Interviewing Brits who have moved to France

Hi All,

Please could anyone offer some advice?

We are in the process of compiling an interview format; We are interviewing Brits who have made the move to France, concentrating on those in the 25 to 45 age range, so generally people who still need to earn a living!

We hope to obtain unbiased interviews about their experiences, motivations to move, the pros and cons etc.

I'd be really interested to hear any suggestions for questions we should be asking.

Our target audience are people at the point of researching whether or not to make the move and we hope to provide balanced case studies from those who have "been there and done it".

Lastly, it would be great to hear from anyone who would be interested in being interviewed. (There would be a bottle of wine in it!!)

Many Thanks


I am going to ignore your age group request, it doesn't apply to me but I am sure I am not alone- I came 4 years ago and honestly, having lived and worked with very few problems in 3 other countries (Chile, Mexico, Spain),, I can say that France is by far the toughest, but on the plus side- it has been the best decision Ii have made.

I'd be happy to share my experiences.

Hi Ed, we've just had our interview with Sherwin - all went very well, and it's a very interesting exercise that's helped us take stock of the last 10 months. As the sun's been shining, cloudless blue skies for days now and pretty much everything we said about the French and life in France was at least positive, if not glowing, we're only too delighted to share our experience! Looking forward to seeing the results, best wishes all from a very sunny 87!

Another Thank you to everyone for your responses, help and also to everyone who's keen to be interviewed! looks like I'll be buying a lot of wine! I would like to include the information gathered and (also the interview itself if you agree?) in our new website, targeting People considering making the move that you've made. The plan is to accumulate a library of interviews, indexed into region, industry etc. I would like the interviews to be conducted as informal chats. I'd still love to hear from more people if you're up for it?

Thanks again


Hi Edward, we'll certainly give some thought to your questions, although it looks like you've got plenty of suggestions here - happy to be interviewed. We made the move last summer and love it here, very happy to share our experiences, good and bad (mostly good in our case) - best of luck with your research

My partner and I are over 60 and we still need to work to earn a living. I had second 3rd and 4th thoughts about making the move after reading the book " Living and working in France" and then decided the bureaucracy just COULDN'T be as bad as the author was making out. Ha, now we know, and it is! But we have a very good accountant who said to us at the outset, " something you must remember is that a piece of paper is just a piece of paper, or you'll go mad" Love what we're doing here though.

I concur with Alan Andrews' comments. My wife and I are both social scientists, well and truly post-doctoral and lecturing experienced in methods and methodology too. Your interview schedule needs to be one or the other of qualitative or quantitative and if going with the former then starting with an open ended question means following through with a less formalised, rather more opened ended survey question method such as sentence completion. If quantitative you need very formal, structured questions. Perhaps decide what information you want, how long you want an interview to last and write the schedule to fit. I was seriously doing it at the beginning of this week. Four draft interview schedules and two informal group discussion topics for a five country research over three years. I have done that and used them in practice for a very long time and can guide a little and still even answer the questions objectively. Ask and I will help.

Edward has said what it is for

Our target audience are people at the point of researching whether or not to make the move and we hope to provide balanced case studies from those who have "been there and done it".

Maybe you could elaborate on how the information is to be published so people can help easier. I imagine folks are wary of how their answers may be used.

As for me, at 47 I have been here forever, always worked and as a newly self employed mum of 2 young kids, will have to earn a living for many years yet! I guess I had my 'retirement' before the kids came along :-)

Hi Alain

I was daft to mention a cut off of 45!! I be delighted to hear from anyone!



We too are just 50, so out of your profile, but are still earning a living and have two children at school in France. Wonder why the cut off at 45? Our youngest is only in 5eme so we will be involved in education as well as living here for a few years yet - despite our 'old' age!

could you give some background as to why you are carrying out the research? Is there a big plan? I did move to France and at the time fulfilled your age criterion. I stayed 7 years and now am back in UK. May be interested in being interviewee, with more information about your methodology and aims etc.

In response to your questions. Would I do the same again? Yes, I would and I wished we had been in a position to do it a few years earlier, but circumstances decide that for you. In our case it was waiting for my daughter to be in a settled relationship and work situation? Do I live a better life in France? That one is difficult to answer in some ways. Yes, I love our social life here which somehow we find time for and also find our friends more genuine. However, if you are working here the stress is no different to the UK. My husband has never been short of work despite the crisis and most of the time works 7 days a week and long hours. Great, but no, we just earn enough to survive. No holidays or luxuries.

Before suggesting questions, I would want to know what type of analysis is being used. Is the research qualitative or quantitative? If qualitative can you not start with the open ended question 'Tell me about your experiences, motivations to move, the pros and cons etc.' ?The subject's responses will lead you to asking follow up questions. Perhaps you should start by doing some background reading. I would suggest M. Denzin's, 'The Research Act' or perhaps 'In the Field', sorry I can not remember the author of this.

If you want an interviewee I suggest my step son? He does not drink, aged 25, ex Public school and now reading History at the University of Bordeaux. He has had a number of jobs in France over the past five years.

Best of luck: Alan

Hi Jayne

Thanks for your suggestions, would you do the same again? overall do you feel you live a better life in France?

If you are looking for questions to ask - You certainly find out how different life is when you work here. How do we cope with cotisations? How does one cope with the massive drop in earnings compared to what you had in your home country? Do you plan to stay here for the rest of your life? What do you do socially here? How does your life compare to where you lived before? What do you think of fellow compatriots? How have you settled in to your life? etc etc. List could be a mile long :)

I am happy to be interviewed. I have been here for 18 years with French OH. I have experience looking for work and I live in a very rural area.

you dont say why ???????????????

Its great that people have offered to be interviewed, but no one has given you any input about questions to ask. Sorry if anyone has in the meantime. Judging by your photo you have young children and they often get forgotten when considering moving abroad especially when you are house hunting etc... and there are lots of ifs and buts to consider for them. Some questions I would suggest are; Why did you pick the area that your are living? What is it like for children when trying to adjust to a new school/language? Therefore do I consider living near a large town or in the sticks. How do I get in to the healthcare system and stay in it? We moved to a very rural area with a tiny school where people have to travel to go to it and I have only one child. Consider this. She is 8, she has no friends in the village and her school friends live at least a 20 min drive therefore she is quiet isolated. We will now consider moving nearer to a bigger town, not in the town but still in a rural setting. My husband took early retirement but, with the cost of living escalating and me being 10 years younger then him we still need to work. We are self employed and if you are considering taking this route you will need to know how to get in to the system for this. Depending on what you are trying to achieve ie making a sufficient amount for living with a quality family life etc... will also have a bearing on your questions. You really need to ask yourself first, why you think you want to come here? and then think about the questions you would like to ask to achieve YOUR goal.

will do anything for a bottle of wine and will do anything to earn money. Moved in 2006, 49 in a couple of weeks time, tried several self-employed ventures and have hopefully landed on my feet with this latest venture. Dry white but not Sancerre, I can walk there and pick up a bottle, something different would be nice!!

We're new here, in the age range, from the US and happy to talk about our vast experience of six weeks!