Should I encourage them?

My daughter and son-in-law in the States have been infected with my enthusiasm (I'm English, have an EU passport) for life in France and are at the talking-about-it stage. He's a building contractor, has designed and built several houses, can do just about anything in terms of construction, electrical as well as building design. He's also a sweetheart, couldn't have picked a better son-in-law. My question is this--they're both in their mid-40's, hard workers and don't mind a little hardship. Should I encourage them on the basis that he'd find jobs (perhaps in the black/under the table) from the English speaking community? Even if they lived very simply, which they do anyway, is it realistic to think that they might pick up enough work to get by?

Hi, Janice,

how about leading them here to this site... then can then see how things are for those of us already here, ask questions, and have answers/put to bed worries they might have.

I do, however, agree with those who said about depending on the anglophone community for work and a helping hand, as, well, once you're doing that, your're not integrating.. and that's what it's all about. The best thing they can do is learn a bit of French, and try to fit in as quickly as possible with the locals IF they decide to come.

Plenty of potential conflict!

Yes sorry about that - don't know why it posted three times, but I removed it this morning as soon as I saw it. So please excuse me.

Well it could make a good plot for a story Janice! :)

Thanks again everyone, I really do appreciate the feedback. Honestly though this was the most preliminary sort of feeler, perhaps I should have made that much more clear initially. As an EU citizen and a self employed writer, my circumstances are entirely different from my daughter and her husband’s. They know that and so do I. We were all talking in a very casual way and, clearly without giving it sufficient thought, and without meaning to offend anyone’s sensibilities, I posted this question. In retrospect, it was naive of me and I apologize. I should also stress that my daughter and her husband are both independent, responsible people and know what they want from life. ‘Mummy-in-law’s’ input one way or the other would ultimately have very little influence over what they choose to do with their lives. in fact they’d probably be surprised–and perhaps indignant-- to know I’d posted. I will give a little more thought to future posts.

Wow Janice,

Some great advice on the thread here. Some major concerns like the language, and what they are really looking for themselves. I also believe, trying to stay under the radar in 2013 in France would not be fun, feasible, or morally right.

I see nothing wrong with you sharing your experiences with your daughter and son in law, I am sure they are mature enough to realise your circumstances, and everyone else on SFN are individual and often very different.

If they are discussing it because it's something they are seriously considering, then nothing should hold them back, but lots of research and further discussion is required for such a move.

It would be naive of your daughter and SIL to think as foreigners, it is easy to integrate into a community, and handle all the legal and technical issues that arise. I knew it would be a struggle, and was not niave, but I still took a chance, as did my husband.

I am in my 40's and moved here with my husband just this year with very little preparation or prospects. We are both from EU countries. We purchased a house with very little french. My husband left a very good job and we have really put ourselves out there, hanging on a limb, as we have nothing lined up to secure our future.

My future could end today, but I won't regret doing the things in my life that feel right.

As an American, I can say that most Countries would be more appealing in a lot of circumstances rather then the USA at the moment. The stress level of functioning and trying to meet monthly bills has become very difficult for most areas of the Country, not to mention the ridiculous way the government officials have set the opposite sides against each other as a means of distracting from their inability to govern. France is high on the list of what looks ideal from a distance IMO. They just have no idea how difficult it can be with all the red tape in France.

Also don't forget that unless one or both speak decent french they will struggle. Plus, especially when it comes to electrics, any work he does will have to be passed as acceptable by the french authorities. So even if he were to work "in the black" (which as others have said is really a no go and unfair not only to french but also to other expat tradesmen who are doing the right thing) he would be very limited in the sort of work he could take on - handyman would be about the best he could hope for.

Another thing to consider is that wherever they were to live, they wouldn't be looked upon too kindly by their neighbours if it were known that that was his way of working - and word does get around. And would he really be happy working that way? For example, if his living in America was being threatened by people doing something similar over there how would he feel about it?

Plus, don't forget that France, and much of the rest of Europe, is still in a recession - unemployment is high and many small contractors are struggling, and it would be a very rose tinted view to hope to come over and find enough work (legally or otherwise) even to get by and live very simply.

You don't say what it is about your enthusiasm that has infected them so it's difficult to know what it is about France that they think will suit them better than America. For example, are you working or retired? I hope you don't think that's a rude question but there is a big difference between working in France (especially self-employed) and being retired in France (same as anywhere!). Would they live with you? What would happen if he didn't get enough work to get by? Do either of them speak french? Does your daughter have any transferable skills?

Sign them up on SFN, then they can see the difficulties, the pros and cons that others have dealt with, a good resource for this decision.

you shouldn't discourage or encourage them, leave it to them to decide their future - it's a big step and not one that should be taken lightly

they are not spring chickens and will need to find gainful employment - working on the black is NOT a serious option !!!

I was in the construction industry in the UK but here I am retired. For an English speaking person working in a technical job in France is pretty difficult just on administration and technical compliance issues let alone getting a grasp of the language. I have had a place here for over forty years and especially in the last ten years I have seen quite a few Brits in building and similar trades go back to the UK as they have failed to make a decent living in France. One of the main reasons is that they haven't properly acquainted themselves with the issues before taking the decision to move. I know of two plumbers (fully qualified) and at least one general builder who have gone back. there's a huge shortage of good people in the UK and good wages in the right place. A good plumber can easily earn £1000 a week in London for instance. I would advise them to really work out the pros and cons. Lifestyle is an issue but it's perhaps not the most important one. There are quite a few bodgers in France and word gets out in due course and the work dries up.

Janice, does your daughter qualify thru you for an EU passport? Maybe via her, he can get one as well and work legally?

Thanks again for the responses everyone. Obviously a better heading for my post would have been: Should I Discourage Them? Or better yet, How Do I Discourage Them? In answer to the latter, I'll forward this link.

"Fully agree with you Veronique." Nick said that 3 times, so must be telling you something!

Hi Janice,

Are they American citizens? I am and I can tell you that living here illegally caused me no end of stress and worry. Before marrying my French husband and obtaining a visa, I was afraid each and every time I left or entered the country. Many airlines now won’t even let you enter france without a return ticket within the 3 month schengen visa limit. Your son in law may not be hired for fear of people getting caught hiring an illegal immigrant and because he would have to work in conjunction with other tradesmen, he would always have the fear of being discovered. If they fell ill, got into a traffic accident which involved police, has an altercation with someone who knew the situation, all these things could lead to trouble down the road, possibly resulting in them not even being allowed back to france to visit for a time. I would suggest that if they DO make the move, they obtain visas which will allow them to live and work here. Although I know firsthand how infuriating the paperwork can be (still waiting on my carte vitale after 1 1/2 years) at least they will be able to sleep well at night after enjoying that well earned glass, or two, of wine.

Fully agree with you Veronique.

Would completely advise against trying to work illegally.

40 plus and still looking for what mummy in law thinks of making a life changing move, think I would think again about the reality of the proposition.

Thanks everyone for the input. Veronique, my apologies for having appalled you with my question.

Thanks, Carol.

I don't think building a life on the basis of "on the basis that he'd find jobs (perhaps in the black/under the table) from the English speaking community" is a good idea at all. They would be outside the system & therefore without access to all the social advantages for which we pay taxes, I imagine it would be a very hand-to-mouth existence and quite stressful with the threat of the authorities catching up hanging over their heads. I also think that setting out to live in another country with the clear intent of breaking its laws is appalling.