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Retiring in France? A Romantic Pipedream or Risk? | The Global Today

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Final Up to date on July 17, 2023 by Carolyn

Retiring in France? Pipedream or Possibility?
Retiring in France, Pipedream or Risk?

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Has Retiring in France Crossed Your Expat Radar?

The point out of France for a lot of conjures up visions of sitting on the terrace of a café enjoying an espresso after consuming a French delicacy corresponding to Coq au Vin. After which meandering alongside village streets with a fast cease on the bakery for a baguette and the fromagerie for a hunk of brie. However is that this a dream life? What’s it actually prefer to retire in France? At present’s put up is an interview with Beth Haslam, a Wales Native who moved to the French countryside in 2007, and the writer of a collection of hilarious memoirs “Fat Dogs and French Estates” that chronicle their hilarious adventures of retiring in France.

Meet Beth and Rob

Beth and Rob had been born and raised in Wales. Beth was a Human Useful resource Skilled in Wales, and as Beth places it, Rob was a grumpy engineer. I requested Beth just a few questions so we will get to know her, in spite of everything, how will you take recommendation from somebody in the event you don’t know what their likes and dislikes are?

What are Your Favorite Books?

“I’ve an eclectic style. As a passionate animal lover, my stalwart faves are the James Herriot and Gerald Durrell memoirs. I additionally love journey tales and historic whodunits.”

OK, I can already inform Beth and I’ll get alongside fabulously-those books all grace my cabinets and have achieved so for a few years.

Favorite Meals?

“Our French pals could be horrified at my favorite consolation meals selection of chili con carne. I
additionally adore moules mariniéres (with the compulsory French fries), and most seafood.”

For these not within the know moules marinieres is a French dish of mussels in shell, cooked in white wine, butter, shallots, garlic, and parsley.

Hobbies and Pastimes

When requested what hobbies and pastimes she likes to pursue Beth responded with:

” As an outdoorsy individual, I like lengthy canine walks, working with our animals, and tending the backyard and my veggie plot.”

Why Select An Expat Life

Quaint French Village of Colmar
Quaint French Village of Colmar

Individuals select to expatriate for a lot of causes. Some search a greater local weather, some search a less expensive price of residing and for some they only need change. I requested Beth what they had been searching for in an ex-pat life:

What Spurred the Transfer?

We had reached semi-retirement age and wished to purchase a second dwelling in a location with higher climate than our drizzly UK. As for the property kind, my grumpy husband is an engineer and wished room to unfold his oily mechanical initiatives. I’m mad eager on animals and cherished the thought of getting someplace to look at wildlife. The answer was a property with a pleasing local weather and sufficient land to swimsuit each aspirations.

What had been your first impressions of France?

To reply the query precisely, I’ve to return to my childhood and the voyage I took as a younger teenager throughout the English Channel with my father. We had been crusing with pals and berthed at Saint-Malo on the northwest coast of France. I recounted my impressions in my lates memoir, Fat Dogs and Welsh Estates. Right here’s an extract:

‘The nice metropolis constructed on a rock and guarded by ramparts regularly got here into view. The buildings regarded splendid. Tall and stately. I used to be thrilled on the considered setting foot on French soil for the primary time in my life.

Saint-Malo oozes historical past. The outdated metropolis with its cobbled streets, mighty battlements, archways, broad alleyways and thin rues appeared monumental and grand. Pa stated it was infamous as a den for corsairs. A bonus for us since that meant extra pirate tales. It was additionally France’s main port for voyages of discovery to the New World, which earned it a worthier popularity.

We browsed retailers, Gavin and I specializing in the chocolatiers, bullying our fathers into shopping for umpteen connoisseur varieties. The trade-off was hours spent in chandler shops. There appeared to be one on each avenue. We ate at crêperies, savouring every morsel of our wafer-thin pancakes, celebrating this culinary speciality of Breton tradition. We relaxed within the solar at cafe tables that spilled welcomingly into the road. No one minded. There was an elegant acceptance. C’est la vie in Saint-Malo, and I cherished it.

