Relocating to France is a dream for so many people, tempted by the sun, beautiful scenery, wine, cheese and the wonderful French lifestyle. TV shows such as A Place in the Sun and Escape to the Chateau have brought this dream to life and made it seem within reach, but when you want to turn the dream into a reality, there are many factors to consider and things to get into place.
So in this article, we want to give you our top five tips to follow, to make sure your overseas dream doesn’t turn into a nightmare.
Make a plan
Make a clear plan for the move, with timescales for how long things will take, all the elements you need to get organised and the priority order to get them done
When you start a relocation project it can seem very daunting and stressful, but taking the time to make a plan of attack and working out a logical order to get things done is a great way to get in control.
A detailed list will help you to be more organised, avoid nasty surprises with things you’ve forgotten and it is very satisfying to tick things off the list.
Just make sure you understand the elements you need to have in place for each action, to make sure you’re working smart and doing things in the correct order.
If in doubt leave more time than you think you’ll need, to allow for unforeseen delays.
We also recommend starting a packing timeline where you start early with the things you aren’t using regularly, create a box with all your packing supplies and work back to the essentials which go into an open first box so you know where all your priority items are when you arrive, without rummaging through lots of boxes.
Look for a moving company with plenty of time in hand
If it’s not a rush, then you will have time to obtain various quotes, read reviews and ask for recommendations to enable you to make an informed decision.
You are entrusting this company with all your belongings, so you need to be able to rely on them and communicate with them clearly.
We’d recommend striking a balance between affordability and reliability, as a small saving is not worth problems with things arriving, getting lost or damaged.
Good removals companies are often booked up well in advance, so don’t leave this to the last minute.
Stay on top of your finances and make a clear budget to avoid any nasty surprises
Buying a new home or deposits for rentals, hiring movers and new utilities all incur upfront payments, and it does add up.
Make a clear plan with costs of all the elements that you will need for your new life in France.
Add a contingency to create a buffer and allow for unexpected costs. Stay on top of your finances and budget for what you will need and when, and then allocate accordingly.
It is possible that you might not need everything at once so create a timeline with payment requirements and decide if you can pick things up as you go.
Make sure to take into account exchange rates and speak to a currency broker that can help you to secure the best rate.
Do your research
There is much to think about before moving, but by using your computer or phone you can get ahead of the curve.
Do all your research beforehand into the area, property prices, schools, medical services, residency regulations and processes, so you are well prepared when you arrive.
Social media is a great tool for this! There are lots of Facebook groups where fellow expats share information and ask questions.
People who live there are always happy to help, so don’t be afraid to ask. You can reach out to friends or colleagues who have moved previously and ask for advice.
As they’ve done a similar move, they will have on-the-ground experience and are normally willing to help, as they’ll remember being in your position all too well.
These people can also become closer friends and a support network when you arrive, so be proactive in finding and reconnecting with old friends who are living in France. Again, social media makes this easier than ever!
Ask for assistance
There’s no point trying to go it alone and shouldering all the stress and expense yourself if you don’t need to. If you are moving for work, be sure to ask your employer if they offer any type of practical or financial relocation assistance to help cover costs.
If you’re moving as a couple or a family, divide up the jobs fairly so no one person feels overwhelmed. Use the Facebook groups and travel forums to ask people for help and advice.
If you are short on time, don’t speak French, or just want to make the process smoother, seek professional help.
There are companies that cover individual aspects of the move that you can contact and bring in to help.
Alternatively, a relocation company such as ours can help with all aspects of moving including finding schools for your children, a long-term rental property, removals and assistance with paperwork.
We want to ensure you have everything sorted and can start enjoying your new life in France as quickly as possible.
About the author
Relocation expert Pippa Maile is the Founder of Elys Relocation, a company which offers a one stop solution to moving abroad. Pippa is British, but lived and worked in France for over 10 years, speaks fluent French and has a wealth of knowledge, great network of contacts and all the skills to make your move to France run smoothly.