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returning to the UK


Patf
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I've posted in the past about the fact that I didn't know anyone around here (Gers) who was returning to the UK, for whatever reason.

Quite upset now, that one couple and one young family are reluctantly having to leave.

The older couple have been here for 5 years but have been unable to learn the language, and are generally unhappy.

The young family have serious financial problems because the husband has been unable to make enough money to support  his family, doing building jobs.They've been here for 7 years, the kids are bilingual and very happy here, so they are really sad to leave.

I will miss them.

Has anyone else lost  friends who are returning to the UK?

Pat.

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Yes, Pat, lost one or two and heard of several others who have gone back. 

Also, in the course of househunting, I have now come across many who are selling on account of having to go back.

Yes, sad for those who have tried so hard and are unable to make a go of it financially. 

Also sad for those who cannot get on in some way or another.

I suppose we all took a big gamble coming and some win and some lose.

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It is sad to hear of those who have to return for whatever reason, if they would prefer to stay in France. I suppose the best way to look at it is they gave it a good try; much worse than to think for the rest of their lives about what might have been if they'd given it a go.
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Patf, I would not be upset about it, as the reality is most Brit expats in France do move on, either back to the UK, or to another country. The exception being those who have a French spouse.

Main reasons as you have mentioned are language and difficulty in earning a living. Although missing family and bereavement are big factors too.

In fact I read somewhere that most Brits moving to France don't see it as forever, but an interesting life experience and quite expect to return to the UK eventually.
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People move on because thats what life does, it moves on.  What fits the criteria required at one stage in life does'nt necessarily fit the criteria of the next stage.   Everyone has to do what they need to do and if thats moving on or back to the UK then good luck to you all.

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I agree that it doesn't mean that you've failed if you have to return. We are planning to go back eventually.

But I felt so sorry for my friend with the children, because I know she loves it here and had fitted in well with french friends too. They have been putting a brave face on, but have been worried to death financially for a long time evidently.

Another close friend has left recently and moved to Limoges.

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I know what you mean Pat.  There is a huge difference between planning or deciding to move and being forced to.  My brother in law has been here for years but the whole family has never seen France as their permanent home - it's where the work is and my Sil, niece and two nephews are already back in the UK and he will follow them eventually.  Another couple whom I know have just left as they had just had enough and wanted to go back to Scotland to be near their parents.  They've been able to keep their house on here and her boss was so upset that she was leaving that he has allowed her to work remotely from the UK and they'll be popping back from time to time.  However I have other friends who had to return as they had not registered their E106s before the healthcare cut-off date so they had no choice but to sell up and go home. They had only been here a year and didn't have the language skills to find work in time.  For them it was a huge emotional and financial blow.

I cannot honestly say where I will end up.  I think it will be here but who knows if I'd feel the same if my o/h weren't here - especially as I still need quite a bit of help around the house and with my dobbins, all of which he does now.  I certainly won't see it as a "failure" if I end up back in the UK.  I've never had a problem with my home country, it's a perfectly pleasant place to live and full of friends of whom I am still very fond (they just spent the last couple of weeks putting me up and looking after me whilst I trogged around the country on public transport!)

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We fitted in well, very well in fact and still have lots of french friends but we never intended to stay in France and haven't.

Retrograde moving back, non, the idea of living where we lived in France again, which was a nice house, with land in an absolutely gorgeous location, leaves me somewhat revolted for other than a nice holiday.

Can't do rural anymore, can't do petit bled, nulle part. Gimme a town and buses and cinema and those most exquisite of things, a library and night school or day school in proper courses that I can afford AND the bonus of pubs and cheap artisans. In fact there has been absolutely nothing retrograde about our move, our quality of life has actually improved on what is was those last two or three years in France, when in spite being busy tarting the house up to sell, I was bored.

And the good thing for these people is that they will be getting their kids out of french education and that seems a very good idea to me. (yes I know that some do well in it)
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I understand that completely Idun. Rural is nice for holidays, but spending several years in a community of about 50, mostly rural French but including second homers (French and British) and a handful of English full-timers really isn't for me. Where I grew up in southern England was rural too, but it was a village of a couple of thousand (even if 1900 of them all seemed to be related to us in some way [:)] - just like Normandy). For us, moving to France was a new adventure and a chance to experience a different way of life. The idea of dissatisfaction with our home country never entered into it. We never planned to end up anywhere in particular, maybe we'd stay in France, maybe return to England, maybe try somewhere else. It all depended on whatever life threw at us.

It's nice to be 'home', and looking at settling there on a more permanent basis, for all the reasons Idun says and more. But that doesn't mean I don't like France, or that the time I spent there hasn't enhanced my life and my experience. There have been a few negatives, to be sure, but a great many more positives.

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My story is similar to Wills but bizzarley I do still hanker for the rural idyl.  I would ideally like my french house right here on the edge of a small housing estate in the UK, so I would still have 20 acres of my own to be 'alone' in but could pop across the road for a chat with friends and my son would have all his friends to play in the forest with, that would be ideal but finding that could prove tricky!!

I dont regret being in France or coming back to the UK, I will move again but more likely to Devon once son is off to Uni or wherever he choses. 

I feel sorry for the people returning with money issues as finding somewhere to live (ie get a mortgage) is very hard these days if you've been out of the country.  I really struggled and only got one due to the fact that I had continuos employment whilst in France and returned to work for the same company, so had a number of years service.  You also need a 20% plus deposit, hard when houses are not selling in France. 

If you come back with no job (or just start a job) you will struggle coupled with the fact that you will get no beneifts for sometime due to not having paid NI for a considerable period of time.  Those returning in these circumstances have more hardship to face I fear.

