Are you Moving to France to Retire?
With scary stories in the UK press about people having to work until they’re 476 years of age (OK, slight exaggeration!), it’s reassuring to know that there are still people who are able to retire early enough to contemplate a whole new life. If you’re one of the many people who has had the chance to take early retirement or has a nice retirement fund, it may well be that you’re thinking of either moving to France on a permanent basis or buying a holiday home in France.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing articles on our blog that will help you go into your adventure with your eyes wide open. In this particular article, we’re focusing on the important issues that are likely to affect people who are looking to move to France, lock, stock and barrel to see out their retirement years. While giving up work and having time on your hands will be new to you, the reality of dealing with that particular element of change won’t be all that affected by which side of the Channel you’re on, more by your personality. As a result of this, we’ve concentrated here on the things that will have more of an impact because you’re in France:
Leaving your Family
Selling your home, packing up your belongings and saying goodbye to your friends and family is a tough one. There’s no getting away from that. No matter whether you’re moving 100 miles away or 2000 miles away, the reality of driving off from security and familiarity for the last time is a tough task, and not for the faint hearted. That said, the world is now a very small place and by choosing your French property wisely, you should only ever be a matter of hours away from your loved ones. In the UK we’re accustomed to travel and the thought that friends and family are a flight away is much less daunting than it would have been even 20 years ago. That said, you shouldn’t take this lightly.
Learning a New Language
There’s no getting away from the fact that when people move to France, one of the hardest nuts to crack is the language. Unless you’re pretty much fluent before you move, you’re highly likely to come up against some difficulties. Ask any expat about their worst language nightmare and they’ll typically tell you about trying to sort out administrative issues (that they probably wouldn’t even understand in English because the French system is so different), doctor’s appointments (because they’re naturally stressful) and phone calls (because there are no body-language clues) as their most stressful events. There’s plenty you can do to develop your language skills as well as developing coping strategies for when you simply don’t understand. We’ll be sharing these with you soon.
Healthcare for Retirees Abroad
In large part, the French healthcare system is superb. Not surprisingly however, it’s staffed by people who speak French (and if you’re lucky, some English) as well as operating on a completely different basis to the UK system. When you go to the doctor in France, you’ll be asked to pay and although you’ll more than likely be refunded, how much and when will depend on how you’re registered in the French healthcare system. The whole area of healthcare in France is complicated and needs an article of it’s own, but if you have pressing questions, let us help by getting in touch.
Potential Financial Concerns
Running out of money is a real and common fear, no matter which country you’re living in, but needless to say, if you’re moving from the UK to France, you’ll have currency issues to consider too. For anyone who moved to France about 10 years ago, they’ll recall exchange rates of almost €1,50 to the pound and prices that were about 30% lower in France than they are today. It’s not surprising therefore that these same people are bewildered that the euro is struggling to break the €1.20 barrier and their shopping seems awfully expensive. The likelihood is that you’re going to receive your pension in sterling and spend in Euro. As a result, you need an efficient and effective way to transfer currency and a nice margin of error when it comes to your exchange rate crystal ball.
Lonely in the Country
Moving to a country where the locals don’t speak your language can lead to isolation on it’s own, but add to that the fact that in retirement you don’t have a ready made ‘circle’ and it’s easy to see how isolation can become an issue. Families with kids have a ready-made circle at the school gate, working people have colleagues, but retired people often find it much harder to integrate. Again a major key to this is developing your language skills. But another way is taking advantage of the many associations that exist in France, either specifically for retired people or for people with shared interests. This is a great way to quickly become a real part of the community. Another thing to think about to avoid isolation is the location of your new property. While many Brits instinctively sniff out isolated properties, possibly because they’re in such abundance in France, there are strong arguments for choosing a village or city location, particularly in retirement.
Old Age in France
While being elderly and infirm mightn’t be further from your mind right now, it’s well worth planning for the time when mobility isn’t as straightforward as it is today or the time where, sadly a happy couple becomes one. Planning for later in life now means that when the time comes you’ll have a strategy and it’ll be all the less harrowing. You’ve guessed it, we’re going to be writing about this too, but we can help you right now if you need us to.
If you would like to discuss your project to move to retire in France, why not get in touch? We’re here to help you make sure that your property purchase and move go as smooth as possible. If you are planning a trip to view houses, then take a look at our Complete Guide to Finding and Buying your Dream Property.