Considering France

(Carl Britt) #21

I’ll bear that in mind, thanks David

(Anna Watson) #22

+1 to Andrew and David. I was self employed in the UK for around 15 years before moving here, now self-employed in France for around 10 years, I spoke fluent-ish French when I arrived and I found that transferring my activity to France was a steep learning curve. If you plan to be self employed here you need to do your research very thoroughly before you arrive. Businesses in the UK are easy to set up, one form to fill in and you’re away, and once set up they tend to run themselves while you get on with doing whatever it is you do. HMRC is happy to let people do whatever they want as long as they declare a bit of profit and pay a bit of tax. That’s not the case here, there are a lot more regulations, restrictions and obligations, you have to spend more time on the business side of things, understanding the rules, making the right business decisions for your current circumstances, keeping up with changes in the regs and understanding how they will affect you, all that kind of thing. Without functional French it’s going to be quite challenging to keep on top of it all. You read so many forum posts from expats who’ve got themselves into a pickle. For instance they’ve received a letter, with the help of googletranslate they’ve worked out they are being fined, but they don’t understand what specific obligation they’re being accused of failing to meet, so they don’t know whether the fine is justified or not, whether they can appeal, or what they have to do different in the future. So they rant and rave about French bureaucracy, it’s all France’s fault for having all these rules, totally unreasonable to expect people to understand them.

Not meaning to sound negative, just pointing out some of the potential pitfalls so you can make sure to avoid them.

Spot on Trev! (except the sun’s having a day off today…)

(Florian Creen) #23

I find it interesting that many seem to think that being self employed is the way forward, when surely the person who has little french would be better served working for a job agency,where jobs are found for you ,you don’t need to speak brilliant french if any.Thus having a crash course in the language, which over time will allow you to branch out into the work that you want to do, or allow you to use the system to retrain to have french qualifications therefore getting a better job.

(Anna Watson) #24

Another thought on the business front, it’s a fact that for basically the same business I need a higher turnover in France to achieve the same level of profit I had in the UK, simply because of the higher costs of running a business here. In fact I probably put in around the same number of hours, because I can set my fees higher, because they have to be. But I couldn’t do that if my client base was in the UK, if I did I would no longer be competitive in the UK market. Picking up on David’s point about not relying on expats for an income, the problem is that expats in France who use the services of other expats often seem to think that because it’s a transaction between two Brits it should be priced at British prices. Especially the ones who’ve come here to retire and never worked in France, they don’t appreciate why you have to charge more here, a lot of them genuinely think that the higher prices in France are simply because businesses are greedier here and want more profit, so they resent paying them.

(Anna Watson) #25

Trouble is, the jobs where agencies can place non French speakers tend to be factory work at SMIC with long hours, which doesn’t sit well with anyone pursuing the French dream of a free and easy lifestyle with more quality time with the family. I totally agree with you in theory, but I have to be honest and say that much as I love France, I wouldn’t have come here to work in a factory, not even as a stop gap. When I was a student I once got a holiday job in a factory and I lasted one week. It’s a character fault no doubt but I know I don’t have the staying power, I couldn’t do it. I know Brits who have done it and I admire them.

Plus in rural districts there aren’t many factories, there aren’t many jobs and there aren’t many local job agencies.

(Florian Creen) #26

Working is the way to get into the system,at times a strange and bewildering system, make contacts and generally find your feet.Having to worry about finding work,doing all the paperwork because you are self employed. Why would you want to add extra pressure on yourself ?. The jobs at agencies aren’t the best paid but you have to start somewhere.

(Tony Deg) #27

Love the dream, and your confidence in your own resourcefulness, and I am by no means trying too put you off the idea. However one more thing to keep in mind is that even before brexit there are conditions to be met before you can legally stay in france for more than 3 months. In our department if you are not working then as a couple with 1 child you currently need an income of 982 euros a month. I have not heard of anyone being chucked out if they do not meet this requirement, but technically it is possible and of course it is somewhat outside your control. I am not sure about the conditions if you are self employed. As far as I can see you can be self employed and earning virtually nothing and that is considered OK as far as being legally resident is concerned, even though that does not seem to make much sense. Perhaps someone else can throw more light on this? Of course post brexit nobody knows what will happen. You may find this site useful as a general guide even if it is for the cotes-d’armor.

(Anna Watson) #28

The small print here is that EU regulations on freedom of movement clarify that in order to be classed as a worker, your work has to be genuine and effective and not on such a small scale as to be regarded as purely marginal and ancillary(activité réelle et effective et non pas purement marginale et accessoire, in French).

