Five reasons to move to France

In these troubled times any talk of selling up and moving to France has reduced quite a lot. Apart from anything else it is now impossible to buy a studio flat in England for £50k, sell it a month later for £250k, and hope to live for ever on the profits in some quiet part of the French countryside.

But there are still compelling reasons to have a life-changing experience and come and join us in the sunshine…

1) Quality of life

Lots of expats have a good quality of life but not enough money. Now that most Brits don’t have enough money either (a situation that seems unlikely to improve dramatically in the coming months) all that is left is the comparison of quality of life. Would you choose commuting to work on a crowded train to work long hours in an office or living somewhere nice and working from home? [...short pause while I take a stroll in the December sunshine...] Not a difficult decision I think.

Of course, when I refer to expats I am not talking about bankers who transfer to the Paris office and do the same job as they did in London or New York, I’m talking about the whole wild and wacky ‘change of lifestyle’ thing.

2) Pensioners

Those who are fortunate enough to receive a pension will realise that if the value of the euro falls, as many believe it should and will, the value of their pension will rise at the same time if they live in Europe. Ever dreamed of your pension increasing 25% over the next 12 months? Move to France and it might just happen!

When you are here you can make your euros stretch further by (a ) drinking lots of cheap wine and (b) employing other needy expats at less than minimum wage to do all the renovation work on your new home. Cheap, if not quite legal.

3) Parents

The French education system has a lot going for it. For example, I have never heard of children being told exam questions in advance just so they are sure of getting a good grade. Quite the opposite, the children in France often seem to be taught all about one subject and then tested on something completely different. Ok so their motivation isn’t helped by getting 5/20 in a test but at least you know they earned their low mark honestly, which is better than a dishonest 18/20.

Daughter 1 told us an amusing story about her ‘Beginners class in German’ at university in France. Two people on the course succesfully answered questions they weren’t supposed to know the answers to yet and had to explain themselves. One of them explained he had just shown initiative and read the next chapter in the book as preparation for the lesson, the other had remembered a short phrase in German from a popular 1990′s pop song.

Both were threatened with being thrown off the course because they were not real ‘beginners’ in German. Qualifications aren’t given out so easily in France!

4) Spare time

Unless you like drizzle the weather in the south of France is better than it is in the UK. This makes everything seem better, and has the added bonus that you can spend your spare time walking and gardening instead of visiting shopping centres looking for something unnecessary to waste your money on.

You will also have time to start your own blog and be rude about both Brits and French. Don’t worry they both deserve it, just try not to upset your neighbours. The ruder you are the more popular your blog will be so don’t hold back, just make sure you are anonymous so people can’t recognise you in the street.

5) Gain a new perspective

When you are watching both French and English TV, and meeting people and reading newspapers in both countries, you gain a new perspective on both France and the country you come from. And rapidly realise that they are no better or worse than the other, just different.

Most British stereotypes of the French are incorrect, as are most French stereotypes of the British. Now please excuse me while I go and haggle over the price of a string of onions with a man in a beret in a traditional French market. If he’s not on strike again.

Note: almost everyone, both English and French, has an incorrect stereotype of expat Brits in France who I can assure you are usually just normal hard-working folk of average intelligence pretty much like everyone else. We are not lazy rich people just here to push up property prices and we are not scrounging hippies trying to avoid real life. Just in case you were wondering.

Anyway I hope that’s enough good reasons for you to move to France in the coming year. If not I’m sure I can think of some more that are equally ill informed.



  1. eugene August 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm |

    As someone who has moved to France in the last year after 30 years of “hard labour” in the UK and who is rudely coming to terms with some French myths I would like to perhaps give a more honest view of life in France. I will just name two here. 1) The sunshine. Here in the South of France no-one ever told me that I would virtually be a prisoner in my home for 3 months of the year because it is too hot to go out. Everybody said it was an “outdoor life”. People may laugh but anyone coming from a temperate climate where you can pretty much go out 365 days a year cannot underestimate the impact of a country with such extremes in climate. You cannot go for walks or do the gardening – the sort of things you take for granted in the UK. I was very active in the UK now I have to sit indoors. This isn’t just the “siesta hour” the temperatures at 6pm are often hotter than midday. My mood drops as I have to close the shutters at 11am and don’t open them again until 7pm. And this also affects sociability – you don’t see anyone in the villages until it is dark when it is just about comfortable to go out again. No talking to each other from your gardens (most French hide behind walls and big gates anyway). I am told the coming winter months (when the mistral blows for days on end) can be the same – joy oh joy. 2)The very high cost of living. Why oh why is a second hand Peugeot £3k more expensive in France than the same model in the UK? Am I supposed to just shrug my shoulders (a very French gesture) and say “well this is just the French way”. At the moment I am having to take a very honest look at my life here which has cost me a lot of money and I get very frustrated by people who talk up certain issues of French living (ie the weather) without portraying the whole truth.

  2. Boris August 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm |

    Eugene, I think you must be in the south-east – we are in the south-west and it isn’t too hot to go outside very often (although gardening is impossible for a few months), certainly it is easier to live outdoors than in the UK. Really apart from ‘wet february’ I would say the weather is almost perfect for living. Also round here we don’t have people ‘hiding behind walls and big gates’ – I have only seen that to any significant degree in upmarket Riviera resorts.
    I haven’t lived in the UK for a long time so can’t compare prices, but during a recession it is true that the Brits are quicker to lower prices than the French, who would often rather keep prices high and have no sales than lower them. Regarding cars in particular I suspect people in the UK prefer to take out a loan and buy a new car, while French prefer to avoid debt and buy a second hand car, so demand for them is higher – and so are prices.