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Moving to France next year

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Hi to all,

We are looking to move to the Pyrenees next year. We know the area vaguely but we would love some advise and help on where would be a great place to Start looking.

We plan on renting first with the on look of buying when we have secured an area and work.

I am an English hairdresser and my wife and I also invest in property so we would look to use our skills and services to make a living in France.

We would also look to start our own business there too.

I know this sounds silly but we are looking to move to France for the obvious French culture and life style but we also appreciate a little help from fellow expats whom have done the same. We want to integrate totally into French life but we also know how valuable friends are.

Any help on these subjects would be massively appreciated and gratefully received

Kind regards


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Some things to consider.

1) You don't move to France for the lifestyle and culture. Well you do, if you know what the lifestyle and culture is. Which you don't with the greatest respect. The biggest moan Brits living in France have....is 'lifestyle and culture'. And then they move back to the UK a lot poorer than when they arrived.

2) You don't make money in property you lose money. It is the same for everyone. That is slightly to do with lifestyle and culture. So forget that idea. Don't get sucked into cheap property. Property is not cheap.

3) Why the Pyrenees ? You want to go skiing every day or something ? That won't happen. You won't be able to afford to.

4) You want to set up a business. Selling to who ? If it is to the British then set your business up in the UK and make money. If it is to the French, you need to be 100% fluent in French. If you are not now fluent it could take up to 10-15 years to become so. In that case you will be nearing your fifties. But even then, the chances are you will not make money.

5) You could become a hairdresser but with the costs of running a business in France you will need to do an awful lot of cuts per day to put food on the table.

So learn French for the next 10 years, and find yourself a proper French job is the way forward. Also in the meantime, watch French news, read French papers particularly about the politics and social economics of France. Then you will have a better understanding of what French lifestyle and culture really is.

Whatever you do, don't set up a business.

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Do you have a crystal ball, and has it told you that you will still have freedom of movement after March? because without FoM, UK qualifications will not be recognised here (hairdressing), and moving here to look for work or to start a business and dabble in property will not be an option, you'll have to meet France's immigration criteria to get a visa.

If FoM for Brits continues then you would have the transition period to find work or create some kind of sustainable revenue source that will be acceptable to the préfecture to give you a carte de séjour. Apparently there is a minimum income level they are looking for from Brits running a business here, it's very low and shouldn't be an issue, but it does take time to build up a new business in France so you need to get it right from the off. That's aside from the question ALBF raised, whether it's a good idea to move here to start a small business at all, France being notorious for not being small-business-friendly; do look into the rules and regulations and costs of earning money / setting up a business here before you commit yourselves.

Sorry if this sounds a bit negative but your plan at present sounds too short on detail to me. Houses don't come with a French lifestyle and culture attached, you have to build a life for yourself whe you get here. If you need to earn a living you need arrive with a solid plan ready for how you're going to make an income, what you're going to do/who your clients will be/what business structure you're going to choose, and it needs to be planned arounn what will work in France not what would work in the UK. For instance as ALBF has pointed out, it's hard to make money from property in France - transaction costs are high, property doesn't appreciate in value and only work invoiced by registered French artisans can be offset against CGT, the cost of any materials you buy or work you do yourself can't be claimed.
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Eurotrash weote:

For instance as ALBF has pointed out, it's hard to make money from property in France - transaction costs are high, property doesn't appreciate in value and only work invoiced by registered French artisans can be offset against CGT, the cost of any materials you buy or work you do yourself can't be claimed.

And the cost of employing French trades is not something to underestimate, as it - plus materials costs - is exponentially higher than anything you might have experienced in the UK.
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  • 1 month later...
Hello Gavin, all of this sounds horribly harsh, but better to enter into such an initiative with your eyes open. The young people around us who have made a go of it are those who have building skills and who largely target the English community. I do know a woman who came here as a teenager, went to school and college here, is bilingual, likely to marry her French boyfriend and is gradually building up a clientele as beautician, with all the necessary French qualifications. So this has taken her years. In our local town (population about 10,000) there are something like 15 beauticians and hairdressers, so competition is fierce. It will be a real challenge to persuade French people to become your clients. You may like the Pyrenees - so visit them on weekends and put your business bang slap in the middle of somewhere like Eymet in the Dordogne where there are a lot of English. Such an area may also be somewhere where you can use your property development skills and make an attractive gite for additional marginal income (again these days competition is fierce). I now go to a French hairdresser (a salon attached to a Leclerc). When I first came here and only spoke a little French, I used to go to English hairdressers, working from home (probably on the black) earning pin money while their husbands worked as builders. I now pay more than double what they were able to charge. A reconnasissance trip is essential if you seriously want to take this forward.
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With Brexit on the ever approaching horizon the opportunities for people to take a gamble on making a dream turn into reality by moving easily to another country are disappearing fast. Moving to a country with a different language that is notoriously difficult for small businesses to make money can be surprisingly challenging. Why France? there are plenty of English speaking countries to move to and many of them have mountains too.
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I think you will find it hard to find work

As for the Pyrenees a good choice the best end is the west Pays Basque or Bearn the the East Aude and Pyrénées-Orientale is harsh and unfriendly The Dordogne and Correze are OK but to many swallows ie part timer Brits which piss off the local French

I started of in 1996 with a few quid a house to renovate and as a back up job the possibility to be a relief coach driver for Euroline at Brive but for me it worked out well

Renovate your full time home probably 2 years and 3 years later sell it at a profit do it again and again any spare cash pay voluntary into the UK pension system The best of luck
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The most interesting thing the OP said was that they knew how important friends were.

I may well judge friendship very differently from others, but it is something rather 'special' in my life and not easily come by.

I know lots of people, with friends it is easy, but I have helped people to whom I am indifferent, even not particularly liked, so help can come from
any source.

Still, the OP has the internet these days, so just reading the local papers from their chosen area will be a good indication of what is happening. And as they are thinking of a business, then maybe chatting up the folks in the Mairie and seeing the lay of the land re businesses, as someone in the Mairie will know about businesses and if they are making a go of it, or failing, or have simply gone out of business.

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