Did you know that 40% of expatriation ends before it is supposed to due to these four mistakes too many expats make when relocating to France?
Which is such a bummer after investing all that time and money into the big move! But the good news is that if you avoid just a few common errors, your chances of success go way up. A move abroad is an exciting life experience but it can bring with it unexpected challenges.
So, whether you want to move to France with a work visa, retire in France and you want to make France your adoptive country, here is what you need to know about moving to France to make sure you’re set up for an amazing new life in France!
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Mistake #1: Relocating to France without learning French
If you don’t already speak French when deciding to live in France, you will quickly realise that speaking English isn’t sufficient to get by in France, even in Paris or other French cities. It might be OK as a tourist, but when you reside in France, you will quickly be limited in everything you do and will lose a lot of autonomy. If you’re serious about relocating to France, mastering the local language should be on top of your list, and many expats in France realise this the hard way.
I know, learning a new language feels totally overwhelming. French has so many new sounds, grammar rules, and weird spellings!
But here’s the thing, you don’t need to be fluent to have a good life in France – even just reaching an intermediate conversational level of French makes a gigantic difference in how smoothly your move goes.
It will also open doors that wouldn’t exist otherwise (such as making doctor’s appointments, negotiating a better price, managing your French red tape, making French friends, getting a promotion at work or finding a job in France…).
So start studying via apps, taking classes, or trying immersion before you get to France. Your future self will thank you!
Mistake #2: Assuming everything will be the same in France as at home
I totally get the mindset. How different could it really be? But let me tell you – little cultural quirks and ways of living that you’re used to can be surprisingly different in France. Resisting those or getting upset will only make you miserable.
Everyone’s normality is different. And I mean as an experienced expat I still sometimes make this mistake to think that things should be a different way.
When relocating to France, one is often going after a different life, without realising this applies to every area of life. How society is organised, cultural codes, local habits and priorities. This could go from having everything open 7 days a week, or how long it will take to get specific paperwork done, the possibility to eat out at any time of the day or even night…
And telling a French person that it should be another way because in your country it works like this and it is much better, will only get you the opposite that you want.
Letting go of your expectations and what is “normal” will avoid a strong culture shock and a lot of frustration.
Some people do not imagine that the little differences in everyday life could have such an impact. You don’t want to end up accumulating a lot of frustrations and disappointment that will lead to early repatriation! Especially if you have invested so much to move to France.
Mistake #3: Requesting the wrong visa to move to France
Did you know there were 28 different long-stay visas to relocate to France long term?
And requesting the wrong one can have heavy consequences.
Planning to come with an “easy visa” like a short-stay tourist visa, a 90 days visa exemption or a long-stay tourist visa to switch to the real motive of relocating to France is the worst strategy to have if you want to stay more than a year in France. Preparing a thorough visa application file is the first step of your French bureaucracy journey and should be taken very seriously since the French government can be fearless.
Also, a change of status can be difficult to get and you will get scrutiny as in some cases the French administration may question why you requested the initial visa.
So, it is worth working towards finding solutions to meet the requirement of your real motive to come to France rather than jeopardising your chance to settle in France.
And just so you know there are 5 sponsor-free visas that are a great way to move to France. These visas are great if you do not plan to get salaried employee visas or a student visa. So if you’re moving to work in France as a self-employed, a spouse of a French citizen, a retiree and a long-term tourist, you’ll be covered and get the checklists for your entire move and much more!
I’m talking about:
And as an FYI, there is no Digital Nomad visa as I write this post and you’ll need to apply for one of the above-listed visas.
Each visa has different criteria and gives you different obligations and benefits. I go into the details of each one of these visas in the France Formula training course. This is the online programme that will help you organise your entire move to France to live your new French life on your own terms and even stay in France in the long term if you wish to! I tell you a bit more about the programme at the end of this video.
In the meantime, you can register for the waitlist via this link.
Mistake #4: Getting ready to make the move too late!
The French bureaucracy has a bad reputation… and I have to say that it is well deserved! Even if there have been some improvements.
The only way to make a successful move is to come prepared!
Relocating to France requires anticipation and organisation! This is the only way to overcome this challenge.
Finding out at the last minute that the process is longer than expected or different than what you know is something you want to avoid. (and this circles back to mistake number 2). And it can hardly be a good argument to get special treatment from the French administration for a fast-track process – spoiler alert: This is no fast track!
I have seen people having to travel back to their country, or having trouble going through administrative processes because they forgot an essential document and couldn’t get anyone to get it for them.
Once arriving in France, you’ll need to get ready for many other processes such as the healthcare system, getting a French bank account, dealing with French real estate agents, and adjusting to the cost of living in France.
There are other mistakes, of course, but these ones are the most common ones I’ve seen in my 15 years of experience as an international relocation expert.
But sometimes even when we do our best to avoid these mistakes, it is still very hard to find reliable information in English about what is required for every main French administrative process.
The France Formula programme for aspiring expats wanting to live in France
It will be your step-by-step guide to nailing the visa, French paperwork, and general lifestyle adaptation to life in France.
You’ll get moving checklists, French document templates, how-to videos, insider tips and more. So you can relax and check out the French cafés knowing your move is under control!
Seriously – I want your life in France to be filled with croissants, wine and joie de vivre, not mountains of paperwork and stress. So be sure to click the link and check out France Formula today.
Doors open only a few times a year, and as I film this video, it will open in the next few weeks. If you want to make sure you don’t miss out on the next opening, you can subscribe to the waiting list via the link under this video.
This is your chance to make that dream a reality. Let’s get you living your best French life.
So there you have it: Relocating to France is possible for you too!
The four major mistakes to avoid when relocating to France. Remember, with ample preparation, a willingness to learn, and a dash of enthusiasm, your French dream can become a delightful reality whatever it may look like for you, a stroll near the Eiffel Tower, a discovery at the local market, building a new home in France… Bonne chance!