There are a number of attractions to making the south of France your home; a great climate, wonderful food and a beautiful landscape would be the first that spring to mind for many considering the move. If you are considering moving to South of France, we are going to look at what makes for an easier transition for British expats in France.
If you are looking to make the move, it is likely that you will have read Peter Mayal's bestseller 'A Year in Provence'. The book was published in 1989 and describes Provence with many idiosyncrasies and hilarious French characters. The French take pride in their eccentricity and it is more than likely that you'll find a few characters that seem to spring from the pages of Mr Mayal's book. At the same time an estimated 400,000 Brits call France home, with the South of the country the most popular area for obvious reasons. So it's probable that you'll find plenty of people who have made the move for similar reasons that you are.
People's reasons for moving to a new country are varied. It may be for work, a change of lifestyle, family, health, financial or a combination of these factors. Whatever the reasons, understanding what you are looking for from the move is an important element to making the most from it.
Adjusting to living in a new country will take some effort. In all likelihood you have already made a number of trips before making your decision. However, living in a new country on a permanent basis will always be different to short-term trips and holidays.
Understanding the reasons why you are making the move and what you are looking for from it will allow you to research your move in more detail to make your transition smoother.
Just as in Britain, different areas of France and specific towns and villages have their own characteristics. As we looked at above being clear on your reasons for moving to South of France will help you choose the right area for you. It will also help you to research the right area of the city, town or village that you are interested in buying or renting a property. Some who have made the move to France choose to rent for 6 to 12 months before buying so that they can learn about the more specific characteristics of a region.
Plenty of people make the move to South of France without being able to speak the language beyond a handful of basics. While it is certainly possible, we always recommend making the effort to learn French. The French are very proud of their language and tend to prefer it when people make the effort to speak their language. This effort can go a long way to making your new life in France a much easier adjustment, as you'll find a different level of hospitality when you can speak with the new people you meet in their own language.
Settling into a new country can be difficult if you don't have people to share your experiences with and to learn from. Whether it is finding a reliable plumber, or someone to laugh with about a recent experience - finding people with whom you share common interests will make the adjustment to your new life much easier.
With so many Brits in South of France you'll find a number of British groups for a get-together. AngloInfo is a great place to start your research and if you are looking to move to Paris or Lyon there are some specific websites for expats in those cities. Also check our France guide for more info.
Finding local French interest groups is the perfect way to deepen your integration into French society. Expect that it may be a little difficult to join in at first, but like learning the language you'll find the French to be very hospitable once they get to know you - it's also one of the best ways to really learn the language.
With moving anywhere new some of the biggest frustrations can be when something goes wrong. If there's a window that gets broken, the toilet that gets blocked or you find yourself in need of legal advice. Finding trades people and professionals that you can trust will reduce the stress in these circumstances and help you navigate the more mundane areas of life in a new country. The chances are that you'll need these people most in times of emergency. It pays to think ahead and find and use people on smaller less important tasks first, to build a relationship with them, so you know who to call when you need them.
For everyone moving to South France understanding the healthcare system will be important. It is known to be one of the best in the world but it works differently to what we are used to in the UK. It is effectively a state run health insurance, so it's common to pay for each visit to the doctor and to have the payment reimbursed to you. It is important that you research and understand how the healthcare system will apply to you before making your move.
In a similar way the French education system is known to be very good and there are also British and international schools available in some cities. If you are moving with your family and have children of school age, the education system will be a very important area for you to research. It is also likely to be an important part of your new life in France.
There are many subtleties to living in a new country and if you are intending for your move to be permanent, understanding these subtleties will help your transition to new life. Understanding your reason for the move and then researching the aspects that are important to you in advance of the move will help you make the right decisions for you. One route for this is to find someone who made the move for the same reasons as you and ask them what they wished they'd known before making the move. You'll be able to benefit from all of the important lessons that they have learnt - many of which will be the subtler elements of life in a new country. There are lots of Forums and Facebook groups that are a good place to start this research.
There are so many positives to a new life in the South of France. Where people find it difficult to adjust is where they haven't built the important support network that makes life much easier. With the Internet you can start your research and work on building this network before you make the move.
Working through the points in this article is a good way to organise your research helping you to make the right decisions for your move.
Information correct at time of publication.