Should I go or should I stay?

Alex Ferguson's picture

Hello, I joined because I was half thinking about retiring to France.Having read all the posts for a few weeks now I am more than happy to stay at home as the french and their attitudes,the bureaucracy, and the weight of negative postings have cleared my mind and this little englander is happy to stay at home.I will just have to buy more wine,bread and cheese at the deli.Being a vegetarian did not seem to help either.


So many thanks to all the subscribers of the last few weeks who helped me see things as they are.


Bonne chance et merci beaucoup


Alex


For the best selection of luxury homes for sale throughout the entire South of France, Paris and the French Alps



 

Kitty Abse's picture

I really agree with you, Ron, I think there is a lot of moaning and I wonder if some people forget their life in the UK and are looking at it with rose coloured specs. For me, we came here just under 5 years ago. I arrived with barely any french, my daughter (then 10) with barely any, my husband with good school french. We always decided to "immerse" and now we all speak good french, my daughter is bilingual. We have lost money, changed careers (the UK economy can no longer support us - we used to work in the UK and live here) and we are a lot poorer now than we were in the UK. However, every single day we thank the stars that we no longer work hugely long hours to keep up with mortgage payments, we can see the sky (we lived in central london!), the community we live in is far more dynamic and close than it was in the UK, the education is excellent, the services fantastic (bins, recycling, school buses, fantastic health care, parks, pensions,state aid, help with school meals and books, street cleaners, local adult education and activities, regular village parties and do's, free meals and drinks) plus charming, friendly, helpful neighbours and not neighbours, lots of people to say hello to and chat with in the street, incredibly polite people everywhere and that is before the food, wine, climate, beautiful views and countryside and so on.  I remember in the UK where our combined income was something obscene and we still couldn't keep up with the mortgage, we hardly ever saw each other as a family as we were expected to work such long extra hours for free, no proper lunch break, horrible food, dark all winter,  bloody cold, rude and uninterested people around us, no community to speak of despite huge amounts of money going into community development, rubbish health services, being afraid to go out in the dark as teenagers kept shooting one another in the streets around us, or mugging people, we had nothing to look forward to except more of the same. We considered moving out of London but it wasn't really cheaper than coming here, and didn't address a lot of the problems. I have nothing to moan about here despite being poor! We are so much happier as people, life is fun, less stressful, we do work we like (albeit for much less money - I would be happy to stack shelves instead of running a department in a big organisation if it is happier). 

Sorry I am on a roll now, but even the name of this (excellent) site "survive france" is a bit negative - for me, I wonder if we should be thinking in terms of "making the most of france" or "live best in france" or something - that is how my lookout is now. 

I think there may be other "lurkers" on this list who are perfectly happy with their lives in france and just like having a bit of contact with other english people and who don't want to moan. On this site is almost the only time really I communicate in english - my friends, colleagues and clients are all french - why not, we are in France?!!

I am really sad that the moaning by expats on lists like this has put people off coming here and changing their lives for the better. It is always a risk, and is always going to be difficult, moving to a new country, but in my humble opinion it is worth it, a million times over. 

OK, rant over. Thank you.

Kitty

Catharine Higginson's picture

Kitty - look at the header! Hopefully now that we have made the VIVE stand out, the play on words will be clearer.

Carol Norwell's picture

I am a Londoner...and for the previous 30 or so years most of my jobs involved travel in and around London...my son lives in Shepherds Bush...I have never been assaulted..accosted or had anything stolen whilst in London....my husband and I have been to Paris half a dozen times....tops. He has been mugged on two occasions whilst in Paris....similarly...I have managed contracts in the East End...dodgy parts of south London....often travelling by train and tube and walking...no problems...but Marseille....now that is one scarey place!....lets be sensible...England is not the South Bronx....there are not murderers on every street corner...indeed I have spent the last year  working in a homeless hostel with drug users/criminals and those with over riding mental health issues...and I have never been frightened....I find most people friendly (I appreciate that travel in London is not a joy and a lot of people wont make eye contact...ditto in Paris)....the UK has less pleasant weather than the southern half of France...but has as much wine for sale...and if you choose a quiet life in the country....the quality of life is as good...its down to personal choice...

Kitty Abse's picture

see it now,cool.

Andrew Hearne's picture

I'd be a bit p1ssed off at a shop being burnt down and riots and consider it a little bit of a problem James ;-)

Carol Norwell's picture

My brother and sister in law live in Plaistow....and have done for 40 years...the community in their bit...is amazingly close...just like living in a village...a grandchild had a birthday there recently and nearly 30 neighbours turned up.... thats a part of London considered iffy....just shows...a lot of life I guess is a case of getting out what you put in....

