Skip to content

What to Know About Moving to France

    Are you about to pack your belongings and relocate to France? Gather the necessary information before making the move.

    Many people wish to relocate to France. Whether it’s the French countryside, a charming coastal village, or the cosmopolitan city of Paris, the hexagon of France has a rich history and culture to offer. Life in Rural France promises new culinary, artistic, and travel experiences. Indeed, living there puts you in a central location for cheap travel to many of Europe’s top tourist destinations.

    There are a few things you should know before you put your house on the market and start selling your belongings. Starting over in France is a possibility, but getting there is not without challenges. Here are some things to consider ahead of time.

    Plan Ahead

    First and foremost, your dream will take time. There are numerous paths to take, and it will take months of planning. Allow at least six months to a year. Start by preparing a checklist of all of the tasks that need to be completed.

    Get OK With Paperwork

    There will be a lot of paperwork to fill out. While some resources claim that there is an excessive amount of red tape to deal with in France, it is more likely that the amount of red tape involved in moving to any new country appears insurmountable. Just keep in mind that moving requires a lot of paperwork. Maintain organization and keep track of everything. Keep a list of important phone numbers, email addresses, and contact names in your folder.

    Getting a Visa

    This is where things start to get serious. You must contact the French Consulate in your area. You may be able to find all of the information you require online, but be prepared to contact them more directly. Please keep in mind that some regional offices are more willing to answer your questions over the phone than others. Some consulates will not answer phone calls and will instead require you to send your questions via email. If this is the case, you can still expect a prompt response. Whether justified or not, the French are notorious for their bureaucracy. The most important thing to remember is that you must be patient. Do not give up if you are not getting the answers you require.

    You will need to visit the nearest French Consulate for an in-person appointment at some point. Find one near you and be ready to travel if necessary. If you must travel, make sure you have everything you need before you leave to avoid having to return.

    Know what type of visa you will need — Americans staying in France for more than 90 days must obtain a visa. You can stay in the country for a year if you apply for an extended visitor’s visa. If you intend to stay longer, you must apply for an extension at the prefecture in your French city.

    If you intend to work in France for a French company, you must follow a different set of rules. To learn more about your specific situation, visit the French embassy’s website.

    When it comes to visas, there may be times when you find yourself in a never-ending loop of nonsense. To obtain a visa, for example, you must have a French bank account. Most French banks will require you to have a physical French address to open the account, which you will not have without the visa. Never fear, there are solutions to all of your problems. It may not appear obvious at first, but with a little digging, you will discover the answers.

    Finding an Apartment

    Finding an apartment in France is similar to finding one in the United States, but it is important to note that some French landlords are hesitant to rent to foreigners. You must demonstrate that you have sufficient income to cover the term of your lease. The deposit will most likely be higher than in the United States, and property owners may request up to six months’ rent in advance in some cases.

    Getting Around

    France has an excellent public transportation system. In addition to buses, if you live in a major city, there will be a metro system or trams (or both). Of course, there are airports, but France also has high-speed trains that can take you to any part of the country and its neighboring countries in a day.

    If you want to drive when you move to France, you may have some difficulties. Obtaining an international driver’s license is the simplest option. If you intend to stay in France for an extended period, you should obtain a French driver’s license. Some states allow you to exchange your state’s driver’s license for a French one, but the list is small. If your state does not permit it, you must pass a written and physical driving test in French.

    Opening a Bank Account

    Many of the rules for opening bank accounts in France are similar to those in the United States. However, there are some additional hoops to clear, as well as some general differences between French banking and that of the United States. If you are planning a trip to France before your move, you can open an account in person. Most banks will require documents from a French host, which will most likely include a copy of their ID, proof of residency (such as a utility bill), and a signed letter from them indicating that they will host you in France.

    Following that, it is critical to understand that banks do not operate in the same way in France. First and foremost, the French believe in lunch. Do not expect to reach anyone between 12:30 and 2:00 p.m. local time, whether you are visiting in person or calling from home. In addition, while many banks are open on Saturday, they are closed on Sunday and Monday.

    Although it is possible to open an account online, not every French bank will do so. Conduct some research to find one that will open the account online, and then narrow your options to a bank that meets your requirements.

    Language Troubles

    Residents who speak English are becoming increasingly common in Paris, particularly among the younger generation. Many employees in museums and retail shops will gladly assist you in English. This, however, is uncommon in rural areas. To be safe, learn a basic level of French before making your move. The French are generally friendly and willing to assist, but you will have more success if you try to speak their language.

    Embracing the Differences

    Things are different in France; people smoke more, drive less, air kiss, and love bread. There are numerous cultural differences to consider, so do some preliminary research to avoid any blunders. While there are some subtle differences in etiquette, the majority of common courtesies remain the same. The real distinction is in our approach to life. Meals are important in France, especially with family. The French work less than we do and appear to value personal and family time more than Americans in general.

    Understanding the subtle societal differences will assist you in better preparing for a new life in France. Consider connecting with French citizens through an online forum or one of the many sites that connect people for conversation partnerships to learn more. They will not only teach you about the country, but they will also help you practice French and teach you colloquial phrases that you will not find in a grammar book.