If there’s one thing that you learn when you move overseas, it’s to be prepared. Whether it’s a government agency, a utility, or a private business you are meeting with, it always makes sense to take an original and at least one copy of any document that any of these officials have asked from you before. To open a bank account we anticipated the need for our passports and proof of address but a marriage certificate and tax forms weren’t at the top of our list. Luckily both were at the bottom of the file folder that we take to every appointment so it was easy enough to produce those. To cancel our prepaid renters’ insurance, we needed a handwritten statement swearing that we no longer lived at that address, but at least we could write that out on the spot (with a lot of guidance from the woman who helped us). What we weren’t prepared for was receiving a refund check for the remaining insurance that we weren’t going to use. How were we going to deal with that? Read the rest of this entry
A couple of days ago I wrote about our first experience of going to a doctor in France and this is the follow up to that. Although we both have been going in for annual check ups in the US for years, that’s apparently not really the norm here. Your employer might require, and pay for, this kind of visit, but our neighbors have said that typically they see the doctor only if they are sick. We were still going to be more comfortable if we were at least in the files of a medical office near us, even if just to have a “no problems found” status. Read the rest of this entry
Going to the doctor has never been at the top of my favorite-things-to-do list. Luckily, those visits have almost always been limited to an annual physical where the cost was covered by my health insurance. Just before we moved from the US to France we each had one of those yearly exams and as our first year anniversary of living in another country approached it was time to do it all over again. This has been quite the learning experience. Read the rest of this entry
We finally broke down and opened a French bank account. We’d been resisting it since our arrival here for a couple of reasons. In the US we were spoiled with free banking of all sorts: accounts, checks, savings, ATM cards, transfers, toaster-ovens (!), even seed-money given to you as a new customer. Once we got to Europe we found an online German bank that offered much the same at that same low price: zero. Not so in France. Read the rest of this entry
The French word for insurance is assurance and I can assure you that we’ve been trying to buy some ever since we arrived. Because of rental laws here, apartment and house leases usually run for 3 years and you are required to have renter’s coverage for that whole time. Our place is furnished so we don’t fall under those same rules but we still felt it was important to be covered, especially since our own household goods have arrived. Trying to get an insurance company to accept our money has not been easy. Read the rest of this entry
When applying for your initial long-stay visa for your first year in France and then to remain staying in the country beyond that, you must prove that you have health insurance for your whole stay. This is one of those items that differs from one consulate to another. One will simply state that you must have health insurance while another will be very specific telling you, for example, that there must be a zero deductible with a minimum $50,000 coverage with expatriation to the US included. Some will even list the names of insurance companies that they will accept.
There are two types of insurance that might satisfy this requirement based on the needs of your consulate. Traditional travel insurance that you would get to cover a canceled vacation, lost luggage, car rental damage waiver, etc. often includes adequate medical coverage including repatriation and can often be bought to cover a trip of 364 days. Read the rest of this entry
Once you make the decision that you’re going to move to France you are then faced with a variety of choices of things that have to take place before you can actually leave. Unfortunately it seems as if they all need to be done at the same time but obviously they have to be done in some kind of order; hence, the chicken or the egg. One biggie is applying for your visa which cannot be done any sooner than 3 months before you leave the US. Since you don’t know if an appointment is going to be available when you are ready to book it, looking about 4 months ahead seems to make sense. So once you get the appointment the mad dash begins to gather everything the consulate wants to process your request.
You need an airline ticket before going to the consulate, but what date do you book that for? Your visa might come through in two days or it might take two weeks or more. Curiously, most consulates tell you that you should NOT buy the ticket ahead of time but only bring in a reservation and then buy the ticket once the visa is granted. We have been unable to find an airline that will let you make the reservation without buying the ticket within 24 hours. Read the rest of this entry