DON’T MOVE TO FRANCE COMMENTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS FROM OTHER PEOPLE 1
There are some fantastic comments and insights in this section. Thank you again to everyone who contributed.
Please feel free to contribute yourself by emailing the author, John Bradley
JohnMartinBradley … at … gmail.com
Comments and Contributions from others – it is quite long so I have posted it into several sections on the site:
I took early retirement at 60 when my wife died.
I sold my smallholding & up sticks & ran to France, buying a house in the process.
It didn’t take me many months before I realised, too late, that I had moved to the wrong country.
Within the year I was lucky enough to meet an English lady who had also developed a hatred of all things French.
We moved to Spain, where we have been living very happily for the last 5 years.
We got married last year.
I managed to sell my house in France last year, but at a big loss; having said that, to sell it at all & cut all ties with that God forsaken country was a loss I was prepared to take, rather than pay another penny into the French system.
My wife walked away from her house & business in France having lost every single penny to those thieving, bloodsucking racist bureaucrats.
I have since talked to people of other nationalities, & it would appear that the French are universally disliked.
One man, a Norwegian, was telling me when we had mentioned that we used to live in France, that periodically he drives from Norway to Southern Spain, making sure that he fills his car before entering France & doesn’t stop until he exits the country.
There are at present around one million Brits living in Spain.
The Spanish are very friendly towards us.
The climate is superb.
The cost of living is far less than in France, where the prices of food & basic commodities have gone through the roof.
You certainly made the right decision.
Very happily yours
Thank you very much for your site, it has sealed my decision on the matter at least for now.
My daughter, wife and I were recently passionately thinking of moving to the lovely country – France and dived into re-learning the language. Meanwhile I jumped into the research -as I do – and we went to a fair at Olympia, London. The first thing that raised our suspicions was the seeming appeal (and marketing) to older people and secondly, the middlemen that we would apparently need in order to navigate a seamless move and integration there. I invested in the books and the recurring theme was the high tyrannical tax regime in France and the bureaucracy – not to mention the need to beseech the Maire! This was further confirmed when I extended my research to the Internet. Living anywhere close to Paris/Isle de France also seemed out of the question, and getting my little money taxed for a “social charge” which I have accumulated through blood, sweat, insult and tears long before I thought of France was also not so appealing. Even buying a lawn mower to do your own garden seems to carry a tax burden in France…
As working professionals we thought we would be at a huge disadvantage so I turned my sights to renting or buying there and looking into running a media consultancy from my house in France, with my wife and I as the Directors – the tax situation seemed to get even worse, and the recently introduced and ‘convenient’ auto-entrepreneur scheme did not cover cross-border trading which 100% of my business would have been. Our minds are still open to living and working there but the tax implications would have to be lower for hardworking people like our family. I think I’ll consider France to spend longer periods when I am retired but at present I will turn my sights elsewhere for the short to medium term. Thanks again for Don’t Move to France.
I Agree With You
I’m French (living abroad), and I so agree with you. The reasons you list are precisely the ones that made me LEAVE. I just sent this link to a friend of mine, living in London, who is dreaming of greener pastures….
Hope it will save her from making a big mistake.
Thanks for your site..
I used to live in the Savoy region of France before I moved back to Aus and much of what you have on your site rings very true to me.
What didn’t ring true was the suggestion by several of your contributors that the appalling, spiteful, arbitrary behaviour of the French authorities had communism at its source.
The region I lived in was mostly centre right wing (bearing on fascist in some cases) and certainly not communist, yet I witnessed directly several instances of outrageous official spite, sometimes kept up for years.
I was at a loss to see any reason for this behaviour, other than thinking that perhaps the officials and elus were pandering to a very small minded electorate who were outnumbered greatly by tourists and other foreigners for much of the year.
Perhaps some of your readers could put their thinking caps on and enlighten me.
Diesel On My Car Door Handles
I moved to the Alps and bought a chalet aimed at the English market. I have had so many petty spiteful things done to me, but I refuse to let them grind me down.
Once some neighbours threw eggs and rotten vegetables on my patio and on another occasion put diesel on my car door handles.
I have had no end of problems with a plumber who refuses to fix a problem he caused, which resulted in me not having water for two weeks. He simply will not take responsibility for the problem and even had the audacity to send me an 800 euro bill.
I have still not been issued with my health card. I have had to go through so many absurd stages even to get my birth certificate accepted. It is so crazy it is funny.
I was born in Paris before the Americans left France or that the American were kick out of France. That depends on who is asking. But that not why I am here.
