Am I dreaming or has anyone done it?

Ok I know you guys in the network give honest feedback, so please feel free to share.

I'd like to hear from people who have made it through the initial phase of getting into the system and are living and working in France.

Any Australians or US citizen, with no EU links or family help, please share

I would like to live and work and France. I have been to France a few times on work trips (I was taking Australians on tours of the Alps) and I lived in a small village for 6 month (summer not winter, it's a ski village). I have a few friends in the village.

I would love to live and work there(not doing the tours), the only way I can work is to have my own business, set on up or buy into one.

I have posted a question before about running a business in France, so thanks to the people that shared.

But on top of that, there is the dealing with the carte sejour, bank account, getting a tax number, getting into the health system (carte vitale), drivers license etc etc.

I am going to be navigating this on my own, my french is basic, but I pick it up quickly.

  • Do the people in the administration help and speak any English to you, or is it all in French.

From the research I have done, my prefecture will be in Grenoble and some admin will also be in St Jean de Maurienne also (maybe).

Please give it to me straight. : )

About speaking a foreign language, In this case French. To evaluate your ability you must be able to prove you can read and understand every page of a low brow newspaper; you must be able to eaves-drop on casual conversations in a cafe. If you cannot do this then you are not ready to take on French Administration.

Fractured French becomes very tiresome very quickly, as we all know from trying to help non-speaking English associates.

Everytime I am faced with a new experience I need a new vocabulary and I have lived here 30 years, i.e a recent ambulance trip to the emergency room. All went well, service was splendid, but the medical challenges I am now confronting are just that, challenging my lack of knowledge.

Good luck. Do the most you can in NZ, and read the other posts about pension rights etc. most guys from Downunder go home after a few years.

Yes it doesn't exist. NZers wanting the pension must live in NZ to get it. Unlike the French one it is not portable. There are some instances where you might get a protion of it but you have to be in NZ and resident to apply for it and any time spent out of Nz reduces the amount. Also, any contributions you make to the French scheme you will never get as NZ pockets that.

First things first - the long stay visa. I am a yank who moved here in early 2004. I first downloaded the long stay visa requirements and application from the nearest (LA) French consulate office website. I compiled all of the required documents and delivered them, in person, to the LA consulate. A few weeks later I received the visa approval. You must make this application in person, in your home country. It cannot be done in France.

As soon as I arrived I went to the prefecture and applied for the carte de sejour. This requires a few more documents and photos. The carte arrived in the post shortly thereafter. The carte de sejour required renewal at the prefecture every year for the first few years, but after four or five years they issued me a carte good for 10 years.

Next its off to CPAM offices to enroll in the health care system. This is apparently simpler for non-EU expats than the horror stories I have heard from many Brits. I had my carte vitale in about two weeks without a hitch.

If Australia does not reciprocate with France for driver's licenses (California did not) you will need to deal with this. It is an incredible pain and a driving school is nearly mandatory to help you prep for the written exam... and don't forget they drive on the right here.

Since I listed myself as retired on the initial visa application, I was not given a French work visa. That simplifies the visa application favorably/favourably. They wave those who will not be competing for French jobs right on through if your paperwork is in order. If you need to work here I have taken you as far as my experience allows. Fortunately there are many SFN experts on this.

I almost forgot... set up a French bank account immediately upon arrival. Possession of a carte bancaire is indispensable.

Bonne chance !

The UK and Canada I believe are still at loggerheads on this. UK will pay state pensions to Brits residing in Canada but no increases, ever. Is the NZ/France situation even worse?

Don't understand the NZ govt. Most other countries don't want to deal with NZ's attitude to social security/pensions. That's why there are few reciprocal agreements with NZ. They treat other nationalities quite badly as far as pensions are concerned and of course they treat expats like me who pay taxes all our lives like we are of no value at all.

From my short experience:
Try to speak French at every opportunity, don’t be shy. Often I find that French officials will reply in English if you are struggling.
Lots of other advice I could give but I came here as an EU citizen so may not be relevant…

Seems like Frances, can't see why there should be such discrimination ?

cheers Ash

You're right and it's that reason that will probably kill my dream of living permanently in France, even if I become naturalised. The fault of the discriminating NZ govt.