Fat Dogs and Welsh Estates

Life as an Expat

Sunflowers in French Countryside
Sunflowers in French Countryside

One other concern with transferring to a different nation is the precise technique of transferring: There are an countless variety of duties to perform with a few of the most essential gadgets being: Securing a spot to dwell in your chosen nation, cleansing out your present dwelling (together with purging and sorting belongings, packing, and in the event you personal your house promoting/renting it), and getting paperwork to ensure that the transfer. This could take some folks weeks, others months, and a few years. I requested Beth how lengthy it took them:

How lengthy was the method from the day you determined to maneuver and truly transferring?

“We nattered across the topic for months. As soon as we’d determined to purchase in France, I started an exhaustive, six-month on-line seek for appropriate properties. Pleased with my achievement, we agreed on a shortlist. We packed our automobile and set off with our two chubby canine in April 2007 on a three-week property-visiting mission. This was once I found my good planning wasn’t fairly as wonderful as I believed. There have been enormous disparities between on-line data and the true factor.

We lined over a thousand kilometers encountering one property catastrophe after one other. In reality, they had been so disastrous that one night, exhausted after one more dire encounter with a nutty property proprietor, Jack, with a sustaining gin and tonic, stated, “The issues which have occurred to us are so unbelievable it is best to write a e-book about it.” And that’s how my Fat Dogs and French Estates memoir series was born.

Fairly accidentally, the deal was achieved on our domaine (property) in late September of the identical 12 months.

Each nation has its quirks, some gratifying some not so gratifying. I used to be curious to know what has been Beth and Rob’s most memorable experiences in France, each good and dangerous:

What do you take pleasure in most about your new Nation? What have been a few of your favorite experiences?

Gosh, that’s onerous to reply. We dwell in a rural space. Life right here is like stepping again thirty years, our farming group lives in accordance with the seasons’ rhythms. It’s the form of light, supportive atmosphere the place of us take care of each other in instances of strife. It’s a spot the place I’ll return from a buying journey to discover a ‘cadeau’ of fruit or veg or home-brewed wine on our doorstep. Why the reward? Simply because.

Serendipity lent a hand once we purchased our domaine. Simply as I’d hoped, it truly is plentiful with wildlife. I’ll by no means tire of strolling on our land, watching wild boar, deer, hare, and plenty of different animals.

Favorite experiences are wide-ranging, together with eating al fresco at village get-togethers. We’ve a thriving market tradition right here, so mooching round one of many innumerable weekly markets or summer time fêtes is a delight. These are the locations the place neighbours atone for the native gossip. Equally, I like the thrill of discovering historic villages and fortifications. Our space abounds with historical past, and we’ve solely touched the floor. It’s a countrified existence, and we find it irresistible.

Marche Cristal Toulouse
Looking native “marché’s” is a favorite pastime

What do you dislike most about your new Nation? Do you miss something out of your previous dwelling?

Paperwork. Jack is satisfied the French have adopted ‘Why cease at one kind when you possibly can concern eight?’ as their mantra. French bureaucrats are well-known for his or her love of paperwork and enjoyment of handing out wads of paperwork. Paradoxically, most French of us ignore the bulk, leaving us dutiful étrangéres slogging over the element.

What are the most important changes you’ve got needed to make settling into expat life? Did you expertise any tradition shock?

Regardless of our good decision to purchase a property with no work required, we ended up with an entire renovation undertaking. Briefly residing in a partial break with a military of hyperactive creepy crawlies took a little bit of getting used to, as did communications.

Once we arrived, the web was nearly non-existent, as it will be – we dwell in a distant space with no shut neighbours. Corresponding and work commitments had been frustratingly difficult to handle. The opposite concern was our lack of fluency within the language.

