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Subject: Moving to France -- all the steps
Date: Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Name: Libbie
Message: We are beginning to plan a move to France. We traveled around Europe by rental car for almost a year in 2001-02, and find that life on a golf course in the Carolinas is too tame for us now. I'd love to talk with anyone who has completed such a move, or who is in the process of making the move now. I have many questions. Here are a few:

How long does it take the French consulate to issue a long-stay visa?

How much income is one required for a retired couple?

How did/do you handle getting health insurance?

What is involved in buying a car and getting a driver's license?

Where did you/will you settle?

How much French do you know? Are the French people friendly to you?

What about buying real estate? How do you cope with French inheritance and tax laws?

Does anyone know a good attorney who understands both French and American probate laws?

Enough! Hope someone sees this and sends me some answers!

Libbie

Reply

Replies Posted 8.

Name Doug Crocket
Message Hi Libbie

I have some answers or sources for some of your questions.

Re questions no documents for long term stays, driving and buying a house: There are 3 good books I can recommend; i.e. The Grown Up's Guide to Living in France by Rosanne Knorr;Buying a House in France by David Hampshire; Living and Working in France by Genevieve Brame.

We bought in Brittany. Price were reasonable and we like the people and the countryside. It can be wet though. We were lucky to run into a British real estate agent who was familiar with selling to foreigners and was very helpful including using the Internet.

You can buy health insurance for a lot less than the US cost. Wherever there are a substantial number of Brits, someone will be selling insurance. The quote I have is for $7,000 a year for 2. I could give you a name but it would be a local business. You can buy into the government health plan but we havenít figured this fully out. Same for taxes.

Buying a car, weíre told is easy. Used car sales are regulated and reliable. But we havenít done this yet.

We found the people very friendly. Itís better to be formal, especially with older residents. Our neighbors told us they appreciated our use of titles and surnames and that they resented foreigners using first names. My wife is relatively fluent and I am studying away. Speaking French definitely helps but there are plenty of Brits around us who do not and seem to get along just fine.

I am trying to locate a lawyer/accountant as well and would prefer to do business over the Internet. I will share any success I have in this.

Hope this helps. If you want more details, I will try and accommodate.

Doug Crockett

Name Gillian
Message I too am arranging to move to France. At this point cannot answer your questions but as I get information will pass it on. I am native English, living in California. Know the Dordogne area; brief visit to Provence but seemed rather barren and dry terrain, very much like California. Have you heard of the Woofers? This is an organization for organic farmers. www.woofers.com - check with me if this not quite web address. I have downloaded their information and some very interesting 'situations'. You can stay for short or longer time, helping out - some easy, some more strenuous, in return for accommodation and food. This way one could go all over France and not only see the country but meet wonderful people as well. Just an idea. Prices in Normandy seem less expensive, and of course it must be green - however, don't want too much gray! Burgundy?

My goal is to buy a property with income potential - gites, etc. I am well educated, and travelled, two grown sons - one in the Cotswolds, and one in California, mother in Surrey.

I have dual citizenship - also need to find out about health insurance, etc. I am meeting with someone from France soon who is going to share information. I will certainly pass this along.

One concern I do have is environment, especially nuclear power. Do you have thoughts on this.

Sincerely,

Gillian

Gillian_Summers@yahoo.com

Name Libbie
Message Hi Doug & Gillian, and thanks for your notes. I have begun collecting the required pieces for applying for our long-stay visas. The hardest part is going to be health insurance, I think. I found one company willing to provide cover, but they exclude existing conditions, which is not acceptable to us. Doug, if you're already there, or have your visa, what did you show them for health insurance? I'm trying to reach Blue Cross/Blue Shield, as listed in Knorr's book about moving to France, but have had no reply from them yet. I'm hoping they will agree to continue our coverage which we have with them now.

Does anyone know what income level is required for two retirees? I asked that of the Atlanta consulate, but got a very non-specific answer.

