In hindsight was France the right move?


(James Higginson) #1

Many who make the move find a return to their country of origin difficult for various reasons, mainly financial I presume.

  • With the benefit of hindsight would you still have come to France?
  • Are there things you would have done differently?
  • What advice do you have for those thinking of relocating?


(Chris Kaley) #2

1). Absolutely.

2). A few

3). Make absolutely sure that your partner (if you have one) wants to move, too, and isn't paying lip service to the idea, having been lured into the move through dreams of cheap house prices, and thoughts of "adventure", without considering permanence, and reality.


(Diana Pinnell) #3

Yes, we are in the right place, but this isn't entirely due to luck, or to planning. In fact we are here because over 30 years ago a young French lady decided to spend a year in England as an au pair and looked after my children during term time while I worked. We are still friends, we formed strong friendships with her family and now live surrounded by her mother, aunts and uncles in the village where they were all born. Howeve hard you plan, some things are just fate, destiny, chance. I believe you have to make the most of whatever arises, take all the opportunities offered, and not feel that you have to be in total control. We moved here after Phil's IT development work went to India, to a derelict house needing years of work, which none of the locals would risk. It made a perfect project for a newly retired project manager who feared retirement would be boring. We kept in touch with the family in the UK using technology which came naturally to all of us, even my late father watched our work via a webcam and emailed tips and comments to us. We are optimistic for the future. However we are financially comfortable (although dependant upon the exchange rate to maintain our standard of living) and we don't have to work or run a business. Also, we have, as yet, no grandchildren, who might alter our position a bit. We are able to visit the UK whenever we like, but our village in France is our home. We are not complacent, but will respond to problems as they arise. We have no regrets at all.


(Richard Olney-Jones) #4

Yes, absolutely! We have definitely made the right choice in moving to France.... Has there been some adjustments required; also absolutely! And, sometimes things can be so frustrating; but you'd have that no matter where you choose to live!

If is wasn't France, then it would have been America. However, when we researched medical costs (my partner is diabetic) it made our decision for us. And, no, France is not a compromise; it has always "felt right" for us....


(Chris Coughlan) #5

Chris Kaley makes a very valid comment; you both have to want to make the move and one partner is often less sure than the other. It's very easy to get swept along with that sense of adventure. All the reasons (cheaper property, cheap wine, better weather, more available health care) will not make you happy if you if you miss what you left. A good grasp of the language is also not a passport to happiness. If you can keep a place in the UK, so much the better. It will give you more options.


(Diana Pinnell) #6

While I agree that you both have to be committed, the fact we had already been married for 35 years meant that we were both confident about our decision. Not that we always agree, far from it, but we have learned to put up with each other and live with each other's mistakes! So long as Phil thinks he's in charge, everything goes my way.........


(Barbara Deane) #7

What a question!

If your life is based almost entirely on capitol gain on property .....then you may well say No.

But the main things in life .....apart from friends and loved is health care and accepting that life is

so different to what it was 10 years ago!

The world.....in my eyes was a better place.

This WAS a difficult move .....but not wanting to go back!


(Barry Twyman) #8

I always wanted to move to France, my ex didn't so I stayed in the UK. Fell in love with a French Woman, divorced, ,moved to France with her, had no choice in the matter ! I realise after 11 years here it would have been foolhardy for me to have moved here without real planning and an understanding of the culture and language. The beaurocracy is appalling and my Wife takes care of all of it , but be sure to ask locals how to use system "D" .


(Richard Olney-Jones) #9

System "D"?????


(Jeni Middlehurst) #10

I was a trailing daughter and then a trailing spouse. The longest time I spent in Britain was in boarding school and again when my daughter was young. My family has always been my home not my location. Niall's last position was in Monaco and we lived in and around the principality for 10 years before he decided to retire. We decided to stay in France and moved to the Charente. I imagine living in the UK would give me more of a culture shock than anywhere else in the world. Financially it has made no difference. We can be broke anywhere. :-)


(heather clark) #11

Ten years ago this June....my Beloved and I came here on holiday...and bought this beautiful property. I have never wanted to return to the UK even though my family and children live there. My Beloved never really settled...and at one time was seriously contemplating returning to the UK...on his own! When our house sells we're considering moving...and renting to somewhere warmer...S France perhaps to stay in the French system...or Spain.

At 75...I've still got loads of life left in me...and as life's always working out for us...I'm looking forward to... the next big adventure.


(Ted Coltrane) #12

As Spock said ....... " Remember "

I am afraid to say that due to the French Property Magazine(s) "glamourising" France up, the reality is much different. Removal men we know have never been more busy bringing people back from France. We're selling. After 10 years of S h one tee - as I type this we have a British worker doing exactly as we want the English way, to tart our house up. After numerous burglaries and siphoning off of our cars and heating fuel, thieving, and general gallic masturbation of the Reglementation, we have had enough. We spoke degree level French, even employed and gave the French business, but at the end of the day the main problem with France is the French. If you've got values, fairness, decency, then you will be out of place in France. We were.


They are also extremely illiterate, unhealthy on the smoking and drinking front, and had the temerity to tell us that we had no rights, when we have exactly the same apart from voting for the President. Sadly, France is now an arabic country, and we all know what that means. Sharia law, violently advocates rape of women, stoning, FGM, cutting off of hands and limbs and various other brutalities, including hanging of homosexuals and crucifixion. We had a great deal of échaufferies as various thugs came and roughed us up, stalked us and smashed up the house.

This is why most people come back after 2 years. Those that do't either don't have a life or children to go back to in England, or a social life, the latter of which the French certainly do not.. Alot of Brits just get sozzled with other Brits, but maybe they'd do the same in England in the pub.