Explained in English here

France seems to be very tolerant and the only time I’ve heard of a real issue blowing up over an EU incomer who claimed to be self-employed being reclassified as an inactif with a hobby business, was a couple who were seriously taking the p155 and claiming all kinds of benefits. Basically they’d registered as a chambre d’hote, they made no effort whatsoever to get any customers, declared about 100€ a year income and thought that by doing that they’d ticked all the boxes and France would be obliged to give them full RSA. CAF refused their application, they kept appealing and in the end it was supposed to go to court, they would have had to produce evidence to show how much work they’d put in week after week and month after month to try and get the business going, that they were in good faith and it wasn’t their fault the business hadn’t worked. This would have been difficult to prove since they hadn’t lifted a finger, and they couldn’t find an avocat who would take their case on. In the end they gave up and went back to the UK leaving their debts behind.

If they’d kept their heads down and not tried to be clever and play the system, France would have let them get on with it even though technically speaking they weren’t legally resident. But whether it would have become an issue if they’d needed a carte de séjour, I don’t know but I suspect it might.

EDIT - oops, meant to reply to Tony and it seems to have pointed at Florian instead, sorry!

(Mandy Davies) #29

Yes the climate is unusual for the South. You only have to drive for about 30 minutes to see grapes growing and garrigue. Just to add to the doom and gloom on here the endless paperwork is also something to be considered. Just getting into the health system can take months and sometimes years, bearing in mind that you have to be resident in France for 3 months (and be able to prove it) before you will even be considered. Until you are in the system you will have to pay for everything (visits to the GP, medicines etc) before being able to claim it back once you are accepted into the system.

I would also reiterate the point about speaking the language. The best preparation you can make before coming here is to learn as much French as you can. Try to concentrate on conversational French to start with, you can learn how to conjugate verbs later!

From your son’s point of view then moving sooner rather than later will be very beneficial for him in terms of learning the language. The earlier he starts the quicker he will learn.

Best of luck with it all.

(Steve Cobham) #30

Some random thoughts…

Visit the area you’re thinking of buying in in winter. Almost anywhere looks nice when it’s warm and sunny.

Have a look at some of the Facebook pages where people living here post. You sometimes hear raw unvarnished stories that are very educational.

If you really want to be self-employed, you must register for tax. Working for cash in hand is frowned on - especially if you’re not French and you’re undercutting French tradespeople.

Prepare to be shocked by the lack of business that comes via the net.

(Carl Britt) #31

@Flocreen it’s worth considering certainly. Is that what you did for work when you moved to France?

(Carl Britt) #32

@Anna lots of great points about business thanks Anna. Sounds like if I make it through all that I should have the marketplace all to myself with very little competition! I like the sound of that! :grin:

(Carl Britt) #33

@Steve_Cobham thanks for those thoughts Steve.

I wouldn’t work for cash in hand even if my business model allowed me. Cheating the system only leads to sleepless nights.

I’ll go hunting on Facebook now for pages such as those…

(Florian Creen) #34

Thats how I started,then had several short term contracts with one of the companies I had temped for, before getting a full time one ,After that I used the congé indivduel de formation system to improve my english qualifications,worked for the same company but higher up the ladder.Then moved to another company to a better job,more money more responsibilty, then used the congé individuel de formation again so that I didn’t spend as much time on site so that I wouldn’t be totally knackered when I retire in a few years time.

(Harry Fawcett) #35

we have just bought a house for a little over 70 thousand euros in the south. House needed very little work, 4 bedrooms just needed new electrics throughout as old stuff was well out of date.

Banks will lend small amounts if you have employment contracts.

when you say 50k cash is that after you sell up your place or is that your total? bear in mind moving costs, id recommend doing it yourself or contacting a part remover whre you share the loads. We did it ourselves and saved a small fortune.

Some areas such as the gers is a bit more posh than other areas. We live in Galan 65330 region an property round here des go cheeper and its a very nice area but not as many english as other areas but still plenty around. We even have an english restaurant not too far away too.

Good luck in where you choose to move to.

Couple of good facebook pages are: and and all depends where you choose to move to but all 3 of these full of helpful folks and the first one is ran by James who is SURVIVEFRANCE

(Harry Fawcett) #36

id have to disagree having just had a new fosse to cope with not only my family but my business of pet sitting up to 25 dogs (i dont have 25 dogs but it was better than a fosse for 14. the fosse itself was cheep and while the double SPANC inspections was nearly 200€ the hole we dug ourselves and came off the old fosse system so no extra pipes needed. All depends on what you need. We looked at a house for 55 thousand but neighbours did not like dogs so we opted to not buy it even though it was well over 100 mtrs from them they could have stil complained. and that house was 55 thousand with 4 out building 2 acres of fields not including the gardens and 4 bedrooms and no electrics needed doing. it was actually a very good house and our friends bought it and it only cost them about 12 thousand to fix it up. Allot of the time its about who you know or what you know. My advice get friendly with your french community fast and you will get much needed help for free and get a workaway as soon as you have a room ready for guests. I know way too many english people who do not mix with the french neighbours at all.

