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Why Americans Are Moving to France

Published: 28 Nov 2022

WHO WOULDN’T WANT TO LIVE IN FRANCE?

Picture a beautiful country, ranging from the glamorous Riviera to Mediterranean beaches and the rugged Breton coast. From picturesque Alpine villages and ski runs to exquisite lakes and some of the most beautiful farmlands, vineyards, and forests in the world.
With dazzling cities and history and culture dating back two millennia, paired with arguably the planet’s best wines, delectable food and restaurants, exciting nightlife, and shopping beyond compare.

MOVING TO FRANCE FROM US

Certainly, it has been something of an American traditional destination for artists and writers, dating back a century to just after the first World War. However, today, it is a much more diverse group heading east from America’s shores, including retirees, families, and businessmen interested in careers in the broader European market.

HOW TO GET A FRENCH PERMANENT RESIDENT CARD?

If you aim to be more than a tourist, you will need a Residency Card (“Carte de Sejour,” literally a card to stay). There are two ways to achieve this. One is the French Start-Up Visa (FSUV), targeted at entrepreneurs who can contribute to French economic growth with their innovative ideas. It requires a minimum financial commitment of EUR 195,000. The other alternative is the French Talent Passport for Investors (FTPI), which requires an investment of at least EUR 300,000.

DO I NEED TO SPEAK FRENCH IN ORDER TO OBTAIN THE FRENCH RESIDENCY CARD?

Both schemes grant a renewable 4-year Residency Card, typically within 3 months. It covers the applicant, their spouse, and dependent children up to the age of 18, giving them the right to live, study and work in France. There is no language requirement, however it is strongly recommended to learn basic French, as it will make daily living much easier. Likewise, there is no education or management experience stipulation, and the successful candidate and their family can apply for the French permanent residency or French citizenship after 5 years.
Citizenship requires a moderate (B1) level of knowledge of the French language and a mandatory residency period in France prior to applying.

IS FRANCE AN EXPENSIVE PLACE TO LIVE?

France can be expensive depending on how you manage your budget. If you want to live in an apartment with a beautiful view of the Eifel Tower, almost in the center of Paris, the rent will cost you several thousand Euros per month. If you are happy to live in the suburbs or elsewhere in the country, then it is much more affordable. Rental in most of the major French cities outside of Paris is 30% to 50 % lower than in the capital.

According to Numbeo.com, French consumer prices average 12% lower and rent outside Pairs is about 50% less than the same in the United States. Groceries and eating out are also higher in the United States, which is astonishing considering the quality of the food in France. Even basics like milk and butter taste better, and the croissants and other pastries are rightly celebrated.  

HOW ABOUT THE TAXES IN FRANCE?

French taxes are high in comparison to America and can be bewilderingly complex. However, in return, you get superb services. WHO (World Health Organisation) has stated French Healthcare as the best in the world. Beyond that, it is heavily subsidised by the taxes paid, so its cost is inexpensive and near free. For your family, education at all levels is similarly excellent and close to free. The other large benefit is the low-priced and superb transport system, especially the metro (subway), and other infrastructure, which is all excellent. 

JOB SECURITY

“From a work point of view,” elaborates Guillaume Matz, Partner at Harvey Law Group (HLG), “job security is embedded in the French employment system, with rigid restrictions on retrenching employees. The French firmly believe in a healthy work-life balance and overtime is discouraged, in some cases even illegal.” 

Lastly, one of the biggest incentives for living in France is the rest of Europe. French residency allows travel visa-free to any Schengen nation for up to 6 months each year (90 of every 180 days). Later, if you choose to take French citizenship, the French passport is superlative, ranked number 7 in the world by Visaindex.com, with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 190 countries. 

 

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Jean-François Harvey

Firm: Harvey Law Group (HLG)
Country: Hong Kong

Practice Area: Immigration

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