In this article, we offer you all the tips and tricks needed to make moving to France from UK run smoothly.
If you are moving to France from UK, some wonderful things await you!
This beautiful country is home to many of the most sought-after locations in the whole of the continent.
France offers a unique and rich history alongside a distinctly sophisticated French culture!
But is moving to France from UK easy?
Before you go, you must know as much about the country as possible.
Therefore, White & Company have created a complete guide to moving to France from UK.
Whilst the global Covid pandemic has made the last couple of years difficult for those planning a relocation to France, thankfully, things have settled down now.
Moving to a new country is a huge step and needs plenty of careful consideration and planning before you venture forth into this life-affirming adventure.
House Prices in France
There are many thousands of homes for sale across France.
Homes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes in France, so you are sure to be able to find one that suits your individual taste, budget, and purpose.
Furthermore, properties in France tend to be larger so you get more for your money compared to the UK.
Undoubtedly, house prices in France are much cheaper than those in the UK. Unless you are searching for a house in Paris or another city in the country.
Try before you buy is the best advice.
You can rent in several locations before you finally take the plunge and purchase a home.
Prices vary hugely from region to region.
Although the cost of property has increased in value across France, there are still bargains galore if you take the time to search well.
Some of the cheapest locations are in the countryside such as the Limousin and the Indre region, both have some incredibly cheap homes for sale.
As an example, in Limousin, it is possible to buy a 5-bedroom home which you can move into immediately for £180,000. It may require a little work, but the price is fantastic.
Similar properties in the Indre region are even cheaper. 4-bed homes sell here for around £140,000.
Perhaps you are on the lookout for a plot of land.
Building a home to your own specifications is a fantastic experience.
Unlike the UK, France is overflowing with plots for sale, the more remote the cheaper it gets.
It’s not unusual to purchase several acres of land for as little as £10,000.
Of course, before you buy you need to do your research to check you can in fact place a dwelling on the site.
Buying a home is a big step financially but, each year literally thousands of Brits take the plunge and move to beautiful France and never look back.
Accommodation and Buying property
Once you have the right documentation in place, you can begin the search for your new home.
Although pre-Brexit, buying a home in France was an easier process, it is not impossible even today. Far from it, but it does take more time and of course, documentation.
What accommodation are you interested in?
A small cottage, a house with lots of land surrounding it such as a traditional French Longère, or long house.
A smallholding, Fermette/Ferme or farm. Or are you chasing the ultimate dream of owning your own Chateau?
Are you looking for a “move in”, which needs no work? Or are you among the many who move to the country in search of a renovation project?
All these types of accommodation are available in France.
Recent TV programmes have highlighted how rewarding renovating a home in France can be.
Rather than arrive and have no idea what you are looking for, take time well before you move to plan and decide what, where and how much you can afford to spend on a home.
It is a good idea to visit the areas you are interested in, rather than taking a chance and just viewing them online.
There are of course rules and regulations to be followed as with any country.
Renovations are subject to applications which must be given to the local town hall or (the Mairie) for approval before any work can begin.
A Building Permit is needed, and you will need the services of a registered architect or building supervisor (maitre d’oeuvre).
Whilst this is a simplified explanation, there are some helpful websites which delve into the process with far more detail:
Weather in France
The warmer climate is arguably the biggest attraction and reason why so many people move to France, especially so for the British.
France happens to be the largest country in the European Union which results in huge variations in weather conditions from north to south.
In the south of the country, summers are longer and taking averages into account, much warmer than in the UK.
The winter season rarely sees frost, the health benefits of warmer weather to many are priceless.
That said, even in the South, it can be wet and cold at times too, whilst locations situated in mountainous regions such as the Alps, will have snow for most of the year, hence the popularity of the region with skiers.
The weather may be a deciding factor for you, so knowing where to find the best weather will be important.
As a guide to temperatures across the country at all times of the year, visit this handy website.
This is one issue where you cannot compromise if you want to make a long-term success of your relocation.
Learning French is necessary in order for you to fully immerse yourself in the local culture.
Being on holiday and managing with a few phrases is part of the vacation experience.
But it is not until you arrive full-time and face all manner of day-to-day situations such as shopping, doctors, dentist or hospital appointments, that you realise how vulnerable you are without a decent command of the language.
Learning to speak a foreign language is easier for some than for others but, French is said to be one of the easier to master.
In a perfect world, learning before you move is ideal, however, this is not always possible.
Some of the larger towns will hold lessons for newcomers and often without charge.
Plus, lessons can be a way of meeting other newbies to France also eager to get to grips with the lingo.
When you arrive, speaking to others who have gone through the same situation is always helpful.
If you are going it alone, there are some great online or app courses that can help you.
Lingoda is another easy-to-use online language tutor tool.
When it is a case of having to, you will surprise yourself at how quickly you pick up the basics, it’s a great feeling and locals will appreciate your efforts.
