France is a popular relocation destination for UK residents who want either a full-time home or a holiday property. Proximity alone is a big perk for UK residents who want to relocate, but France’s diverse properties and locations make the decision even more appealing. Where else can you can live in a ski chalet in The Alps, a luxury apartment in Paris, seaside on the French Riviera or overlooking a vineyard in Bordeaux? It’s no wonder why so many UK expats are spread throughout France, from city hubs to secluded rural settings.
Moving to another country is invigorating and adrenaline-pumping, but it can also be jolting. Holidaying in France isn’t the same as picking up your entire life and moving there. Once you’re settled in your new home, the not-so-exciting facets of real life are going to set in. Instead of moving on a whim, take your time to prepare and plan for your move. This will help you assimilate and get to know the country you’ll soon call home.
1. Learn the Language
It’s important to have some level of proficiency in French beyond what you remember from your lessons at school. Social French is fine for your day-to-day life, but you will definitely need more mastery of the French language (or at least a translator you trust) for the property negotiations. Even if you opt to learn as you go along, remember that the better your French, the easier it will be to integrate. If you’re going to be working in France, it’s even more important to learn the language as soon as possible, preferably before you move.
2. Hire a Removal Company
Hiring a removal company may be an expensive option, but it’s certainly the most convenient one. A team of people will pack up your home in a few days and safely transport your belongings from the UK to France. When comparing services, look for a company that specializes in UK-to-France relocation. Unless you have a specific date when you absolutely need to be in your new home, stay flexible when it comes to your moving date. If the removal company can hook up with a France-to-UK move on their return trip, you may be able to get a better deal on the price. When there isn’t any leeway regarding your arrival date, consider bringing along just the essentials to get through the week or so before the moving company arrives.
It’s important to know the cubic volume of your belongings when hiring a removal company. Many companies will have a cubic calculator on their website, as well as a list of basic dimensions for standard items, so that you can figure out roughly how much you have to transport. Try to get your estimate as close to the real cubic volume of your belongings as possible. If you underestimate, there may not be enough room in the moving trucks; if you overestimate, you’ll pay extra and you won’t necessarily get a refund.
3. Limit Your Belongings
You don’t need to take along every single thing you own. Moving is the perfect time to weed through your items and get rid of what you no longer need or want. Be realistic about what you should bring to your new home. For example, if you’re moving from a house with a yard to a small apartment in the city, you probably don’t need your gardening kit.
To start with, decide what you definitely need and what you definitely don’t – everything else can go into a physical or mental “undecided” pile that you can chip away at little by little. If you’re going to sell items, start as far in advance as possible. By waiting until the last minute, you’ll have to throw out, give away or bring along items you don’t want and that you could have earned some money for.
4. Register Your Car or License
If you’re going to spend over six months of the year in France with your car from the UK, you’ll need to register it with French authorities. Even if you’re not going to be in France for more than six months out of the year – like if you’re purchasing a getaway home instead of a permanent residence – it’s still a good idea to head to the local town hall and register your UK license in case it gets lost or stolen.
5. Adapt to the Culture
Everything in France will be different from what you’re used to, including the cuisine, people’s backgrounds, the overall way of thinking, values and priorities. While you don’t have to change every single thing about you, of course, it’s important to be open-minded and flexible when moving to a new country. Adapting and participating in the new culture is a more worthwhile way to spend your time than harshly imposing your own preferences on everyone you meet. Sure, there’s a UK expat community in France that you can become a part of, but the expats who are getting the most out of their experience are the ones who are integrating with society. Keep in mind that you’re an outsider – it’s important that you adapt to your new country because it’s not going to adapt to you.
For more help moving, check out the Home Hunts Property Guide. You’ll have access to helpful information about setting a budget, preparing to work with estate agents and other professionals, finding the perfect property, making an offer, finalizing the deal, and understanding French taxes and insurances.