It is a big, exciting project, but it is absolutely doable and you would not be the first...so you can benefit from the knowledge of those who've gone before you (this forum is great for that!) ;-)
The key things you need to get straight are: residency, housing, income. Are you planning your long-term retirement, as in ten years? If so, you could come on a few reconnaissance missions to see where you'd want to settle when the time comes. You can stay in France for up to three months without a special visa (assuming you are American?). If during one of those trips you find your dream home, you could buy a place to return to regularly. Foreigners can buy property in France without a problem, but owning will not automatically grant you residency. If you wanted to stay for periods over three months, you'd need to apply for a long-stay visa, valid up to one year, at your nearest French consulate.
If your plan is to retire in the near-term, as in the next couple years, then I would still suggest you do a reconnaissance trip or two before deciding where to "re-nest" and then look for a long-term rental (furnished or not, depending on whether you'll be shipping your affairs). Renting first allows you to really test the water before diving in with a purchase.
If you are moving to France with an "inactive" status (not working), then you would apply for the long-stay visitor visa for a year and renew it annually until you can apply for a residence permit (duration varies according to your circumstances). If you intend to work, study, or start a business/work independently, then you would apply for a different visa. In any case, you apply for your visa in your home country BEFORE moving to France.
In order to apply for a long-stay tourist visa (being inactive), you'll need to show the consulate that you have the means to support yourself for a year without working in France, that you have private health insurance which will cover you in FR, and that you have an address in France (this is why it's helpful to take a reconn trip first to sign a lease for first home upon arrival).
First examine the reasons you want to retire here. Then decide what part of the country you like best. There is a lot of diversity each region has its own charms. This may take a few trips and a lot of reading. Then sort out your finances, this could also give you a better understanding of the area you want to live. Visit a French Embassy or go online and find out all the paperwork you will need to get a long stay visa. This seems daunting but it really isn't just make sure you have everything they ask for. Read all you can on the French way of life, culture shock is a big thing to get over. I went from England to California without any idea what a difference there would be. It was a real shock. We moved to France and I read everything available and settled right in. We have been here ten years and I can't think of living anywhere else. Every country has awful bureaucracy, especially if you do not understand the language or the reasons and culture behind it. Good luck.
I couldn't help but reply to your conversation. If part of your decision is about bureaucracy you do not need to overly worry. I run a company that helps the expat community and indeed even the French navigate around the French system. This means advising on coming to France, converting your driving license, getting you settled in and even help you during your membership (12 months). This is on any matter you may be facing with the day to day running in France and we translate everything you do not understand. This is done at an affordable price so no need to break the bank as they say.
Of course you still need to speak French but many French here get by in English too. If you want to move, feel free and don’t worry, be happy!
John Dislins SARL Please Help https://www.pleasehelp.fr/en/
I started by researching what was important to me online. There are websites where you can ask questions and on one of them I met a woman who lives in central France. We exchanged emails for several months. When I was ready to come check it out, she insisted I come and visit her and her husband. We are still friends and visit each other. I took six weeks and a rail pass to visit different areas. However, I am not partial to the cold so I knew I would be in the south. Additionally, the sea is a huge factor for me. I am now minutes from many lovely beaches on the Mediterranean and about an hour from the Spanish border. It is an excellent location for my blogging as I explore France, take photos and write about it all. In a small village, there is much to entertain without breaking ones budget which can be important when retired. Best wishes, Léa
Bonjour Grace, I would be happy to post it here. Alas, when I tried in the past, it was not allowed. It was considered advertising despite the fact that I do not sell anything. You could send a private message and I could provide that link. Regards, Léa
I would really like to connect with expats in France, especially in the Brittany area. I hope to retire to France this year. Any assistance would be appreciated. Yes learning from those who have gone before is great. Steve
Xantippe I am currently in Dana Point, CA. I will be in Brittany and Upper Normandy in early June, i was in Dinan in December and really liked what I saw. Trying to find groups or individuals that I can glean information from. Steve
Brittany is lovely. I spent a week there back in 2006. One of these days I should like to return. I don't know what you are looking for. I came from California and moved to the south of France as it doesn't get so cold here. I have the Mediterranan minutes away. Now I explore and write about it for one of my blogs. I hope you find what you are looking for. Léa
I may be repeating here but I am coming over in Early June to spend a few days amd look at homes to buy, English speaking notarie/realtor will be key. I visited Dinan in Dec and really liked it. I am wondering if there are any expats who meet (clubs, dinner groups, etc)in the town. I am just starting to learn French, so help from English speakers would be very important.
