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Moving to France From the US – Everything You Should Know

Posted Country Guides / December 13, 2017

When moving to France, know that you will be living in one of the top tourist destinations in the world that attracts nearly 90 million visitors every year, and there are many reasons for this. The European Union’s largest member state by area is a land of history, romance, art, cheese, and wine. With picturesque nature and magnificent historical cities, who can blame you for choosing to move here.

The First Step Is Gathering All the Documents

If you are an American citizen planning on moving to France, obtaining a three-month tourist visa won’t be a problem. However, if you want to stay longer or move here indefinitely, you will need another type of permit. One of your options is a
one-year visa
, which you can renew annually.

But before you get to sort through all the documents needed to travel abroad, check if your passport is still valid. Also, you should have a recent photo and bank statements for the last three months. This whole process of gathering documents might seem complicated, but you can visit the Schengen visa website and check whether you have everything.

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Requirements for a Drivers License

Are you thinking about shipping your vehicle overseas? If you want to have your car with you at the new location, you should get familiar with driving regulations. Since you are not coming from an EU country, you can drive with your old license for a year after the move. Three months before your permit expires, apply for a French license. When the time comes, visit the government website and check all the documents you need.

How Can Americans Become French Citizens?

Once you relocate, there are a few ways for you to get citizenship and become a true local. You should know that, along with citizenship, come many benefits, such as the right to vote, live, and work there indefinitely. Also, you will have rights and privileges in other EU member states, as well.

You can become a citizen through naturalization. This means that you have to:

  • Obtain a residence visa
  • Stay in France for five consecutive years
  • Sign the Reception and Integration Contract (CAI)
  • Submit your application and complete additional paperwork

You can also become a citizen through marriage. If you have been married to a French citizen for at least four years, you are eligible to apply for citizenship.

Moving to France with Pets

Are you moving with your dog? Or maybe you are relocating with cats? Then you should consider some of the legal requirements. Your pet should be microchipped so that the authorities can identify it. Also, you are required to have a pet passport – a document that proves that your furry friend has had all the necessary vaccinations and can travel abroad.

Before Moving to France, Make Sure You Choose the Right City

An international relocation will bring many questions and dilemmas. One of them is picking the right place to live in once you relocate.

France has always been an interesting place for expats. There are places where you can enjoy an easy-going, laid-back lifestyle, but if you choose to live in a big urban area, you will get to experience a fast, upbeat, and modern way of life.

However, your decision should be based not only on the vibe that the area has, but also on the cost of living, crime rates, and quality of life. So, before hiring international moving services, do your research, read about different locations, and decide where you’d like to relocate.

Relocating to Paris, the City of Lights

Did you know that there are at least three replicas of the Statue of Liberty in the French capital? If you ever feel nostalgic and start missing the US, just take a walk down by the Seine and enjoy the view. Choosing Paris as your next location will come with many benefits.

You will be living in the most romantic place on Earth, among 2.25 million people that already call this city home. It is divided into 20 administrative boroughs – choosing the one to call your next home will depend solely on your needs and requirements.

If you have been wondering how to live in another country, don’t worry. With its free, romantic, and welcoming vibe, Paris will make you feel at home.

There Are Plenty of Great Places to Live in France

When considering an international move, capital might not be your first choice. If you prefer smaller, rural areas, you should find a suitable one to call your new home. While your chosen relocation company provides packing services for your things, take some time to research and find the perfect home.

If you are an adventure seeker, you should consider Annecy as your next location. It is a lakeside alpine town that offers its residents a chance to enjoy sailing and other watersports. Don’t leave your hiking shoes in storage – you will need them. Also, if you like cycling or jogging here, you have plenty of space to do so.

On the coastline of Golfe Juan lies Juan-les-Pins, a town with a vibrant nightlife, but also with a laid back atmosphere during the day. This is an excellent place for anybody who wishes to have the best of both worlds, urban and small-town.

Luberon is located in Provence, and with a fairytale-like vibe, this should be right up your alley if you like delicious regional cuisine, wine, and fun festivals year-round.

Bank Accounts and Taxes

While your household items are traveling across the Atlantic, you should think about the steps that you should take to get your life set on the right track. Firstly, you will need a bank account. If you don’t have a residence card, you will have to open a non-resident account first. The documents required to open an account depend on the bank you choose, but, in general, you should provide some form of ID, proof of address, and funds for the initial deposit.

France has the highest taxes of all EU members, 45% over the OECD average. Remember, it demands that most expats pay an income tax as well, so you won’t be exempt.

Special Tax Policies for Expats

When staying here, there is a chance that under certain conditions, you can receive additional benefits. In an attempt to create an environment more attractive to a highly qualified workforce, the authorities have come up with a specific policy for expats. Régime fiscal des impatriés applies to small groups of foreigners that are recruited by a company.