Because of my father he wanted his children raised American I am really not that French. But my mother is very French and she said I should find my other roots the French one. So I move to France without even thinking twice about. For me the country by it self is great full of history wines and cheeses. The people on the hand that were it gets to be just too stupid. The French have the System D thing going on and no one tells you the rules because they are none and the French people just don’t care about any thing. I really don’t think most people from Britain or the USA are ready for the French and don’t forget I am half French. This give me ever right to bad mouth the French and I have and I will. I am still in France I am making plan to leave this pit.
If you want to add on your list of things to think about before moving to France ask them about System D. I know many Americans think System D a modern-day MacGyver. Look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System_D that is all BS. If that written by a Frenchmen he lie if that written by an English speaking person he was lie to. I have tried to find a French person to tell me what System D is most lie about or don’t know the truth them self. What is System D lie on your feet faster then the other guy and you learn this by your self without the aid of any tools of any kind and ever day is different so you need to be ready some thing new will fall on your head. You wake up with System D as the First thing you do and the last thing you do at night. Three year old kids get it and do it all day long. If you’re not into playing mind games and you must be good at it don’t come here. I have live in this hellhole of what I should call home for 10 years now and I have enough. I also don’t think this is a place to raise children and I do not mean because of the crime rate. The French for the most part are dumb down not so from dumb but from the start I don’t gave a dam about nothing. Like writing your letter I am French but not really that why I write you because you are for the most part right. If your happy were your at stay if your looking for a new home think about the mind game System D before you live here.
As for someone messing with your web site (Note from author: at one time I thought someone had hacked my website). I be more incline to look at other things because the French Secret Service have a hard time tying their own shoes. Look at Greenpeace Warrior. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/about/history/the-bombing-of-the-rainbow-war That is because the French don’t give a dam about anything, not even their jobs.
Do not come here that my 2 cents.
Ivan S, October 2011.
I just came across your site and have enjoyed reading a fair amount of it. It is very nice to see a contrasting view to all the people who think the grass is greener on the other side. You are honest in your comments without being condemning and you are always clear about what is your opinion and not making sweeping generalisation. This is a great step forward from most people talking about France!
I just wanted to add my 2 pence to your comments. I am half Danish-half Swiss and was born in Denmark. My whole family moved to France when my dad got a job there when I was 13 in 1994. In all honesty it is the best thing that ever happened to my family. Living abroad was a tremendous experience as a child and I think it has only done me lots of favours. It was of course difficult with the language and to be fair I attended a French school that had many expats so had a fast-track programme for teaching French to foreigners (think 10-12 hours of French per week, learning 30 odd verbs in 5 different tenses for tests, etc.). But it paid off. I speak fluent French now and is one of my assets in my job today.
The education system is hard. Definitely, and very intimidating when you come from a very liberal schooling system. However, I am a huge fan of their education system over the UK one as I think it give a much more fundamental and broad education, focusing on language, writing (how many students at UNIVERISTY in the UK have I demonstrated for who cannot write grammatically correct English!), and maths which I think is fundamental. It also covers history and geography in broad enough terms that you have a good general knowledge. Sorry but why anyone should be doing law or marine biology for their A levels is beyond me! That’s what Uni is for. But, classes are large, a lot of teachers are harsh and short tempered and if you need extra help you will probably struggle. I agree this is not ideal! I didn’t do a French bac in the end as I did my last 2 years at the international school in Geneva as I wanted to study in the UK.
Bureaucracy: You are absolutely correct. It is a pain in the derriere J But we managed OK, but then my mum did speak ok French. And I think that is the absolute key to doing well in France: learn the language!
Language: If you come to France and the first thing you do is ask everyone if they speak English you can be guaranteed no one will. But if you make an effort very often they will too. They are terribly embarrassed of their accent, that is what it comes down to. SO if you want to move to France, take classes! I love speaking French, it is a great and expressive language, much like English.
The food, the wine, the landscapes: such diversity that you could travel for years and always see and try something new. Undoubtedly one of the huge benefits of living in France is the good food at affordable prices. We didn’t have much money in the beginning when we moved, yet we always ate better than we ever had before!
Renting: You are so right! The average age for owning a house in France is something like 46! It is not like in the UK where everyone is aiming at being on the property ladder by the age of 18. In France the vast majority of people rent property and the laws are very much in favour of the renter, not the landlord. You can rent good property for good money. It is usually cheaper than a mortgage (was anyway). But, this is a difficult one to get Brits to understand, they always want to own.
Healthcare: we had securite sociale and the healthcare in France is the best I have ever come across, anywhere in the world. WE certainly thought it was cheap. We paid very little at the doctors and had hospital and medicine paid for by securite sociale.
