Things to know before relocating to France (tips from real-life expats)

Relocating to France is an exciting adventure, however it can comes with its set of challenges. Real-life expats who have navigated the process of moving to France have shared valuable insights that can male your transition smoother. Here are some tips that can come in handy when planning your move from those who have been there, done that.

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Tips from real-life expats

Believe in the possibility

Relocating to a new country is daunting, but many expats in France have found that their move exceeded their expectations. They often express surprise at how well things turned out and wish they had made the leap earlier. From discovering hidden gems in France culture to forging meaningful connections with locals, expats highlight the rewarding experiences that await those willing to take the plunge. 

One expat says: ‘it actually worked for us, would have done it many years earlier’.

Minimalist approach

While it may be tempting to bring all your belongings when moving to France, expats recommend taking a minimalist approach, especially when it comes to furniture. Don’t bother bringing all your furniture from your home country. You can find affordable second-hand options in France, and you won’t have to pay for a removals company. Plus, your furniture might not fit in your new living space. 

Language matters

One of the most significant challenges expats face in France is the language barrier. While many French people may speak English, fluency is not guaranteed, especially in more rural areas. Investing time and effort in learning French is crucial for effective communication and integration into French society. Language classes, apps, and immersion programs can all be valuable resources for improving your French proficiency. 

> You might be interested in this article: 4 tips to learn french as an expat

Patience with paperwork

Navigating administrative processes in France can be a test of patience for expats. From visa applications to setting up utilities, expect paperwork to be lengthy and bureaucratic. Delays are common, so it’s essential to arm yourself with patience and persistence. Seeking assistance from local authorities or expat communities can also help simplify the process. 

Another expat says: ‘How long paperwork takes for things like social security number etc. They love paperwork here and I’m an EU citizen!’

Kitchen essentials

Certain kitchen utensils and small appliances may be challenging to find or replace in France, so consider bringing along your favourite items from home. Whether it’s a beloved coffee maker or a specialised cooking tool, having familiar kitchen essentials can make your new kitchen feel like home and ease the transition to France cuisine, 

Career challenges

Finding senior-level work positions in France can be particularly challenging for expats due to language barriers and competition. Networking extensively, exploring alternative career paths, and being open to opportunities outside your comfort zone can increase your chances of success in the French job market. 

Marie says: ‘That finding a job (cadre level) would be so hard for my husband. He is French, 35yo, speaks fluent English, we live not far from Paris, he has a lot of experience and cannot wait to work. Apart from this, we’re very happy with our decision to move to France!’

> You might be interested in this article: Thriving in the French job market

Car preparation

If you plan to bring a car from abroad, ensure it meets French standards by obtaining a certificate of conformity in advance. This document certifies that your vehicle complies with French regulations, avoiding any legal or logistical issues upon arrival. Additionally, familiarise yourself with French driving laws and road signs to navigate the road safely. 

Jackie says: ‘Get your car prepared, certificate of conformity’, while another expat says: ‘Get your drivers license paperwork moving as soon as possible’ 

Relocation assistance

Consider enlisting the help of relocation agencies to streamline your move to France. These agencies offer comprehensive support, from finding housing and schools to navigating legal requirements and cultural differences.By outsourcing some of the logistical challenges to professionals, you can focus on settling into your new life in France with ease. 

Final notes

Relocating to France can be a rewarding experience, but it’s essential to be prepared for the unique challenges it presents. By heeding the advice of real-life expats, you can better navigate the complexities of relocation and embark on your French adventure with confidence. 

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