested, come and rent a gite in your chosen area for a couple of months at various times of the year, to see if life there is what you imagined.
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Old Aug 12th 2021, 6:04 am
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Default Re: Moving to France

Originally Posted by cyrian View Post
Hi
Welcome to the forum
This has become more difficult post-Brexit because you now have to apply for a visa and prove that you can support yourselves and obtain health insurance until you become eligible for the French healthcare system.
Be aware that the French healthcare system does not generally provide 100% cover - more like 70% with the remaining 30% cover with a mutuelle health insurance policy.
I do not think that all of the UK has high real estate prices - there are plenty of areas where housing is more affordable,
The reason that French house prices are lower is because there is less demand especially for old stone buildings in a rural location.
The housing market is totally different to the UK because it can be difficult to make a profit on a house sale in France even if you improve / upgrade the property.
Property - particularly rural property - can take years to sell because the French don't want them.
There can also be healthcare issues in rural France because of a shortage of GPs and distance from hospitals, clinics etc.
You should also think about climate change.
In Touraine, when we came here summer temperatures were normally mid-to-high 20s.
Today, mid-to-high 30s is becoming more common and that is in north(-ish) France.
Do you speak French?
I think that it would be a good idea to perhaps rent a gite for several weeks and explore your chosen area.
This would give you an idea of the housing market and let you investigate the weather to see if it is to your liking.
You could do this several times at different times of the year to get a better picture of the area.
If you have children then you should also check out French inheritance tax which is very different from the UK.
If you have company/private pensions then the 25% tax-free cash is taxable in France and you should take this before you become tax resident in France.
What you are proposing is certainly possible but you need to make sure that you understand the changes that you will experience in France.
HTH
Hi Cyrian
Is it worth putting this post and other ones related to the after Brexit moving conditions in the "moving to France" thread so next time one can just put a link to it ?

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Old Aug 12th 2021, 6:52 am
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Default Re: Moving to France

Originally Posted by Annetje View Post
Hi Cyrian
Is it worth putting this post and other ones related to the after Brexit moving conditions in the "moving to France" thread so next time one can just put a link to it ?

in a Sticky, together with the UK Govt. "Living in France" site which is regularly updated.
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-i...ving-in-france
(site taken from another post, which goes directly to "Driving in France", so a little scrolling to do for the other contents.)
Official French Govt. sites could be added later....
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Old Aug 13th 2021, 6:13 am
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Default Re: Moving to France

Originally Posted by EuroTrash View Post
I am sure there is a lot you left unsaid about your reasons for wanting to live in France. But taking your post at face value, the cost of houses in the UK, seems to be a very strange reason for moving to France!
Yes it is possible to buy a cheap property in France. But that doesn't mean that France is a cheap country to live in, nor an easy country to get to grips with when you arrive as a foreigner. If the only thing prompting you to swap the UK for France is UK house prices, I fear you might end up feeling that the hassle and expense of moving to France post Brexit wasn't worth it.
On the other hand if you love France, and you can get a visa, then go for it! As suggested, come and rent a gite in your chosen area for a couple of months at various times of the year, to see if life there is what you imagined.
Thanks all for your comments. As some have alluded to, there is more to the story. story. I am South African and my wife is British. She is eligible for an Irish passport. We have been in the UK for just over 3 years, having left SA to make a new life in the UK. I will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in some 2 years time. Our age and savings thus far make it difficult to enter the UK housing market, hence the thoughts on France. We will be going for a look-see end September. As I have to apply for a schengen visa every time I want to travel to Europe, visits have to be planned months in advance. All comments on health care appreciated thank you.
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Old Aug 13th 2021, 7:37 am
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Default Re: Moving to France

Originally Posted by NevilleWalsh View Post
Thanks all for your comments. As some have alluded to, there is more to the story. story. I am South African and my wife is British. She is eligible for an Irish passport. We have been in the UK for just over 3 years, having left SA to make a new life in the UK. I will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in some 2 years time. Our age and savings thus far make it difficult to enter the UK housing market, hence the thoughts on France. We will be going for a look-see end September. As I have to apply for a schengen visa every time I want to travel to Europe, visits have to be planned months in advance. All comments on health care appreciated thank you.
Your wife should apply for an Irish passport as from now - this in itself will give you time to look around in various locations (and as suggested, preferably in all seasons). Don't go as tourists, but act as potential residents in order to encounter the nitty-gritty of living here (e.g. keep to your future monthly budget).
Some one will come along with info on health care - if you're "joining" your (future) EU spouse and will apply for a Titre de Séjour on the spot, the conditions may be different. Check in the latest "Moving to France" Read-Me thread above. It includes links to official French sites covering different aspects.
Why not consider renting? Owning property isn't a "status symbol" in France, and many French people choose not to have the responsibilities and financial burden of being property owners. Which is why there are so many properties on the market....
How is your and your wife's French? Take a look in the "Growing Old in France" thread in the above Read-Me FAQs for aspects to be aware of as you get older....
HTH
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Old Aug 13th 2021, 7:58 am
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Default Re: Moving to France

I don't think you've said whether one or both of you will need to work but either way, presumably you have read France's residence requirements for an EU citizen + non-EU spouse https://www.service-public.fr/partic...tionalit%C3%A9.

