Although probably not a bestseller, there is a publication from the Ministry of the Interior of France that anyone who is thinking of moving here will probably want on their electronic bookshelf. The price is certainly right—free—and it contains lots of practical information about preparing for the move and then what to do once you’ve arrived in your new country. Just as important, Living in France also addresses the key values represented in the Republic’s motto: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. This is followed by, “These are not simply abstract concepts: these values have concrete effects on day-to-day life by means of the rights and obligations of citizens and residents.” These benefits apply to the French themselves, to those of us living here, and even to visitors.
Annually, over 100,000 people arrive in France with the desire to settle here. Many of these new arrivals come from countries or cultures where respect for the equality of gender, race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or anything else that sets us apart might not be the same as here. Recognizing this and with a desire to ensure a proper welcome to the country, the Ministry of the Interior created Living in France to emphasize how important respect for the values that govern daily life are. On page 1 of the booklet, it is noted that in addition to the original 3 tenants of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity another important value is secularism that got its initial start with the Revolution in 1789 and was written into law in 1905 to clearly separate church from state.
Following those introductory pages comes the nuts-and-bolts discussion of preparing for the move including getting a visa, assembling the documents you’ll want to bring to France, and how to deal with Customs when transporting personal items over here. Once you’ve arrived in your new country the specific procedures to follow to register with the Immigration authorities initially are outlined as are additional steps you must take depending upon the type of visa you have. This might include civics training, a language test followed by classes as needed, and signing of an integration contract to help ensure your success in settling in. For us as retirees with a long-stay visitor’s visa it was easy in that the main requirements were that we each had to show annual income of at least 12,500 dollars (around 10,500 euros) and private health insurance for that first year that included repatriation to the US in case of major medical needs.
Since this is a guide for anyone moving to France, not just retirees, there’s advice on finding a job, locating housing—including subsided options, and supporting your children. Generally everyone pays taxes of some kind, so that’s covered as well as joining the national health system, opening a bank account, and traveling around the country.
The booklet, Living in France, provides a great starting point for anyone thinking about making the big move. Since there are many types of long-term visas (student, employee, spouse, etc.) you will still have to do your homework on the website of the consulate near you, in other sources written about the experience, and we hope, on this blog. Don’t call it a dream; call it a plan!
Here’s a link to the booklet on the Immigration office’s website: