Australians living in France

Hi there, are there any Aussies who are members of Survive France?

I'm planning to retire to France in a few years time and have spent the past 4 years researching and visiting areas in the south west to find a place to call home. I hope to build a small house and even though the purchase of a plot in the Aveyron Dept fell through a couple of years ago at the last minute by objections received from the local farmers, I am still determined to make a go of it.

I had my house plans drawn up by Avilion Homes and have only high praise for the people I dealt with.

Anyway, I was just curious if there are any Aussies out there and if so, any advice from their personal experience in relocating to France would be appreciated.



Wonderfully useful - thank you very much for the time and trouble (and knowledge). If you are ever near Anna Bay NSW or Trebes (if I am there), I'd love to buy you a beer or a wine



Just discovered this wonderful lot of info and have a couple of questions if you dont mind.

  1. I had heard about the 2 year residency required before applying for the pension (was interested as I have just returned after 7 years in Africa) but does that imply that you cannot leave Australia for any period during that two years. For example, could you go to France for the 90 day non-visa period or would that stop the clock.
  2. I also have a son on a disability pension - did you ave any luck on that side

Thanks in advance - Steve

Yes Jeanette, I think that it is a good idea to rent for a year. You need to determine exactly what region that you would prefer to live in and then experience it at all times of the year. In winter, things are a lot quieter here than in the warmer months and some people get a little "stir crazy" with not a lot to do. Lots of tourists in summer, but very quiet in winter.

The most important thing is stick to your dreams and be prepared for anything. Once the initial settling in phase is passed it all becomes a little easier and importantly the french like Australians and generally are very welcoming. Not always the same with Americans and the English, although I do feel that they now understand that their rural economies would really struggle without the influx of expats.

Keep the dream going.


Hello Graham, thank you for taking the time to fill in more gaps. I concur wholeheartedly with your perspective on the red tape involed in such a huge lifestyle change, and look forward to the adventures! I hope I'm still up for it in a few years time. But better to be forewarned and forearmed with the proper paperwork. One of the goals of my retirement is to reduce as much clutter from my life as possible including paperwork, but this looks to be a necessary evil in France.

I spent a little time around the Dordogne a few years ago, incl St Foy le Grand, Duras and Eymet before heading nth east to Gourdon, Terrassan le Lavandu, Brive and Rocamodour. Sorry about the spelling. Initially, I was hoping to purchase property in France before I retired but I now feel it would be better to spend a year renting. before deciding on an area. Location, location, location.....

I can't wait but am thoroughly enjoying the journey from here.

Thanks again, Graham.


Hi Jeanette.

I think that Julian has given you most of what you need to know regarding the pension situation. Indeed the International Services area of Centrelink are very helpful. I have liaised with two different Federal Ministers on the matter of a bi-lateral agreement between Aust and France, only to be told that they are working at it but no break-throughs yet. I have been discussing the matter for over 5 years now and it is almost discriminatory as just about every other European country have agreements in place.

My wife and I moved to France 13 months ago and we bought a property at Port St Foy on the Dordogne River. Not unlike many retirees coming from Oz to France, I will be relying on my own allocated pension income from Australia to support me, but it is annoying that I will have to pay tax on this income in France, even though it is tax free in Oz.

Other issues to consider if moving permanently to France will include:

  • The need to exchange your Australian Drivers Licence for a French one within the first year - not always an easy task.
  • Make sure that you have copies of all documents likely to be required - Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, Police Record and any Australian Financial Investment info. These should also at some time be translated to French by an accredited translator (see the French Consulate for details)
  • We found that to renew our Carte Sejour recently, we were required to have our Birth and marriage certificates "Apostilled" or stamped by the Dept of Foreign Affairs and this can only be done in Australia

While it may seem like a lot of admin work, it is truly well worthwhile to experience the different lifestyle in rural France. Yes there will be problems (guaranteed in this country) but that is actually part of the experience and dare I say "fun" of living in this country. There are lots of things that more than make up for the bureaucracy and stubbornness of the french.

While we can only relate to the South and South-West of the country, I am certain that further North will be a similar experience (just a little colder and wetter in some parts).

The Averyon can get quite cold in winter, the Lot and Tarn departments both have a lot of appeal. There you will also find a few "Anglais" with whom you can talk with if your french language skills are a little short.

I hope that over the next few years,Centrelink will look to execute a bilateral agreement for Social Security purposes. Then there will be nothing stopping you from joining a growing number of Aussies settling in this country.

