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Moving to France – The do’s and don’ts

Moving to France – The do’s and don’ts


Many Britons decide to pack up their lives and move across the water to resettle in France. Whether it’s the picturesque scenery that lures them over or the thought of escaping an overcrowded Britain is unknown, but the truth of the matter is that moving to live in another country is a major event that can be extremely stressful and daunting if you don’t prepare yourself beforehand.

It’s easy to imagine that your life will carry on as normal apart from the fact that people will speak French and you’ll live in a prettier place but the reality is very different to that. Here at Britannia Sandersteads we’ve come up with a list of top 5 things to consider –including the do’s and don’ts – to bear in mind for your relocation to France.

1) Language

The language is the single most difficult barrier that will get in the way of you settling in and making a better life for yourself. Don’t fall down the trap of “I’ll pick it up when I’m there”. Not only is this a lazy approach but it’s also unrealistic. It takes a long time to learn a whole new language and remembering a few sentences from school doesn’t mean it’s easy – you shouldn’t underestimate the complexity of French.

Do take the time to plan some regular lessons with a proper French teacher before you move. This way you will be able to learn all the intricacies of the language thoroughly before you’re there. Once you’ve mastered the language you’ll be able to communicate with everyone instead of ‘getting by’ and relying on them speaking your language. It will help you fit into the community you live in, and for some of you the community you work in too, which all contributes to you settling in well.

2) Culture

French culture is a whole different culture to England. They think differently, prioritise differently and have different values so don’t go with the attitude that they will come round to your way of thinking. If you’re thinking things will be just like at home but a bit prettier then you’d be wrong.

Do learn to adapt to their way of life, particularly if you’re moving to rural areas of France where smaller local communities are even tighter, by joining in with things and getting to know people as much as possible.

It can sometimes be a culture shock for some people, as they go out with the mentality that they will feel the same as when they were on holiday here. But the reality is that it’s a lot harder than this, that’s why taking steps such as learning the language before you go out there will help you enormously to fit in more and embrace the culture around you.

3) Medical insurance

Don’t assume that you’ll be able to use the French National Health Service for free like you can with the British NHS system, as they work very differently.

The top-up health insurance scheme called Complémentaire, will allow you to access the French healthcare system. This works by paying into the social security system (this is worked out as a percentage of your current taxable income) which your employers will also contribute towards. Then you are entitled to free treatments up to a certain limit that the state will pay for, the rest you will have to fund yourself.

4) Cars

Don’t move to France thinking that you’ll take your own car and simply swap number plates over when you get there. It’s not as easy as that and can actually be a lot of hassle.

You’ll need to acquire a ‘certificat d’immatriculation’ also known as ‘carte grise’. To get this you’ll need to gather several important documents, then your application can be processed – but the documentation required differs between regions. So firstly, do find out exactly which documents it is that you need, you can find this out either from the préfecture or the DRIRE ( who will be able to provide you with further information about the whole process of registering your car legally in France.

5) Relocating to the countryside

Yes the appeal of peace and quiet in the beautiful French countryside surroundings can be enough to entice anyone into moving there. But the reality of changing your lifestyle and living in a remote, village in the middle of nowhere can be quite different. And if you’re used to working in the city then you might not be aware of just how different living in these locations can be.

For instance, simple day to day activities such as accessing amenities and facilities and popping out to the shops at night time will be more time consuming, and if you have children this could prove to be an issue – especially when the weather turns in the winter.

So do consider renting before you go ahead and buy a property in the countryside. This way you’ll know if this sort of location is right for you before you go ahead and make the move.

Britannia Sandersteads are the experts in European removals, so if you’re planning a move to France or anywhere else in Europe then please get in touch with our friendly team for a consultation and pre-move survey.


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