Moving to France

A bit selfish of me to join......looking for information and other people's experiences.

My wife has decided that she is fed up (she put it somewhat more forcefully than than that) with weather here (Dorset) and wants to spend the rest of her days in the sun. France seems to be a good choice, and the Roussillion-Languedoc the destination of choice.

The idea, in our ignorance, is to run a gite, so as to get a basic income in the local currency.

The attraction of France is that it is a european lifestyle, which we understand, and has (to date) a very good healthcare reputation and allows easy access to the rest of Europe (where they ALL drive on the wrong side of the road).

The downsides are finding our way around the financial,legal and bureaucratic maze, and, of course, the language.

I would appreciate any (constructive!) comments.....and the plan is to come over to the area in October or November to see what it is like then, to stay in an English run B. & B. (so I can drive them mad with inane questions!) in the Montpelier region. Once again, suggestions (if not rude) gratefully appreciated.

Freddy Stone

James, don't know if you got my previous reply (I seem to have replied to myself!). Anyway, thank you for the suggestion. It had not occured to me that there might be a book of that description. However, recieved it this morning and it seems to answer many of my questions.

Many thanks and kind regards

Freddy Stone

Thank you James. Just bought one (via 'Amazon') by David Hampshire...... not too many big words I hope.

Why didn't I think of that?, would not then have tried the patience of so many kind people.


Freddy Stone

Emile, there are books written with titles like "Living and Working in France" that give all the details about starting a business, cost of living in various parts of France, the health insurance system, etc.

1 Like

Aix is indeed expensive, but nowadays, not much more than Marseille where real estate prices have shot up! Still, they will probably go down faster in Marseille than in Aix.... In terms of Avignon, I would say that the city is cheaper and in many respects just as good if not better than Marseille with two drawbacks: it is quite far from the sea and the wind is terrible, much, much worse than in Marseille. Apparently, it can be pretty bad in Nîmes too, but I have been lucky each time I went there.

I would aim for a city with a University and a business school as I'm sure you could pick up a few hours here and there which would snowball, more and more schools are recruiting English speakers who have a business background, especially if they have studied in the US. It might be a little late for the coming academic year, but who knows?

Hi all, I would add that Aix is expensive. We loved it there and had three holidays there learning French at a school in Aix, but then took a boat holiday on Canal du Midi and fell in love with the Languedoc. We have been here in Aude departement for 1.5 years and love it.

Marie-Claire, such insightful information! Thanks a ton! I enjoyed Aix, Arles and Nimes when I visited them so thanks for those suggestions. Was there a reason you didn't mention Avignon? I haven't been to Montpellier so I'll put that on my todo list to check out. I'm somewhat surprised to hear those things about Marseille but then again...I'm finding that less and less surprising about what the "elites" do.

So many choices....I want to do them all!

Thanks again. I'm SO impressed with the information the users here have provided!

Hi Freddy, no unfortunately we are in the Vendee, no where near Montpellier but I do have friends with gites in this region. This year has been difficult for to the UK pensions that is one of the reasons we rent out our UK house, get nearly double there to what we pay here, so for us it makes sense!! I'm sure there must be SFNers who know of an English B&B in your preferred region. Bon chance !!

Maria, delighted to hear from you. People have been very good on general information and advice; it is the specifics, the actual experience of 'the nuts and bolts' that I want to get to. One of the things that worries me is living on money from the U.K., and the shifting exchange rate. Could make mince-meat of pensions etc., which is why I was keen to have gite/s so as to provide a subsistence local currency stream. We are looking to stay at an 'English' b.and b. so as to get their first hand experiences. Do you you know of any in Montpellier region ? (if so, please don't for- warn them!!!!!!....I'll bring my own thumbscrews).

Kind regards

Freddy Stone

FRANCE: Marseille [FastView] 25 July, 2012
Wall Street Institute, Marseille

TEFL or CELTA qualified native-speaking English Teacher in Marseille, France

I actually worked for Wall Street in Spain, bit weird but ok, so I guess that is locked and loaded for you Joseph.