You'll be pushing shit uphill. You have to have a (government approved) job for which your employer fills out legal forms and pays a special tax to employ a non-EU person. And then your difficulties really begin. Sorry to seem negative but the situation often is just that. As a non-EU citizen you really don't have any rights to live and work in France except on a temporary basis and it will always be like that - constant stress and anxiety about where your next govt-approved job will come from or you are OUT.

You might also experience difficulties getting any accommodation as a non-EU person.As some of you will know from my book on the subject, following a dream to live in this lovely country is sometimes more nightmare than dream. Utter determination and a smidgeon of luck are essentials to making it happen. It can be done, at least temporarily but things might not work out how you think/want.

I sent in my demande de naturalisation this week after 5 years of struggle and worry. I'm hoping one day at least one area of uncertainty might be removed and I won't have to endure the torment at the prefecture on a regular basis (it's getting worse).

You can't survive here without good French. Tourist French doesn't cut it if you want work. I'm blocked from doing most of the things I was good at in my home country simply because I will never be bilingual and I'm not currently French.

Hi Ashley, did all those moving over and paperwork bits in that '70S & '80s so i'm well out of date but regarding being non-EU :

A good friend, a brit by birth worked most of his life in te UK and moved to NZ to work for about ten years. He married a kiwi lady and they retired to France. He received his UK pension ok in France but the NZ govt refused to pay his NZ pension to France so he/they had to move back to the UK to qualify for his NZ pension.

Don't know if this helps at all ...

Forgot to add to my post, some EU countries, not France, offer passports for a fee to children or grandchildren of citizens. Ireland, I beleve is one.

As others mentioned, the details once here , while frustrating, are fairly straight forward and doable. The big hurdle is obtaining a long-stay visa.

I am a US citizen who benefitted from being married to a UK passport-holder. However, I did a great deal of research for a US friend with no ties. This is 2012 info.

You must apply for a visa at the French consulate or embassy closest to your place of residence in the country where you are a passport holder. Applying for a long-stay visa, one-year renewable, requires a minimum amount of funds or income to support yourself (this varies) and adequate health insurance. Background checks amd medical check is required, all this at your expense.

I don’t believe the French are issuing visas for people seeking work although I thought Australia had an agreement for six-month work exchange? Regarding investing in and starting your own business, if that approach is available, the investment is considerable.

Carefully read the embassy’s online criteria for obtaining visas, there are few exceptions, certainly Americans and Australians can’t seek refugee status. Also, see if there are an exchanges available through your government coordinating with France which would get you a foot in the door.

Be very, very careful of any agencies that say they can obtain you a visa. The legitimate ones charge you a hefty fee to do what you can do yourself and the fly-by-nights will just scarper with your money.

The carte vitale, business set-up, tax returns etc is fairly straightforward - even in very basic French. Your problem is going to be getting a permanent resident's permit to actually live here all year round. Marry a European, buy a property in Portugal worth more than €1m ... or find a job that no European can do: your options are limited.

Quite a few American mums and also ladies in business in France within the fb groups I belong to. Regarding admin stuff there are plenty of small businesses that specialise in just that - helping ex pats with the mounds of paperwork and admin required to get a carte vitale etc, there are even some designed specifically for English speakers wishing to set up businesses

Done the lot and did it all on my own. SFN et al. didn't exist when I did it or I was unaware of any forums at the time - years ago. I had already done a degree in French and Italian, taught here for a year and done a maîtrise (français langue étrangère) here too so the language wasn't a real problem but that's only half the story, the cultural and business differences are possibly even greater. To be honest, it is possible but as I underlined in your last post, I think you're in for a huge fight, perhaps biting off more than you can chew if you're thinking of business. As for the language thing, no, everything is in french pretty much where ever you go - reverse the situation and I don't think you'd get too far only speaking French in Australia...!

Bonne chance !