Your All in One Guide on Moving to France

Moving to France

The United Kingdom and the French Republic have had strong connections starting as early as the 19th century until today. The treaty between both countries started with the Entente Cordiale, which was a series of agreements signed between the UK and France in 1904.

Ever since this moment, those two “historical” rivals started to work on common goals. France is the gate for a lot of UK residents to the continent of Europe. Both countries have strong economic relations today and share a substantial amount of expats in each others territory. There are roughly 137,862 French-born people living in the UK and 160,000 British citizens in France.

Table of Contents:

What is France Like

French Food

depositphotos / By happyalex

The French language is origin of the word “entrepreneur”. From the French word “entreprende” (undertake) and the English word “enterprise”. In today’s business ecosystem that has to mean something. Officials are really working to improve the business development conditions in the country. Foreign investments have reached a peak this year, and France is actually passing laws to encourage startups.

Don’t take our word for it, you can hear that from the Business Chairman of France, Pascal Cagni himself, who was on a visit to London and had an interview. The main topic was the foreign investment figure.

If something unexpected happens and you are tricked by something or someone, the process in court will be executed in a manner that well suits foreigners. Every stage is being translated into English. The dispute itself is taken under by judicial systems designed to operate in international business law.

Job opportunities are available even if you are not planning an entrepreneurial endeavour.

The social system of France is well developed. Every person that is legally living in France gets social benefits. Тhe state will even give you back 75% of your GP cost (€23 / £20). Universities are either free or inexpensive. The state can also provide benefits for rent and children born in France. In essence, it is a good country to start your family life.

For those of you seeking a peaceful place to live in after your retirement. France has some villages and small cities that can provide you with the silence and relaxation you need. They can also offer a unique charisma, beauty and many art galleries.

France could turn into a new home for everyone. The country is rich in museums, historical places and culture.

If you prefer big city living, always on the move and always on the rise, then Paris is your place. Do you want a peaceful rural life, busy day to day life and friendly neighbours? Go to Côtes d’Armor. Which is right on the coast, as a little extra.

There are things to know before moving to France. As a professional, when it comes to international removals, we made a research and obtained experience from clients, whose knowledge we share in the rows below.

France Visa UK

As a British citizen, you do not need a visa for France from the UK (Schengen Visa). You just need to show a valid British passport.

Residence Permit (Carte de Séjour)

When it comes to residence permit you can apply for it after you enter French territory. You have to apply within two months after moving to France. Your kids can stay in France, as long as you are permitted to do so, of course.

Note that a French residence permit is not something mandatory, considering that you, as a UK citizen, are a resident of the EU.

With the Brexit already visible on the horizon, it might be a good idea to apply as soon as possible. Before the massive rush in March 2019. We have made a point of making an observation on moving to France after Brexit. It should not be any more difficult for a British national to relocate to France.

Both governments are working together to ensure that expats from the UK in France, and the other way around, continue to live as they have lived so far, even after the initiation of Brexit.

You can search for the specific procedure in the town you select as your future home. Every “préfecture” (district under authority) has a slightly different procedure. Be patient as, with every bureaucracy, it might take time.

Life in France

Living in France

shutterstock / By View Apart

French people love life and cherish the beauty in every moment. You can feel that when you ask about their favourite wine or their loved ones.

Life in France has a bit of everything. If you prefer the busy and engaging life in the big city, you will probably choose Paris as your new home. And if you prefer to enjoy spending your time at the local market, work in the garden and live in a friendly small-scale community, you will probably opt for a French village or a small city somewhere away from Paris.

As a newcomer, you will most likely feel out of place at first. You just have to learn how to enjoy the little things in life. A couple of new friendships with locals can be the start of a pleasant new experience in France. Those new friends can share experiences that can make you rediscover France and find your place in it.

When it comes to your professional life and career, you will have enough job opportunities and social benefits as a French resident. In a way, life in France might strike you as a bit more relaxed than anywhere else. And a bit more in order, especially when it comes to living in Paris.

The public transportation is well sorted and cheap. France has a politic of limiting emissions in big cities. Other means of transportation are encouraged. The price for a monthly pass for the metro in Paris is roughly €75 / £66, but discounts are available on a regular basis.

What about the food? You must be well familiar with the famous French cousins Beef bourguignon, Ratatouille and Escargot (snails), so we won’t waste time on that.

It is important to note that the youth in the country is pointed towards healthy eating habits. The menus in every school cafeteria are prepared with the help of dietitians and fruits are a large part of them. When it comes to fruits and veggies, they have substantial displays in every supermarket and are inexpensive.

Cost of Living in France

Cost of Living in France

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The cost of living in Paris is roughly 3% cheaper than living in London. That is not a meaningful difference at first glance. A percentage of that sort can easily shift over a month. So let’s check some prices. You can calculate your own cost of living in France.