(Sandra Shadrach) #37

With Brexit looming, I am interested to hear that a young family is considering a move here. France is not a welcoming country for small individual start-ups. Lots of red tape and high social charges to be paid. Don’t think for a minute it is like being self employed in the U.K.

The French administration burden is high, and challenging if you are not fluent in French. Local businesses (and local folks) will not welcome you, and depending on expats to make up your client base normally will not make a business model that works, particularly in the less expensive rural areas.

I would suggest you rent, not buy, and try it for a year. See how you really like the French way of life, if you find your neighbours friendly or aloof, if your business model has legs, if it suits the whole family… and of course see how you would continue to live here should the final Brexit deal create some issues you had not thought of…

At least that way, you can smile at the end of the year, and return to the UK with plenty of memories (good or bad) and not have lost all your savings along the way!

(Harry Fawcett) #38

HI Sandra.

So while i set up 2 years ago. I had very little difficulty in setting up and getting registered at all with my dog and cat sitting business.

Our friends also from England who bought a house here 6 months ago and have just finished setting themselves up as one an artisan the other AE again had very little problems even though everyone told them it would be a nightmare. They speaking fluent French and also before they even moved in came and introduced themselves to not only the Marie but to neighbours and other people in their village and also going to the church and introducing themselves there also. They were welcomed with open arms and were offered help and support from the local community pretty quickly too. I do believe allot of people from different countries come here with what I call the Expat mentality (this may offend some folks) but we come to here and a minority of people do not integrate or try to get involved in local stuff or try to make changes or complain about things. We are Immigrants here and the quicker we fit in with our French neighbours and society the easier it seems to go. I run my business and and my understanding of french is great but i’m unable to reply because of my dyslexia but my Immigrant clients are about 60% of my business and about 40% is French nationals. (I would have higher french but i’m always fully booked by my Immigrant clients from across the globe. (with new place im able to facilitate more of our french clients last minute requests as i’m not as limited a I used to be with our new facilities so can take on a much greater number of dogs but still keep my business as a personal service rather than commercial facility. A good way to try life here is trusted house sitters of workaways. great to find your feet and also meet many people, Also rent free and you can look for a place while your here. I have been welcomed in my new place by al our neighbour and the village with many offers of help to the point that we have had zero money spent on skilled labour for our building work inside and out. (yes we have not moved far and we knew many people from previous local events and being integrated within the local community and the fact that when locals have needed help have been there helping out be it with wood for the old folks or just helping dig better ditches or in one case helping neighbours install a new fosse. For me its ll about integration and the trying to understand the locals. I will always go back to standing in the pizza shop and a guy walking in and ordering a pizza in english no attempt to speak french, I asked him in my fake french accent in english just visiting? He told me he had lived here for over 5 years and didn’t need to speak french as all his friends and neighbours were english… Work at trying and it will go down very well.

(Ann Coe) #39

Sound advice Harry, I started a topic about integration (Voting and Integration) back in late October and some of the replies make interesting reading.
Some people come here and never seem to make any effort to integrate with their French neighbours, they prefer “coffee mornings” and weekend BBQ’s with the other UK immigrants !
A little effort can reap good rewards in all sorts of ways, as you have discovered :slight_smile:

(Sandra Shadrach) #40

Dear Harry,

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love living in France, and have been here for 16 years, and no plans to move! I am a Scottish Chartered Accountant, and worked here for 10 years, so now draw a small French pension. I speak fluent French, but I have several friends who don’t speak much at all - they work on the yachts or in British businesses along the Riviera.

My point is a financial one - no way would I risk ALL my capital on an untried venture in a foreign land, with no safety net! While you, like me, are obviously in an area with a lot of Expats, some of the areas being considered by this family are very rural and folks will not speak English, and may resent someone coming in and taking earnings from them. Hence my ‘try before you buy’ advice, particularly in these uncertain times.

Running your own small business, you must be well aware of the costs and administration required to remain legal here in France. If you don’t, and try and work on the black, even just to begin with, you rake a huge risk. As others have pointed out, it is almost impossible to get a salaried role, even part time, if you don’t speak French to a good standard.

The dream is possible, I am living it, but with limited resources and no income, could quickly turn sour for this family. I do wish them well, and hope they can make their dream come true!