Written by Beth Nicholson,
30th March 2021

If you wish to move to France to reduce your stresses and strains, you’ve chosen the right place. The health and wellbeing benefits of rural life in France are plentiful and ready for the taking. Enjoy and relax!

Following the move to your new home there will, of course, be an unending list of “to-dos” that you wish to accomplish as quickly as possible. But the first important piece of advice is to remember is that the pace and ethos of life in France are very different to the UK. The necessity to rush around and get everything done immediately simply does not exist here. You would be well advised to leave those expectations at whichever port you left from.

Patience is very much a given, more so than a virtue here and everything will get done in time. That is simply the way it is. If you can allow yourself to give in to that mindset, you will find yourself quickly embracing life here. You’ll also be grateful for the benefits of rural life in France on both your health and mood.

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Sun, light and air quality

People comment on how sunshine alters mood and energy for the better. I do not doubt this, but it is light that I believe really makes the difference. The light that enables you to see the tiniest creatures, the most beautiful colours and every single wonderful opportunity that this fantastic country has to offer.

Here in the South West, we see the sun often and when we do, the nation doesn’t collapse in disbelief. The weather is one of the big attractions of rural life in France. Blazing sunshine especially after (or even during) rain has a way of kicking your soul back to a “happy place”. That, combined with the air quality, breathes life and energy into you during the day and tires you out, ready to sleep soundly at night. And then there’s the calming silence at night, which initially may seem overwhelmingly loud for someone who has moved from a city.

Rural life in France offers very affordable opportunities to own properties with large gardens and grounds attached.

Nature and the great outdoors

One of the best countries to truly embrace nature is France. Whilst the weather obviously lends itself to outdoor living, rural life in France offers very affordable opportunities to own properties with large gardens and grounds attached. This provides a never-ending list of jobs, none of which are particularly sedentary. Mowing (which in the height of summer needs to be done weekly, if not more), planting, stacking logs – all these things can transform your cardio and fitness regime without you even noticing. And that is before you venture outside and take advantage of the fabulous walking trails, cycling “Chemins”, water sports and other wonderful activities that rural France has to offer.

When it comes to self-sufficiency, growing your own produce has to be one of the most satisfying and rewarding past times. The knowledge of exactly what has (or more importantly hasn’t) been used in the production of your own fruit and veg is particularly satisfying. Along with the quality of fruit, veg, meat and cheese available at local markets, eating both exceptionally well yet surprisingly healthily is easily achievable.

Make sure you’re prepared for a viewing trip with the tips and tricks from our Viewing Trip guide.

Traffic and roads

What about travelling and commuting? One of my greatest loves of rural life in France is the traffic, or the lack thereof.  When a “traffic jam” consists of being stuck behind a tractor and a procession of 5 cars, you’d be hard pushed to feeling any level of road rage.  At worst, it may hold you up for minutes and give you a chance to admire the scenery!

Work/life balance

The French certainly do not live to work – quite the opposite. You’ll soon notice this should you ever make the rookie mistake of arriving at a shop just as they are ready to close for lunch or finish for the day. It will annoy them, and be sure, they will show it! Nothing is more important than taking a break, especially to eat, drink and spend quality time with friends, family and loved ones.

If you turn down an invitation due to “workload”, be ready to be laughed at or completely disbelieved. Enjoying your life rules above all here, and work is simply something that has to be done from time to time in order to earn and survive.

When it comes to self-sufficiency, growing your own produce has to be one of the most satisfying and rewarding past times.

Quality of life

Rural life in France is really all about conviviality, community and support. Whether you have family or not, originated here or not, or in some cases are liked or not, you are *always* looked after. Communities, in particular, look out for people without support or family and are always ready and willing to help out. This is perhaps one of the reasons why people tend to go into homes later than in the UK and only ever as a last resort. This feeling of “community” not only enables many people to live independently, but also guarantees that they never really feel totally alone. Even those of us who are not old or infirm can testify to this, having lived through the last year in more complicated times than ever.

Why not spread the cost and buy with family? Read our guide, Buying with Family.

A sense of purpose

For many, with a complete change of country comes an absolute change of lifestyle.  Maybe you finally have the freedom to try out that new business idea or you have reached retirement and simply want to enjoy life more. Perhaps, you’d like to become more integral within your community. Many people arrive in France with a renewed sense of purpose. Let’s face it – this is a new start and with it comes the possibilities of becoming whatever and whoever you want. You can look forward to the wealth of possibility and adventure your new future has to offer.

Living away from the hustle and bustle and persistent noise of city life, with a bigger appreciation of the much smaller things, certainly ensures a more consistent feeling of wellbeing and balance. Rarely hearing sirens or other noise contributes to a feeling an inner calm and being internally “safe”. Not being in a constant state of rushing, stressed out by noise or always worrying about the next thing that *may* happen will bring down your stress levels generally, all thanks to rural life in France.

You can look forward to the wealth of possibility and adventure your new future has to offer.

What do the statistics say about life in rural France?

Whilst I could give you numerous tangible personal examples of the health and wellbeing benefits of rural life in France, do not just take *my* word for it. According to CPREMAP (The Centre For Economic Research And Its Applications), a study undertaken in 2018 found the following: “Measures of subjective well-being for France show an advantage in favour of the countryside: rural people are happier, more satisfied with their lives, their housing, their social relations, and feel more secure. Overall, all these metrics deteriorate with the size of the urban areas”.

Going even further they cited, “Cities, both medium and large, seem to be losing their appeal. According to urban planners/demographers, France is witnessing a real “urban exodus” which, since the 1970s, has involved more than 4.5 million French people and represents 110,000 people each year, who trade life in large cities for a little greenery and suburban areas.” This trend has also been very much highlighted within the French Property market throughout the time of the pandemic.

So stay active, get things done and above all keep moving. But also remember to just relax and enjoy it! A fabulously rewarding life in rural France is all about balance.

For a smooth move to France, you need to make sure that your budget is protected to reduce risk from exchange rate flux. Find out how in our partner Smart Currency Exchange’s guide, The Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency.

About The Author

Beth Nicholson

As a child of parents who met and lived in Greece, having a home in Crete and having studied in Grenoble France, Beth has always felt more at home in those countries than the UK. In November 2017 she moved permanently to Charente, France. Since then she has managed minor renovations on her home, established herself as an integral part of her commune and re-established her Operations consultancy in France. Through Kalitera she provides business improvement and project management services to small businesses here as well as administrative support to individuals. You can read Beth's blog here at mylifeinfrancefr.wordpress.com

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