I'm sorry if the link didn't get through but I did send it to the email you gave me. I shall try putting the link here but in the past it was rejected. http://foundinfrance.wordpress.com Best wishes, Léa
Go onto AnglonInfo.com Brittany and ask on there if there are any groups in Dinan. We live in Central Brittany and there are a number of English people living here and we do meet and eat about once a week. I have no idea if there are many English speakers in Dinan.
I just stumbled on this in case it's helpful as a place to stay on your visit in June...since the owner is American, she might be able to provide the info you're seeking: http://anamericaninbrittany.com/ Good luck - retiring to France myself next year in the SW!
I lived in Paris for 10 years and agree that there are a lot of Americans in Paris, probably more than British. I've been down in the Languedoc (like Lea) since 2010 and find that Americans are definitely more rare, although I've met a ton of Canadians! I realized there weren't many of us when I was at the Montpellier préfecture once, and the woman behind the counter marvelled at my US passport, called her colleagues over to look at it, and really could not get over how beautiful it was :P. Are you trying to find a location near American expats? I'm sure there are some in Brittany, but probably not Californians or Floridians. I have enjoyed getting to know British, Irish, Australian, New Zealander, South African and even Canadian cultures while living in France, actually. I even joke that I'm fluent in British now. ;-)
I think you may be right Dennelle, my Grandson and a woman we know vaguely are the only two Californians we have met. OH is from Iowa but grew up in California, I can't say we know any other Americans here in Brittany at all. We British are quite friendly though, we even understand what Americans are saying. I know it is more difficult for you to understand us though :) We do have problems sometimes understanding each other.
The French learn English in school. Some are not comfortable speaking it but many wait for the newcomer to make an effort. In my tiny Catalan village, I know a number that speak at least some and many more who are fluent. They do appreciate your efforts.
Ha ha ha. I am an Anglophile and love the "language" myself. I hope that when I am in Dinan in June, I'll connect with people who speak English, Finding a realtor and eventually a notarie and lawyer to assist in buying a house are key.
English speaking people from any background. It will be important in my first year to know people who speak English (until I can start speaking and understanding the French language). I will have a thousand questions like, where to buy a mattress, maybe how get internet connectivity, the best chemist, etc.
You do not need a Lawyer to buy a house in France the Notaire does the work. Many of the Immobiliers speak English and you shouldn't have a problem finding one in Dinan. You can also have an Interpreter with you when you need to sign the paperwork. The Notaires tend to prefer to speak French so they do not make any mistakes. Jinan is lovely but there are loads of lovely towns and villages in Brittany, so don't only use one Realtor. They usually stick to their area and will not know of properties in other areas. there is no MLS. It also takes much longer to buy a house in France than it does in the US. Search on the web first and see what sort of property you are after, then google earth it and see what the area around it is like. No point driving to see a property that is next door to a pig farm if you don't like pigs. You have limited time and everything takes twice as long as you think it will. Good luck hope you have as much fun looking as we did.
Limoux? I know there are many Anglos in Pézenas, Carcassonne, Narbonne, Montpellier, Sommières and Nîmes...Limoux is a new one for me!
I'm going to sound sexist here, but if you want to find expat groups, follow the women! I belonged to a huge Mother group in Paris, set up my own women's group in Montpellier, and there is another huge one further south set up by my friend. We ladies just tend to organize and assemble more than the menfolk ;-) In Brittany there is a list of clubs here https://www.angloinfo.com/brittany/directory/brittany-clubs-associations-245 ...but the best way to meet people is by pursuing your interests. People you meet doing things you love can provide that priceless information, ease you into the language and culture, and eventually become true friends!
Limo has a very large Brit population and just about everything they require. Here in the Corbieres there are several organisations. There is a group that puts on a book/DVD exchange every month and they organise dinners and much more. I am in the process of organising writer's groups for them. It isn't just the Brits that speak English. There are many Dutch here and their English is usually very good, also a number of people from other parts of Europe speak excellent English. There are many groups you can find like AVF, Amicale, Leo Lagrange and more. Most tourist offices in France can give you all this information and you can check out their websites by department.
