Bonjour! For many, living in France is the ultimate dream, with croissants, fine wine, art, and historical landmarks. It’s the city of love – what more could you want? Making a big move is as equally as exciting as it is scary.
You are entering a whole new world, with new people, things, and places to explore. To make it a bit easier, here’s what you should know:
1. France has something for everyone
With phenomenal hiking and skiing locations in the Alps, magical fairytale castles in the North, and the South’s stunning sandy beaches.
France also boasts 48 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and ranks in 5th place compared to other countries worldwide. There are five natural, 42 cultural, and one mixed wonders for you to explore and tick off your bucket list while traveling and adventuring around your new home.
These wonders range from extraordinary man-made buildings, like the Palace of Versailles and Carcassonne, the fortified city. To the beautiful natural wonders such as Mont Perdu, Pont d’Arc, Loire Valley, and the Camargue Salt Flats. And to top it off, France is ideally located close to various other European countries.
2. They have universal healthcare
Life can be unpredictable, and accidents tend to happen. Luckily France offers universal healthcare for their residents, which means you’ll be covered for when things go south. Every French citizen and all residents need to pay a monthly fee. In doing so, around 70% of the medical costs get reimbursed.
Registering for healthcare or even health insurance isn’t too tricky. You may need to show proof of residence, ID card, passport, and income.
3. The cost of living in France
The cost of living depends on the area you choose to live in. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) in France is relatively stable, so the price of products will not fluctuate that much compared to the US. Frances’s cost of living is slightly higher than in the US, but the rent price in France is much lower.
It does cost more to live in Paris than it does to live in a small town or village. The most expensive places to live are Paris and Cannes. Strasbourg, Deauville, and Marseille are slightly lower but are more affordable to live in Nice, Montpellier, Toulouse, or Bordeaux.
4. Tax rates
The way tax works in France is; that the larger the family, the lower the tax rate. Income tax is taken from the amount your whole household earns rather than from your income. This is great if you have a family or a partner. Luckily you and your partner can still benefit from this without being married!
The tax rates are higher than in the US; you’ll pay income tax, waste collection tax, VAT, TV license tax, and social security tax.
5. You’ll have to learn French
French people are pretty unforgiving when it comes to foreigners who don’t put in the effort of learning the language. About 90% of the ex-pats are either learning French or are already fluent. Learning the language is a good start. It will make the transition easier, help you meet people, and make everyday life in France that much better.
If there’s anything you take from this list of tips, let it be this: learn how to speak French! Knowing the basics isn’t enough, fully immersing yourself in the French culture is one of the best things you can do.
6. The French love their sport
They did just win the most recent soccer world cup! France is home to one of the top leagues in the world of football, their women’s team is phenomenal, and you’re sure to bump into some of the big names in football.
France is also home to various other events like the French Open, Tour de France, and 24 Hours of Le Mans. They are also big on their rugby!
7. The French bureaucracy is well-known
It is highly recommended that you keep proof of all of your expenses, your income, anything from bus tickets to paystubs. It’s also advisable to keep extra photocopies on hand for all of your relevant documentation.
Paperwork is a big part of French life, especially when you’re an ex-pat and need to deal with immigration authorities.
8. Get ready for long breaks!
The French place significant importance on coffee and food, so most companies and cities have lunch breaks that last up to two hours. Many employers supply their staff with lunch vouchers or have a cafeteria or kitchen at the workplace. So eat your heart out and enjoy all of the delicious coffee and food that France offers!
You may also be expected to eat lunch with your colleagues, making it a great time to bond! And what a bonus, their annual paid leave is the highest in the world.
9. World-class food and wine
France has 27 restaurants with three Michelin stars. This is more than any other country. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that their food is incredible! So indulge in beef bourguignon, crêpes, steak frites, cassoulet, and more. Bon appétit!
The French also have a fantastic wine, champagne, and beer selection. There are various vineyards in the country, and they have delicious ciders that come from Normandy and Brittany.
10. Exceptional education system
The French public education system is amazing. Most children start school at the age of three. French universities are practically fee-free for citizens, long-term residents, EU, Swiss, and EEA citizens. It is also fairly affordable for non-citizens. Public school, all the way up to college, is free for all citizens, and tertiary education is very affordable.
People can also opt for international schools or homeschooling, and you can find over 80 universities in France.
11. A rich and beautiful culture
Although France is a multicultural country and home to people from all over the world, French culture and tradition are highly valued. The majority of their food is French. At least 40% of the music played on the radio must be French. The Toubon law also mandates that French must be spoken in commercial communication, all workplaces, schools, and government publications.
