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No regrets about new life in France

Would-be expats think they will miss English food, TV and the NHS. Connexion readers who've made the move disagree

15 June 2011

THE BRITISH National Health Service, food and TV programmes are among the top things that would-be expats think they would miss most about their home country, a new survey in the UK has found. Aviva Health polled Britons considering a move abroad or who were about to leave the country. The top five responses were:

1. Friends and family
2. TV
3. Humour
4. Food
5. NHS

Teresa Rogers from Aviva said: "It's not surprising to see the NHS on the list of things people would miss."

Connexion readers disagree. We received many replies from people who say the French healthcare system is vastly superior to that in the UK. Missing British television is not an issue because it is widely available in France.

The overwhelming majority of readers said they had no regrets about moving to France - or they missed very minor things. Above all, they said they had gained more than they had lost and were proud that France was their new home.

Here is a selection of the replies:

I miss the traffic, graffiti, loud mouth yobs, swearing customers in the old English pub, expensive fuel, expensive wine, bad restaurants with misbehaving kids, litter everywhere, chewing gum stuck to my shoes, dirty public transport and loads loads more. They did not ask me or they would have had a different answer.
Keith Bunn

Missing not a thing, zilch, zero, da nada. I had only two words of French when I arrived here, ‘Oui’ and ‘Non’, there was and is still no other English or French English speakers either in the village or the environs and my wife had only her school girl French from 50 odd years ago. We had no TV or radio, only the local French newspaper that was it, total French only, until we learnt of Connexion. We have more invitations to either stay with our French friends or the use of their homes or holiday apartment throughout France than we know what to do with. When we visit our local coffee shop we can never sit for long without a toot from a passing car, a call from the other side of the street, a wave, and then there's the kissing. I have never been kissed by so many men in my life, including our mayor), often its four but always two or more. No, we are not well off financially at the moment, we lost most of our money on the sale of our UK house, but we get by, but above all, we so well off in other ways, especially being happy.
Bruce Stuart

I've been her for 23 years, have learned about this country and its people and I just love it though I do wish my family and my UK friends were here too. That would be perfect.
Maryon Boiling

The NHS isn't a patch on the French health service. My first doctors appointment took 45 mins of her time, she was extremely thorough and gave me no impression that she was anxious to get on. I have contacted my present doctor in the morning and have seen him before lunch the same day, not always but I've never had to wait more than 3 days and then only because I was not in urgent need.
Peter Sturtivant

There is no post code lottery in France. If a doctor prescribes, you get. I have had three doctors in France, and all speak English well enough, so one answer springs to mind - try learning a little French.
No name supplied

Family (the children and grandchildren) so far away is a drawback - possibly balanced to some extent by their visits to sunshine (usually) and a pool. Food - I expected to miss double cream, but I miss granary bread.
No name supplied

Friends and family. This is the main reason we want to return to England after 16 years in France. In sixteen years things have changed. Our four sons, having been all over the place are now married with children, our grandchildren, and living in England. Our daughter who was eight when we came to live in France, now 24 she prefers and works in London. We want to see more of them.
Ben Hawkins

I miss the village pub, the Royal Shakespeare theatre and point-to-point racing.
Robin Tranter

I don't particularly miss food except I am vegetarian, it is much harder to be vegetarian in France. I miss the labeling on food which I had grown used to in the UK promoted by the Vegetarian Society. That little 'V' sign assured me it was safe for me to eat.
Kay Eadie

France is my home and I am so grateful that I am able to live here all year round. The bureaucracy is something else but it is worth putting up with that to be in such a wonderful country. My family would prefer to visit me here and they do often, and with email and telephone we can keep in touch on a regular basis anyway.
Anna Griffin

The only thing I can think of that would be nice is to able to buy or get a good cup of English tea, but even that we manage at home without to much difficulty.
Christine Trewin

I personally think that the French have been very progressive in trying to accommodate us anglais and we should be grateful. We all chose to live here, yet many choose not to integrate and for the life of me I can’t comprehend why.
Derek Harnett

After nearly 19 years I personally feel more at home in France than anywhere I lived in England and my wife feels the same. The single thing on the list is family, but one son is in Hong Kong and I am not sure that we would see the other two much more often had we remained in England. As for friends, we have far more here than in the
UK.
Jim Buck

Regrets? No. We have a wonderful doctor, found a good dentist, and am still learning the language. We love the French way of life which obviously helps. What do we miss? Nothing apart from not seeing our family more often. Yes, some folk thought we were mad, very adventurous and "so brave". You only have one life - make the most of it.
Jan Lake

I am a Canadian living in the south of France near Fréjus. I miss nothing about my home country except Coors Light beer and a few friends, but only the friends that bought me Coors Light beer.
David Silcox

Obviously, the better one speaks the language of the country of residence, the more conversation you can have with anyone, shop assistants, receptionists, postmen, neighbours, new friends, and I think that is the secret to enjoying living anywhere - good communication with the natives and wanting to be where you are.
Sandra Chubb

I am an American. I miss America. Why? Our customer service, great choices, friendly service, ease of shopping and friendly people put France to shame. France is boring. No wonder the people here are depressed.
C.E. Burke

I moved from urban London to rural France. I miss my freedom pass. Even if I had one here it would be useless due to the total absence of any public transport. What use are TGVs if one cannot get to the station?
Julian Palmer

I don't miss much (certainly not the NHS; French medical care is vastly superior. But I do miss Yorkshire bitter - the French don't make anything remotely approaching
decent beer.
Peter Collins

No contest - it is of course not being able to listen to Radio 4 in the car. Like most Brits I do also miss not being able to get that most English of dishes, an Indian curry.
Lionel Whitchurch

Why did these "desperately seeking English life" ever leave the UK? Shape up folks - you chose to come to France, you live in France, stop whingeing about lost UK life, just get on with it.
Tony Rigby

If I left France, I would miss - the weather, the quality of light here in the south, the wonderful anarchy of how the French park their cars, the train network, the fabulous variety of magnificent countryside across France, the French pride in their history and heritage, the quality of care for dependent older people, much of the architecture, the Mediterranean sea, a small number of incredibly sympa and helpful fonctionnaires, hearing the french language - so beautiful - everywhere, housing prices, the Sapeurs-Pompiers - so competent & so professional, 200-plus rosé wines to choose from, the quality of the autoroutes, the wild flowers, patisseries, the so-easy access to other European countries, the daily challenge of living a life in a foreign country and a foreign language - very good for ageing brains, and, most of all, long and delightful Sunday lunches with French friends.
No name supplied

Why does an expat keep thinking of England and what he misses? If he chooses to leave one country to live in another on a permanent basis, he then has a new home. I don't feel that it is a very good attitude for proper integration if he then continually wants English things. If he does, then why didn't he stay in England and just come here for holidays?
Felicity Fixsen

Photo: fotokate - Fotolia.com

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