Good luck with it.

It's me again...... The Charente departement is a lovely area (we say most people have not found it?) there are very green fields and lots of vineyards, principally for Cognac, but also local wine makers where you can buy your wine at lower costs "en vrac" which means that you can take your own containers and have them filled! this makes our wine a lot cheaper, but also very good! Also just 1 hour away in Bordeaux!! for lots of interesting things to see and do, plus the Internetional airport!! Perhaps I have already mentioned that there are plenty of Hypermarkets within sensable distamces, also Angouleme is the main town of the Charente! it has some interesting places to visit? There is a special Cartoon Museum, and a chocolate maker, open to see how everything is made?? Perhaps it may be worth your while looking into this area? its not far from the Dordogne! and lovely open country and lots of peace if thats the sort of thing you are looking for? Hope this may be of interest to you?


Yes Jeanette I appreciate Julian taking the time to put that information across it has been very helpful.
Good luck to you as well for your retirement and let’s hope it all works out for people following their dreams. :slight_smile:

Thanks Margaret. Lamas sound like a fun animal to have around the house. As it is not feasible for me to move to France before I get the Aust pension (and this is what I'm hanging out for after working for over 40 years and most of this time as a single), I won't be purchasing property in the foreseeable future. However, your area does sound a very attractive option.

Hi again Merilyn, aren't we lucky to have the extreme patience and common sense of Julian on the forum?

Julian, that was a great response to Merilyn. I wish you both all the luck in the world for how your retirement paths turn out.


Thanks for that information Julian, yes I understand your previous information was for Jeannette’s situation. I have been following it as I have been confused as well in regards to the age pension. Things are changing all the time depends upon who is in government. I did read once that there were other countries they were in negotiation with, and after living in France a few years now and dealing with the administration and seeing even the administration my husband has to deal with, with his invalidity. It took 12 mths just for me to get my carte vitale in France. Even the French complain about how bad the administration is here. So I can’t see negotiations with pension agreements moving fast. I am hoping that by the time I need it they may have come to some agreement. I will chase it up closer to the date. We are renovating our house here and I couldn’t imagine doing the work I am doing now in another ten years I hope it to be all finished and having time out to relax. I am planning to do some work here as a glass artist and hopefully that will be up and running soon. The age pension age is lower in France than it is in Australia so I can see how we go here and if it doesn’t work go back to aus for a couple of years. It is a bit off yet anything could happen I have two children one in Sydney and one at university in Germany they both have British and Australian passports so I may want to be closer to them one day depending upon where they decide to settle. Thanks heaps for the info though :slight_smile:

Hi again,

Having reread your letter! I will come back to your research for a new home? If you want lovely countryside and some quiet areas? We are selling our house that was built especially to our requirements. We are only selling this house to downsize a bit, as we have a big garden (we have Lamas! my Husband walked them, taking Lama hikes around the lovely coutryside around where we live. Now we have only 4, as we still keep these for visits to Old Peples Homes, etc.

The Charente is a lovely part of France, it's a gem! Plenty of space, very green and sunny, but not too extremely hot, quite pleasant! You can drive to the coast within 1.5 hours to the beaches of Charente Maritime.

If this may ring yours bells, please contact us and we can send direct to you some photos of our lovely house, hoping this may be of interest to you? Margaret

Hi Julian, At last! Thank you so very much. This is exactly how I interpreted what I've read on-line - the operative word being "interpreted". So many of my friends have warned me otherwise. I have no intention of living outside of Australia prior to my pension being granted. I have all the necessary years and working life under my belt. I will still have my financial ties in Australia and realise that I won't be paid any supplements while I'm out of Australia. Hopefully, I won't have the need to return to Australia at that time of my life as I have no immediate family requiring my assistance. I will now trawl thru all your links and print out the "proof"…haha.

Good luck to you and your wife with your eventual transition. Most of the fun is in the research and dreaming, anyway!

Thats an interesting read Julian. I still don’t know where it leaves me. As I have moved here though, I still have my family in Australia and a son in Sydney. I didn’t leave Australia until I was 49 years. My husband here in France is on an invalid pension in France from an accident, though he is from the UK, and he has two children here in France. But due to his invalidity I doubt Australia would let him live in Australia. But I haven’t worked in France to get a pension here.

Hi Jo, thanks for your useful comments. I live in Sydney but hail from Townsville. Shame about the Origin results tonite! Certainly not a football fan, but love it when the Maroons win.

