10 Reasons Not to Move to France



10 Reasons Not to Move to France

In the course of interviewing new and established foreign residents in France, there are common patterns that emerge as to the main reasons why they chose to move here. What is somewhat less obvious is the reason why the dream isn’t working out. People who have been disappointed are either less likely to share what went wrong because they feel embarrassed, they feel as if it is their fault in some way, or because they can’t really put their finger on exactly why their French experience isn’t quite la vie en rose.

More often than not there is a combination of multiple factors rather than one big reason why the taste of French life has gone sour. I was recently talking about this with Nadia Jordan, a buyer’s agent in the Midi-Pyrénées who is a practised hand at weighing out the pros and cons of moving to France for her clients. The following are Nadia’s observations from years of accumulated experience helping people find their dream home and settle here.

The main reasons why people choose to move to France:

1. Better quality of life (of course this depends on your definition of quality but, generally, the French have their priorities right when it comes to lifestyle choices)

2. Unspoilt natural environment, fewer people, more space, uncrowded roads, no traffic jams

3. Greater environmental awareness and responsibility

4. Fabulous and varied landscapes and climate

5. Paradise for children with lots of freedom

6. Fantastic hunting, shooting and fishing (if that’s your thing)

7. Stunning old stone houses, beautiful, classic French architecture, and affordable property prices

8. The French healthcare service – it is as impressive as everyone says

9. Sense of tradition and identity and strong family values

10. High quality and delicious food and wine with abundant local, seasonal, organic fresh food and wonderful local markets

Ten reasons why a move to France may not be for you:

1. If you are running away from a bad situation at home – it will still be a bad situation in another country

2. If you are determined to believe the stereotypes about the French being rude and arrogant. In reality, they are generally friendly and welcoming, but you are a stranger in their country and must expect to do things their way even if you don’t like it – and you might even get to like it

3. If you’re not prepared to learn the language

4. If you expect American style, in-your-face service – they do things differently in France

5. If you don’t want to embrace French culture – both the upsides and downsides

6. If you are not patient enough to build proper relationships with the locals

7. If you want or expect clockwork efficiency rather than a more latin, laid-back attitude

8. If you expect anything to be open on Sundays (except boulangeries of course!)

9. If you are always in a hurry (to be pressé can be used as a form of insult in France)

10. If you can’t live without your takeaway curry or Chinese meal (you can still get a pizza!)

How about you? Do you see yourself reflected in any of these arguments? What were your reasons for moving (or not moving) to France?

•With thanks to Nadia Jordan, property search agent in South West France.
Photo by Zigazou76

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Sylvia is a freelance journalist based in France, focusing on business and culture. A valued member of the France Media editorial team, Sylvia is a regular contributor to our publication.

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  • Amalia
    2016-07-23 23:19:25
    I love France, I travel there every 1-2 years. I would love to move to Lyon or Provence after retirement. I have always been treated with respect. I speak the language and always remember to say bonjour and merci when entering a place of business. I am polite like the Latin culture has taught me and I follow their rules and traditions. However, I can see how some Americans are treated rudely. They are rude and demanding and expect to be treated like royalty. Remember to be polite and take your time. If you go out to eat, expect to be there 2 hours. They like to take time and enjoy their meal. For all the 10 reasons listed as to why it might not be for you, is why I want to move there.


  • aanderson
    2016-01-12 21:02:18
    I'm American. I was married to a French man for eight years and spent a good deal of time in France. I don't know...is this comparing the UK and France? The reasons for moving to France just seem really false to me, in relation to my experience and my life in Boise, Idaho. --We chose to live in Boise because we bought a two-bed, two-bath house with a garage and a garden when we couldn't afford anything but tenement renting in France for the same price. --the American West is way more unspoilt and way less populated --compared to where I was in France, we have better recycling facilities and access --American children have waaaaay more freedom--shorter school days, less homework (I'm a teacher) --definitely better hunting, shooting and fishing in Idaho --my mother-in-law had cancer and when we visited her hospital room in Paris I felt like we were visiting her in prison; the care was top-notch, but American hospitals look like 5-star hotels next to that facility--it rather horrified me --my marriage ended with my husband's infidelity and even though I would like to stay in touch and don't have any ill-feelings or rancor, no one in his family has bothered to speak to me since the divorce--so, family values? Can't agree there either. Compared to the super-Christian values still in mode here in Idaho, France doesn't seem to have great family values. I really like France and can think of tons of reasons to move there. I'm a French teacher! Big time pro-France. I just think it's odd that the writer lists reasons that seem so blatantly false. Unless you're comparing England and France. I can't speak to that. But, really, if what you are looking for is affordable housing, wide-open spaces, hunting and fishing, and playful, free childhoods--Idaho definitely comes in ahead of France on those points.