Making an attempt to precise ourselves effectively with a group of artisan workmen with sturdy southwest accents whereas we had been restoring our dwelling was tough for them and us. However the place there’s a will, there’s a manner. With a mix of arm waving, flipping endlessly by way of our English/French dictionaries and scruffy sketches, we made ourselves understood. I ought to add that our artisans had been very affected person!

Has it been straightforward assembly folks and making pals? Have you ever made pals with locals or do you primarily combine with different expats?

Transferring to a unique nation and searching for out different Brits didn’t enchantment to us. We wished to immerse ourselves within the French tradition. Because it occurs, there are only a few expats in our space. We met folks shortly, primarily as a result of we wanted to search out native artisans. Our French forester worker is an area and helped no finish. He launched us to a number of of us, a lot of whom have develop into shut pals.

I additionally met folks by way of canine walks. Since we dwell in a small rural group, we quickly discovered that everyone knew everyone and several other households took it upon themselves to make sure we had been swiftly built-in. Surprisingly, the opposite motive we met folks shortly was due to our dwelling, Le Palizac.

Our domaine was beforehand owned by a gentleman noble whose household has fairly a historical past. People wished to search out out who had purchased the property, and far to our shock, came visiting/invite us to soirées nearly as quickly as we moved in.

What languages are spoken the place you might be residing? Are you able to converse them?

French is the predominant language spoken. Sure, we will converse the language, although sadly, we’re nonetheless a bit bumbly and never fluent.

When you personal pets, did they arrive with you?

Sure, we introduced our two canines, Max and Aby

Max and Aby, the Fat Dogs
Max and Aby, of Fats Canine Fame

What does it Value to Dwell in France?

View of Market Goods
A market goer’s paradise


Readers are at all times to find out about prices: How a lot does it price to hire or buy a home, and what are grocery and utility prices like? What well being care choices are there?

Since Beth and Rob bought their domaine in 2007 their housing prices aren’t actually pertinent to in the present day’s readers. Leases costs after all fluctuate vastly relying on location and measurement, however a cheery condominium may be discovered on for 500 euros per thirty days whereas complete cottages may be discovered for 800 euros per thirty days. For brief time period stays, Beth shared this hyperlink with me: Holidayhomes

To buy property one would possibly browse, they’ve listings beginning at 15,000€ for an entire renovation to historic Medieval Castles for 30,000,000€ . It’s fascinating to browse this web site’s listings.


Beth supplied costs of the next basket of groceries from Intermarche and Carrefour, well-liked supermarkets in France. She says that contemporary produce is normally far cheaper at native markets.

A loaf of bread: 2.19€ for a loaf of entire grain bread. The favored French baguettes promote for two.95€ for five!

A dozen eggs: 2.90€ (free vary medium measurement)

A 500 gm bag of espresso? 9.50€ (Carte Noir Honduras BIO cafe)

A head of lettuce? 0.99€

A kilo of bananas? 1.99€ (Cavendiish Natural bananas from the Dominican Republic)

A kilo of potatoes? 1.99€

A kilo of cheese 14.75€ Roquefort Sheeps Milk Cheese (Beth notes that France produces over 1000 kinds of cheese so there isn’t any “common pricing”. She chosen a preferred selection. Suffice to say France is a cheese lover’s paradise).


Beth and Rob journey by way of their Toyota Rav 4 Hybrid.

France does provide good public transportation choices together with bus, metro, and practice that even service rural areas.

Well being Care

Most retirees are very involved about healthcare prices. I requested Beth if she was lined by France’s healthcare system or if she self-insured.

We each have a carte vitale. It’s a microchipped card that permits entry to the French healthcare system. It permits us to be reimbursed for major physician or specialist appointments, prescriptions on the pharmacy, or hospital visits.

With no well being card, except already lined by outdoors insurance coverage, sufferers normally need to pay the prices upfront.