My dog is a Cavoodle and transporting her to France was my no. 1 priority when doing my initial research. So have got that covered.

I know a fair bit about purchasing property as I bought a plot of land and dealt with an immobiler and notarie. Unfortunately no one expected that there would be objections from the nearby farmers and SAFR declared the sale null and void. I'm aware of the taxes but was shocked to hear how much you pay for private health insurance. That's one item I haven't looked into yet. But as I pay roughly $2K per annum in Australia, I was hoping it would cost only marginally more. I also wasn't aware of the personal liability insurance.

Getting the Aust pension when I become eligible in 6 years time is my main concern. I fulfill all criteria for a full pension less the supplement rate, having lived in Aust all my life. It's whether they will pay me if I live in France. If the answer is a finite NO, then I will find a base in Spain or Portugal and live in France when I can. Logic must prevail over the heart. I keep getting conflicting answers from staff at the Dept of Human Services, so I just thought that an Aussie curently living in France of pension age may have the answer.

I'm so glad that I have stumbled across this forum. Looks like you have been given lots of advice on home related topics. Thanks again for the offer of help.


Hi Jeanette

Where about's do you live in Australia? We live just outside Brisbane, Queensland.

We are in the same boat as you only we have already bought a house 2 years ago. Since then I have been doing a lot of research and can probably help you with some stuff.

Our house is near Belves in Dordogne region of France. We have just come back from there and the weather was beautiful. Our garden was insane and our peach tree was loaded with peaches. Nice time of year to go due to heaps of flowers being in bloom. We only had 2 half days of rain and the rest of the time it was brilliant sunshine. The top temperatures being 26 to 28 degrees while we were there but it does get hotter (and obviously colder).

Were you born in Australia? Do you have a European passport? Depending on the answers to these questions will depend on whether you will need VISAs, etc.

Assuming you were born in Australia and have not worked in France or other European country including the UK you will most likely not be eligible for health assistance as you have not paid into the Social Services. From what I have heard health insurance is mandatory in France and you will need to take out private health cover. For my husband and I without an excess we were looking at around 4,000 per year which was basic cover. If we had say a 3500 euro excess we could probably get it down to around 2,000 euro - this is based on a young fit couple with no illnesses, etc. Your amount might be half that and would be dependent on age and your current health situation.

Drivers license - once you have been in France for almost a year, you need to surrender your Australian driver's license and transfer it for French driver's license.

There are two taxes that you will need to pay on your home (excuse me if I spell them incorrectly) - they are Tax D'Habitation and Tax Fonciere - one is due in October and the other is in December. Can't remember off the top of my head but one is paid by whoever is occupying the house as of 1 January 2014. So if you bought a house and rented it out before you moved out here - the tenant would be responsible for paying that tax.

If you go for a French citizenship, you are allowed to be a dual citizen with Australia.

If you keep money in Australia ie in a interest saving account, you need to declare that interest on your French tax return (only once you are living in France). You need to let the ATO know that you are no longer an Australian Tax Resident and they will take out a flat 10% (this is for interest accounts - not sure on other sources of income like super, property income, etc). We are still trying to find a definite answer on whether the French will also take a cut of the interest earned even though you have paid tax on it - (France has a double taxation treaty with Australia) however I think France is 15% tax so they may take a further 5% - again not sure on this.

What sort of dog do you have - certain breeds are not allowed in France. They also need to get rabies shots, microchipped and a variety of other things before they can come to France. I have been recommended Jets Pets and they should be able to give you all the info on that side of thing. Even though some breeds are allowed in Australia they may not be allowed in France eg a staffordshire cross but a full staffordshire with papers is allowed.

There is a personal liability insurance that you must have in France - someone told me it was about 30 euro a year.

How is your French? Duolingo is a great free language learning website although I think it benefits to understand a bit of French to go through it.

Well that's about all I can think of just now but give me a bell if you need any further info and I'll try and help out the best I can.


Hi Shirley, what a lovely story about your uncles. Thanks for the good wishes.

Hi Michelle, lucky you! Agree about the beauty of your area, but of course France is full of beauty which is the reason for my desire to live there.

Hello Bill, thanks for your heart-warming comments. Will now widen my search to include Poitou Charentes. Warmer winters and more sunlight are a definite attraction.

Haha.....thanks for the tip, John. I am definitely steering away from touristy areas and prefer the more natural rural areas.