  • southerly
    2015-07-08 11:26:21
    cdprince - your post is either a really bad attempt at humour or you live in another dimension to the one that we live in. [edited] [edited] Do you make eye contact with people, do you always greet people passing in the street with an hello. Do you speak French. Do you have any French friends, do you converse/interact with your neighbours? The 3 things that the French (like other nationalities) want to to know about you are - what your sexual preference is, your politics and if you are religious - there are very good rational reasons for this, all of which horrifies most Brits who are very character armoured and hate anyone to know what they are really like. French drivers - very considerate of walkers/cyclists/horse riders. Every day I take the dogs for a walk along country lanes and always make sure that I move to the side of the road when traffic is passing, this is noted by the French and very often in the village or at the supermarket someone I don't recognise will approach (making eye contact of course) me and thank me for being considerate. I live in the Aveyron and I am impressed with the standard of driving and consideration that drivers have for each other wendilaurie - my partner is a retired nurse lecturer in paediatrics, so is very able to make a quality assessment of the French health care system, especially as I have been an inpatient on 3 seperate occasions due a fibrilating heart condition and as the 'one in a hundred' who always reacts badly to medications. The standard of cleanliness in the hospital in Rodez was excellent as was the food and the clinical attention. As for aftercare, in the UK now it is abysmal, indeed it was abysmal in 85 when my partner's mother was dying and in 93 towards the end of my father's life. The community nursing is excellent and there is help available in the house/shopping and meals on wheels. As always there will be variations across a country and bear in mind that survival rates for cancer is far better in France and across the mainland as a whole compared to the UK. This is because far more money is spent on healthcare than in the UK and doesn't end up in big profits for private companies as in the UK - health is not a political issue on the mainland but it is the increasingly 'Americanisation' that is growing apace in the UK. My partner has reunions with those women she trained with so many ears ago - the 47th is coming up and all are so sad at the terrible decline in standards that they have witnessed over the years. The only way that we would leave France is in bodybags. I haven't been back to the UK for 8 years now. Do I miss anything? Car boot sales bright and early every Saturday and Sunday.


  • wendilaurie
    2015-06-30 18:24:56
    I think the health system like anywhere else has good and bad. In the good ways you often see a specialist and have important tests done quicker than in UK but on the downside there is no cohesion between hospital and community care. As someone who has been a nurse and a patient in UK and Jersey and who has had someone close diagnosed and treated for cancer in UK and France I have noted in many differences and similarities. Care at home for someone terminally ill appears lacking in France but it maybe more to do with the fact you have to source all community care yourself. That aside I still love the lifestyle and the attention to manners that I have experienced over 12 years. If you try to speak French and are polite in remembering to say bonjour, mercy and au revoir, it goes a long way to be accepted.


  • Justin Postlethwaite
    2015-06-09 11:27:34
    Justin Postlethwaite
    Thanks for your comments. Would anyone care to join us as a Community Contributor and tell their own story or offer advice to others? Please email [email protected]


  • lebesset
    2015-06-05 17:41:43
    3,4,5,8 and 10......reasons stated for coming here are far from the truth as 26 years here have taught me


  • Nick_Knac
    2015-06-05 14:56:45
    My neighbors have all been friendly and helpful and so have others in the local villages and towns around me. I will only ever be accepted as a foreigner but that is what I am and bearing that in mind I've had really good relationships here. I've met a few [edited], but there are [edited] in every country. Our attitude to what we see around us is based on what we see in ourselves is my experience.


  • markat101
    2015-06-05 11:44:56
    Not found anyone who "hates" but I'm sure some do think we are invading.... Loving it here despite recognising some of the above "downsides". We've met lots of people who've been here 10 years or more. Have noticed lots of moaners on the forums though. C'est La Vie!


  • cdprince
    2015-06-04 14:55:51
    May I add 1. They actually hate us (non-French). I've been told this on several occasions by French locals. Not individually but as " invaders". 2. The Internet and related technologies, suck! 3. If you are even remotely well off, they believe you should be ashamed of yourself. 4. The corruption on all government levels is staggering. You can buy preferential treatment from local councillors, and Mairies frequently And openly take payoffs for favours. 5. Drivers have a death wish and actively try to kill each other with dangerous and unsafe practices. .... That's just off the top of my head....