Andrew Hearne's picture

Just pulling your leg James - we all know that large cities in both countries have their fair share of violent crime, I did a couple of years in the met in Plaistow and East Ham and saw the riots in Brixton in the mid 80s and was in Broadwater farm the day after Keith Blacklock was murdered, I was young, not small, did weight training and martial arts at the time, but I was very, very scared  :-O I left the met not long after having spent months as one of Maggie's boot boys at wapping !

Andrew Hearne's picture

so is it better to say that everything's superb here in France and there are no hassles at all or should we "lurkers" take the time to give constructive advice (not moaning I agree about that) and tell it how it is warts and all. As I and many others have said earlier in this thread, everyone is going to have a different a different idea of what it's like here depending on their age, whether they work or not, live with a french OH or not, where they live and what they're looking for. The name of the sight has been tinkered with (colour) to give a more positive image but it's a place where many people bring their problems to the table and are big enough to ask for help and unfortunately because we're talking problems it's often seen as negative and ultimately moaning when it isn't. full on moaning, I agree, is just a pain and those guilty would do better to question the reasons they're still in France and perhaps go back, ot perhaps they just need a good moan to feel better?!

à +

Lucy Backs's picture

We got stuck in snow about 6 years ago in Brittany - changed our 8 hour journey home (to Belgium) into a 13 hour journey home!!  Amazingly the Pompiers came along in their HUGE wheeled tender (NOT a Fire ENgine) making sure everyone had food and water, especially the old and those with young children!!  Never seen that in UK!!

Aurelie Manissier's picture

But you are not really comparing like with like are you? Central London and rural France?.  Reading what you have written, most of your problems with your life were self-inflicted (big mortgage, having to work long hours to pay it, being afraid of going out). I have no fear about going out in London, certainly no more than I had in Paris and much less than I had when I lived in Marseilles which has far worse gun crime than in the UK. It seems that circumstances have made you reassess your life and you now have lower expectations. That is something that is very common in France as people are not terribly dynamic and generally do not want to achieve very much. However, I think you could have found just the same in the English countryside as you have in France and probably also had a better quality of life. I can understand why retired people want to live in France but why people who need to earn a living or have a family to raise move to somewhere like France is a mystery.  I think it is very English to think you have to go to another country to find your ideal life but really it is often there right in front of you. I live in  London now and find that the British are much fairer, much more generous in spirit, much less racist (and I've lived in France with a Muslim boyfriend so I know plenty about that) and much more dynamic. Having lived in the UK I can't imagine ever settling back in France now except when I'm old.

Carol Norwell's picture

hmmm...Kitty....you speak of Brits..looking at their previous life with rose tinted specs...well sorry..but think you may be looking at yours with black out glasses! we love France....we holidayed here for years with our kids...who are now in their 30s...we always planned to live here at some point. We are professionals who didnt choose your aspirational life choice in the UK...we lived in a lovely Berkshire town, worked locally...though my husband commuted for 20 of those years...an hour station to station...we didnt over commit financially...our kids had a brilliant upbringing...we have fab neighbours...friends...a great community...(where does the bad food come from...? I used to cater peoples dinner parties as a sideline and still maintain our UK meat the best in the world...in fact the food is the best in the world in my opinion...) choice of wine more extensive than in France as I can buy wine from around the world...the French not that keen on selling new world wines! so our move to France was because we had a knowledge of the country and we wanted to give it a go. Eventually we chose to sell up...why? because the choice of food far more limited..in my small town we have two small supermarkets...I drive 30 miles to a decent supermarket...local beef is tough as old boot..even buying from the farmer...they wont hang their beef!!!! neighbours and locals in our French town polite and pleasant...but distant..they grew up there..have old friends from school and dont need us newbies...we couldnt find any work....though didnt strictly need to...but I didnt appreciate the difference in hiring policy...if there is a job its not the best person gets it...but the one who is French...thats fine...if common market policy wasnt weighted toward anti discrimination policies..which the UK comply with...(dont blame me...the French and Germans wrote most of the policies! if they think we should all employ our own nationals...why legislate otherwise?)....I agree property is cheaper...but maintaining and doing it up isnt...the paint is rubbish...you can only buy three of anything in a a do it yourself store here...whereas I can buy my fill in Homebase or B and Q!..my point is...I still love France...but I am not blind to the problems...and I see the joy in the UK too...I get fed up with Brits in our town sitting around and complaining about how bad everything is in the UK...with some I think its a case of having to justify their move to France....there is good and bad in both countries...and maybe if people living in hell in London....moved to central Paris and continued with their mad lives..the comparison would be fairer. I am in Cornwall this week...delightful and a good comparison to my town in the Dordogne...though Porthleven...smaller than my French town has 4 pubs with fantastic restaurants...3 restaurants...an Indian, Chinese, Fish and Chips and Pizza take aways...and our most expensive meal this week was for £37 for two with wine, coffee's and brandy..cheaper than most of our meals in France!   

