Category Archives: Dealing with government

Read my lips

Bill models one of the masks he made for us

And we were doing so well. Long before we had any plans of living in France we were watching French movies with the English subtitles turned on so that we could understand what was being said. That was a compromise since the real reason we were renting these films was for the scenery, be it the Eiffel Tower, Medieval castles, or fields of lavender in full bloom; all were really just inspiration for our next vacation. It’s a challenge, however, to read the dialog and try to take in all of the beautiful landscapes sharing the same screen. Then we moved here with access to 100 TV channels broadcast in French with only a few offering some programs subtitled in English but all having the option of displaying the spoken text on the screen for the deaf or hard of hearing. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em so that became our next step in comprehending what was going on. At least we could match up the words we were hearing with those across the bottom of the screen. Read the rest of this entry

Renewed

An early springtime renewal in our courtyard

To live in France full-time for our initial year here, our first step was obtaining a visa from the French consulate in Miami. Once we arrived in Carcassonne we then had to make an appointment with the Immigration Office in Montpellier for a medical checkup that would qualify us to stay here legally for the duration of that one-year visa. Three months before that expired we visited our local Préfecture (think, Federal Building, in US terms) to arrange for a time to drop off copies of our financial statements, utility bills and a few other documents to prove that we actually lived here and had the resources to support ourselves. A one-year carte de séjour (residency card) has annually been the result.  We’ve been repeating that process each winter since our arrival in February 2016 and you can read about that in our blog post Fort-unate that includes a link to the post from the prior year. This week we obtained our newest carte de séjour with only a few minor changes from the previous experiences.  Read the rest of this entry

Well I declare: income taxes

Declaring your taxes online

While April 15 will always stick in my head as “Tax Day”, it’s a little later in France and varies by a week or two depending upon where you live. For us this year it’s May 21 and I’m happy to say that because we didn’t change anything in the last 12 months, the online procedure was even easier than in 2018. We signed into our account with the tax office, Finances Publique, where we found that our information from last year had already been carried over to the forms for the current year. All that we had to do was to confirm our names and address, update the income figures and the dollar/euro exchange rate, put a check mark in the electronic signature box, and we were finished. Done in just a few minutes and we anticipate owing the same amount of income tax as before: zero. Read the rest of this entry

Public transit survey

City bus at the castle. photo © Ville de Carcassonne – Julien Roche

Beginning in March of next year all public transportation in Luxembourg will be free to residents and visitors alike. No more tickets to ride the buses, trams, and trains within the borders of the country. The government hopes to ease some of the traffic congestion and the resulting pollution that results when 60 percent of the workers who commute use their cars. Later this summer the French parliament will take up the same issue for this country and in preparation, some members of the Senate have begun gathering opinions from the public. We only found out yesterday that you have just until the end of this month to answer an online survey (link below) regarding the possibility of free transports en commun here as well. Read the rest of this entry

Four-tunate

Inside the medieval city walls of Carcassonne

This month starts our fourth year of living in France and I thought that this would be a great opportunity to answer a question that we are often asked, “Why are you so happy all of the time?” A good starting point that might say it all is that we live in the south of France and we’ve just received our residency card renewal to remain here for another year. That alone makes us smile. The procedure was identical to last year (Year 3 begins) which reinforces our other experiences with government and business offices here: follow their rules, give them exactly the documents they want in the order requested and in return you will be treated in a respectful and friendly manner and receive precisely what you’ve been seeking. Who wouldn’t be happy with that? But wait, there’s so much more…. Read the rest of this entry

It’s mutual, I’m sure

Top-up insurance protection from Que Choisir website

In the October blog post Universal health care, I wrote about how everyone in France must have health insurance. We had received our Carte Vitale, the ID card to show that we are part of the French healthcare system, that we present at the doctor’s office, hospital, laboratory, pharmacy, etc. Coverage is generally 70 percent of the cost of the procedure leaving the patient to pay the remaining 30 percent out of pocket or to buy a private top-up insurance policy that costs between 50 and 100 euros per month per person. Coverage for dental, vision, and hearing problems will increase to 100 percent within 2 years. Anyone who has a long term disease such as cancer or diabetes is already covered at 100 percent as are people who are unable to afford additional insurance. We’ve now signed up for assurance maladie complémentaire more commonly called a mutuelle. Read the rest of this entry

A spoonful of sugar

Course announcement from Fun-Mooc website

You probably remember when Julie Andrews as the title character nanny in the film Mary Poppins was trying to get her two charges, Jane and Michael, to clean their room. To introduce the song she begins with “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun” and then the orchestra starts up and you soon hear her sing “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”. When you move to another country where they don’t speak your native language it’s important to learn what the local people are saying for a variety of reasons. Once you get past the survival level where you can at least get food and shelter then you can start fitting in with your new neighbors and having fun. But of course, language isn’t the only challenge since there are cultural differences, new rules to learn, and administrative procedures to follow for everything from buying a train ticket to seeing a doctor. Thanks to an online course sponsored by the French government’s Ministry of Higher Learning, you can combine all of those tasks in one place. Read the rest of this entry