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Moving to France


BRANDON
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Hi

 

My wife and I are both 50 and intend to move to France as soon as we have sold our house in England.  We intend to settle is East Dordogne / Correze area.

 

Our plan is to buy a house with possibly a separate gite.  We will have enough funds to be able to relax for a year or so without t he need of additional income, but eventually we will need to generate enough to live on, and as our French will not be sufficiently fluent to allow us to get jobs in France, we will set up our own business (of some sort).with our remaining funds 

 

Although we have looked extensively and the French housing market, we know very little about the practical aspects, such as what we legally need to do.

 

Can anyone recommend a book (s) that will explain what we need to do with regards to paying for healthcare, taxes, bills etc, both in our “year off” and when we have our own business.   We also need to know what type of businesses we can and can’t operate without  French recognized qualifications.

 

Basically we want to get the "rules" to live in France

 

Many thanks

 

Stephen and Mandy

 

 

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There a loads of books but why would you need one?  I refer to a reply I gave to a similar request for lots of info the other day " If you have been following this excellent Forum for a while you will know how:

The French system for buying a house works; How to make a  will in France, how inheritance tax and tontine clauses work and setting up a business.

For finance, you will also know how to register a car, get car and house insurance and open a bank account, you will also know the Income tax system and rates, the Health system and charges and the taxes that a homeowner has to pay, and all without getting out of FAQ's, well almost

So have a search around the various themes, starting with the FAQ's and then if there are specifics or areas for clarification, post your queries in the relevant categories.  Good Luck 

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This is a serious answer to your question which I take to be genuine. Your posting appears to be very naive.

If you you think you have done research already you are deluding yourselves.  Just reading a few of the threads on this forum should provide you with sufficient information for you to question whether you are really aware of what you are doing. There are, for instance, innumerable entries and discussions about:

*   The isolating effect of not being able to speak French. How will you run a business if you can't communicate with your customers?

*   Unemployment levels more than twice those in Britain

*   The profoundly anti-enterprise culture prevailing in France

*   The meagre returns from running a gite (which may not be even enough to keep you in    poverty)

It is estimated that more than 50% of immigrants form Britain to France return after 3 to 5 years. If your plans (such as they are) do not come to fruition, you are likely to witness the unenviable spectacle of your equity being converted into quasi-income leading to the worst of all worlds: being trapped in a situation you cannot escape from.

Of course, there are people who have done what you have done and thrived. But they are a small number.

Best of luck, I think you'll need it. For heaven's sake - don't burn your bridges ...

 

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I apologize in advance if anything I have to say gives offence.

Your posting flabbergasts me, to be honest.  If I have correctly grasped the gist of it -

  • you intend to emigrate to a country where you don't speak the language
  • you then intend to "relax for a year or so"
  • after that you intend to set up business in an as-yet-undetermined field

In lots of ways, France is an even tougher place in which to financially survive than the UK and you are not going to do yourselves any favours by emigrating without doing an awful lot more research and hard thinking.  The beautiful countryside is littered with the broken dreams of Brits who "just went for it" - I've seen the same scenario in Corfu also.

If you want to take it easy for a year and then start up some sort of business to make ends meet, why on earth would you pick a country with whose rules and regulations you are unfamiliar and whose language you don't speak?  I imagine that, like a lot of us, you are disenchanted with the state the UK is in but, for your own peace of mind, give a thought to what is is like to have to return there in a few years with wrecked dreams, battered egos and almost empty pockets.  Don't you think that the UK might be just as good a place to pick for you life-style change, with the added advantages of no language barrier, understanding of how things work etc, etc?

Unlike with Mr Micawber, something will almost certainly NOT turn up!

Nonetheless, if you do decide to go for it, I wish you all the very best - I have a sneaky feeling you'll need it....

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David Hampshire's book is without doubt the best in what is a rapidly expanding field.  He will also reiterate what people are saying here.  You may feel we're being a bit hard on you but when you've lived in France and either worked or tried to run a business, you do see things rather differently.  You see things for what they are.  It is bloody hard even assuming you have sufficient cash to invest or the requisite skills.  About 50% of those who try return to Britain in less than 18 months.  In addition, there are many more extremely unhappy Brits trapped in a new found type of rural French poverty, ie those who can't afford to go home.

You're planning on moving to a very quiet part of the country where employment opportunities even for the French are pretty few.  We have people on the Forum who have been running B&Bs and gites in that area for years and I'm sure if they had the time (I doubt they have much at present) they'd add to the above.

Why don't you go the more sensible route of taking a long term rental for at least six months and to include the winter.  Actually, that's another point to consider for the weather in that region can be pretty dire from November through to March.

M

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Stephen and Mandy

There is a company that runs seminars about relocating to France (two coming up in the near future). At these they have an 'estate agent', financial advisor, currency expert, health expert and someone who will talk about the language and culture. The one that we attended was very useful and there is not the hard sell from the speakers. The cost is very modest and the event ends with splitting into groups for open discussions.