The plat du jour is an expensive con. You can get two good meals at most UK pubs for £8.99

There are different values in France and this is not a good thing, they are taken to riots/strikes/civil commotions and disobedience which is the worst thing about a Republic which I can think of, and Socialism on top absolutely tops it off. With no pride, everything broken and scruffy there, we are so glad to be back amongst normality and order in England. All in all - moving to France was the worst thing I ever did apart from marrying into a poor family a very close second. ( I thought I would marry the daughter, not the poor family)

I read in this thread that someone wanted to go and live in the South. That is the wild west. Those of you in Mortain have a bunch of farmers blocking the roads to contend with - in the South we have to contend with the property crooks, drug runners and prostitute pimps, aswell as Arabs living in no-go areas for the Police. All of which we had.

As Spock said.........."Remember"


(anon88981270) #13

I think so. It wasn't my dream and the one whose dream it was is now gone but it's been an experience for both me and my kids and I'm not sure whether if we'd stayed in the UK they'd have had as useful or as interesting an experience during that time. They're all bilingual now and that's got to be useful in some way, hopefully. When I ask them, they have no regrets about coming here and are now past the stage where they think they'd eventually go back to the UK. It's either a definite no or a maybe, depending on what career opportunities come up.

I wouldn't really have done anything differently to how it turned out but I'm glad I couldn't do what the original intention was, which was to sell my UK house. If I'd done that I wouldn't have the choice to go back now or later as the money would probably all be gone by now, on some impractical property that would cost a lot to renovate and maintain and wouldn't now sell for enough to buy somewhere in the UK again.

Advice to those thinking of relocating would be the usual rent first and buy later when you're sure of your area, keep your UK place if you can and make sure you can afford to live here, whether on income from pensions/investments or have a definite career option. An awful lot of people seem to end up going back skint or stuck here, often unable to sell up and being miserable and skint in the meantime. Even if they can sell up, they can be unable to afford to move back or on without ending up renting, which is a hard pill to swallow when you've been used to owning your own home. Finally, do your best to learn the lingo as it can be quite isolating if you don't and scary when you have to deal with the bureacracy.


(Chris Lawton) #14

What an extraordinary outburst, Ted Coltrane! I don't recognise the France you describe. Where do you live, Calais or Saint-Denis? Your comments about the south of France are well out of order and totally inaccurate. We've lived here (southern Tarn) 12 years, first part-time, since retirement full-time. We are better cared for here (both in terms of social secuirity and health) than in UK. The local population is welcoming, polite, helpful. They certainly don't seem to drink or smoke excessively or be uncouth (on the whole; there're always exceptions). The tradesmen are diligent and reasonable. The Britain I am seeing now is not a place I want to return to: confrontational, negative, inward-looking, divisive. You are welcome to it!


(Ted Coltrane) #15

Lived there and been there. You are entitled to your opinion.... British people go all weak at the knees at the sight of a croissant and an overpriced cup of coffee and a stand full of straw with some patés in it. The French will keep ripping us off forever. And if France is so fantastic, why are there 1.5m French in UK alone, let alone other countries, with immigrants desperate to leave France at Calais and other camps?


(Diana Pinnell) #16

Perhaps my enjoyment of life in France is due to seeing only the real France and not the publicity. However during my visits to family in the UK I become even more certain that I no longer belong there. The UK of my youth is gone and may never recover. I hate driving there, even being a passenger, and am scared to walk down streets where I grew up. I hear more English voices in the shopping centre near Geneva than I do in Croydon. Most of your description of France now applies equally to London. The grass is not always as green as we may imagine.


(Chris Lawton) #17

Would I still have come to France, knowing what I know now? Yes.

Things I'd have done differently. Probably. I should really have researched and visited many more regions of France. Having said that, I feel we have ended up in the right place for us.

Advice for others:

1. Don't expect it to be like UK, nor complain when you find it isn't.

2. RESEARCH. Visit (not just for a couple of days) the areas you are considering living in. In winter as well as summer. Talk to people, particularly in the profession/job/whatever you expect to do.

3. If you are not 100% committed, keep a bolthole in the UK. (this could even be a spare room or a small extension in a son's/daughter's/parent's house).

4. Don't make more than brief visits "back home" for at least two years. You have to immerse yourself in your new environment!

5. Get good financial advice. France is not at all like UK on the fiscal/investment front. I was a financial adviser in England, but still needed a French (bilingual) adviser here. (He saves me thousands per year.)

6. Don't brood, don't look for things to criticise: get out there, enjoy it!!

7. LEARN FRENCH. Preferably start before you arrive in France. If not, I should imagine French classes for expats could be a load of fun as well as a way of making new friends.


(Barry Twyman) #18

System "D" is the alternative method of living in France as practiced by the French . You ignore most of the Laws, work in co-operation with Neighbours, friends,Family and anyone in authority you can find , to bypass all the regulations and live in tranquility ....works for us ...lol .You would be amazed at what can be achieved by the Mother of a child in your Wifes' Class who works at the prefecture .


(Chris Kaley) #19

Perhaps you'd tell me where else I can get a good cup of espresso, plus biscuit and service, whilst overlooking the river, for 95 cents? You appear particularly bitter.

And the immigrants are "desperate" to leave Calais and elsewhere, because they think they'll get a free ride in the Former UK, at your expense - which is probably true.


(Karen Yakymishen) #20

I love your attitude. It seems you have taken on living in France positively and whole heartedly. You are absolutey correct when you speak of attitude and having an open mind. Thank you for this! A very good reminder for me :)