If you are moving here from the states, I highly recommend a little book that saved me thousands! A Grown-up's Guide to Running Away From Home: Making a New Life Abroad by Rosanne Knorr. It is available in paperback or for Kindle. It is a newer edition than what I had but look at it on Amazon and check the reviews then decide for yourself.
This is not a reply to @smudgey but a general tought in this topic.
I just can not understand why people whose native tongue is English and whose prefere to be among English speaking people would like to move to France? Why do not stay wherever you reside right now - whether the USA or Great Britain? Is not much, much better and more fun to immerse oneself into local culture, language, customs and way of life? Lekitanin
Lekitanin, A general reply to a general question: I am an American currently living in South America, and wondered the same thing about the gringos here who tend to separate themselves from the local population.
After being here for awhile, I have found lots of reasons. South America is much less expensive than the US or the UK, so there are large numbers of expats who are here strictly for economic reasons.
Then, you have a group who had dreams of traveling and living abroad when they were young, but did the whole family and career thing in their home countries, so they have become so accustomed to their native language, they THINK it will be too difficult to learn a new language at retirement age. So not true! Anyone can learn whatever they want to learn.
Which brings us to the group who are just too lazy to try. They think the whole world owes them, and that the local people should learn English, as if they owe that allegiance to Americans. They're like playground bullies.
And, finally you have some folks who might like to be totally immersed in the new language and culture, but their spouses are too afraid to try it. So they both tend to stick to people who speak their native language. One spouse loses their opportunity to learn and enjoy other cultures, while the fearful one holds them captive in their own fear.
I don't know why some folks are so fearful of other people, languages, and cultures, but I suspect it was early conditioning by someone who thought they were trying to protect them by warning them against being around people who were different than they are. Sad, but true for so many people. Lots and lots of people seem to be filled with giant fears that are akin to the bogeyman or monster hiding under the bed when they were 2 years old.
Just my observations. I'm in the process of deciding and planning where to go next. I enjoy being a tourist for a short time, but I derive immense joy from living in a new culture, meeting new people, and learning a new language. The only way to truly learn a people and a culture is to learn even a little of the language. Language is, after all, how we communicate! Without communication, we only end up with confusion! And confusion breeds distrust..... Bonne Chance!
LovetheBeach and Lekitanin, I wholeheartedly agree that immersing oneself in a country/language/culture adds more richness to life than simply traveling or moving to a cheaper/warmer climate and keeping your same way of living. But there's not one right way to do something...and each person has his/her own motivations to move to another country and become a foreigner, which will then lead to very different experiences of life overseas. In doing market research for my business, which helps English-speakers moving to/living in France, I came across the types of expats you mentioned, LovetheBeach, but I also met quite a few who fell into another category: those who had every intention of learning the language, making local friends, and fully integrating, only to find that it was much more difficult than anticipated. It's not just a matter of old dogs not able to learn new tricks, or people too lazy to learn or change their ways. When I moved to France on my own, I was young and spoke pretty good French, but it wasn't until I finally accepted to connect with other English-speakers, after one year of trying to meet French people, that I began to make friends, go out and integrate socially. In fact, it was through these expat contacts that I ended up meeting my best French friends! So don't be too quick to judge expats who are struggling with integration and cling to the comfort of their native tongue. It is often an experience that transforms the person you are, and everyone goes through it in their own way.
Exactly, Dennelle! People are the way they are because there is a reason for it. One of them is the fact that most of them are the victims of the fear-based conditioning which starts in our families with our fear-ridden parents, then the fear-reinforcing rigid schooling and even more rigid work places. Once in that rigid mould, most people never get out of it. They lack courage, trust, openness because they were never taught or showed that these are values which can enrich their lives. Instead, they were taught and shown that as long as they remain stuck in their comfort zones, they will be safe. And safety and familiarity is what most people value the most, far more than personal freedom for example or self-knowledge/self-expression.
Very good observation, the same can be said of Britons abroad. However it is harder to learn a language when you get older. Not impossible but harder, as we age our ability to hear sometimes diminishes and that can be a disadvantage to learning a language. A willingness to learn is the key.