Finally, the French: I am a huge fan, I am a total francophone but they are the way they are… and that is very different to the Brits. That is probably why the British don’t get on with them because mentally they are so different. Yet I have always been treated very well by them, I had a lot less grief about being foreign in France than in the UK. Always kind, very relaxed and I love their laissez faire attitude. It suits me just fine.
All that to say that some people have a great experience living there and perhaps you don’t hear much from them? It is a pity because I do know people succeed. Perhaps part of the problem is the British mentality? (Maybe that is why I don’t find it easy to live in the UK?) The constant comparison and mentality of everything is better back home? I don’t know but you are absolutely right when you say that it is not just moving to nicer, warmer Britain: it is an entirely different country! I hope lots of people read your site and take your advice because it is good advice.
I hope you didn’t feel like I ranted, I just wanted to share a positive point of view with you.
I think you have covered both points for & against very well , but what I think you fail to remember is that everyone has a different reason for moving anywhere even though in our case it was France.
Yes you may well have struggled in what you did whilst in France & suffered the financial woes that we all do from time to time. However let me tell you that my wife & I could not retire in UK as we have done in France.
My wife being quite a lot younger than I and furthermore quite a way off retirement yet, had a very good job in UK before we moved to France just over 4 years ago, but with me being retired & bringing in a below normal British State Pension, we were unable to cover our outgoings each month & debt started to mount up.
Fortunately for us we saw the “light” before it was too late to recover, sold our property and with the equity were able to purchase a nice cottage here in the region of Limousin and have sufficient funds to renovate the property to what we wanted. Yes we would have liked to have made more improvements but where do you draw the line.
Obviously people who need employment to survive in France are at a dis-advantage and in my opinion can do better in UK than in France as there are most certainly not the restrictions to what they can or cannot do with their skills without paying a heavy price in the way of taxes.
Although we have the Taxe d’Habitation & Tax Fronciere, it is, for us, way below what we were paying in Council Tax in UK.
Our water bill taken over the year is on a par with UK however the electricity can be higher dependent upon how you control the use of the various electrical items around the home. We calculate to spend +- €60 per month.
Cooking however is far cheaper when using gas. I only did an annual calculation in that regard last month & its coming out at €5 per month which is €60 per annum -less that the price of a 35kgs bottle. You wont get down to that cost in UK.
As far as heating is concerned, we only have one wood burner in the cottage & this costs us €320 per year to run. & that is only during the Winter Oct to March generally. We certainly would not consider oil even when the € was at a higher value against the £ and when my pension was 50% higher than it is now.
Costs of living generally- In a nutshell, we could NOT live on my British State Pension if we were in UK. There is always a bottle of wine available for the evening meal or before if required. There is always a Whiskey if required or a Beer or Brandy. There is always a good plate of food on the table and whilst we obviously have to watch our pennies, the art is to “Learn to Shop” which a lot of British people fail to do.
Someone stated the other day on a Forum, that they needed €1250 per month over & above their Gas/Electricty. Pray Tell-Why. We live on way less than half of that amount taking each & every cost in to account.
Right the next thing you might ask, what do you do about holidays. Unfortunately that has to come out of savings which were put aside in UK when we left. We do nevertheless travel to UK by road, a journey of 13 hours to our families in the S.East of England, once a year and have even travelled to Australia earlier this year.
We run one car only , which is currently over 16 years old but in good condition and we don’t travel a great deal. We have a few English friends but are not involved in Coffee Mornings/BBQ gatherings for the Brits or social climbers. We keep very much to ourselves and that’s how we like it. We do miss our immediate families in UK, that’s the hardest part but apart from that are reasonably comfortable & happy.
One can argue until the cows come home about the cost of living, but it is your choice in how you live and depends entirely upon the lining of your pocket.
If I had needed to work to survive, then I most certainly would not have chosen France.
I agree 100% that if you FAIL to “Do Your Homework & Investigate France in every detail before you embark on moving here, you will be doomed from the start if you DONT”…
Best of Luck
Moved to Dordogne
I have been reading through your site with interest and thought that I may be able to help others with our experiences.
My husband and I moved to la Dordogne in 2002 and bought a hotel/bar/restaurant to renovate and run by ourselves. We too had bought into ‘the dream’ and went over pretty much with eyes and ears closed to reality. It was extremely hard work. My husband has French as his mother tong but I had very basic school French at that time which meant that to begin with it fell to him to deal with everything bureaucratic and anything relating to life in general – which takes HOURS in France I can tell you! Employing people in France is incredibly expensive so at times I would be waiting on and serving at the bar for up to 70 people on my own. We would get up at 6am some days to do breakfasts for hotel guests and then not go to bed till 2am after busy nights. Meanwhile – we happily became pregnant so you can imagine how hard it was in 42 deg heat and a bump!