Hi Emile, I haven't written anything yet on this subject but have been following everything...Carole is spot on I think!! We have rented here for 4 years now, found the house on the internet and our landlord is a 'particulier'. We also have a neighbour eating GSD and a Jack Russel and although I informed the landlord we had dogs, it wasn't until after we had agreed the house!!! I do believe there is an unwritten law that you cannot refuse to rent a house to people with dogs, but that is just hearsay... We are lucky with our landlord who is very good, but we have painted and decorated the house which was a tad 'unclean' and also planted a lot of trees and shrubs and made the garden look it works both ways. As for utilities that was a nightmare but eventually we had to ask our neighbours who sorted everything out for us...and I'm sure wherever you move to there will be someone who will help you. We have rented our house out in England and that also supplements our pensions, so all good. There are several sites for renting houses, seloger, le bon coin, or just google renting houses. We are still not sure if we want to actually sell in the UK and buy here so we take it year on year...

Paris is very expensive, you will probably find it difficult to find accommodation as we have a system which often requires showing pay slips, contracts, bringing in people who will vouchsafe for you and paying three months in advance! Besides, the weather is rotten up there....

In terms of work, Marseille is pretty difficult as there is rather little business, and very little event managing, for a town which actually is the second biggest in the country. This capital of culture position is, at best, quite questionable and money is going to stay in the same pockets, i.e the council and region members (yes, you've guessed I live in Marseille:-)). Lyon, would probably be better, or Grenoble, still, if it's the Provence you are craving for and you are not overly dependent on what France has to offer, but have independent means of putting food on the table, then you might want to take a look at Aix en Provence, Arles or Nimes, or even Montpellier, which are all towns which are trying to develop their cultural aura.

Marseille doesn't really care!

Thanks Kwashie. I'm *not* set on Paris but it's my hope that I can work in a French territory so that I don't "waste" years of studying French; otherwise I'd move to Thailand, China, Brazil, etc. where getting a job teaching English would probably be MUCH easier. Make sense?

I'll definitely add to my watch list. Thanks for the recommendation.

I *am* annoyingly tenacious so your "pounding the pavement" post-script is food for thought.

I should have mentioned that I'm not *attached* to Paris as a starting point. I'm just figuring the odds of opportunity are higher because it's so large. Obviously, the competitive odds go up as well.

I'm particularly enamored with the Provence region and since Marseille is the "capital of culture" next year, I've wondered (with my lengthy arts marketing background) whether *it* would be a good place for me next year. (?)

Just thought I'd add that...

I suppose I have a toned down south London accent, which is good because we drop 'h' often which 'elps 'ere. A lot of people have 'accents' and where I live further south there is patois and more Occitain than here the closer to Spain. So it is throughout France. Lots of accents, we non-French with our additional variances. No, do not worry about it one little bit. Apart from that, Australians get max points for me so far for making French sound weird. Be like Johnny Depp, kind of pseudo-Cockney with drunken slur for 'Pirates' and blatantly American when he speaks French.

It is a slightly complicated tax system, but you get used to it. Working black forces you into a corner and does not help you stay here one bit.

Kwashie is very resourceful, he comes up with some good ideas and advice and that is a good one at the end. I have never taught English either, so pass.

O.K., so does one pronounce the 'n' in Annecy, or does it become A'cee, with just a brief hint of the very nasal 'n' ( en passent)? We were there in both the summer (at the 'Auberge'....didn't eat there again, but beautiful by the lake) and in the very early spring ( stayed in Annecy at a VERY reasonable hotel). My wife would settle for life there; cold in the winter, very acceptable in the summer. I am keener on the Languedoc. Why did you pick the Haute Savoie (if that's how you spell it)?.

Freddy Stone

Hi Joseph. I taught English in Barcelona for a year. If you go on you will see all the sits vacs for France, in fact for the world. As long as you are not set on Paris, you should find a sponsor. Good luck!

Ps. I found my job by going into every school till I found one which was hiring, so that works too.

Thanks Brian for your quick response.

Actually, I *haven't* looked at the cons of becoming an AE but other than working "noir", I don't think I have much of a choice if I want to work legally; at least until I can find a company to sponsor me. (Taxes are probably a con I would assume.)

You know, I'm not sure what French people think of my American accent. I *definitely* don't sound like a New Yorker though! Basically, I grew up with a *nasty* mid-western accent that, over time, I have stripped away. As far as Americans are concerned, I don't *have* and accent at all...and that's on purpose! :-)

I figured music wouldn't be helpful...but I spent 4 years studying it so it's always going to be with me. Travel/tour guiding, however, I'm passionate about so I'm hoping to figure out a way to work that in.

