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An Expat Talks about Retiring in Pezenas, France

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Pezenas

Why did you choose to retire abroad?

After taking annual trips to Europe for 15 years, I thought "why am I leaving?"

Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?

all year, I am a permanent resident of France

Why did you choose the country you retired to?

My ancestors were from France. I found living here both familiar and new. I love living amid Roman, Greek, and French history. I spent a year in an apartment while looking for a suitable house. Now I live in a small, 400 yr old village in a house down the street from a 12th century templar castle. Winters are mild, lasting 6 to 8 weeks around xmas. There are ski slopes 90 min away and the beaches are 25 min away from my house.

Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?

No, but visited annually in Europe.

How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?

since 2006

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How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?

The US

What have been the most challenging aspects of being retired abroad?

First, the language. Second,the paperwork and rules. Meeting my neighbors was the easiest. I now know more people here than I did in either of my US homes.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?

First, the people. Next, the cultural opportunities available (there are weekly free or inexpensive concerts). I live near Roman roads, Greek temples, beautiful churches and old wine villages.

What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?

Take more intensive language courses, pay attention to advice from other expats.

What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)

We have a large expat, multi-national community since this is a popular retirement area.

What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)

You need a permanent resident visa which you must obtain 6 weeks before you enter the EU, a carte de sejour, which takes a while to get once you are here. Lines are long, often slow. Most bureaucrats are polite and do wish to help. The gendarmie here has often given me good advice on avoiding unecessary lines and delays.

Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)

I bought a 400 year old village house after living a year in an apartment in Montpellier. The process is difficult due to the searching and then the closing takes months.

Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?

Exceeded them even with the moving exchange rates. If you live outside of Paris or the popular tourist areas it is less expensive. Many of the services are very heap,compared to the US. Medical services here are excellent.

What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?

#1 - Your income from retirement. I made sure that I had cleared most of my debt before leaving the US. My monthly expenses are two thirds of what they were in Florida.

How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?

Comfort depends on your definition. If you expect to have servants, forget it. My income as a retiree is less than $35k and my lifestyle is simple. I travel as a retiree getting discounts where they are available. Often times travel agents will my age and then give me the discount without questions.

Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)

I am covered by my US insurance but medical-dental care here is so inexpensive that I rarely make the deductable. The care is excellent. Because of the large numbers of European retirees, many people are multi-lingual.

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Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)

Crime?? None that I'm aware of. If you drop a 20 euros bill on the sidewalk, somneone will stop you to tell you. Outside of Paris and the tourist areas people are very honest.

Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?

The rail and bus systems are excellent and reliable. Our high gas taxes pay for them. You will need a car to get to many rural areas though.

Is there high-speed internet access where you live?

Yes, it is improving every year.

Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?

Don't move into my area, I am the only American in my village and love it. Leave your prejudices across the seas. People here respect individual differences and rights. We had a visiting American couple last year who made a few critical comments about gay people in Europe. They were promptly cold shouldered by everyone. We did learn from WW2.

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