Moving to France is a huge and exciting leap, and, for many people, part of the process of starting a new life out here will be finding ways to continue to make an income. There are so many possibilities, even in rural areas – and you may find your niche in a completely unexpected area! So what are the main ways to earn money in France?
Running a gîte
One of the most popular ways is to make your property earn its keep! Many people buy properties which have outbuildings serving as “gîtes” and this is an excellent way to bring in some extra income in France. You need to register with “Gîtes de France” and let your local maire know and then you are free to advertise your gite as you wish, through one of the many portals such as Booking.com, Airbnb and Tripadvisor. You will also find word of mouth works very well and once you are set up, you will receive repeat bookings and recommendations from existing customers to others. In a simlar vein is a chambre d’hôtes, in which you rent a room in your own home, rather than a separate outbuilding. We recently interviewed a couple who have set up their own chambre d’hôtes in a beautiful building in the Charente – read about their experience running a holiday business here.
Many people buy properties which have outbuildings serving as “gîtes” and this is an excellent way to bring in some extra income in France.
Following on from this, there are plenty of jobs doing changeovers, normally on a Saturday during the spring and summer seasons. You’ll clean and tidy up, put in fresh bedding and so on and sometimes do the key handover. Again, this can be a good way of earning money, since there are plenty of people with second homes here who rent them out on a semi-permanent basis. It can be hard work of course but it is only for one day of the week!
Cleaning, gardening and maintenance
Cleaning, gardening and general maintenance jobs are aplenty in France. We have a lovely lady who helps us with our house and whose husband has green fingers. They have only been here a couple of years but are inundated with work! Like anything, if you are prepared to work hard and you do a good job, you will do well. A lot of overseas buyers who move here buy properties with gorgeous but huge gardens and then realise afterwards that they can be a bit of work, so there’s a good market!
Don’t let any worries about what Brexit could do to the exchange markets put you off buying. It’s simple to fix in the same exchange rate for twelve months (at no extra cost). Find out how in our partner Smart Currency Exchange’s guide, The Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency.
Pet- or house-sitting
Pet- and house-sitting is another option: if you are happy to leave your own home for a week or two now and then, this can be a very lucrative pastime, particularly if you are cat-sitting as frankly, cats do not need very much more than company and feeding! Alternatively, you may be able to offer a service whereby you look after someone’s pet in your own home.
Opening a bar or restaurant
Ever fancied your hand at running a bar or restaurant? Now could be the time, especially with properties in much of rural France so cheap. It can be long hours, but also very rewarding and can help you fit into the local community and get to know plenty of people. You’ll need to do a French course to be allowed to open this kind of business, so you’ll need a little bit of French.
If you live in a touristy area, such as the Dordogne, or somewhere with a status like one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France, then take advantage of your command of the English language to show visitors around! You’d be surprised how many Americans, Australians and so on find their way to rural France.
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Some banks, such as BNP Parabis, offer services in English and, in expat areas, will often welcome having someone who speaks both English and French. You could work as a cashier, or in a back-office position, such as working on their marketing in English.
Hair and beauty
If you are a hairdresser or beautician you could offer treatments at people’s homes. Many expats prefer to have a British hairdresser or beautician (no-one wants a dodgy fringe as a result of a mix-up in French!) and so if you have these skills and are mobile, this is another great way to earn money. Remember that you’ll need to register – find out more in my previous column on finding work.
Babysitting and general childcare is another option and you could also offer your services to teach basic English to people who would like their children to learn at an early age. This can be done on a totally informal basis. We have a friend who teaches small groups at our local café once a week and charges by the hour. Many do a TEFL or CELTA course in advance to hone their own teaching practice. If you want to teach in a French state school, there are opportunities on an ad-hoc basis in more rural areas where the lack of qualifications don’t necessarily hold schools back. If you have a university near you, you might be able to work as a lecteur/lectrice (not a lecturer, but more of a language assistant), although the positions are only ever for two years maximum.
Another idea is to offer your services at a local estate agency. Many estate agencies now have English-speaking staff and if you have reasonable French, you may well be able to assist in their office. You could also work self-employed as an estate agent yourself for them, or find yourself working in marketing or a calling team in their HQ.
Ready to go and look for your perfect property? Make sure you’re prepared for your trip with the tips and tricks from our Viewing Trip guide.
One of the best things about the internet is how it’s opened up possibilities to work from anywhere. If you have digital skills from your previous job – such as in writing, marketing, web design or more – you may well still be able find clients based back in the UK. Earning a British salary while living in an affordable area of France can be a very nice situation to be in indeed!
Do I need French to work in France?
If you are unsure about your French language skills, this should not really pose a problem. Obviously it is wise to have some French and to try to improve but you would be surprised how many British people in France only really have basic French and still manage to get along – and earn money! The expat community is fairly large and the French are well used to British people living here and do not in general have a problem with this at all. Learning French will open doors, however, and do not be nervous about targeting French clients as well as English ones. The more, the merrier!