Also, does any know whether getting the visa is pretty much automatic if you meet all the requirements? They can tell when they see us (another requirement) that we won't be taking some young person's job!

We have discovered that we can rent a gite in the winter for a very reasonable price almost anywhere in France. Several areas appeal to us: Brittany, Normandy, Burgundy and Languedoc. Any opinions about how these areas compare? Cost? Weather? Nice people? I've heard the people in Normandy are especially nice to Americans. We certainly found lovely people there.

Gillian, why France? I loved both the Cotswolds and Surrey, and wonder why you don't return to one of those beautiful places.

I'll be off line for about a week, but will be happy to read any messages left for me here when I return. Thanks.

Libbie

Name tim
Message We live in South Africa and have a house in the Charante-Dorgogne border area. French News online has a lot of info in their info packs and forums.

www.french-news.com

Name GILLIAN
Message Hello Libbie,

Nice to get your message. Yes, the Cotswolds are lovely but so expensive! Also, although I love English countryside imagine life in France to be, well, more full of life! Find the English (although I do love them), often too rough, or too stuffy! I do have concerns about nuclear power in France, but in our present times everywhere seems to have a problem! Also, I do like a bit of sun; however, found Provence too dry! Will take a look in Normandy. Do you know about Woofers? It is an organization of organic farmers - some wonderful places to stay - free accommodation and food in return for some work, from strenous to quite lovely - collecting medicinal herbs, teaching English - one can go from farm to farm meet lots of people and see all of France. Just an idea! Just to pass along I have a demo cd of narration - interest in documentaries;at the moment compiling website. Hope we keep in touch and will pass on useful information to you.

... Gillian

Name R.K.Chari
Message We are fully retired US citizens with a dream of living in France in 2004. We are US civil Service annuitants with BlueCross Federal coverage which I am told will cover us worldwide but the Medicare A&B will have to taken care of by local purchase of additional coverage or with our own funds. We desire to locate Charente, Vienne, Indre et Loire area, we are flexible on location. Being over 75 years, we just want to be "retired" meeting people, absorbing the culture etc. One particular question is to what extent can a total vegetarian 'survive'--not inside our own house but while travelling. Any suggestions ? How does one find "temporary" accomodation in the form of a rental housing for 6 months to a year. Anyone in a situation similar to ours may contact us and, other like Libbie could share any information collected with us, we will do the same. We do not speak French but could manage to get-by.

Name Jackie and John
Message Hi, we found this site very helpful when we moved here from the UK two years ago, check out the Mairie forum...mostly Brits but a few Americans as well.....Good luck.....Jackie and John

http://www.livingfrance.com/

Name Dave
Message Hi. Just a few words about moving to France. You'll find the country is VERY liberal about immigration, I mean : legal immigration. My wife is Canadian (not from Quebec : she's english-speaking) and she had no problem to immigrate here. Next week (2 years after her first steps in France) she'll become a French citizen. France is very liberal because once you're admitted, you have almost the same rights than French nationals. Especially you can buy anything you want (land lot, house,...) even if you're not French and a non-resident. Its not like that everywhere. Remember a few VERY important things : - get your most important documents TRANSLATED into French. I mean : ur birth certificate, marriage certificate,etc, because the French civil service DOES LOVE certificates. - try to find out if your DRIVING LICENSE can be exchanged. You'll probably need to drive here. You will need a driving license. You'll have to contact the French embassy or the US embassy in Paris to know if there's a convention between France and your state. The reason is : the US is a FEDERAL state, and not all the states have exchange conventions with France. BE CAREFUL. If there's no convention, you'll be allowed to drive in France only 6 months. After that, u'll have to pass the test here and its difficult and expensive. Its NOT like in North America. - there must be a fiscal convention between France and the US. So u are sure to get ur retirement check directly here in a French bank.

Be VERY careful about the driving license. It was the only major problem we had my wife and I, but it was very complicated to solve it.

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