An Expat Talks about Retiring in
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
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?
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How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?
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.
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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Comments about this Report
I have to agree with nearly every word! But the last comment is extremely relevant for me. I am in a small village (Pop:650) in the Corbieres and there is no broadband and a car is essential but I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Thanks,Lea
I'm on the cusp of retirement.Turning 60 this coming year. Would love to retire in Europe except I lack the proper bloodline. Mother was Polish but lost any credibility when she married. Am I wasting my time even considering such a move without the credentials or is there hope?
Thank you I found this very helpful and informative.
I appreciate your candor and as one who lived in France many years ago, I agree with your observations.
Wonderful message. You have mentioned several times that you rented before you made the jump to be an expat. Do you collect social security?
Thank you for your information. The Visa process, from what I read online, seems daunting. Question about medical care: Online, it says you must show proof of med insurance in order to obtain a visa. Is Medicare proof enough?
Bonjour! Thank you for your comments/report. We are an older male married couple, about to retire. For the past several years, we've taken our summer vacations in France--mostly the southwest. This fall, we've rented a house in the Dordogne (village of St. Cyprien) for a month and will have a chance to learn more of what it might be like to live there. We want most of all to meet other Americans who have retired to France and get their stories/experiences. While we're both in good health, insurance and the cost of medical expenses are a concern to us. We'd love to meet you this fall, when we are in France, should you care to communicate with us. (We promise not to consider living in Pezanas ;-) Merci bien, Michael in Maine
Thank you for your candor. Having lived in France in the 70's I felt your observations were honest, advice good. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences.
I'm looking forward to a return to France in 2015 and your comments were encouraging!
I loved reading this, thank you! My parents, currently in California, are considering moving closer to me (in Montpellier) but don't speak French and have many concerns, as you can imagine. If I could ask you a few follow-up questions about your experience, I would be very grateful...just send me a private message, please.
And to the guest who asked whether he could retire in Europe without the "proper bloodline" - yes, you most certainly can! Hopefully you've found this out since your post in 2011 :-)
Thank you for your very informative advise and suggestions. It was most helpful as we consider moving to Southern France (but not your town!)
If you can kindly advise on your reference to US based insurance. As we have been investigating Global (required) insurance before moving, the quotes are very high. (between 400-500 USD per person per month).
Can you please send a private email with some suggestions? We would be very grateful.
H. , in New Mexico
let's see. you're american and like the tranquility? Hmmm, we're american, from florida and thinking about this town. tell you what, we promise to keep very quiet, OK?
Thank you for the very interesting post/article. We have booked to go to Pezenas in May 2016, and we can't wait; it sounds wonderful. We are Brits, currently living in Canada, but we are very interested in moving to France; we don't want to retire in Canada, having been here for 16 years now. We haven't looked in to anything properly yet, but I don't think we will need Permanent Resident Visa's (unless Brexit changes that of course) - if you see my post, any information on medical insurance, and banking in your area, would be greatly appreciated.
I am retired and moving to Pezance shortly. This article was interesting and informative.