Here’s What I Think You Should Know About Moving To France

Many of my friends have told me how wonderful they think it would be to move to France with me if I ever go back. But they second-guess when I explain how difficult it was for me moving here. America is a lot different than France in ways nobody imagines before they come here. I certainly didn’t. But culture shock affects us subtly more than anything else, and anyone considering a move to beautiful France should know a few things first.

First of all, Paris is not France, and most French citizens wish you would stop seeing it that way. They don’t represent us. They’re different. They’re different in the same way that Americans would hate to think that a tourist sees New Yorkers or Los Angeleans representative of the rest of them. Obviously, they don’t. You shouldn’t make the same mistake. Where you decide to settle down in France will determine the kind of people you’re around — just like in America.

Just like immigrants coming to America need a green card or visa, you need one to move to France. Don’t just show up there because you’ll get sent back in a hurry.

Finding work in France will be difficult unless you have a needed skill. Many of those who travel to France will find work teaching English. 

Unless there are other circumstances, it will take you five years before you can apply for citizenship.

Your credit card won’t always work, especially if it hasn’t been chipped. You’ll probably still be able to eat out.

On the plus side, Americans apparently don’t have to pay double taxes when living in France. That’s because of treaties written long ago.

French law dictates that foreign-born residents must apply for a French driver’s license within one year. Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t have a specific agreement with France to make it easier to obtain a French license. It comes down to what state you’re from. Californians, for example, can’t just bounce over to France and obtain a French permit. No, no, no.

Most United States drivers hate roundabouts, but they’re common in Europe. You might want to learn before you go. More importantly, you’d better have cash on hand if you’re on a toll road, because foreign credit cards will not always work. 

France is similar to the United States in that it’s difficult to rent without sufficient proof of equally sufficient income. In general, you’ll need a job that guarantees at least three times the amount of rent. Can’t make that much? Find someone who’s willing to take responsibility and sign as a “guarantor.” That might work, but not always. Lessors are always hesitant to rent out to foreigners.