Moving to France?
If the idea of a move to France attracts you and you like the idea of buying a house, which perhaps needs renovation, then before you even consider the financial implications you must ask yourself some much more important and deeply searching questions. Print this article, go and lie in a nice warm bath, take a glass and a bottle of Beaujolais with you, relax and be totally honest with yourself. When you’ve finished the wine, open another bottle and see if your partner will join you in the bath (bring another glass)… and then be brutally honest with each other.
Now, imagine you’ve sold up, kissed your family and friends goodbye and followed the removal van to your new French home. This is not a two week holiday, this is for keeps…so, seriously ask yourself and your partner these questions:
Can I and my partner really cope with leaving our home-country?
For some there may well be times when home-sickness becomes unendurable. It’s not just the fact that you don’t get pubs or chip-shops in France (even the MacDonalds are not quite the same); it’s a whole new lifestyle, a totally new culture. You must be prepared to adjust and slowly start to think the French way. If either of you feel you couldn’t cope, then maybe it’s not for you.
My First Wife and I live in the Dordogne department of south-west France where, in parts, the resident English speakers now outnumber the French and have formed their own “Little Britain”. I suspect this happens in other departments as well. If you feel that you won’t be able to integrate with your French neighbours, then you should question whether the move is right for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re not fluent in French, as long as you’re prepared to have a go at it. We have met many people on our travels throughout Europe that have had negative experiences with the locals, simply because they won’t try the local language – it’s not just the French. We have been made to feel most welcome in our new country and it’s true to say that we literally couldn’t have done it without the cheerful (though sometimes surprised) support and generosity of our local community.
And then there is the $64,000 question …
Can the relationship between my partner and myself survive the challenges of a new life?
Should things go wrong, they tend to go wrong with a vengeance and (like buses) they all seem to come along at the same time.
Is your temperament suited to the “snail’s-pace” and “everything in triplicate” of French bureaucracy? When your partnership home is the only place where you can vent your frustrations, can your relationship stand it? Think about this one very carefully because you are bound to hit some sticky patches, especially if you are employing French tradespeople (artisans) to do some of the renovation work for you. If you’re not sure, maybe you’d be better to go for a house that’s already been partly renovated or is new (ok… it costs more, but it is usually less stressful).
It’s all very well to live happily with someone when you’re both normally used to being apart from one another during the day, or have separate social or sports interests. At least initially, you will be eating, living, working and, probably, sleeping together – 24 hours a day – under sometimes difficult and exacting conditions. Can your relationship handle that successfully?
So, you haven’t ended up throwing wine at each other in the bath, now it’s time to try to think of anything else that you might find hard to deal with in leaving your home country and moving to France. One thing is for certain, when that removal van finally rumbles off into the distance and you are left standing, slightly perplexed, outside your new home in your new country … there is no going back, other than the horrid prospect of giving up.
This may seem over simplistic, but if you and your partner have managed to be really honest and actually fail to agree at this time, then you should step back. In which case, my advice is to not abandon the idea… put it on the back burner, let it simmer for a while. Do some more research and find out more about the area of France you might aim for, talk to people who have already made the move. Think about the implications of a completely new lifestyle and continue to talk with your partner about the prospects. House prices were steadily rising in France, though in recent times that has slowed considerably. But even if a delay might end up costing you a bit more financially, the later cost in terms of stress and unhappiness could be considerably less.