Dennelle, Thank you for your experience. We all have our own perceptions, and make our decisions accordingly. With a lifelong career in education, I have taught both English and Spanish as foreign languages to people from elementary school age children to adults in their 60s and 70s. Children up to the age of about 8 or 9 yrs. old have much more "plastic" or flexible brains for learning anything than adults do. As children learn to think more critically, like most adults, they tend to lose some of that neuro-plasticity. That doesn't mean that adults of any age are incapable of learning a new language. IF they are sufficiently motivated they can learn enough language for daily life. Very few of us need to become so fluent in another language that we are able to have complex scientific or philosophical debates. As small children many people are taught by parents, teachers, and other respected elders to fear anything that is new or different. That informs the learning process more than just about anything. To unlearn fears is a far greater task than learning a new language. Yet, there are many methods a motivated person can use to do just that. Neurolinguistic programming, some forms of self hypnosis, and the newest methods of brain wave entrainment are all easily accessible and affordable for anyone who chooses to learn. In my experience, I see far too many people who simply refuse to learn, not just language, but many subjects. Unfortunately, the group I have seen the most with this attitude are Americans, regardless of where they are living. It's a sad commentary on our culture that so many Americans have been brought up to believe that they are somehow superior to others. It has been a prevalent theme in American education for the last 40 or 50 years. Perhaps someday the peoples of the world will learn to appreciate one another's unique cultures and contributions to humanity.
It’s been also my observation that the powerful and limiting programming that Americans (and the British) go through in their educational system let them believe that they are superior over other nations, hence the majority of them think that learning about other “inferior” cultures is simply a waste of time. I think that even all those negative changes which are taking place now in the US (or the UK) and which clearly contradict that “superiority”, won’t really change that deeply-engrained and still reinforced attitude.
Oh, PLEEZE, Zuza! Not everyone is an ugly American and not everyone succumbed to "best in the world" programming. You are an example of that. I've been travelling all OVER the world for over 50 years ( currently in Ecuador)and I've interacted with the people of whatever country I'm in, tried to learn enough of their language to be polite and made friends everywhere I've gone. BTW, everyone in every country believes their country and way of life is " superior". It's called National Pride.
I can see, Soujourner, that I touched on your very soft spot as an American. First of all, as a different, broad-minded American (and I’m sure not the only one), you don’t have to identify yourself with those “ugly” ones as you call them. Instead, why don’t you just acknowledge that MY observation was based on MY personal experience with Americans who were not like you and whose belief was that it’s not the culture or history that makes nations worth of respect or interest but their economic power and technological advances and in this area America doesn’t, obviously, have many rivals. Also, you seem to confuse “pride” with “superiority” and one has nothing to do with the other. All nations have the right to feel pride but does that have to entail feeling “superior” above others? Yes, I know that in reality it does and that’s because of the reasons I mentioned before: social programming. But enough of that obviously contentious topic. Let’s better stick to the info strictly about France since that’s what this lively and interesting forum is all about :)))
My personal experience is that almost every American I have met living abroad makes a great effort at learning the language. Yes, there are those that do not, but the vast majority I have met are desirous of integrating the best that they can.
Being an older person, I have to stay that for older Americans who don't speak a second language, learning their first second language late in life can be quite intimidating for them. For some, the struggle makes them feel very insecure and they might put on a show of "bravado" to mask those insecurities. For those with no special talent for learning a foreign language, it takes a lot of dedicated hard work and it can be extremely slow-going and frustrating. That would be me. Ha! I go through my emotional ups and downs; sometimes I'm very enthusiastic and at other times I get so frustrated I want to give up. When one thinks only in one language for 60+ years, it's very difficult to let that go and absorb a new language. I am friends with an older American couple and the wife is making great progress while her husband has struggled so greatly that he has completely given up.
The younger Americans I have met who are in the work force or attending university absorb and learn the language must more quickly and take delight in being able to make friends quickly with locals.
So it depends on a lot of factors: motivation, purpose for being in the country, age, talent, etc. As I have said, I have met a few who don't seem to care to learn the language at all, but they have been few.
Expats in Paris live in the fabled City of Lights, but what do you need to know to actually get there and establish yourself? Here are a few basic steps to help get the ball rolling. Includes information about visas, health care, where to live and more!
Expats in Paris live in the fabled City of Lights, but what do you need to know to actually get there and establish yourself? Here are a few basic steps to help get the ball rolling. Includes inform...
A couple from the UK who retired in France enjoy the cultural activities of nearby Carcassonne and Narbonne, being close to the coast and the beautiful vineyards that surround them. They confess to be having a tougher learning French than if they were younger, but know they will persevere.
A couple from the UK who retired in France enjoy the cultural activities of nearby Carcassonne and Narbonne, being close to the coast and the beautiful vineyards that surround them. They confess to...