 

P
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I agree with you both. I see around me a few Brits who have retired here and bought out in the stick's and are now finding it harder as they get older and have decided to sell up. Some to go back and others to move on in France or beyond. I like France, never really thought I would as it was Mrs Q that bought me here. I can't imagine going anywhere else especially being in 'the system' and how hard it was to get in, I don't want to have to do it again in another country. There have been a few obstacles to sort out, mainly language for me. As we get older rather than stay out in the sticks we want to move in to town. I want to be able to walk round and get my bread in the morning instead of driving 8km there and back. I would like to walk to the Boulle Drome, to the shops, bars etc and have a coffee watching the world drift by etc. I guess your priorities change as you get older.

Having said that and getting back on subject I feel the most sorry for those that came and have found that the current economic situation has forced them to go back. It's not nice but then and again if some feel they have failed they shouldn't. These things happen in life and, to a degree, they are out of our control. Life is a great adventure and as my dad always said "the time you know it all is as you draw your last breath", so as long as we learn along the way it can't be all that bad.

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I was en plein campagne for 25 years and was fine until those last few years when I really had had enough of it.

We live in town nown not on an estate, didn't even want that, and go out into the countryside regularly and love it when we do, in fact, have become very appreciative countryside vistors these days! But it is nice to get home.

This inspired me to call a good friend in France, who I haven't spoken to for a few weeks and I'll probably call a couple of others later today.
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If you recall, until a couple of years ago there were wall to wall TV programmes in the UK, selling the fantasy about moving abroad to the sun for a new life and I strongly believe these have a lot to answer for. As a result, I am sure many people were seduced into leaving secure jobs and uprooting their families to move to some bucolic ideal in rural France, to discover that things were not as straightforward as the TV programmes had led them to believe. Probably, several years later, having been unable to make a living and struggled to learn the language, returning to the UK their life savings gone.

I don't think we will witness the same in our lifetime again, as the facilitators being the buoyant UK housing market, strong £ and easy credit are all now but distant memories.
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  • 2 weeks later...
We also moved back to the UK (about a year ago now) and have no regrets at all.We are still in a rural area but close to a small town. I love all the opportunities that are on offer here and we've thrown ourselves into all the things we couldn't do for the last 6 years. We have the added advantage of light traffic and quiet roads, excellent pubs, fabulous restaurants of all types and the children go to a fantastic school, which is a huge relief after the French system, which I personally think is dreadful.  We had a great time in France and have no regrets about that either.

I know loads of people who have moved back for a variety of reasons, mainly families though.

I agree with Sprogster too that the media spent a disproportionate amount of time selling 'the dream' in France and for many, it simply wasn't a reality. I've noticed a huge drop in the number of programmes about France and there seems to be more about Spain, Portugal and Italy. Maybe France has just gone out of fashion a bit too.

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I think this is quite a nicely balanced thread.  None of the England is so terrible posts nor the idylic France ones.

I love my second home in France - I love being there and I want to spend more time there.  Everyone here seems to assume I will move there full time on retirement.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Assuming I have plenty of time on my hands in retirement, I want the best of both worlds.

Just because I love cafe society does not mean I can do without my local pub, decent beer and roast potatoes on the bar on a sunday lunchtime in winter.  Sitting reading by my pool is wonderful in summer but where can I see proper cricket in France?  The food court behind the nursery end at Lords before start of play on the first day of a test match is the best place to be in the world for me.

I am lucky enough to have the money to be able to eat magnificently in France - my heart and my knee joints probably needs a break every now and again.

I couldnt do without my season tickets to premiership football and I like having a variety of excellent golf courses within easy driving distance.

I love the quiet roads and slower pace of life in France but I also like the bustle and busyness of the UK.

There is however one thing about France that would get me down if I lived there full time, even in retirement.  The complete seeming lack of ambition of the French and the lack of an entrepreneurial spirit in France.  I am not sure the French even have a word for it.

I want to use French businesses, I really do but unless it is the local baker every small business local to me seems to be run by very hard working english.  Be it a pool man, plumber, builder, taxi driver or even the man who collected our bee swarm - all brits - all properly registered - no French (yet my village is mostly French residents - what do they do all day).

 

PS the bit about no french word for entrepreneur was a joke!

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It's interesting how attitudes can change as well.  When we first bought our French house I was always straight with SWMBO that I only ever viewed it as a second home and I never had any intention of moving to France on a permanent basis. SWMBO was a lot more open minded and, I believe, would have considered a more permanent move. Upto this summer the longest continuous period we had spent at the house was 3 weeks. This summer we spent 6 continuous weeks and I noticed the change in my wife's replies to questions as to whether we would move to France permanently. She is now saying definitely not.

This isn't to say that she still doesn't love being there.. she still does. For myself, I'm starting to enjoy it more than when we first bought.  But live there permanently...  sorry not for me. French customer service, shopping, prices, bureaucracy and the like (much of the things already mentioned in this thread) would send me crazy.

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[quote user="DerekJ"]
But live there permanently...  sorry not for me. French customer service, shopping, prices, bureaucracy and the like (much of the things already mentioned in this thread) would send me crazy.
[/quote]

My wife (French) would crawl over hot coals to return to the UK, for all these reasons. Plus, suffocating family, total lack of work opportunities, rubbish TV, films, theatre, bissous, she can go on for hours. (It's not going to happen, unless I change jobs.)

On the other hand, she fully intends on retiring back to France (we're in our 30s!), she can appreciate that then she can effectively pull up the drawbridge, and only interact with the bits of France she wants to, and not have to deal with the whole package.

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