Moving to France is by far an incredibly exciting experience and though it might seem like you only need to look for a job or a new home, there is a little more to it. Making sure you are fully prepared includes bank accounts, understanding the cost of living, visas, and health insurance.
France has a population of 66.9 million, approximately 5.3 million of those are expats. The largest cities are Paris (the capital), Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, and Nice. The weather is typical of a Western European country with summer temperatures of around 20º and winter at around 5º.
What Do You Legally Have to Do?
You can stay in France for up to three months on a tourist visa. However, you can’t work on just a tourist visa. If you already have a job, you will need a one-year visa, which is what you also need if you intend to stay for longer than three months. You can start to apply for a one-year visa at the French embassy in your country. It has to be renewed every year. The process of approval can take up to 6 months.
You will also have to show how you plan to financially support yourself during your stay. After one year in France, you will have to pay tax on your income, and you should also convert your driving license.
If you are moving from another European country, you don’t need a visa to live or work in France.
Studying in France
Again, if you are coming from an EU country or Switzerland, you won’t need a visa, but you will need a valid passport for the duration of your university course.
Students from other countries will need to apply for a long-term student visa which could be for 2, 3, or 4 years depending on the type of degree. To qualify for a visa, you need to clearly explain your academic history including your level of French. In some cases, you might have to demonstrate an income of approximately 700€ a month to support yourself.
Cost of Living in France
If you are looking at renting in the city center, you can expect to pay around 650€ per month but if you move slightly further out it can be a little cheaper at 550€. Then you can add about 95€ to your budget for utilities. Lunch out (European style with wine) may cost about 35€ and a pint of beer about 5€.
Salaries will vary due to the usual factors but the average monthly salary for a physician is approximately 2,770€, a teacher 1,900€, and a cook may earn around $1,210.
Finances in France
The hardest part of opening a bank account in France is getting to the bank when it’s open as they are normally closed after midday and at the weekends. Students, non-residents, and permanent residents. To transfer money to and from your French account, it is worth using TransferWise to save fees and get a better exchange rate.
Working in France
Whenever possible, the best option is to get a transfer with your current employers to move to France. Finding employment can be a challenge, especially for the under 25s. Try looking at multinational companies too. Aside from the usual job platforms, you can try L’Etudiant and Paruvendu.
Accommodation in France
Every country has its quirks. In France, you need a bank account to get a permanent address, but you need a permanent address to open a bank account. Luckily, landlords are aware of this and might be lenient.
Paris is going to be pricey; Strasbourg and Lyon are reasonable and cities like Grenoble are more economical. You can search for accommodation online on sites such as Fusac.
Health Insurance in France
Any emergency and everyone staying in France has access to emergency services. Once you have been in France for three months you can apply for universal healthcare. If you are working or contributing to the social security system, you are automatically enrolled. If you aren’t qualified for the universal program, you are required by law to take out private healthcare insurance.
It really is going to be necessary for you to learn enough French to get around. It will allow you to make new friends and start gaining more social life in France. There are plenty of language learning apps and online tutorials. To meet other people in the same situation as yourself, you can look at expat sites like Expatica and France Expats.