The minimum wage in France is actually one of the highest in Europe. After January this year (2018), it has moved up slightly, to €9.88 / £8.64 per hour which is around €1,160 / £1,015 per month after taxes.

Every adult working in France is receiving this sum, and certain jobs are making even more, of course. The salaries are negotiated between employers and unions.

Food Prices in France

A traditional baguette from a well-established bakery cost around €0,90 / £0.80 somewhere outside Paris. In the capital, this price quickly turns into €1 / £0.90.

The essentials on the table such as bread, milk, eggs, chicken and fish are not ridiculously expensive. Even when you compare the prices with the minimum wage.

Food Prices Euro / Pound

Product Price in € Price in £ Unit
Eggs €2.59 £2.26 10 pieces
Bread €1.37 £1.20 1 piece
Milk €0.96 £0.84 per litre
Beer €1.72 £1.50 per litre
Chicken €9.15 £8 per kg.
Tomatoes €2.29 £2 per kg.
Potatoes €1.49 £1.30 per kg.
Apples €2.29 £2 per kg.
Bananas €1.94 £1.70 per kg.

A dinner for two in a local pub costs roughly €45 / £40. If you decide to go to a restaurant you stand to spend €90 / £70, very much depends on the area and the restaurant, of course.

A meal during your lunch break can cost you around €17 / £15 however, you go with fast food you can cut the expenses to around €8 / £7.

Paying Bills in France

For utility bills, you need around €150 / £131 a month. That includes water, electricity and gas for a property of 85 m2.

This bill tag can cover a couple without a child. If you are planning to move to France alone your monthly utility bills drop half way. In this case, you can even look for a smaller apartment, which are common and with around 50m2 of living area.

Living in the smaller apartment will cost you around €80 / £65 a month in utility bills.

Renting in France

Rent or Buy a Property

depositphotos / By photography33

Rent cost is €1,250 / £1,090 monthly for a three bedroom residence. For a single bedroom apartment, rent will set you back with €572 / £500 a month.

Prices vary with the location as you would expect. Properties that are in close range with the city centre have a higher rent price.

Driving in France

Driving your personal car in France has some additional costs. Your gasoline cost is €1.33 / £1.15 per litre (Diesel €1.50 / £1.30).

When it comes to buying a car you should look around for deals from official dealerships. A Toyota Corolla with standard equipment comes with a price tag of €21,000 / £19,000.

Ford has an immense success in the UK. The “Focus” here costs around £20,000 / €22.700 (depending on equipment and engine), and in France, the same car would be €25,000 / £22,000.

If you are going to France with your own vehicle, note that you are obliged to register it within six months of your arrival. During that period you are free to drive around with your UK number plate and documents.

List of documents and items that you should have on you, while driving in France:

  • driving licence – UK or French
  • car papers
  • insurance paper
  • MOT/Control technique certificate
  • passport or ID (ID of your passengers)
  • high-visibility jacket
  • red warning triangle

French Driving Licence

You can register your UK driving licence with your local town hall, or swap it for a French driving licence.

Note that the driving permits in France are legitimate in certain areas. For instance, your French driving licence may be valid only for Paris. By the time you get to Marseilles, you might be in trouble behind the wheel, because your driving licence may not be valid.

Ask your local authorities for the range of your new French licence. The difference comes in a couple of digits in your licence number.

French Motorway Tolls and Fees

Driving from the UK through France may cost some extra, considering the toll taxes in France.

Additional charges to French toll taxes:

  • Getting your car in France on a ferry – around £50 / €57, depending on the number of passengers, the day of the travel and the ferry route. Discounts are available and are something common, so look for them.
  • Getting your car in France through the Eurotunnel – the cost goes around £100 / €114 depending on the date you choose. This is for a car below 6 ft with no trailers and with no returning date.

Lastly, the toll taxes in France. Let’s just say you take the Eurotunnel to Calais and you want to go to Paris. The toll tax that you have to pay is around €23 / £20. A journey all the way to Lyon will net you another €80 / £70 in toll taxes.

The amount you pay on each toll position depends on where you are heading and the type of your vehicle. To have a precise estimate of the price that you will have to pay, use a toll tax calculator.

British Expats in France

There is a large number of Brits living in France. They, naturally, form British communities. Each of these communities has the purpose of connecting, gathering and helping British nationals.

You can find a community in every major city. Some of the most popular places for Brits are Paris, Brittany and Lyon. In those areas, you stand a high chance of meeting fellow UK expats.

According to data from France’s National Statistics Agency (INSEE), there are 160,000 British expats living in France.

The regions of France with most British expats:

  • Ile-de-France region
  • Poitou-Charentes
  • Bretagne

The regions of France with least British expats:

  • Island of Corsica – Brits had enough of living on an island.
  • Champagne-Ardenne
  • Franche-Comté 

Take a note that native French citizens would love to embrace you in the community if only you make an effort to learn a bit of the language and interact with them.