Yet again I'm gobsmacked by how successfully the UK has brainwashed everybody into believing they have to buy a house. In France, 58% of the population own their main home. Many more could afford to, but for a lot of people it makes more sense to rent. There is no pressure to own property and no stigma attached to renting, why should there be? And yet it's apparently got to the point in the UK where people are actually feeling that if they can't buy a house there, they have to move abroad to buy one!

Sorry for the digression, I just find the whole UK property thing so weird.

My advice for when you come over would be to not focus too much on house hunting, but to try and absorb the culture and imagine what it would be like living permanently in your chosen area. What services will you need and how far away are they (shops, healthcare, préfecture etc); how will you spend your time day in day out, what do you want in the way of culture and entertaiments and social life; do the natives seem friendly, can you chat to them, would you find things in common; do you feel comfortable and "at home". Leaving aside property and material stuff because those aren't really things that bring contentment the long term, what do you want out of life and does Midi Pyrenees offer it? That's what's most important.

You say you want land, is this just for your own enjoyment? Because any kind of commercial exploitation of land is complicated in France, even just growing and selling a few vegetables - you simply can't do it unless you're properly registered and paying your dues. France's famous farmer solidarity and all that, it cuts both ways.


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Old Aug 13th 2021, 8:08 am
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Default Re: Moving to France

Originally Posted by EuroTrash View Post

Yet again I'm gobsmacked by how successfully the UK has brainwashed everybody into believing they have to buy a house.
The simple answer in the UK is house price inflation.
In the UK, rents rise with inflation and demand. Mortgages nowadays remain fairly stable and therefore monthly rents can exceed mortgage payments.
At the end of the mortgage, you can live rent/mortgage free.
Some people choose to buy a home in the UK which frankly they are ill-advised to do but selling mortgages is good business for banks/building societies.
In France, it is more difficult to borrow money from a bank with tighter financial controls in place which is the way the UK was before the 1980s.
I agree that the OP should consider renting at least for the medium term.

Last edited by cyrian; Aug 13th 2021 at 8:32 am.
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Old Aug 13th 2021, 8:18 am
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Default Re: Moving to France

Originally Posted by NevilleWalsh View Post
Thanks all for your comments. As some have alluded to, there is more to the story. story. I am South African and my wife is British. She is eligible for an Irish passport. We have been in the UK for just over 3 years, having left SA to make a new life in the UK. I will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in some 2 years time. Our age and savings thus far make it difficult to enter the UK housing market, hence the thoughts on France. We will be going for a look-see end September. As I have to apply for a schengen visa every time I want to travel to Europe, visits have to be planned months in advance. All comments on health care appreciated thank you.
At least that makes things a bit easier. Don't forget that waiting times for an Irish passport take on average over 13 months and some people have been waiting for more than 2 years recently.
Others in France will be more qualified to comment on health care etc. and dmu made some very good points in relation to age. The idea of a rural location with some land might sound great now but what will life look like in the coming years. Maybe you are both fluent and a passionate handyman, or maybe not? If not then simple things like calling a plumber or an electrician can become a real challenge and try claiming when something doesn't work.
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Old Aug 13th 2021, 8:43 am
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Default Re: Moving to France

Originally Posted by cyrian View Post
The simple answer in the UK is house price inflation.
In the UK, rents rise with inflation and demand. Mortgages nowadays remain fairly stable and therefore monthly rents can exceed mortgage payments.
At the end of the mortgage, you can live rent/mortgage free.
Some people choose to buy a home in the UK which frankly they are ill-advised to do but selling mortgages is good business for banks/building societies.
In France, it is more difficult to borrow money from a bank with tighter financial controls in place which is way the UK was before the 1980s.
I agree that the OP should consider renting at least for the medium term.
Basically housing is a commodity in the UK isn't it. That's the problem.
I don't see monthly rent exceeding montly mortgage payment as a problem. The landlord is paying for repairs and maintenance and maybe other property charges and he isn't a charity, if he's paying off a buy to let mortgage he will expect to at least break even and preferably make some profit.
I take your point about living mortgage free, and of course there's also the option of downsizing when you get to "that age", which also releases equity. I'm not saying buying a house is daft, it can be a very good decision. I just think it isn't the right decision for everyone and yet everyone seems to feel pressured into it as if it's the only respectable option. Because the property market props up the UK economy, people have to keep buying and selling and the government and the banks have to keep fuelling the market to make sure the bubble doesn't burst, it's a crazy merry go round.
So yes I can totally understand the OP wanting to get away from that but I think sometimes, and especially when you're coming from a UK mindset, there is a danger of focusing too much on the affordability of property which is only one aspect of a country. In a UK v. France comparison that would be one advantage for France, but you have to look at all the other aspects too. Neither country is Utopia, there are pluses and minuses on both sides and you need to weigh them all up in terms of your personal circumstances and personal priorities before taking the plunge.

Last edited by EuroTrash; Aug 13th 2021 at 8:47 am.
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