We even have a complementary medical health insurance coverage by way of AXA. Combining our carte vitale and medical health insurance permits us to be reimbursed for many medical and health-related interventions

Per Beth, a go to to the physician presently prices about 25€. And their “carte vitale” entitles them to free prescription medicines.

French Visa and Residency

For most individuals, a Visa isn’t required to go to France in the event that they plan to remain for 90 days or much less however for longer stays it’s finest to examine Visa necessities on the French Visa Site.

Rob and Beth have obtained a residence allow in France, referred to as “Titre de Séjour” which suggests they’re everlasting residents. Beth additionally notes that surprisingly a course of that they anticipated to be agonizing because of the French paperwork, proved to be moderately easy. They got an appointment the place they introduced their paperwork and had their fingerprints taken, and in minutes the method was full, with their Titre de Séjour playing cards issued just a few weeks later.

Tip for These Contemplating a Related Transfer

When requested for a tip she’d give to somebody considering an analogous transfer, Beth advised:

“Taking a vacation overseas may be very completely different to residing overseas. Analysis correctly, and when you’ve got any doubts, hire earlier than shopping for.”

Memorable Experiences

Photo of Max one of the Fat Dogs
Max, Of Fats Canine and French Estates Fame!

I at all times ask my friends to share a very memorable expertise or joke. Having learn Beth’s Fats Canine Sequence, I knew she’d have a very good story to share. She didn’t disappoint:

“We’ve had numerous embarrassing moments with our faltering command of the language. Right here’s a narrative I associated in Fat Dogs and French Estates Part 4:

All we wished to do was purchase furnishings to place a tv on. Easy? Not in our a part of southwest France! Thoughts you, Monsieur Farane, the shop proprietor, is famously eccentric. That is what occurred once I despatched my grumpy husband off to search out him.

Jack stalked off, complaining. He shortly returned with monsieur, who had jettisoned his different clients. The pair of them checked out me, profoundly uninterested.

Talking in French, I requested if he had a tv cupboard. Monsieur regarded nonplussed. Jack had a go. Nope, clean expression once more from monsieur. We couldn’t work out the place we had been going incorrect. In spite of everything, the French phrase for tv is téléimaginative and prescient, it must be a comparatively easy translation. Evidently not.

We had a number of extra goes, throughout which monsieur’s eyebrows grew to become ever extra knotted. In desperation, we resorted to charades. This foxed him fully. Jack was getting aggravated.

“I’m sorry, monsieur, however how onerous can this be for you? I’m positive it’s the identical phrase, tv, tv. What’s the issue?”

This wasn’t useful since he was blustering away in English.

“I do know,” I stated in French, proffering my cell phone at monsieur. “Google Traduire!

Monsieur fidgeted tetchily whereas I discovered the offending phrase. I pointed the display screen at him, he studied it after which exploded.

Merde! TélévizION!” he yelled.

It was one other of these instances when there was an actual danger Jack would possibly begin ranting. As an alternative, he checked out me. Floored.

“I don’t bloody properly consider it! We’ve been saying that for the final ten minutes; the place did we go incorrect? It is the identical blasted phrase.”

There was no level asking Monsieur Farane; he had already charged off to a different a part of the shop and was frantically waving at us to affix him.

“I don’t know,” I stated, turning to observe him. “I believe we mispronounced the ziON bit on the finish.”

“Nicely, that’s undoubtedly made my thoughts up.”


“Completely nutty, the lot of them.”

~Fat Dogs and French Estates Part 4

Extra on Retiring in France

When you’d prefer to know extra about retiring in France, I counsel studying the Fat Dog Series which paperwork Beth and Rob’s hilarious adventures transferring and residing in France, and go to Beth’s web site: to learn extra attention-grabbing accounts of Beth’s life in France.

Beth will also be discovered on Instagram at @fatdogsandfrenchestates and on Fb at: Beth Haslam

Thank-you Beth for sharing your experiences!

For extra expat accounts please go to our web page Expat and Inspiring Tales.

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