A Guide to Retiring in France

France is one of the most popular European destinations for British expats to choose to retire to. Its close proximity to the UK is a key benefit, as it makes it easy to return for visits. It is considered one of the world’s best countries for growing old, due to its quality of life, and it is thought that there are 160,000 British people who have relocated permanently to France.
Where to live
The first thing to think about when planning a retirement is where to live. France offers many great regions for expats. While those moving for business are more likely to be centred around the major cities, like Paris, retirees tend to look at more rural locations in the north of France as well as sunny regions on the south coast.
Bordeaux is a beautiful option for those looking for a small city feel, with great architecture and a mild climate. The Brittany and Normandy regions in the north offer speedy links back to the UK, and have smatterings of villages that can offer a proper French cultural experience. For those who want a laidback Mediterranean coastal retirement, it’s worth looking at the Languedoc-Rousillion region, which is more affordable than the famous Provence.
There are many different kinds of accommodation in all of these areas, from city flats, to sprawling vineyards and everything in between. Many expats will choose to rent first, while also renting a UK home, to settle into an area and give the new lifestyle a trial run before committing to a purchase. Rental prices are fairly similar to UK prices, but when it comes to buying, France can offer exceptional value for money.
Financial planning
Before retiring to France, it is important to get finances in order. The cost of day-to-day living in France is not dissimilar to living in the UK and in some cases, like utilities and groceries, it can even work out a little cheaper. However, it’s important to factor in additional costs, like private medical insurance, and having money set aside for necessary trips back to the UK.
As an EU citizen, retiring in France is fairly straightforward. For example, UK state pensions can be claimed in France and paid directly into a new French bank account with no fees. Private pensions are likely to be paid into a UK bank account, so there may be fees associated with the conversion to euros, and if there is a lump sum payment, it may to liable to French taxation. It is often worth looking at setting up an international bank account that can accept both sterling and euros. This is handy if there are financial affairs in both countries, such as a rental income from the UK, or a need to transfer money to family still living at home.
Consider if any taxes are applicable in France too. UK pensions, along with any other income from the UK or France, would need to be declared on the annual tax return to ascertain if there is any tax liability. There is also the French Wealth Tax for those with more sizable assets, which includes property, cars, shares, money and all other assets.
This article provides some guidance for those retiring to France, but we suggest that you seek professional advice when considering a relocation.
If you’re moving to France, find out how our international removals team can help to arrange packing, storage and transportation on your behalf.