I'm so glad I found this site. I find the people here extremely intelligent and I enjoy reading their opinions.

Thanks again!

Hi Joseph,

simple advice. Go step by step. Keep your online work going and fight your way through the bureaucracy to register as an Autoentrepreneur (AE). But then you have mentioned it so guess you have looked into the pros and cons. Paris is, I hear so cannot provide evidence, very expensive and competitive. I wish Andrwe Hearne was active on SFN at present, but from what he is saying ESL teaching is like other language teached, being squeezed. We know a French ESL teacher a couple of villages on who cannot find work, I think that given she sounds like a New Yorker hers might well be your version of Anglais. Music and tour guiding, pass...

Fire questions at/through SFN and you will at least get some answers.

Bonjour Tous!

I've been following along reading the great comments and information provided by others. I'm in an extremely opposite situation as Emile but my end result (moving to France) is the same. Let me explain...

I'm moving to France this year (by hook or by crook) from the USA. The reason I want to move to France is somewhat unknown to me other than I have an inexplicable love for everything about the French culture and every time I'm there I feel like I'm "home." I've been studying the language for years and someday except to be fluent. Let's just say I would *be* French if I had the choice!

I'm single with almost no "ties" to the US (i.e. housing, job, relationship, etc.) This is mainly on purpose as I've been planning to move for a while. My family thinks I'm weird for wanting to move but that's par for the course. I'm a "nomad" and enjoy moving to new places.

I'm familiar with many (most?) of the obstacles of doing what I'm wanting to do (no EU passport, no job sponsor, bureaucracy, etc.) but, dammit, I'M GOING! I know it will be hard and painful but I spent the 1st half of my life *wanting* to move to France. Now that I'm over 40, I'm determined to spend the last half *doing* it; whatever the obstacles! :-) I'm not getting any younger.

My current (modest) income is from an online marketing consulting business I started not long ago. So, my work is "mobile." I don't have much money but A.) I don't require much; and B.) business will grow over time. (The internet isn't going away soon!) I should be able to apply as an auto-entrepreneur and live/work "legally" in France once I have a better, regular income to show. Plus, my online marketing knowledge will be valuable to business-English students. Which leads me to...

I've been told multiple times that there's a need/desire for *American* ESL teachers in France and I "should just move there" and do that: whether working at "Wall Street", teaching individually or putting together my own 2-day seminar and selling it to companies...whichever comes first, literally.

For most of my life (including 20+ years as a corporate marketer), I have been a private music educator and have a certification in piano pedagogy. I've taught individuals as well as groups of 100, off and on, for the last 25 years. Obviously, with a proper TESL/CELTA certification, teaching English should be an easy switch. Finally, I'm also certified as a Tour Guide. Eventually, I want to lead tours of France to tourists. (I *told* you I love France!)

Between these 3 things (online marketing, teaching business English, tour guiding), I "should" be able to make a go of it. Right? The challenge is getting there and making it all work. I don't care where I live at first but to begin, it probably makes the most sense to start in Paris because, by sheer numbers, there will be more opportunities. I'd almost consider living in a barn if it was safe and I had access to SNCF or TGV transportation! :-)

So I guess my question is, does anything above "jump out" at you? Do you have advice? Are there other opportunities I'm missing? Maybe there's an adult adoption agency I'm not aware of...? Maybe there are scholarships for old American piano teachers...? Maybe you have an extra EU passport lying around...? /silliness

Sorry about the lengthy post. I tend to anticipate questions and over-explain things. My hope is that the additional context leads to better answers. :-)

Merci en avance,


P.S. According to my French teacher, my language skills are "niveau intermédiaire"...but I'm working on it! Here's my leboncoin, craigslist, etc. posting for when I arrive:

Américan de 44ans, niveau intermédiaire de français, cherche à donner cours d'anglais des affaires à Paris. 20+ années d'experience professionnelle, certificat d'enseignement des langue et du piano. Si vous cherchez quelqu'un de fiable, ouvert, dynamique, souriant, cultivé et professionnel pour vous enseigner l'anglais des affaires, veuillez me contacter pour plus d'informations, CV et références. Merci beaucoup. Cordialement, Joseph