Rosalynde Lemarchand's picture

I like your response Kitty. There is so much to be positive and happy about living in France. I came here with my french husband for my health because I feel the way of life is better for me. I rarely go back to England now and when I do I absolutely hate it. I live in a beautiful rural area. It`s quiet, calm, peaceful, relaxing, safe, clean, fresh, natural and the services available to me as a disabled person are good. I used to live a fast, hectic demanding and stressful life, hurried lunches, exhausting travel to work on crowded public transport,  in a polluted environment, high crime and no time to really rest and relax. I often wonder how much that life contributed to my current health problems. Yes of course it takes time to adjust to a different culture and way of life but I think if you make the effort it`s worth it. For me there is no way back to England. I prefer my life here now. And yes I agree with you that the name of this site is not really appropriate and I lke your suggestions. There`s too much negativity.  

Andrew Hearne's picture

But Rosalynde all the negative things you point out about the UK exist here in France as do all the positive things about France in the UK - you can't compare a hectic inner city lifestyle of London with rural France in the same way as a hectic parisian lifestyle to living in Cornwall...!

All that said, I'm happier here in France than in the UK. Negative remarks - no, just repeating what the French are moaning about too or trying to help others having problems coming to terms with living here and understanding the cultural differences which are all the more marked for those who work here too ;-)

Rosalynde Lemarchand's picture

I suppose they do but not where I live. There are positives and negatives but the I prefer France now overall.

Carol Norwell's picture

actually it doesnt always work that you get 'free' treatment in France...my husband who is a Dr. has a chronic condition that means in the UK he gets free prescriptions...not so in France..as he is under 65 he is paying the full amount for everything.....and what is this madness about not being able to collect a 6 month prescription and having to go in and get it monthly.....if you love spending hours in the pharmacy its great...but otherwise what a chronic waste of time!

Andrew Hearne's picture

Bienvenue en France !

Andrew Hearne's picture

Yes, France is a country to retire to but not so brilliant to work in!!!

Rosalynde Lemarchand's picture

It does seem the case.

Andrew Hearne's picture

Hope you feel better soon Emily ;-)

Carol Norwell's picture

its a terrible bug this year....everyone has it for ages...it really hangs around....hope you are better soon...

Rosalynde Lemarchand's picture

I would get help and treatment whether I live in England or France as I have a long term illness. We pay for complimentary health assurance every month and when I worked in my previous life I paid my fair share in N.I. and tax! So not sure what your point is. All I know is that the health care here in France has been good in my experience.

Andrew Hearne's picture

yes you've paid your NI in the UK but what we have to pay in charges sociales in France is so so so much more than NI in the UK but as you say, you've paid so now you're entitled. i think the thing that rubs is when people say the french health service is so good - it often fails people miserably but there again so does the nhs - but it is good overall because it costs an absolute fortune in contributions compared to the nhs ;-) and everyone has a muteulle - that's the french system

In fact I think the HNS is better value for money.

Carol Norwell's picture

when we came my husband was 60...I was 54...we got the statutory 2 'free' years of health care...ie...the same as the French...but now...we have to fully insure ourselves, or at least my husband has to...as I now live in the UK. Think about it... if a French person moves to the UK..they get free healthcare...for ever...why then do we have to pay....the european union is not a level playing field....once again the UK is the nation that provides freely for Europeans....gets a tad annoying eh?

Andrew Hearne's picture

You're spot on Emily which is why the government have stopped paying for people who refuse to take the generic alternative etc. And I have to admit to asking my doctor to persribe me some doliprane while he's at it so I don't have to buy them myself - yes that sounds barking mad and the world on it's head but that's how it works here - try it yourself next time ;-)

Andrew Hearne's picture

yep, there's a lot of resentment in some areas, saw it in Brittany when I taught there for a year. No problems here but as soon as I go into the Lot it's a different ball game!

Carol Norwell's picture

the health service in the UK is amazing considering its free at the point of access...not so in France...if the NHS had as much money coming in as the French system...it would be the best in the world....also...as I made the point before...why is it that a French person gets free healthcare in the UK...but no vice versa????? why do we have to pay in France???? 

Andrew Hearne's picture

Why do you have to pay at the doctors in France but not in the uk - the systems are different, they're not civil servants, it's the same for the french too! Every country is different. Why do I get nearly all my child care paid for in France but would have to pay all of it in the UK? why do we drive on different sides of the road, why don't uk students get housing benifit? they do in France. why do uk students have to pay enormous fees, they don't in France? I could go on and on...

Andrew Hearne's picture

but the UK salaries aren't here either so you end up about evens at the end of the day ;-)

Tracy Thurling's picture

But most people over here don't even earn £1600 a month!

Andrew Hearne's picture

I was tampted to say that too Tracy - the average salary in France is 1500 euros a month and from memory that's brut!!!

Here's some interesting reading:

http://www.salairemoyen.com/france.php