We found a very mixed bunch present, including those who had bought and were about to move, others carrying out renovations etc to us, who were on the first rung.

I would advise you to go along to one (or both) of these.

You should quickly find that from the tax viewpoint that things are very different than in the UK so you will need to reeducate yourselves on this.

This forum is also very good - beware you may be taken to task at times and given a rough ride - as you already have been. However, those providing the advice have actually made the move so speak with knowledge and experience.

There is also the exhibition at Olympia in September which (I am hoping) will provide information apart from just 'houses for sale'. If nothing else you should be able to browse the various books on different subjects and select those you feel are right for you - I find nothing worse than buying books blind.

Best of luck

Paul

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"Will have enough funds to live on for a year" - don't be surprised if your money starts to dwindle faster than you realise. A lot of things can crop up that you have never even given consideration to. Gîte letting is not an answer to an income, you will never make an income with just one place and location plays an important part as the area could be already too saturated with others doing the same thing. You should also realise that if you fall on hard times at your age with no pension coming in, the french government will not hand out benefits willy nilly and you will be forced to look for work which without good spoken french is very hard with high unemployment in France. Your health cover needs to be a priority,too many people who came here and put off/don't bother about cover often find themselves in deep trouble when an accident or unexpected medical problem crops up - the authorities have been known here to take passports and make you get a bank loan to cover payment before admission to hospital. I know an english couple of your age here,he lost his UK based job earlier this year without warning and is desperate now as he has no pension for a long time yet to come in and savings are running low forcing him to return to the UK to find work. As the others have said, you MUST DO a fair amount of research and learn french in order to survive here or else you too, will be onthe return ferry in a couple of years. Another tip is to rent your UK home for a few years,living off the income here and having a safety net, we did this for the first five years and did not regret it at all.
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Val, I was reassured to read your final comment about renting your property in the UK. We currently have a tiny house here in the UK, which is almost paid for, and we bought our property in France with a mortgage. We are hoping to make the move in about 5 years. So many people have suggested selling up so we will have the cash in France, either to pay for the French house outright or as a big chunk of money to keep us comfortable for a bit. But I'm adamant I don't want to sell: by renting it out we will get a small (and unreliable) income, which will act as a bonus for us while we are in France, certainly not intended to be our main income. Secondly, and more importantly, if it goes pear-shaped we will have a safety net without the impossible task of getting back onto the UK housing ladder.

So thanks for reassuring us with the same view.
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We've been gone from the UK 20 years but still retain property there.  Can't see us ever moving back (perish the thought!) but you can imagine how much it's appreciated in value since we left.  If nothing else it's been a fantastic investment, though the rental income has been a nice bonus too.  I would urge anyone who can to hang on to something, no matter how modest.  You may want to return (ill health, bereavement) or you may want/need to sell it and live on the proceeds later in life.  M
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[quote]"Will have enough funds to live on for a year" - don't be surprised if your money starts to dwindle faster than you realise. A lot of things can crop up that you have never even given consideration to...[/quote]

Thanks Val

We realise that we will not have an rasy time, we have a total budget of about £750 000, we intend to use about £250 000 for a house, the rest will be used for for our year off, then part of the remainder for a business.  We do speak some French, but are by no means fluent, and we know this will be a big disadvantage, what we need to know is the regulations etc on setting up a business, what we need to arrange for healthcare, insurances etc.  We have freind that moved to Italy a few years ago, registered there house purchase with the provine capital but not locally and after 3 years found that because of this they had to pay 7% of the value immediatly.  It is thing like this that we would like to be aware of and why I requested suggestions for books, this will all help us to make the right decissions and will prepare us for a move.

Our intentions are to rent for a minimum of 6 months in France, and during this period evaluate the chances of running a business, if all else fails we may just live off our capital untill our pensions arrive, but neither of us is ready to retire completly yet

 

Thanks

 

Stephen

 

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[quote]"Will have enough funds to live on for a year" - don't be surprised if your money starts to dwindle faster than you realise. A lot of things can crop up that you have never even given consideration to...[/quote]

Thanks Val

We realise that we will not have an rasy time, we have a total budget of about £750 000, we intend to use about £250 000 for a house, the rest will be used for for our year off, then part of the remainder for a business.  We do speak some French, but are by no means fluent, and we know this will be a big disadvantage, what we need to know is the regulations etc on setting up a business, what we need to arrange for healthcare, insurances etc.  We have freind that moved to Italy a few years ago, registered there house purchase with the provine capital but not locally and after 3 years found that because of this they had to pay 7% of the value immediatly.  It is thing like this that we would like to be aware of and why I requested suggestions for books, this will all help us to make the right decissions and will prepare us for a move.

Our intentions are to rent for a minimum of 6 months in France, and during this period evaluate the chances of running a business, if all else fails we may just live off our capital untill our pensions arrive, but neither of us is ready to retire completly yet!

