I thought it might be useful to explain how expats in France make ends meet. Just possibly this will give you an idea of how you could earn money as an expat and enable you to make the big leap yourself.
I am not concerned here with expats who work in France as an employee of an international company and just happen to be based in France for a couple of years, but with those of us who have to scrape together our own income just using our wits. I have also ignored criminal activities although I believe they can be quite lucrative.
I will also ignore retired folk who receive a pension and people who have sold businesses elsewhere, and can afford to sit around in the sunshine sipping wine for the rest of their natural lives. Finally I have ignored those who have no plan, and choose to slide gently into poverty until they are forced to return to where they came from.
The following are all jobs and businesses run by people we know working in rural France:
- Running gites and bed and breakfast – yes, this can still work well if you do a good job, and have the initial funds to set-up an attractive environment
- European Sales representative for a pharmaceutical comapny
- Website Designer and website publishing, or professional blogging
- Tree-felling and ground clearance
- Builers, plumbers etc
- International DJ
- Freelance graphics designer
- Swimming pool maintenance or general gardening – typically for other retired expats
- Maintaining second homes for foreign owners – keeping an eye on properties for absentee owners
- Estate agency (usually involves teaming up with a French estate agent, since it is difficult for an expat to obtain the correct licence)
- English shops / importers – bringing in the staples of a foreign diet – baked beans, marmite, Indian spices etc, and reselling them to the expat community
You can see that expat work in France falls into two broad types – earning money by working in the local economy (eg gardening, gites), and earning from jobs that could be based anywhere (eg internet based and freelance jobs).
Of course, some of these earn more money than others, but all can generate a sufficient income for expats putting in the time and effort to do a good job. Word gets around pretty fast if you are reliable, honest and good-value. I am not aware of any expats also paying a French mortgage from their income. This would make the challenges significantly greater.
Note that there are official registration requirements for most businesses, that your local Chamber of Commerce will be able to help you with. Remember, it can be expensive to start a business in France! I am NOT recommending you work illegally.
I’m sure that across France there are expats doing hundreds of other jobs, but hopefully this gives you some ideas. The paradox is that many of the jobs involve making money from other expats, and it is difficult to see the options available until you live here yourself.