Moving to Bordeaux with young family

Hi all,

I am looking for some advice. Myself and my husband are considering moving to Bordeaux from Ireland with our four kids (6,5,4,2) in the next six months with the hope of having a better quality of life and more family time. We have school French,so not much, our kids have none. We would like to be within 40 minutes of Bordeaux probably nearer the coast but not fussy. Realistically would like to be near some other expats and a place with lots of children and near a school where expats would be welcomed, would prefer to educate them in the public French system and not an international school because of costs. HAs anyone else made a move like this and have they any feedback on it, specifically areas or schools . Lots of children important in the area. We have jobs already that allow us to work from home. Are we crazy to be making such a move? Maybe I’m just having a midlife crisis.

Any feedback welcomed,


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Hi Neamh, what do you plan to do for work, as this will have a huge bearing on your life here.
The french reputation for bureaucracy is well deserved and you need to be prepared for that.
We live in totally the other side of France.
We have had a huge welcome her. Good luck to you.

Not crazy at all, as long as you’re looking at things realistically and not imagining that moving to France will in itself automatically deliver a better quality of life and more family time. Life anywhere is what you make it, France is a country not a lifestyle, it offers the potential for a good life but it doesn’t dish it up it on a plate to everyone who moves here. As some have discovered.

I’m assuming that working from home equates to being self employed (if in fact you’re employees and you’re hoping to continue working for your employer from France, that’s a different kettle of fish). I’m from Wales so I don’t know about self employed social contributions and business taxes in Ireland but I do know that when you compare being self employed in France with being self employed in the UK, you need a significantly higher turnover in France to achieve same level of profit (far far higher social charges), So looking at it that way up, if you moved from the UK to France and wanted to maintain your income you would likely wind up with less family time not more. My advice is do the maths carefully and thoroughly, and if having done that you figure it will work, and if you really like France warts and all not just seen through rose-tinted spectacles, go for it. Being from Ireland you have an advantage when you do the sums and make the comparisons because you don’t have to take the exchange rate into the equation as Brits do, plus hopefully Macron will take some of the burden off of businesses in the foreseeable future.

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Yes I was going to ask you about work?
And my part of the world I hr …ish from Bordeaux is a good spot it is
well punctuated with British people and people from all over the world.
Yes I feel confident that Macon is the man who will be good for the
future of France.
My other half is Irish and he loves Ireland, possibly still very fond of
London and the rest of UK but is really at home here in S W France.


Thanks all for the responses and advice. We intend to work for Irish companies from France, we are currently looking at how we structure that, whether as employees or in a self employed capacity. We are getting good advice in this respect from people who have done it already and accountancy firms that specialise in this area. We are not moving unless it financially stacks up. My biggest worry is the kids, finding a school and the right area. Im hoping they are young enough to adapt and pick up the language. Anyway time will tell. Thanks again. Niamh

I don’t have kids but from what I’ve seen with other people’s, yours are the right age to be like ducks to water when it comes to adapting and picking up the language and making new friends. Up to 9 or 10 or thereabouts, depending on the kid, the move seems to be relatively trauma free. Once adolescence kicks in and they have firm ideas on what’s cool and what isn’t, they can get stroppy and critical and difficult. And of course that’s exactly the time when schools start expecting more from them. But yours haven’t reached that stage yet.
No doubt other members with personal experience will have more to say.

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Hi Niamh
We live just north of Bordeaux, 15 minutes from the Bordeaux tramway so have the tranquility of a vineyard locationt but can be in the centre of Bordeaux in no time at all. We moved from London 25 years ago. Your children are good ages for the move and will pick up French quickly in a French school.

Regarding being near some other expats, that’s more difficult as we are scattered all over the place. There are more expat communities in the Dordogne but maybe not so many families with young children.

Concerning expats being welcomed, you’ll be welcomed anywhere if you make the effort. People in our village fell over backwards to make us feel at home.

And, no, you are not crazy! We’ve never looked back. However, a word of caution, we have a holiday rental and have hosted lots of families who eventually moved here. A lot of them subsequently moved back after a couple of years. It is very tiring at first: learning another language, the administration, change of culture and earning a living.

Your children are perfectly aged for moving to a new country with a new language. They will pick up French very easily. My concern is your work. You need to do a lot of research into what is and what is not possible. Many people work in positions where they are as productive at home as in an office but when you cross an international border new factors come into play. A lot will be to do with where you are when you carry out your work; there is a huge difference between between those people who work full time for companies outside France who commute to work in another country, those who do the same work when seated in France as an employee of the company and those who are registered as self employed in France who are contractors for foreign companies. Basically if you are working for an overseas company while you yourself are in France that company has commitments to France and those commitments can be significant. There are plenty of forum posts on the subject and you really need to get the technicalities sorted out before relying on an overseas income.
The expat factor is a very personal choice. If you live around Bordeaux you will find expat families scattered around but if being part of an expat community is important to you there are better places to be. Having said that it is perfectly possible to live in an expat hotspot but not live within their sphere. If I was part of a family hoping to move to a new country permanently I would be far more concerned about forging friendships with near neighbours and people I will meet through shared interests than in searching out others who share no more than a common language.

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“If you are working for an overseas company while you yourself are in France that company has commitments to France and those commitments can be significant.”

Ireland - social security taxes 10.75%
France - social security taxes 45%

As David says - a very significant difference.