How could we talk about culture without mentioning art and fashion? France is home to some incredible museums where you can see the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and other classics.
France is also the Fashion capital of the world. Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel are a few big names born in France. And, there’s Paris Fashion Week!
12. Great work-life balance
The French enjoy long lunch breaks and have a 35-hour workweek. There’s nothing better; you’re bound to earn more, work less, and live the dream – so you can enjoy having a career and a life at the same time.
You are entitled to 30 days of paid leave – that sounds like a month of catching a tan and sipping cocktails in the sun to me!
13. The paper fish tradition on April Fool’s Day
Paper fish are used to play tricks on people on April Fool’s day. The tradition involves sticking as many fish on different people’s backs, then running away from them, yelling “Poisson d’Avril!” which means April fish!
Everyone in France participates in April Fool’s traditions and jokes, including the media, businesses, and the government.
14. You must make a trip to the Alps
The Alps will take your breath away. Going to the East of France should be on the top of your list of priorities. Whether you’re seeking adventure or just want to admire the view, the Alps are the place to be.
You can also enjoy outdoor sports like snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking, paragliding, and hiking.
15. Goodbye cereal & fruit
In France, breakfast, known as le petit dejeuner, is generally simple, light, and sweet. You can say au revoir to cereal, eggs, bagels, and fruit. The French enjoy a croissant, baguette, or brioche with jam and butter.
They also enjoy delicious pastries dipped in creamy hot chocolate. Sounds scrumptious, right?
16. French weather
Summers in France are warm, and winters are mild and cool – depending on what region you live in. The climate is split into three sections: Western France, Central, and Eastern France, and the Mediterranean, which is Southern France.
The West has cool winters and summers and more rain. The continental sections of France have cold, snowy winters and warm summers, while the South of France has hot summers and cooler winters.
17. The trains are great
The rail system makes up about 10% of travel in France. The trains are comfortable, clean, and highly efficient.
Almost everywhere in the country is easily accessible by train, and all major towns are linked to the railway network. They also have high-speed trains and the TGV, perfect for long trips.
18. Get used to the unique social customs
Get used to lots of kissing. French people kiss each other on the cheek when meeting. It can range anywhere from one kiss to four. The custom depends on what region you’re in.
Men generally only kiss their close friends and relatives – so don’t just start kissing anyone! As a general rule of thumb, people usually stick out their cheek if they expect a kiss.
19. Paris residents leave during the hottest month of summer
This is usually during August, it has long been a tradition in Paris, and shops, people, and most residents will take a month-long vacation. Meaning many businesses will shut down in Paris during this month.
Employees are also given five weeks of paid leave per year, vacation is a right, and most employees generally take their leave and enjoy a lovely holiday during the summer.
20. The LGBT+ community is welcomed in France
France has been ranked third in Europe for protecting the rights of the LGBT+ community. Same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption were legalized in 2013. Same-sex civil unions have been allowed since 1999. Transfolk can legally change their gender without undergoing a diagnosis or surgery.
France was also the first nation to declassify Transgender as a mental illness. And any person who makes abusive comments can be fined and imprisoned.
21. They are a world leader in gender equality
France is one of six countries that legally promise gender equality. They have laws that tackle sexual harassment and domestic violence. They provide paid parental leave for the mother and the father.
They also want to have more female French ambassadors and grant universal access to reproductive and sexual rights.
Is France safe?
France has a low crime rate and is a very safe destination. Crime in Paris is moderate, and the crime in Bordeaux, Toulouse, Rennes, Strasbourg, Marseille, and Lyon is minimal.
There is always the risk of petty crimes, so it is best to be alert. And there are hardly any natural disasters in France.
Is France expensive to live in?
The cost of living in France is a bit higher than in the USA. It also depends on where you live, but it is generally very affordable.
Is French hard to learn?
French and English share a common alphabet, and the vocabulary is relatively similar in some cases. You can go to classes or learn online to pick it up quickly. According to the FSI, you can reach proficiency in about 30 weeks.
Does France have a good education system?
Yes! Their public education system is impressive; it is compulsory and federally sponsored. And their tertiary education is affordable for citizens and non-citizens.
Is France a good place to raise a family?
Indeed! The education system is excellent, and the work-life is fantastic, so both parents and children will enjoy it. It is also a beautiful country which is safe, with a rich culture, and much to do and see.
France is a beautiful country, and you will undoubtedly be happy there. Moving to a new country can be scary, but we hope that these tips make you feel more at ease.
You can also use various companies to make the move easier, we suggest MoverDB.com! Make a move; you won’t regret it. France is calling you!