Eventually we employed some staff to help us as it was just not feasible to do it all on our own – but that meant taking a huge cut in our own salaries. Two weeks after our gorgeous son was born (another story but wow – the hospital and after care was amazing) I was back to work and my husband had no time off at all. Frankly I don’t know how we did it but I do know that a few months after he was born I had told my husband that I wasn’t going to be continuing like that.
The summer was fun – but not fun enough to carry us through the long, cold and lonely winter. Once the tourists have all gone home it is spookily quiet. I missed the buzz, I missed strolling through the shops, I missed museums, I missed family and I missed Costa Coffee!! I felt that there wasn’t enough to offer our son when he grew up. Most of all I loved our French friends and neighbours but I couldn’t bear the Brits who had been there for years and yet spoke no French, claimed the chaumage and were on the permanent hunt for beans and chips. We had no choice but to be nice to those people who were customers (or just pint drinkers!).. Eventually we left the business closed and moved back to the UK. I just couldn’t take anymore of it so we cut our losses.
On a positive note – we came back having made a good profit and with a much larger deposit for our home here. But it took almost 2 years to sell the business and house and it was very, very touch and go even then.
However……!!! Believe it or not we are going to be moving back there. Now that our children are 5 and 3 we have different priorities – who was I kidding back then? I haven’t strolled around a Museum for months! Our children are the main reason – I don’t want them to grow up here where we have had no choice but to put one in a substandard school and where they wont ever be allowed to play out on their own.
This time we are renting out our house here to provide something for our children should they decide they want to come back when they are older and more importantly we will be able to immerse ourselves in everything French without having to even speak to those nasty Brits! We have lots of young French friends who are there all year round and I am proud to say that having spent those two years working like I have never worked before, I am fluent in French too. The local school is beautiful and the health care is second to none. Yes – you pay your insurance, but I’d rather do that and get such a high standard of care than get it ‘free’ here and get bugger all for it!
Yes – the grass is always greener. But having experienced both – I know which pasture I’d rather roam.
I’ve skimmed over the details so I’m sorry if it is all a bit confusing but I hope it may help someone else considering doing the same!
“Sunday Times” Style Prejudice
First point is question some “Sunday Times” style prejudice. Your site and the posters base a lot of their disdain for France on financial matters. This is a little odd since it doesn’t seem a good reason to like or dislike somewhere.
Nevertheless, your site says in various places, generally with an implicit assumption nearby that the UK is faring much better:
“The French economy is in dire straights”
“France is going bust”
You seemed to agree here:
“I think France is in for a nasty shock in terms of its national finances”
Do you/ they feel the same now? It is the beginning of 2010 and it looks like the UK, not France is going bust.
Second point is the rose tinted view of the UK state. The relationship between French healthcare, education, tax and bureaucracy is highlighted and once again Britain seems to be implicitly held up as a better place.
“compared to France and lots of other countries in continental Europe, we get off lightly”
“British state and private schools are, in my opinion, much better than we give them credit for. Some of the best universities in the world are in Britain. ”
I don’t recognise absolute truth in either of these comments since they are too general. As someone living in both countries I find Britain as bureaucratic as France: I run a UK company and have to fill in endless forms, worry about Health and Safety and generally feel about as weighed down with paperwork as you could be. In France, I find roughly the same level of paper i.e. a lot. As for the NHS, education and other institutions I suggest that the authors spend some time looking critically at the NHS and at our higher education before having a go at France.
The thought is this. Too much in this site is generalisation. Some French schools are better than English, some are worse. Some hospital treatment in the UK is great and some doctors in France are rude, some waiters in the UK are inept and some Parisians are really polite. Cheap stereotypes are too easy; often based in the past or in an imagined reality based on very little data and experiences. Perhaps the UK universities comment was based on Oxbridge? Well, try the University of Bedfordshire sometime.
I met a typical French paysan once. Short, rotund, beret, Renault van, blue overalls, patois – the whole shebang. He even had 1960’s eau de vie on tap and a family history in the village dating to 17 something or other. Took a long while before he revealed that he was actually a retired qualified optician. Just about as white collar as me. He had never worked in the fields except as it suited him. As far as I can tell he likes the idea of being a paysan just as some British people play at being the country gent.
Point is: this generalisation (France bad, good whatever) is stupid. The reality is more complex than that. The French are not “this” or “that” just as we English are not all of one shade either. I am not a football hooligan but there are football hooligans in Britain. There is a Frenchman I know who hates French food and prefers Italian. I know an arrogant English businessman and a humble no-nonsense French builder.
I would say to anyone that if you are not happy one place try living somewhere that seems to suit you and if you like it better than where you used to live then good for you. If that happens to be Northern Scotland or 5 miles from Aix then vive la difference.
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