After interviewing many people who have successfully relocated to France and have thriving families, businesses or a content retirement lifestyle, it is clear that every experience is unique. Having said that, however, there are three main things that stand out as common factors to consider before you make the move.
They Speak French in France
This is a fact that not everybody is ready to embrace. Every step, however small, that you make to learn the language will be rewarded manifold. At the same time accept that even if you master the language to a high level of proficiency and receive lots of compliments, you are likely to retain an accent or have a different intonation. You are, after all, a foreigner and will forever remain an étranger.
They Do Things a Little Weird in France
This is not likely to change in the foreseeable future. Shops close at lunchtime, people take long summer holidays, they strike, bureaucracy reigns, restaurants close between mealtimes, and if you throw a tantrum for what you perceive as poor service they have a tendency to shrug. The sooner you zen into these notions, the healthier your blood pressure is likely to remain.
Francophilism Is Not a Secret Brotherhood
Take the pressure off yourself. If living in France isn’t for you it doesn’t mean that you failed, or that your membership to some exclusive elite club was turned down. If it’s not for you, say a little thank you for the things that you do enjoy about France and move on. You can always come back and enjoy it as a holiday destination – even buy a little pied-à-terre so that you can claim your own personal corner and fall in love with France all over again. Likewise, moving countries is not a magical solution to a sticky family, relationship or career situation. If you’re running away from a dark cloud in your previous life, it will follow you to your new one. The most successful relocations are those in which people have a desire or reason to move to France, rather than to move away from where they were before.
Are you considering the move? Read the real stories of people who have gone before you. The good the bad and the moche.