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 keeps a fun and interesting blog on searching for a home in the region, and 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 health 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 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