Living in France - the ups and downs of relocating
The key to successfully settling in to your new life in France is preparation and consideration.
Moving to a new country is exciting, stressful and emotional. It takes a great deal of time and preparation to work through the steps that need to be taken to make the move, and that’s before you even consider how you will be feeling once all the boxes are unpacked and you officially live in a whole other country. In our experience, the key to the success of this is early and thorough preparation, with lots of planning before you leave. To help you on your way, we can offer you our top tips to happily settling into your new life in France.
The key to your success is lots and lots of planning before you leave France.
1. Planning, planning and more planning
Before you move to France, spend some time reading up all you can about the area you are moving to. If you have children, it’s a really good idea to try and get them involved in the research too. Speak to friends and family and seek out online forums on the area – you may even find you make future friends this way.
2. Accept at the outset how unfamiliar things may be at the beginning
This is completely normal. Moving to a new neighbourhood can be scary, so moving to a new country where you don’t have your support group around is likely to evoke more dramatic feelings – and understanding early on that you may feel a little out of depth should certainly help with this, and even normalise it.
3. Embrace the more laidback lifestyle
If you are moving to France for a slower pace of life, or because you have tired of the fast life in the UK, make sure you spend some time enjoying this more laidback lifestyle instead of expecting everything to be the same. Take time to sort out those boxes and get out and about in your village or town: breathe it all in!
4. Join in local clubs/societies
Finding ways to bring aspects of your old life into your new one will go some way to helping you to feel at home in France – and looking up places where you can take part in your old hobbies will go some way to achieving this. You could also take this chance to start a hobby that you have often toyed with but never got round to starting. Joining clubs and societies will help you to meet people who have similar interests to you – and you may well be surprised how many English folk you meet along the way.
5. Invite your neighbours over for an “apero” when you move in
Your neighbours are your first chance to make friends, and many of our readers report that their new French neighbours were very friendly and eager to help show them around their new neighbourhood – not to mention teach them French! Of course, it’s very important to remember that people LOVE to give advice!
6. Speak to any fellow British people who have moved to France
Ask them about their experiences of moving to France, and compare notes. Find out what they did to help them settle into a new life in France, what they would recommend, and dissuade you from doing. Just discussing your own situation with them can immediately create a bond.
Speak to others who have also moved from the UK to your new location, finding someone in the same situation as you will automatically create a bond.
7. If moving with children, plan your move around the school terms
Moving to France during the school holidays, especially if it is during the summer holidays, will make things a little easier for your children, as they will not have to contend with joining a school when term is underway on top of moving to a new country. It is likely that your children will find it easier to make friends than you do, simply spending time with their schoolmates every day – by simply speaking to parents at the school gates and attending your child’s school activities, you will find ample opportunities to make friends.
8. Take French classes
The best way to feel settled in your new life in France is to make the effort to learn the language. After all, not understanding what is going on around you can continue that unsettled feeling. Try to learn a few key phrases before you arrive in France and keep practicing as often as you can. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes: no-one minds. The French love hearing their language spoken with a British accent, and the very fact you are trying to speak the language will mean you get extra Brownie points! Find out more information about learning French here.
Don’t forget the life you left behind.
9. Keep in touch with your friends and family in the UK
There is a plethora of technology available that can help you to keep in touch with the life you have left back in the UK. We recommend setting up a call on Skype or FaceTime, or similar, once a week, so you can keep updated on the lives of your friends and family in the UK, and vice versa, as well as them being able to see your new surroundings. This is so important, so you can all still feel connected to each other, despite the distance.
Buying a property in France is extremely exciting, but it can be nerve-wracking: in what ways is the process different to the UK, how do you cope with the language difference, what fees should you expect and just who is the notaire? That’s why we’ve put together our France Buying Guide, to help you through the process, step by step.
Written by experts, it covers every stage of buying, from viewing to contracts and fees. Get your copy of the French Property Guide by simply filling in the form below.