Bonne chance (good luck)!
Unfortunately, like many things, since the UK left the EU, getting a French visa or applying for permanent residency is a little more complicated than it used to be.
It is doable, it just takes a bit more time and patience.
There is a visa for every situation, long and short term or for some a holiday or study visa is sufficient.
For those who intend to settle permanently one of the first steps to getting citizenship by naturalization in France is to obtain a permanent residency permit known as a Carte de resident.
The permanent residence permit is valid for up to 10 years and can be renewed if the beneficiary chooses to.
Once your visa application is accepted, you and any of your family members aged over 21 years will have to apply for a carte de séjour before they are allowed to live and work in France.
Proof of your identity is required.
Documents to complete your residency application include your passport, birth certificate and evidence that you have sufficient financial stability.
Depending on your situation other documents may also be needed.
You must take these documents to your closest French Town Hall to lodge your application.
The process generally completes in around 8 weeks whereupon you will be notified of the outcome.
There are exceptions to the rule, and it is imperative that you do plenty of thorough research before you arrive.
The French government have a great website in English about visa applications.
Transporting Your Belongings to France
Once you have everything in place the next issue to tackle is getting your worldly goods to your new home.
Moving to another location in the UK is stressful but moving to another country makes it even more of a challenge.
You can save yourself a great deal of time and worry by hiring a reputable and experienced international moving company such as White & Company.
They have been moving people all over the globe for decades, for well over 150 years in fact.
Now is a good time to decide what you are or aren’t going to take with you.
It is the perfect opportunity to have a thorough sort out of all your belongings. You can dispose of broken items, sell those you don’t want, or give others away to charity.
As your move will be quoted on how much you take with you to France, there is absolutely no point paying to transport what is of no further use to you.
When it comes to used household effects, you can export them to France provided you have owned and used them for at least 6 months in the UK.
Brand new purchases may be liable for tax and duties fees. As such customs may ask for invoices as proof of purchase dates and fees will be levied on these items.
Prohibited goods such as drugs, firearms, weapons, indecent material, or goods threatening health and environment etc, are prohibited.
Your international moving company will be able to help you with all things custom-related. All you need to do is ask.
As with all subjects related to moving abroad, there is a swathe of information about customs.
Familiarising yourself with custom requirements will avoid any nasty financial surprises when your personal belongings arrive.
You can find some helpful information HERE:
Passports and travel
Just having a valid passport is not sufficient to ensure you will be accepted into France.
You need to ensure that your UK passport is valid for at least 3 months more than the intended stay and that the passport has at least 2 blank pages.
If you fulfil the above, you won’t have to apply for a new one until your current one expires.
Even though the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, there are still rises and falls in reported cases.
Unfortunately, the rules surrounding COVID-19 can change with very little warning and what was OK today may not be by tomorrow.
The best advice is to regularly monitor the situation before you go so you can at least keep up with what is expected thereby avoiding any problems on the day of your move.
The UK Government website is incredibly helpful as it posts the most up-to-date information not just surrounding COVID-19 but other pertinent travel advice as well.
Healthcare in France
France is known for its universal and excellent standard of healthcare. It is regularly rated as the top healthcare system in the world.
This is great news for those looking to move permanently or vacation in France.
You might be one of the lucky ones and negotiated as part of an employment contract private health care coverage which will give you access to the best hospitals in France.
Alternatively, your health provision is covered through the state health insurance program, run on a subsidised basis.
The French health service is called L’Assurance Maladie.
The system is managed by the government and supplemented by private insurers.
Anyone living in France needs to obtain a basic level of health insurance through the French Social Security office.
If you wish, you can also choose more coverage from a private French insurance provider.
As with everything else, you must be a legal resident in France before you are eligible to apply for cover and obtain a Carte Vitale.
When you need treatment, you as the patient pay the costs upfront and the state will reimburse 70% of the cost. The remaining 30% is paid by the patient.
Top-up insurance is possible, and it is a really good idea as you can cover the 30% via your top-up.
This is a very basic outline of the system.
The L’Assurance Maladie has its own website, printed in English with much more specific information on how to apply and what documentation you will need to provide to do so.
Working in France
The first thing to state is that to be able to work in France, you need to have applied for the correct permit. Either permanent residency or a working visa is needed.
Without one or the other, you cannot legally work.
Salaried employees need the Visa de Long Séjour valant Titre de Séjour – Salarié.
The self-employed need a Visa de Long Séjour valant Titre de Séjour – Entrepreneur/Profession Libérale.
A proportion of immigrants will have already secured a position which makes things easier.
Your employer will have organised the right healthcare coverage, visas/permits, and hopefully, aid with the permanent residency process.
If you are planning to arrive first and then look for work, what is the best way to go about it?
This is where learning to speak French beforehand will prove invaluable as it will create so many more opportunities.
French employers will almost always employ a French person for the job first.