Among other things, expats can benefit from:

  • A higher income for skilled workers
  • The possibility to deduct contributions paid for pension plans

One of the Best Healthcare Insurance Systems in the World

The law states that the residents that have been staying here for more than three months can sign up for a national healthcare plan. The hybrid healthcare system that the country has is considered to be one of the best ones in the world. Remember, healthcare costs here are divided between the government and the citizens.

The average cost of health insurance for one person here will be around 40 EUR a month, but the prices depend on the policy you get. When you get a job, your employers will probably cover your insurance as a part of employee benefits. This insurance will cover 30% of your medical costs, which include emergency hospital care.

Finding a Doctor

Did you know that the average life expectancy here is 83? Excellent healthcare is one reason for it. Finding a doctor should not be that hard here since there is more than one doctor for every 1000 citizens.

You only have to pick a general practitioner when you sign up for health coverage. If you have kids, they will probably have the same doctor as you do. When you need a specialist, your doctor will refer you to one.

The Education System Is One of the Best in Europe

When you relocate to a country that is known for having a first-rate education system, you won’t have a problem finding a good school for your kids or a university for yourself. This is arguably the best European country to live in if you want to get a quality education.
Secular education is free, but many kids enroll in nursery schools or kindergarten before starting elementary schools. The education system is divided into four stages:

  • Daycare and kindergarten
  • Primary/elementary school
  • Middle school
  • Secondary/High school
  • College or university

By law, children are only required to attend primary, middle, and secondary schools.

Did you know that 12% of the students here are from abroad? There are more than 3500 higher educational institutions, some of which are the world’s most prestigious universities. With more than 80 public universities, you can find a place with affordable tuition fees, and as a student, you will get to choose from more than 36000 programs.

The Cost of Being an International Student

If you are moving abroad alone to pursue higher education, you should remember that non-EU students have to pay pricey tuition fees, and the costs have been on the rise in both public and private institutions.

Depending on the type of degree you want to receive, tuitions fees in public schools revolve around the following amounts:

  • Bachelor programs cost around 2,770 EUR, that is around 3,100 USD
  • Master programs go for about 3,770 EUR, that is 4,223 in USD
  • Doctorate or Ph.D. programs cost around 3,770 EUR, which translates to around 4,223 USD

If you want to attend a private university, you can expect to pay anywhere between 3000 to 20000 EUR on a yearly basis.

Know How to Find a Job

As a foreigner, you will need a couple of tips and tricks to help you find the right job. Make sure that you have met all the requirements for working here. Before you apply for a position, update your resume. Make sure that you translate it to French – employers will surely appreciate it.

Looking for a job in industrial sectors such as energy, manufacturing, and technology is a good choice, as these are the leading branches here.

Work Opportunities for Expats

Are you relocating because of job opportunities? You should know that the biggest problem here is not lack of employment, but a lack of skilled workers. If you are looking for employment in positions like machine operators, carpenters, or computer engineers, you will easily find work.  And with the falling unemployment rates, this is the right place for you to advance in your career and make some money. Demographic statistics show that there are many people from all over the world that choose to relocate here exactly because of career opportunities.

Learning at Least Some French is a Must

Let’s face it, when you relocate, you will probably need to learn the local language. Even though some people in France speak English, if you are planning on finding a good job and advancing your career, you should consider mastering French.

You can start with some essential words and phrases, as they will help you during the first month or so. In addition to being useful career-wise, knowing French means you will get to make friends and adjust to the way of life here much faster.

Pick the Right Method for Learning

Learning a new language can be a daunting task, but if you pick the right method, you will master if without a fuss. Learn by enrolling in a school – there are courses that you could take. Do your best to read newspapers and listen to French music. Also, being surrounded by native speakers can help you grasp slang as well. The most important tip is not to be afraid to use the words and phrases you have learned.

Get Accustomed to the Culture

Your move has been finalized, all of your things have made it to your new home, now is the time to adapt to the new lifestyle. Let’s start with some mannerisms and etiquette that will help you avoid awkward situations.

Shaking hands is essential – people shake hands pretty much each time they meet. Friends who are close will greet one another with a hug or a kiss. Just to point out how important it is to be polite, there is a coffee shop where not saying “hello” and “please” makes your coffee more expensive.

Don’t forget to check when the shops in your neighborhood close. You will be surprised by the fact that most are closed on Sundays. Also, when in France, you should eat like a true French, and they enjoy a long lunchtime.

Are You Ready for Living the French Dream?

You will be relocating to one of the most visited countries in the world. Being at the top of that list means that it has many different things to offer to people. You will see this for yourself when you start exploring.

Experience the rich history in many museums, on the walls of many cathedrals and churches, and through old buildings. But France is also a highly developed nation in every imaginable aspect – you will see it in the booming fashion industry, excellent education, generous welfare programs, and vibrant nightlife.

The French enjoy their beautiful country, tasty food, and excellent drinks. Whether you are relocating alone or with your family, you will find everything you need. Once you move here, you’ll forget all about the American dream – because you will be living the French one.

Blake Shaw

Bostonian and residential moving and packing expert. Blake Shaw enjoys bar-hopping, music, and writing insightful content.

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