Finding a job and working in France
There are a number of ways that you can start working in France – in addition to standard employment, you can use your property to fund your life, or even set up your own dream business.
If you are moving to France with a plan to work to fund your life out there, one of the most important things for you to consider is what kind of work you should consider and how to go about it. For UK and other EU residents living in France, there are no restrictions on working or setting up your own business here – providing you comply with all relevant local legislation and tax criteria.
What should you keep in mind when job-hunting?
The first thing you will need to consider when looking for work in France is the difficulties that you may face competing in the local market. It’s very important to research the demand for employees in your area of interest. Bear in mind that France currently has a much higher unemployment rate than the UK, although it is now slowly decreasing.
Keep in mind also that, for qualified professions, you’ll need to either have your qualifications recognised or qualify in France too. For example, you cannot teach in a French state school with English teaching qualifications. In many cases, you can get your foreign qualifications recognised at the Centre ENIC-NARIC.
The better your French, the easier you will find it to get a job. However, some companies with a very international culture, especially around Paris, will use English as their business language. That said, it’s always worth putting in the effort to learn the language.
If you’re intending on working in France in a salaried position, there are two types. CDI, or contrat à durée indéterminée is a permanent position, while CDD, or contrat déterminée is a fixed-term contract. You’ll commonly see ‘H/F’ after a job title in a listing: this just refers to homme/femme (man/woman).
What kind of jobs can you do?
A lot of expats dream of quitting the rat race, so self-employment is often a popular route to working in French.
Skilled craftsmen, such as builders, stonemasons, plumbers, decorators and the like, can often find work in rural France. After all, there are likely to be many British people buying properties which need some kind of renovation. They will often choose to deal with their fellow English speakers. However, for this kind of work you must make sure that that you are registered with your local affiliation body.
If you wish to teach English as a foreign language in a private language school, there are plenty of internationally recognised courses that you can take, such as Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).
To find work, it can be wise to sign up with the Pole Emploi, a nationwide resource for work of all types.
If you wish to continue a qualified profession in France, you will need the relevant French qualification.
Making a living through your French property
One increasingly popular way for British expats to fund their life abroad is by using their property for business purposes. Those who have not moved to France full time may choose to rent out their property as a holiday let when they are not using it. This can help to offset the cost of it.
Others may choose to turn part of their property into a profitable B&B (chambre d’hôtes) or gîte business. The latter in particular is an excellent way of making money if your house is large and you have space.
To set up your property as a chambre d’hôtes, you will initially have to register with the local mairie (mayor), providing as much information as possible – including the number of rooms, guests and operational periods. It is important to note that a chambre d’hôtes is limited to a maximum of five bedrooms with 15 people staying at any one time.
Once the mairie has confirmed that they are happy with this, they will pass this onto the local prefecture, who then processes the request further. Upon approval, they will add your property to their community list. The mairie will also be able to advise you on standard charges for this, and the best ways to advertise.
It’s also important to remember that this way or working in France requires a certain amount of commitment. You’ll be providing breakfast, making sure the house is clean and tidy, providing fresh linen and towels and so on. You may sometimes also find yourself dealing with difficult customers. But you can also think of this as a great way of using your house to its potential – earning money in the process.
Setting up your own business
In theory there is nothing to stop you from setting up your own company – whether this is through buying a franchise, buying out an existing company, or starting something from scratch. Of course, this possibility is by no means easy or risk-free. However, if you have previous experience running a company, there is no reason why you cannot maintain your lifestyle in France this way too.
It is very important to remember that in France you are likely to find that there are more forces working against you than when you set up and manage a business in the UK. You may well find that locals support other locals instead of foreigners. Equally, you may find that tax and employment regulations do not make financial sense for the smaller companies – and this is before you factor in the language barrier. You should also bear in mind when you are purchasing your property with the pure intention to set up a business that commercial mortgages can be very difficult to obtain. Running your own company can be immensely rewarding, but don’t forget the risks involved.
If you have previous experience running a company, there is no reason why you can’t maintain your lifestyle in France this way too.
Become a freelancer online
Another option is to find a product you can sell or a service you can provide online. Maybe you could write an eBook or advertise your proofreading abilities. You could take up project-based work, like editing, programming, graphic design, project management, accountancy, telesales and much more. If you’re lucky, you will build up a reputation for yourself and be able to pick what you want to do and how much you are willing to handle!
Learn the language!
It may go without saying that however you’re working in France, we would definitely recommend learning French to a reasonable standard.