Bank account

French bank and insurance office
French bank and insurance office

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. Continue reading “Bank account”

I can assure you

Insurance building, Place Davilla, Carcassonne
Insurance offices in the Tomey building, Place Davilla, Carcassonne

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. Continue reading “I can assure you”

Health insurance

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. Continue reading “Health insurance”

The chicken or the egg?

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. Continue reading “The chicken or the egg?”

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. Continue reading “All the same but different”