Locals tend to stay at bay from small groups of anglophone people. It is comforting to have a fellow national by your side in times of trouble. But remember, that the locals can very much turn into valuable friends with extensive knowledge about the life in France. No one else can present such information to you.

France Essentials

Should You Learn French Before Moving

It is a great idea to do so. Knowing some French prior to your move to France makes it easier for you to find a job.

The benefits of you learning the language will not limit to only having a better chance of acing a job interview.

It makes your day to day life in France far easier. French people love their language and situations in which you are understood but not answered, only because you ask in English, are not something uncommon.

Knowing some basic French will ease you in the search of new friends and connections. Some native friends will be a big help in your endeavours.

Working in France

How to Get a Job in France

shutterstock / By Monkey Business Images

As a UK citizen, you have the right to work in any country in the EU and Switzerland without the need of a work permit. You have the same rights as the natives, when it comes to working conditions, pay or social security.

Some jobs may require a criminal record check from the UK.

You can apply for your criminal record check by filling a form.

Just like the case with the Residence Permit (Carte de Séjour), it might be a good idea to apply for a work permit in case of any change in politics after Brexit.

If you are a holder of permanent resident permit (Carte de Résident, CR) in France, you automatically have the right to work in France.

If you are having a provisional stay permit (Autorisation Provisoire de Séjour, APS), you have to apply for a work permit.

Different types of French work permits:

  • Temporary residency permit (Carte de Séjour Temporaire, CST) – This permit specifies your line of work as well as where you are allowed to operate.
  • Temporary work permit (Autorisation Provisoire de Travail, ATP) – Applies when you live and work in France, but your pay is from a company outside France.
  • Seasonal work contract (Contrat de Travail Saisonnier) – You need this permit if you are on some form of “Work And Travel” with a specified period.

The economy of France is currently flourishing, especially when it comes to startups and small to medium-sized businesses. There is also great conditions for the developing of tourism. The overall state and the number of investments from other markets make France a preferred place to build a career.

=Note that while you are a “temporary resident” of France, you may still have to pay UK taxes. Resolve this matter prior to your move.=

This can be accomplished by filling a “P85” form, with which you tell the “Revenue and Customs” (HMRC) that you are planning to live and work outside the UK. The HMRC will send you a reply with how your taxes will be affected.

For your convenience, France and the UK have a “Double Taxation Convention” which can prevent your income from being taxed twice.

French Healthcare System

Speaking of healthcare, pay attention to the vaccinations you need to do prior to leaving the country and those you need to do after moving to France from UK.

If you are suffering from any medical condition that requires the systematic acceptance of any medication, remember to take your prescription with you. Check the drugs in your medicine here, to see if you can carry them while travelling.

If your medicine contains a drug from category – 2, 3 or 4 you have to carry a proof that it was prescribed to you. This proof can be in the form of a letter written and signed by your doctor. The letter must explain your condition, as well as when and where you should carry the medicine.

If you want to have extra quantities of your medication while you find a way to get it in France, you have to fill this form.

Your basic healthcare needs will be covered by the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).

It even has a helpful application that you can run on your phone to check the prices of different procedures and what the card covers for you.

The EHIC app for Iphone
The EHIC app for Android
The EHIC app for Windows

For anyone that lives and works in France, it is mandatory to have a health insurance card (Carte Vitale) which he will need when seeking medical help.

For any questions regarding your French health insurance rights, you can call the advice line of the l’Assurance Maladie. They can assist you in English. Just call 0 811 36 36 46 (from France) or 0033 811 36 36 46 (from outside France).

Moving to France With Kids

There is nothing stopping you from moving to France with your kids. If you are permitted to stay in the country, so are your kids and family.

If you plan a trip outside the EU, they need to apply for a DCEM (Document de Circulation Pour Étranger Mineur). This will permit them to return back in the EU after your vacation.

As a UK citizen, you have the right to a dual citizenship. This means that you and your kids can apply for a French passport.

The cost of French Passports:

  • Passport for an adult – £85 / €96
  • Passport for a child age: 0-14 – £24 / €27
  • Passport for a child age: 15-17 – £59 / €52

*The prices listed above are for a French passport obtained from an embassy.

Your passport will be ready within six weeks. If it is your first passport, you have to pass an interview in the HM Passport Office.

Voting From France

You can still exercise your right to vote from outside the UK. All you have to do is register here. You will be expected to register again only if you change your marital status or your address. Otherwise, you can vote multiple times with one registration.

In Conclusion

If you particularly enjoy sunny weather, good food, and wine, France is a strong contender when it comes to choosing your new home as a British national.

It is far enough for you to feel away from anything bothering you in the United Kingdom. Still, France is close enough for you not to feel too stranded from your country of origin. You are always a flight away from home, wherever you decide to live. But, if it is France you are a train ride away from the UK. So close, yet so far, as one may say.

Image header source: Deposit Photos/ Author: sborisov

Posted in Moving Abroad

Last update: December 5, 2018

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