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Return to the scene of the crime

Amelia Island, Inland Coastal Waterway 2015

Amelia Island, Inland Coastal Waterway 2015

We’re back! Nine months ago we were here in northern Florida, looking out at this view you see above when we decided it was time to move. You can read about that decision on our first-ever post that kicked off this blog by reading our blog post This is where it all started.

So, what’s changed? Not very much with this view except now the marsh is light green since it’s currently summer instead of light brown as winter approached last Thanksgiving. For us, the changes revolve around narrowing down our options which were wide open when we first began the blog. For example, we now know that we’re moving to Carcassonne, we’ll be taking a flight with the dog rather than the Queen Mary II, and we’ll be living in a small house rather than an apartment starting in the spring of 2016. If you’ve had the chance to read our earlier posts you’ll know all of the details that got us to this point.

One thing that has changed, however, is the creation of this blog. The initial inspiration came from our friends Tracy & Alan who have their blog about moving from the US to France and the motivation to help others in a similar situation propels us to write. Now we always have the camera with us searching for an interesting photo to include and we talk constantly about what topics might be useful to post. It’s great having a new hobby that doesn’t cost much or take up any room but provides hours of entertainment.

The advantages of living in Florida

Whenever we go on vacation, instead of staying in a hotel we usually try to rent a house or an apartment since you get more room, a kitchen where you can prepare a few meals, and it’s easier to pretend that you live in the community to see if you might want to make it your home. Since we’re house sitting this week along the intracoastal waterway, it’s confirmed our desire to move here once we sell the house in Georgia. When applying for a visa, you have to use the French consulate that has jurisdiction over your state, which in our case would currently be the Atlanta office. They have to deal with applicants from 6 southeast states; consequently, getting an appointment simply to apply for a visa is very difficult during most of the year. On the other hand, the consulate in Miami is responsible for Florida and some of the Caribbean so appointments appear to be much easier to obtain.

AAmelia Island 003 (768x1024) second advantage of being a Florida resident is that there is a reciprocal agreement between this state and France which allows for an easy exchange of driver’s licenses between the two. A few other states, not including Georgia, have the same agreement avoiding the application process that can involve driving school, a written exam, and possibly a medical evaluation. The price for this can be close to $2000.

Lastly, Florida has no income tax. Although we are certainly not opposed to paying taxes we would be foolish not to take advantage of opportunities offered to us.

Taxes and other fun topics

Actually this is just going to be about taxes since that alone is fun enough for one blog post. Before we start, just a reminder that we aren’t tax attorneys, so as with everything else on this blog this is just what we’ve experienced and not advice to you. So what kind of taxes can we expect to pay? If you rent a property and are living there on January 1, you have to pay a habitation tax that covers things like police and fire protection, street lights, road maintenance, and other services that anyone who lives in a community might use. Although it varies around the country, a rule of thumb is that it equals about one month’s rent. The owner of the property that you are renting is also paying a higher amount in property taxes. The third tax on that same piece of property is a daily resort fee of about $1 if it is rented out as a holiday home. Read the rest of this entry

All the same but different

France has 10 consulates in the US  and when applying for a visa you must use the office that has jurisdiction over the state in which you live.To get a long-stay (1-year) visa to live in France you have to prove essentially three things: that you have enough money to live on your own, that you have your own private health insurance, and that you have a place to live. All of the consulates agree on those points but then they begin to differ. The Atlanta office wants both an English and a French translation of every document. Chicago wants a letter explaining why you want to move, as does the NY office along with your FBI record. Some want two photos with your application while others want only one. Some want it stapled or glued and others don’t want it attached. Read the rest of this entry

This is where it all started.

For Thanksgiving 2014 we were invited to visit some of Bill’s family in northern Florida. They had just moved to a new house and the view below greeted us from every window in the back. That elevated walkway is half a mile long and it terminates at a dock big enough for a dozen boats of various sizes. It was the perfect spot for Bill to fish while I sat with the dogs under the covered area reading, listening to music and enjoying a cool beverage. Back at the house neither one of us could stop looking at this view.

At the end of the week on the drive home the main topic of conversation was how much we enjoyed being by the water and how could we do the same. The first thing we did was to look at other homes in the same complex but they were way more than we wanted to spend. Being avid watchers of most things HGTV, we were well aware of House Hunters, House Hunters International, Beachfront Bargain Hunt, Lakefront Bargain Hunt, etc., so we got out a map of the US and started looking at where we might move based on what we’d seen on TV. When you eliminate places where it snows a lot (the North), places where it rains a lot (the Northwest), places where it never rains, as in drought (the West), you’re left to look in your own backyard (the Southeast).

So, where can you combine history with water views? Savannah, Charleston, and several towns between the two immediately came to mind. Using our favorite booking site at the time, VRBO, we booked a townhouse on Tybee Island for a week in March 2015 to see what the area would be like during the winter. While we had a good time in Charleston and loved Savannah we came away feeling that we still had not found the right place. On the drive home we discussed the pros and cons of each city, always comparing them with our experiences in France. It finally occurred to us that the one overriding aspect we were missing was that sense of “community” we found in all the various villages and towns we had stayed in over the years in France. With that revelation, Bill then uttered those ominous words “Let’s live in France” and this blog was born.

Florida Inland Coastal Waterway

Florida Inland Coastal Waterway

 

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