Tips for those wanting to move to France but blocked by doubt

How determination, planning and a positive attitude can overcome the barriers to living in France

Narrow street in a small French village with flowers
Be realistic about relocating to France
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I recently read a comment on an expat forum by a lady who was despondent. This was because she would love to live in France, but she stated emphatically that she will never have the wherewithal. 

She went on to elaborate, with a litany of reasons, as to why this would be impossible, which made for depressing reading. 

Given that what we put out there, we get back, with all that negativity, she would not get off the starting block. It is up to us to put in the action. It has taken me until the age of 65 to be able to live in France. 

This just goes to prove that, as my French grandma used to say, si on veut, on peut.

Plan properly

France has a population of 66.9 million people. The total number of expats are 5.3 million, over a hundred thousand of whom are from the UK. That is a lot of expats, so it cannot be such a bad idea to move to France!

I am a great believer in putting pen to paper. List all your reasons for wanting to move to France. 

What are the benefits? What are the perceived hindrances and difficulties? Be specific. What skills might you need? Whom can you ask for advice and input in the form of expats who have already pulled it off? Which organisations might be helpful? 

Then, start to set yourself bite-sized, achievable goals to spur you on. 

Residency formalities

You will have to enquire about the necessary formalities for moving to France. 

You can contact the French embassy or consulate in your area and seek their help. They are best served to give you information on visas and residency. 

Do you have any French ancestry? If you do, then perhaps you could consider applying for a French passport. Having said this, I have been trying since 2018 to obtain mine, and was refused it, despite having proven categorically my French heritage! 

My avocat informs me that this is a glaring error, so I have recently reapplied and am keeping my fingers crossed for a positive outcome. 

I do have residency, so it is not an issue for me, but thanks to Brexit, it is an issue for my husband.

Read more: How to deal with small French village mentality

Employment and volunteering

You may think that you are too mature to be an au pair, and that is fair enough. 

There are lots of ways in which you can test the water to see if you really do want to live in France, before going at it full pelt. You do not have to be working in a permanent job.

You could train to teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). One of the benefits of doing this is that it enables you to stay in France for shorter periods of time. If you have a specialism, then you may be able to create a niche for yourself. 

Maturity is an asset in the TEFL world. Life and job experience count. I have a law degree and even at my age, I have been considered for short-term teaching and posts in Legal English as a Foreign Language, at the University of Nice, as well as some language schools. 

If you do not want to commit to employment, you could contact Voluntary Service Overseas and Workaway International. Both are a great way to learn the language, help others and make new friends. 

Are you an animal lover? If so, you could sign up to Trusted Housesitters and make your way all around France, trying new localities, while staying rent-free in other people’s homes looking after their animals. 

If you are a competent skier, perhaps you could become a ski instructor. Take a look at SnowSkool.  


It is imperative that you thoroughly identify your motivation for moving to France. It is very tempting to think that if we move abroad, life will be perfect, but life is not like that.

 The old adage is that wherever you go, you take yourself with you. So, if you are trying to escape your problems, they will become your travel mates. 

In the first flush of enthusiasm, we can forget that our worst enemy is sometimes centred between our ears! 

If you have completed the brainstorm part as suggested thoroughly, you will hopefully have weeded out any bigger issues which need to be addressed before you take the plunge. 

Tips for making it happen

■ Be careful who you tell of your plans in advance.

■ Gather information from reliable sources.

■ Be prepared to put in the effort.

■ View it as an experiment, with curiosity.

■ It is better to have tried than to live with regrets.

■ Be on the lookout for internal and external saboteurs.

Did you have a dilemma before moving to France? If so, please email Cynthia and share how you resolved it.