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Tips for moving to Montpellier

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Hi there, debut post! I've decided to move to Montpellier from Scotland and give it a minimum of 6 months to see how I enjoy it. I'm in the very early stages of planning this, but aim to move in 4 or 5 months ideally. I'm hoping other expats may be able to offer some tips on what to do to help settle in etc.

This is my situation in a nutshell:

I'll be working remotely with people back in the UK, so I don't necessarily have to find work in Montpellier (although I might try and eventually do that). From a social perspective this maybe isn't ideal, as I'll be working solo during the day. I'm sure I'd have to do it anyway, but even more so given my work situation, so any tips on good ways to integrate socially would be great.

I have a decent grasp of French but am nowhere near fluent - to become fluent is actually one of the attractions in moving. I'm taking French lessons now in the hope my conversational French will be enough for me to attempt to integrate when I get there.

I would be looking to find a reasonably priced room share (colocation?) in a lively part of the town. I've had a look at a few sites listing colocations and seems to be possible to get a basic room for 350-450 EUR per month. If anyone can offer any pointers on good sites to use/areas to look at, it would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks for any tips!
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And your company will be happy to start up a french branch of their business and pay all the social charges associated with their employee living in France?

I only ask as it is very expensive for a company to employ someone in France.


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Thanks for the reply. Well, I am self employed and work freelance for varying companies in the UK. I would have to handle these charges myself - can you point me in the right direction in terms of what I will have to consider?
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If your young then Montpelier is one of THE places to live. Basically it is a university city with two universities and about 5 campuses between there covering from Engineering through the arts to languages. It attracts students from all over the work. Both universities rank within the top 151 to 200 in the world. The centre of the town really comes to life at night during term time especially the main square in the centre of the city (I forget it's name now), so very vibrant. One of the universities does an excellent immersion French language course during the summer break which being on the doorstep so t peak you might well consider especially as you won't have to pay for accommodation. There are load of clubs and activity centres there as well and excellent pubic transport inside the city.

Work wise and an assumption your getting paid in the UK I might assume you already have a limited company there or work under an 'umbrella' company for those that are self employed. Seeing as you have different companies as clients I doubt if you fall under IR35. So my personal view would be to continue to pay an NI Class 1 stamp and tax in the UK and use a European health card for emergency treatment. You won't be able to join the French healthcare and social system this way because you have to declare in France which means setting up a French company and it all gets very expensive and means effectively loosing 40% plus of your gross income.  Not strictly the right way of doing things but I know of people who work remotely doing this. You need to get a P60 from the UK every year, not for any particular reason but it proves you pay tax in the UK should you be asked and they can't technically tax you twice should you ever be asked.

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[quote user="Quillan"]

especially the main square in the centre of the city (I forget it's name now) [/quote]


Re accommodation, there's really no substitute for getting down here for 2-3 days and getting a feel for the areas of the city that suit you and those that don't.  At the same time you can make contact with letting agents and specify your requirements for whatever date you're planning to make the move. There'll be some who will be disinterested and some that show a decent level of professionalism - that way you'll know who to deal with.

There's an agent who posts pretty regularly on here (P-D de Rouffignac or something like that) who is based locally and who will be totally au fait with the rules or rather practice re minimum letting periods and deposits. Find one of his posts and pm him if he doesn't see this first.

Montpellier is a really nice city and I'm sure that you'd love it there.  Best of luck. 

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Further to Quillan's advice, even though you would be relying on a European Health card, I don't believe that this would cover 100% or non emergencies, so taking out private health insurance might be prudent. If you are young without pre-existing medical conditions the cost should not be prohibitive and there are UK medical insurance policies that automatically give you European cover as well, such as from Axxa PPP.

Unfortunately, France is not self employed friendly and setting up a company in France is best avoided!

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Welcome to the forum,bsod99.

One way of getting to know people would be to join the AVF group in Montpellier. It stands for L'Accueil des Villes Françaises, and exists in many French towns to welcome newcomers and help them to settle in. I've had a look at the AVF Montpellier website, and see that it's quite active and also has a section for younger members in the evenings and at weekends; most branches that I know of are made up of mostly retired people.

The branch I belong to is very active, ofering languages, craft groups, walks, visits etc, plus a lot of food/drinking types of events; although we are mostly older people, we have a few younger members who join in and we all get on well together. You'll find that all activities take place in French, although probably quite a number of members will spesk some English. All activities are taken by members themselves; after being a member for 3 years it's expected that all members assist the group in some way; leading a group, helping in some way in the office or behind the scenes. The annual cost is low - ours is €30, although anything involving food, drink or transport needs to cover costs.

Good luck for your move.

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It is an attractive and popular City, with a large student population and a fair number of anglophone residents often on temporary stays.

As well as the various Universities there is an important school of Medicine and Pharmacy. It is near the sea with a Mediterranean climate  and has a vigorous night-life for young people and a fine cultural programme of Dance Opera concerts and theatre.

It  is also becoming trendy, even featuring in the New York Times


All this has a price. You are not the only person wanting to live here, and the rents are very much higher than for the rest of the region. The situation for finding an apartment to rent is similar to that described by idun in another thread


You will have no paperwork recognised by the French (such as last years French tax declaration, or an electricity bill) and that will put you even more at a disadvantage.

You will almost certainly have to find someone to stand as Guarant 

I had to do that for my son even though he had found a job

A typical small flat http://www.leboncoin.fr/locations/413975648.htm?ca=13_s

Unemployment in this region is very high among young people so while you might get some bar work in one of the Irish pubs you shouldn't count on finding a job quickly.

It is also not as easy as it might seem to break into the social life as it is very based on the various educational establishments and the students are in ready-formed groups

I wish you a great time if you do decide to come, but don't imagine it  will be easy.

If you come try The Black Sheep  

a music bar with a great variety of beer, an Irish manager and a mixed French/Anglophone cilentèle

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