Everything about migrating to France

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Tips for those who want to emigrate to France

At the request of a number of readers, a few tips for those who want to emigrate. Surely we don't know what the future beholds, but at least we can already tell you a lot about the initial phase. Further more we'll restrict ourselves to France because we don't know how emigration to other countries proceed.

People that are going to emigrate will take preparations years in advance. When they start to talk about it, they probably stared nights to the stars in the sky and have well thought about the subject and their decisions. We are not talking about a second house, but people who want to leave their country for good. Emigration - as we know now - is more a mental preparation because -especially if children are involved- the principal question is not " which house do I want and where' , but ' do I make the right choice'.


Tips for those who cannot decide:

• Be positive

Don't think of your limitations but think of your possibilities. With this attitude you will open doors for your new live and who knows it will succeed. A positive approach is a requirement for the whole process, from the first moment on.

• Ignore negative reactions

When you announce your plans for emigration, don't count on support from everybody. You will receive both positive and negative reactions. Top 3:

“…going on holidays in a country is different from living there...”

“…but what you want, we've got that here to…”

“…but what you dislike here, you'll find there as well…”

The annoying thing about these remarks is that you've come up with them dozens of times and have them well thought over. Only pay attention to the comments that make you happy, ignore the remarks that limit you.

• Keep dreaming

Day dreaming about a new live in another country is often putt off as "being beyond the reality". What bollocks. Dream on, I would say. You need your fantasy hard enough to form an image of your possibilities. True, reality is different from daydreaming, but that's the adventure. And also do not forget that daydreaming or orienting your possibilities may as well lead to your deciding not to emigrate.

• What will you give for your dream?

Will you accept a lower standard of living to achieve your goal? In the beginning you will have to trade in a part of your luxurious live. This not only applies to you, but also the other members of your family. But know this, that especially little children have enough with you, and attach less value to luxury than you. We don't have experience with grown up children, but that might probably be a little more problematic. At least it is useful to find ways to let them integrate faster (language lessons, sports, music, and other out of school activities).

• You cannot plan everything

Don't expect you can plan everything ahead. On the contrary, most things cannot be arranged. Ensure you've got the minimum financial requirements and arrange for a place to stay. But most of all you have to think… on verra!

• France is not the end of the world

What you can do in your country, you can do in France too. You're not moving to the other end of the world. There is work in France, There are schools for your children in France and you can get a mortgage in France too.


Practical tips:

If you have read the previous notes and know for certain you want to move on, you may start with the practical side of things.


Can you pay for it? That is one of the most important questions. It makes things a lot simpler if you already got a financial backup, but then still remains the question, can you maintain your costs of living. We knew: if we sell our house in Rotterdam, we will have some funds, but not enough to fully finance the purchase of a house in France.

In the Netherlands, there are banks that will mediate in getting a mortgage with a French bank, but these usually only work for rich elderly people and as a young family you don't stand a chance there. But don't let this discourage you. Go to a bank in France yourself, like we did.

We arranged for our mortgage with a Credit Agricole in the city where we saw our house. If you can motivate why you want to move and what your plans are for the future you will get your mortgage without to much trouble (certainly if only 50% is financed). but a full 100% financing in France is nearly unthinkable, keep that in mind. You will need a little money for the starting phase.

About mortgages you need to know the following: in France a mortgage is basically a loan (French: pret). This is based on the expectation - based on your income - you will be able to pay for interest and payments. Required is that you have the status of fiscal resident (for the French taxes this usually is when you live in France for more than 183 days). For non-fiscal-residents is the 'pret-hypothecaire' which resembles with the mortgage system in the Netherlands.


Always start in French, even if your French is that bad. At banks in the larger cities you can usually ask for an English translator (French: un interprète). But above all we advise: learn the language. You don't have to speak perfect French, but a minimal mastering of the language is really required. Especially in the South of France feelings are negatively biased about the masses illiterates that flush the countryside. If you don't speak the language there, you're off for a bad start.

There is one language and that's French. The French are proud of their language, and are impressed when you as a foreigner speak their language (even a little), that will break the ice.

Further more we learned over the years that the often heard statement: "France is a nice country, but there shouldn't live any French" is based on completely nothing. From officials that bloat things like this we question ourselves... what holiday area's or holiday season do they think is representative to judge the French like that? Did they in any case even take the effort to learn the language and not in the last place make any effort to study the local customs?

•  Work

Do you have a financial base for the future? Can you move your work to France, or will you have to find work in France? Crawl the internet for possibilities in your trade. We are writers and for that matter not place bound. On the other hand, due to our leaving, we lost income from teaching and that hole needs to be filled. In this field we are not experts as yet, but we will be able to tell more sometime in the future. Further on, anyone with useful information can e-mail us, and we will publish the information with mentioning of the source where the info came from.


If you don't know how to start, rent an apartment or a house and live there for a while. You can use it as a base for your search for a house. It has many advantages to work this way. Part of it is that you learn to know the region and its people. Another is that renting a place is less of a commitment than buying, so you can put al your energy in finding your new future home. Above all it is a way to reach the required 183 days you need to be nominated as fiscal resident (this will give you financial advantages)

•  Three tips to search and find a house

Look on the internet, you can do this way in advance from your own country. It is fun and gives you an insight on the market. There are numerous real estate dealers (immobiliers) in France and the sites are usually not very well organized, mainly due to advertising.

tip 1 - Search on the internet

• use Google or another search engine to find real estate dealers;

• type ´immobilier´ followed by the name of the ´departement´ where you want to find a house, for instance ´immobilier Auvergne´ and search on that topic;

• You will find pages full of immobiliers, we always stick to the rule: If the site doesn't properly display the housing in the chosen area we abandon that site. Of course you can search every site in detail, but there are so many that you will have to create a clear limit for yourself;

Example of a site that offers clarity ( little or none advertising and a picture with every house.

