Advice on Moving to France
I remember when I decided to pack up and leave the United States, I was a 26 year old graduate fulfilling a dream. I planned to visit France for a year, little did I know I was actually moving home. After seven years I think I can offer some helpful tips to live la vie en rose.
Finances are important
The general cost of living is lower than the United States, but you still have to prove you have the money to support yourself for the duration of your first visa, which is usually one year.
You will need a visa for any stay over 90 days after this time you risk deportation and penalties. To get a visa you must go to your assigned French Consulate to apply, this must be done in person (no worries this is done all in English. I’ll get to the language later) The consulate takes one to six weeks, to respond whether or not you have been granted the visa.
Arriving in France
You must register with the French authorities to do this take an appointment with Office Français de l‘Immigration et de l’Intégration there you will have a small interview and medical exam this must be done within three months of your arrival.
Where to live
When deciding where to live in France you must think of what you need. Many people dream of living in Paris in a top floor apartment overlooking the Seine. If you can afford a minimum of 1500€ for a one bedroom live your dream. Others might want to live in a quaint countryside, which is wonderful for weekend picnics, but unless you have a car the countryside becomes very inconvenient very quickly. The best situation an average city in the middle. Don’t be discouraged because France is beautiful no matter where you live.
Things to remember: Many apartments come non meublé, unfurnished, which means there is no furniture, many times no appliances either if you want to avoid having to buy big ticket items immediately look for an apartment meublé, furnished, which will typically include appliances, and basic furniture, such as a bed and couch. Le Bon Coinis a great place to start looking for apartments and previously used appliances.
If you’re coming from the United States you are used to big box stores being open 24 hours, this is not the case in France, of course bigger cities have longer hours but the majority of shops will be closed by 8pm. A few supermarkets such as Auchan will stretch until 10pm. Sunday is considered a day of rest a few local neighbor markets and boulangerieswill open in the morning, but will be closed by noon, so plan accordingly.
The official language of France is French is not a luxury you can live without. I suggest learning a few phrases“Excusez-moi”, “s’il vous plaît”, and “merci”, are great starters and Duolingo is a great tool to start your learning the beautifully challenging language.
I didn’t plan on moving to France permanently, but haven’t regretted a single moment. I hope these points are helpful as you start your journey.