 

Thanks

 

Stephen

 

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£750,000 - a great deal of money and probably more money than many on this forum have had or will see intheir lives. Someone can probably clarify this better but BE CAREFUL with that sort of money and coming here - there may be wealth tax to pay when you transfer it and if the fisc get involved as you will surely have to do a tax return to get into the system,they may start asking awkward questions. Personally for that sort of amount, I would seek very professional advice from a financial expert as to the best way of using it.
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Brandon.

I understand your sentiments entirely but you are heading for serious grief from the scenario you outline. Do not ignore these posts. The advice they offer is valuable because it's from primary sources and correct.

I live in the area of France you mention. It is probably THE poorest rural region of the country. There is very little but subsistence farmers dependent on CAP subsidies. Small amount of tourists in August only and small businesses closing literally every day. Many gites stay empty all summer.

That's established French businesses that have existed for years. Then you have a few British people who have done as you suggest. They are living a hand to mouth existence, disillusioned, isolated and anxious to return but cannot. France is not business friendly. It's basically a socialist co-operative run by out of touch and distant politicians who have no ideas. The French find it very hard going. Ask yourself how you expect to do better. The answer is you will not without years of hard struggle and living a hand to mouth existence. Even then you are likely to fail.

France is a wonderful country to live in if you are retired and have an income from elsewhere. If not, get one first then retire to France. It really is the only way it will work. Dreams are just that, dreams. Good to have but useless in practice.

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Logan's post is spot on.  And Val makes good points too, though wealth tax kicks in at Euros 720,000 and it's based on world wide assets, not world wide "income" as stated incorrectly in the otherwise very useful 50 facts for living in France that came with this month's LF magazine.  It's not a huge percentage but it's there and you're liable.  I would argue that everyone could benefit from professional advice before making the move but certainly the more you've got, the more those in the know can do to ensure you keep it.  And in your position you simply must do this as a matter of priority.  Talk to them NOW before you even plan your date for leaving the UK for timing is all important.  They'll be able to help with advice on business set up too.   There are numerous companies offering such services, most advertise in all the French expat mags.  M

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£750K might initially seem like a lot of money. However shop around for  annuities with protections for spouse and inflation and the income it will produce is modest. At 50 almost impossible. At 60 around 25K.

Brandon wants us to list the regs. for starting up a business! He might well seek a book because to even begin in these forums is a monumental task. Brandon don't bother. Life is too short. Retire and live on your assets. A business in France will make you old, grey and very stressed!

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I have to agree with Logan. £500k invested in getting a business going in France is just not worth it at age 50 or so. If you don't have near fluency in the language and a 'can do, will do' attitude you'll lose your money and your shirts.

I'd just relax, invest the loot elsewhere (outside of France) keep a low profile and move around, often.

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Knowing what I know now after my short 18 months here in la France, if, by some miracle, 750 k fell into my lap tomorow there is no way on this earth I would even think about starting a business here. I've always been self employed in the UK, but I feel this government does'nt deserve my sweat and tears of self employment. I work for a French company and thats all they will get from me until the politicians here change thier ideas.

Life is short Brandon. Buy a nice second hand camper. See Europe. Take up those hobbies that you always wanted to take up.

Good luck whichever direction you take

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Well we have never worked so damn hard for so little at the end of the day as the charges eat into everything. I get the impression that the system is meant to keep the little man down at heel so he dosn't become powerful and rise up against the state, the farmers and lorry drivers only get their power from being en-masse but us artisans can't muster that sort of power. We wouldn't change our life here though, only wish we could make a really decent living wage at the end of the day like our UK counterparts do without running ourselves ragged all the time.
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I'd just relax, invest the loot elsewhere (outside of France) keep a low profile and move around, often.

Woa! steady on here.  It's much harder these days to get away with this in France and if you're going to try I would recommend even more professional advice, nerves of steel and a contingency cash fund put aside for if (when?) the French tax authorities do eventually catch up with you.  If this really is your game plan, try Italy instead for it's far, far easier to disappear there.  M

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Yes, I agree Italy, Spain Portugal anywhere but France, Germany or Scandinavia. However when the time comes for you to want something  yourself from these countries.(Eventually you will) e.g. healthcare, state pension, financial security in old age etc. then your past will catch you up. Pay nothing in, get nothing out. It's not rocket science just practical common sense. Can't have your cake and eat it too as my old mamma used to say.
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With that sort of capital you should be set up for life, whether in the UK or here in France. Here in the Indre you can buy a decent town house for letting for around £50,000, not requiring much tidying up at all. There are towns where rented property is really sought after. If you were to spend, say, £250,000 like you say on your own property, you could possibly buy 8 investment properties, bringing in, say, a monthly rental each of 450 euros. Anyone should be able to live on that sort of income, and not worry about periods when a house is not let. Of course, there is the Income Tax situation to deal with, and the inheritance laws, but all these sort of things would apply if doing the same thing back in the UK. (And we know - because we let in both countries)

I wouldn't let anyone put you off moving here, not with your sort of capital.

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