But thousands manage to obtain their dream job even without being fluent in French.
Whereas in Britain employers tend to rely on an interview to size up their candidate, the French rely heavily on certificates and diplomas when it comes to hiring.
Make sure you bring the certificates to back up your experience.
Ensuring your CV is up to date is also vital.
Plus, to be one step ahead of other British candidates, have it typed in French. You will also need a cover letter, and you must supply proof of your work permit, also translated into French.
Check out this handy website, it is full of practical information such as free CV templates, and good advice as to what or not to include in it.
You will need to produce all the relevant qualifications for the position you are applying for.
The French are very particular when it comes to qualifications and hold great store by them.
Now that the UK is no longer part of the EU, you will have to have your qualifications “recognised”. This is carried out by the proper regulator for your profession in France.
Recognition of your qualification confirms that it is comparable to French equivalents.
In order to have your qualifications recognised, and to find out further information regarding this matter, contact the UK Centre of Professional Qualifications (UK CPQ).
This site supplies plenty of information covering the subject of working in France and other useful information about employment in the country.
After You Find a Job
When you find a job in France, you will be issued two numbers.
A tax ID number (SPI number) and a social security number (INSEE number).
The French tax authorities use the SPI number to keep track of your tax payments in France.
Whereas the INSEE number is used for social security purposes and is necessary to claim unemployment benefits or French health insurance.
Working hours are roughly the same as in the UK and the country has 11 official public holidays.
Keeping time and punctuality is one thing that French people value and appreciate in business.
French businesspeople are usually conservative.
Most of the time they like being formal and there are strict hierarchal systems with clearly defined positions and power.
Once you are used to the way the French operate at work, they are friendly and courteous and welcome new people readily.
Opening a bank account should be top of your list when you arrive in France.
By doing so you will be able to avoid the high exchange rates that you would be paying otherwise.
Amongst the best banks for expats in France are BNP Paribas, CIC, Societe Generale, La Banque Postale.
When moving to France from the UK, or any other country with a different currency, ensuring you get the best exchange rate is a vital starting point for your new life abroad.
It could even be the defining factor between purchasing your dream home or not.
You can follow how well the Euro to Pound exchange rate is doing by visiting the Bank of England website here.
Bringing Pets to France
Like most things, pre-Brexit, it used to be easier to get your pet to France because you could apply for an EU Pet Passport from the UK.
Post Brexit, the rules have changed.
From 2021, your pet must now be microchipped, and have an up-to-date rabies vaccination and an animal health certificate (unless you already have a pet passport issued in the EU).
If you are moving to France with a dog, a cat or another pet, you need to provide evidence that your animal has passed several other vaccination criteria.
It is also important to note that as many Brits travel to France by road, make sure you have the correct papers for any other countries you might pass through.
Following these guidelines will go a long way to ensuring you are able to bring your beloved pet with you when moving to France.
For more information regarding pet importation visit Pets that Travel.
Studying in France
These days studying abroad is commonplace, it is a fantastic opportunity to experience new places and cultures and expand your circle of friends.
France has one of the most prestigious educational systems in the world, boasting more than 3,500 institutions of higher education.
Thousands of student’s come to France every year from all over the world.
They come to study and soak up the culture and lifestyle the country offers in abundance.
Whether you are an individual seeking undergraduate studies, postgraduate schooling, or something else, an amazing education can easily be found in the country.
The downside is that it is rather a lengthy process however it is well worth the effort.
You need to apply to your chosen place of study. To do this, there are several documents to be submitted.
These depend on which college or university you choose and what course you are looking to apply for.
One of the best places to begin is by visiting the Study in France website. You will find all the necessary information you need to start your adventure.
If you are at the very early stages of your journey and just deciding whether studying in France is for you, visit Campus France.
Campus France is an excellent resource, it will help you to find a university, select a course, how to finance your studies plus much more.
Studying abroad is not all about academics. It is a wonderful opportunity to hone your language skills whilst making new friends.
You will also experience a different way of life, learn new cultures and perspectives and maybe most important of all, impress future employers.
Are You Ready to Get Moving to France from UK?
European removals can be hectic for all involved.
That’s why White & Company are here to help your transition to France run as smoothly as possible.
Over the years, White & Company has positioned itself as the international removals firm of choice for removals worldwide.
Our experience is second to none. As members of BAR, FIDI and OMNI, White & Company have been moving people to destinations worldwide for well over 150 years.
Our experienced teams located across the UK will pack and prepare your valuable, fragile, and bulky furniture ready for export.
To find out more about how we could get your dream move underway, don’t hesitate to give us a call today.
Alternatively, fill out a quick quote form or chat with our Bot and we will get in touch with you as soon as we possibly can.
Max is a seasoned writer and blogger in the real estate and home moving sectors, as well as a knowledgeable source of information for expatriates living and working abroad. His detailed insights have helped thousands of people move and live abroad with greater simplicity and ease.