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An Expat Talks about Retiring in Marseille, France

Sep 21, 2020


Old Port Area of Marseille, France

A retiree in Marseille says that the cost of living is lower than you would think. He rents and housing is his biggest cost. If you try to speak French, you'll find that locals will be friendlier and more welcoming.

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

Marseille

Why did you choose to retire abroad?

Mostly for the adventure of experiencing new cultures. The cost of living was not a big factor for me as where I moved from and to were similar in cost of living. I was more looking for new experiences and life adventure.

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

All year, but I travel a lot (less now because of COVID19)

Why did you choose the country you retired to?

I am fluent in French so moving to France seemed like a good start for my journey. It being part of the EU would allow me to roam all over Europe and visit a very large area. Southern France also called to me because of the access to the sea.

France has the bonus of having great food, friendly people (not the stereotypes you hear about from people's visits to Paris), and also importantly... great wine.

Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?

Yes, I have lived in several countries for multiple years ranging from 2-5 years each.

How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?

Four years

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

4

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

Keeping in touch with friends and family due to the time zone differences. But social media helps greatly with that as long as you plant out your common times.

The cost has not been cheap, it could be cheaper in many other countries and I will likely end up in a cheaper place to fully retire later but for now I am enjoying my time here.

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

The life experience. I have learned so much from experiencing different cultures, different ways of life and different points of views. We don't have to agree with everything but just learning about it and seeing it through the eyes of another person helps us understand and be more open to differences of opinions.

The food has been great most everywhere I go, I try to eat locally as much as possible and experience local cuisine everywhere I go.

Having learned more (basic) languages has been great too. You get a additional boost of confidence when you can make your basic needs understood in countries where the language is different from your first language.

Growth as an individual.

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

I would have retired earlier. I learned we can live on far less then we think we can. Minimize and break away from wants that you don't need.

Life is out there waiting for you and it can be attainable sooner if you are willing to trade in some comforts and desires.

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

Their is lots of cultural attractions, recreation and nightlife. I do not know many other expat retirees but that is because I choose to join groups of mostly locals such as a local running club and a local club of bolles (bocci). I enjoy these more then the expat groups since I enjoy learning more from the locals.

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

If you are not an EU citizen you will need a "long-stay visitor visa". This is intended for people staying longer then 3 months who wont be doing paid work. Assuming of course your retired and your income comes from abroad like me.

The circumstances does change some if your from different parts of the world so make sure to check for yourself as well. Also depending on what city you will live in you may need to register with the local mairie (town hall).

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

I rent, this has been very easy. I avoid buying because I know I plant to move again in a few years and experience a new place.

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

Yes, I have found ways to save money. Most of these ideas come from talking to the locals, they know best where to buy cheaper and how to get good deals.

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

France is not cheap like Mexico or Panama but it is not that expensive either. The housing is the most expensive part of living here so spend some time finding the right location for you.

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

This of course depends widely on where you live and what luxuries you will require.

To give you an good idea you can find a city centre one bedroom apartment for about 700Euro and a three course meal at a restaurant generally costs me about 50Euro. Groceries are much cheaper then restaurants of course.

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

Yes, France has great medical facilities. They also do not turn away foreigners in need. Do make sure your insurance is up-to-date anyway though.

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

Not more then other comparably sized cities in Europe.

I find that if I stay out of the troubled areas and habits the crime does not affect me on a personal level. Know what parts of the cities to avoid.

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

Cars are always more convenient but public transportation works well. The French do not cue up like we do so do expect to get jostled a bit when the train arrives as everyone scrambles to get on.

Is there high-speed internet access where you live?

Yes, and quite affordable.

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

Keep an open mind. Most of the people who did not enjoy France came here wanting it to be like their home country. You need to adapt to your new home, not have them change to accommodate you.

The French are also very warm and friendly. More so if you go out of your way to try to speak to them in French. That effort normally rewards you with them helping in English.

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