• if your budget is dependant of various influences, create different categories, e.g.: category 1 (50-80.000 euro), category 2 (80-130.000 euro), category 3 (130-200.000 euro), and so on. You can than look at the supply in a certain price category;

• use Google maps (search Google maps in Google) to find the location of a house in France;

• think that the house in reality is always different from what you might expect. For instance a completely restored farmhouse with a surface of 120 m2 in the Lozčre for 100,000 euro is suspicious. At a closer examination it might appear that this house is 1100 meters high way up in the mountains. that might explain a lot, not only severely cold winters are guaranteed, but even the summers might be chilly, and probably it's far away from civilization as well.

tip 2 - Search in France

• go to France for a number of weeks to search for a house or to orientate yourself. Do this preferably in spring or autumn and certainly do not search while you're on holiday. For instance: The immense popular holiday destination Ardèche is absolutely packed with tourists in the holiday season, the rest of the year is much more quiet. Do not bring your little children along. you really need all your focus and energy for your search

• bring along the most necessary document. For a mortgage you will have to bring along at least:

- a copy of your passport(s)

- marriage certificate

- overview of finances

- copy / excerpt birth certificate

• bring along a Tom Tom navigator (or similar device), it will save you hours of search, and so you will be able to visit more houses in one day. It will take you directly where you want to be with the shortest and fastest way possible, unlike when using a map.

• visit the region, where you found most of the results on internet and visit the real estate dealers (take into account that most lunch breaks begin around 12 and last at least 2 hours). The paper documentation with the real estate dealers usually is more complete and up to date than from what you will find on the internet. If you see a house you like, the real estate dealer will supply you with the address where to find it.

tip 3 - I found the house I am looking for

• if you've got sufficient funds, you can start making agreements straight away. But keep in mind that between the preliminary and the final contract there usually is a period of approximately three months;

• if you need a mortgage, go to a local bank (certain in the larger cities there usually are English translators available), so in the region of the house of your dreams:

- open a bank account

- inquire for mortgage possibilities (even beforehand)

- for opening an account or the request for a mortgage you need the before mentioned documentation

- as always and certainly now applies: read all documents, papers and contracts and keep in touch with the bank, real estate dealer, and notary. This may prevent unwanted surprises and they will work better for you;

• do not directly pull your rank when you have to obtain all sorts of contracts, official documents. It does not get you anywhere. Make friends at the coffee table, in the bar tabac or with lunch, and after that start carefully making agreements. tactics are a requirement. It may even take several weeks to retrieve certain documents, so be it (soit!).

6. Expectations

Always proceed from the worst case scenario, than every step you take will be easier than expected.

7. Information

Inform yourself. for the Dutch the book ´Maison en France´ by Wim Bavelaar is excellent. His site is very informative and an essential tool for people that want to move to France. On the forum you will find loads of practical tips from fruit trees to children's education.

8. Bureaucracy

Don't expect that the French will jump at their feet to be of service to you. They are extremely polite and kind, but the country is very bureaucratic. And honestly said, we've had more problems with official instances in our own country than those in France. Be patient and courteous. This will get you nearer to your goal.

However kind they are, always keep in mind that things here are slower. Examples:

- the waiting period for a final contract is approximately three months (from the moment when you sign the preliminary contract);

- keep in mind the lunch breaks, in some regions this can last as much as three hours, preferably contact instances well before 12:00 and not sooner than 14:30;

- read all documents, papers, contracts very thoroughly, as in our case appeared, the bank was waiting for a copy of the final contact, but had forgotten to mention this to us. The result was another two week delay before the mortgage funds were available for the notary;

• Furthermore, the French assume that you will find information yourself, little is brought to you.

9. Internet

The French are not yet as accustomed to internet and e-mail. Websites are often clumsily put together and offer insufficient information, above all they are hard to find. If you want to send something to somebody, this usually is not send by e-mail, but by (expensive) fax or mail. Preferably contact the organization by phone or go there in person (in this order). Personal contact is the way to get things done. As a foreigner you're expected to be slightly ignorant, abuse this privilege!

10. Contact and habits

In the land of French (Aveyron) habits we are still wandering. One time they work this way, another time that way. It is rather confusing. In the future we will certainly add more information to this item, but we can mention a few things from our preliminary observations.

To name a few.... shaking hands and kissing, how does that work exactly, it is tiring. Shaking hands here has something friendly, but it also is a form of recognition. If you don't know people well it´s not custom to shake hands. Different when you know each other. Whether you see someone daily, weekly or monthly, you will shake hands with him (her), but never greet (extensively) twice a day.

And the way how to greet. At least you will greet a known person explicitly (bonjour monsieur, madame or the name of that person). That is for instance, if employees in a company meet each other the next day, the whole ritual is repeated.

The way women greet varies, one gets a handshake, another a kiss (bisou), but be aware: you don't kiss on the lips, but an air kiss next to the cheek, no physical contact! This is different for little children, they will get a kiss on the cheek and be hugged, whether they know the child (Halldor and Deirdre) or not.

Contact in France may seem superficial, but is genuinely directed. The French are more willing to do something for someone they know, than a stranger. They do not like to conduct business with people they don't know. If you have a referral through a common acquaintance, this will ease the contact. It will give you an advantage above an unknown contact.

Kiss me, i might be a prince

posted by Ruud at 02:24  |  send an e-mail







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