Author’s Thoughts

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I wrote the following before I actually lived in France. I now have a different opinion about France outlined in what I say on my front page. However, I believe it is worth reading what follows as clearly some people move to France and have a terrible time. So I encourage you to read on and make form your own opinion.

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If you don’t have the patience to read what I have to say, then I suggest you get to the nub of it and go straight to the comments sections, otherwise I hope what I say is at least in some way helpful.

A lot of people, especially Brits, are rushing over to France in the hope that it will be a cure for all the problems of life.

I think that for many of these people, a move to France will be a leap from the frying pan into the fire. This would certainly have been the case for us.A lot of people are getting into financial and legal trouble by moving to France. This is a very serious matter and it could be avoided if people were better prepared.
If you’re thinking of moving to France, I suggest you look before you leap.
Are your expectations realistic?
Have you really taken on-board the fact that France is not Britain with a nicer climate and better roads. For example, read “Serious underestimation” in the comments from others section.
If you don’t speak French, how will you earn a living? You will be competing against French speaking people for unskilled jobs.
Do you have a contingency for those renovation costs – you know in the back of your mind they’ll cost double what you‘ve budgeted for them, so where is the extra money going to come from?
If you’re thinking, we’ll muddle through and it’ll turn out alright in the end, it probably won’t. Like half the people who move to France from Britain, you will end up going back across the water with your tail between your legs within two years.
If you want to downsize, simplify your life and be less stressed, then France is probably not the answer. The overwhelming and mind-numbing bureaucracy drives grown men to tears. Worrying about how you will pay your taxes will leave you wishing you had never moved to France.
Have you allowed for the fact that a very large part of what you earn will go to the government, even if you are earning your living in England, but living in France? Income tax levels are comparable, but French social charges (cotisations) are crippling.
What will happen if you run out of money in a country where you have no friends and family and you may find it hard to get a job?
Are you up for a lot of hard work with many ups and downs?
Just because you enjoy holidaying in France, doesn’t mean you will enjoy living there.
Do you have the right mindset for a successful move to France?
Will you be one of the many Brits who return to the UK with their French dream in tatters?
The objective of this site is to give you an alternative to the rose-tinted view of France held by many of us. And to provide you with a perspective that will help you make an informed decision about moving to France to live. I have included my comments and added what people have said about my views – some of it flattering, some of it not. But either way, hopefully it will go some way towards helping you make a better informed decision.

Background
We decided to sell our house in England and move to France. French property seemed so much more affordable. The benefits of doing so seemed to outweigh the drawbacks and so we put our property on the market and went off in search of a dream house. Then we started meeting people who gave us a glimpse of the less attractive aspects of France that we hadn’t seen before. In hindsight, we were hugely relieved not to have made the move as we weren’t ready at that time and we stayed put in England. This may have had a profound effect on our lives in a way we could never have anticipated.
In July 2004 my 38 year old wife was diagnosed with cancer and nine months later she passed away. Our children Thomas and Mathilda were 4 years old and 23 months old respectively at the time. I have often wondered if her tumour would have been picked up by the French healthcare system in time for it to be treated in such a way that she recovered.
In time I spent more time considering seriously the pros and cons of moving to France. The very high tax and social charges I would face as a self employed person in France kept putting me off. The very social charges that fund a health system that may have saved my wife’s life.
In 2007 I packed all my worldly possessions into a shipping container and flew to South Africa with two young children and our two rescue dogs. Our time in Cape Town was amazing.  To everyone’s surprise neither my children nor I were shot.  People, all people, were overwhelming with their friendliness and kindness.

In March 2014 we moved to Portugal. There will be no Don’t Move to Portugal website. Nor will there be a Move to Portugal site. I want to keep this little secret to myself. In fact it is interesting to see how many French people are living here, so glad to have escaped all the nonsense of life in France and yes the stories I hear from these emigres do not surprise me one bit.
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John Bradley, May 2016. Lagos, Portugal.

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