France has long been popular with people of varying stages of life and from many countries. Over 200,000 UK citizens live in France, and the country has consistently been near the top of most expat surveys.
UK citizens can stay a maximum of 90 days in 180 days without requiring a visa. For extended stays shorter than 12 months, you will need to apply for a short-stay visa. For durations up to three years, you will need a long-stay visa.
If you plan to retire to France from a non-EU country, such as the UK, you will need a long-stay visitor visa. This type of visa means you cannot engage in any paid work. The visa application process requires a lot of supporting documentation, particularly if you plan to become a permanent resident.
Are you thinking of setting up a B&B or some other type of business? You will need a working visa. You will be required to provide detailed information about the company’s financial viability you plan to open. Getting this type of visa is difficult.
There are companies based in France that provide ‘relocation services’, who specialise in helping foreigners through the application process. Their expertise and experience will significantly reduce stress and potentially improve your chances of success.
Two investment visa programmes are currently available.
– Business Investor Talent Passport – requires an investment of €300,000 in French business.
– French Residency Programme – requires an investment of €10 million in French business.
To qualify for a long-stay visitor visa, you must show your income is at least €1231 net per month. However, the process considers where you plan to retire, as the cost of living in some areas is more expensive. Your lifestyle choices will dictate your actual requirement, but as a rough guide, a retired couple can live very comfortably on around €2,500 a month.
French banks and mortgage providers are happy to provide finance to foreigners, as well as French citizens. While still having access to mortgage finance, UK buyers may be required to meet additional requirements and restrictions.
Currently, Brits can still get LTV (loan-to-value) of around 70 – 80%, the same as EU nationals. Only French tax residents can get a 100% mortgage. The minimum loan value available from finance providers is around €150,000 for EU and UK applicants.
The public education system in France is excellent. French children can start federally sponsored nursery school at the age of three. However, school is not compulsory for children until the age of 6. Permanent or EU citizens can study in a French University for practically no fees. Non-citizens can attend public universities but will have to pay.
There is a wide range of school options to choose from in France. If your child does not speak French, public schools in the larger towns and cities or expat enclaves provide language initiation classes to help them settle in their new country. In some larger cities, schools offer an international curriculum that teaches French to non-Francophone students to help them integrate.
Another option is to send them to an international language school. It tends to depend on the child’s age. Younger children pick up languages quickly.
France has 4 tax rates, with a top rate of 41%. However, France does offer tax deductions over the UK system. Retirees will have to pay French income tax on pension or retirement fund payouts, but it gives you access to services, such as health insurance. Even if your UK pension is paid to you in the UK, you will be required to declare this income in your annual tax return.
French health care service is one of the best in the world, and although it is contribution-based, it runs much more efficiently than the UK’s national health service.
Doctors are well trained and helpful in France, and many speak English. If required, they will make home visits even at night.
Pharmacists in France are a good port of call for minor ailments as they are highly trained and give good advice for free. They can dress minor wounds, and some have an emergency night service.
Brits of retirement age in receiving a state pension can access healthcare in France very cheaply.
France remains a top-rated destination for moving overseas despite strong competition from countries such as Portugal, Spain, Cyprus and Greece; the country’s diversity, gastronomy and charm continue to draw retirees and young families looking for a new life overseas.
While the cost of living is comparatively more expensive than other popular retirement destinations, property prices are significantly lower than the UK. And of course, France has a “je ne sais quoi”.
The thought of moving to France can be daunting, with so many things to consider and do to ensure your move to France is a success. With good planning and expert help, your dream can become a reality. If you have a question or need advice – Contact us