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Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by Dave • Mon 14 Jul 2008 12:01

Really. Don't move here. France isn't a very nice place to live and is full of hopeless bureaucrats, horribly rude people, nuclear waste, extortionate taxes and large double-digit unemployment rates.

No I haven't gone mad (nor received yet another ever increasing demand from the tax office again), but I'm trying to balance out the "sunshine shield" that many people adopt when dreaming about a new life in the Creuse. Again and again people do things here that they wouldn't contemplate doing in the UK (and cheerfully laugh about it over a few beers).

Take a few sober moments and plan ahead a bit first before you commit to packing your life in a box, tagging the cat and driving your family to the edge of England with a one way ticket and what's left of your life-savings in your back pocket. Assuming that you can turn your set of 18C pig sty's into gîtes, open a cafe / bar / restaurant in the old barn and make the little farm house into a home for five before the bad weather sets in and the €20K runs out... seriously this was someone's plan. They don't live in France any more.

I've met a lot of people who moved here with little or no information about even the basic facts only to find out that the assumptions they'd made about how life would be here were totally wrong. France isn't just England with more space and better weather, it has a lot more differences, some of which can seriously burst your bubble and turn your dream life into something rather less nice.

I know that I'm on dangerous ground here. People don't want to hear that their dreams are a bunch of half-truths and nonsense. It's funny how people fill in the gaps in their knowledge to reinforce their view point and beliefs. One only has to look at the huge amount of rubbish that has been said about the EU and its expansion. Unfortunately this is also true when you move here.

During the buying and moving process a lot of stuff is just never mentioned and often overlooked by potential purchasers and this can be really really bad. The people that you meet know that moving here is often the buyer's dream-come-true and they take advantage of this throughout the buying process, even to the point of some people signing for the house on their first weekend visit having not understood at all what they have committed too.

This is not a negative rant. It is an opportunity for you, yes you, to take a few minutes and look at some of the not so good and downright bad things that living in France means. This is also not about evil people trying to fleece you, although this happens here as often as in England, but more about stepping back and looking at some facts about France and how you will live and work here.

A good place to start is by looking at Don't Move To France; a site run by a guy who was thinking about moving to France himself and took the time to do some detailed research beforehand.

Please pause a minute and take a deep breath before saying it is all rubbish - it is easy to get irate about his site. I think that it offers a way of looking at the more mundane facts you'll have to deal with when you get here. Yes, it is negative; no I don't agree with everything that is there and no I'm not just trying to put people off moving to the Creuse. What I am hoping to do is arm you with some facts before you sign.

As usual I welcome your (sensible) comments.

[This post was originally a news story, but has been moved here to open the discussion to a wider audience].

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Dave
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Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by shogun22 • Mon 14 Jul 2008 16:04

I've looked at this site before, a lot of truth in what is stated, even if some of it is tongue-in-cheek. Many of the arguements put forward are exactly those which my wife uses as to why she, and since then several of her neices and nephews, moved to the UK. The rudeness is legendery, SAV non-existant, bureaucracy mind numbing........however, I must be a glutton for punishment, as I still like it here.

shogun22
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Nov 2007
Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by Annik • Mon 14 Jul 2008 16:58

I don't think the site is rubbish - I thought he made a lot of very good points. Many people do decide to come over to France without having thought it through.

Because we became known in our town for having bought a house in France, long before it was a commonplace thing to do, people used to come to us for advice. We could usually tell quite quickly those who would make a go of it and those who were doomed to failure.

Two who we worried about in particular were:

a) One guy was a fireman who had been injured and was getting a good redundancy and compensation package. He was wonderfully enthusiastic about upping sticks and going to France and after about 45 minutes he asked where I would recommend that he and his wife should live. I said: "Well, it's not up to me - what places did you like best when you visited France?" He replied: "Oh, I've never been to France but I've seen it on the television." We advised him to take a long touring holiday in the country, and then if he and his wife actually liked it, to rent somewhere that they thought they fancied and see if a suitable house came on the market.

b) Another chap was a friend of a friend, and after taking early retirement he really wanted to go to the USA but couldn't get permission to stay there. He was determined that he hated England and wanted to go somewhere - anywhere - that wasn't England. His actual reason for coming to see us was to ask where he could get an "English" computer in France. It transpired that he and his wife wanted to buy an old watermill on a fast stream, down a two-kilometre single track private road in the mountains (I can't recall which bit of the Limousin it was in). The mill was over a stone bridge which was also his, and he had about 20 hectare of forest. There were no near neighbours. We asked him about the climate (he didn't know), how far were the nearest shops and who was going to keep the road open for him when it snowed? And if the bridge got swept away in a storm what would he do? He didn't think any of these questions was important. The last we heard, he was said to be ringing his old office in England quite frequently, drunk as a lord, because there wasn't anything else to do but sit in his isolated mill and swig cheap wine.

The other day when we were taking the dogs for a walk, we got into conversation with a young woman whose boyfriend had just moved in with her. She told him they could sell his house, let hers and move to France. He had never thought of it before but decided to go and learn French in September in anticipation of the move. If they go, neither of them will be able to get jobs in France in the current economic climate...

So yes, I think the "Don't move to France" website should be compulsory reading for everyone who thinks of moving. If they still move, that's fine, but at least they will be aware of some of the problems.

Have a great quatorze juillet, everyone,

Annik

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. (Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.)" Groucho Marx
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Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by blaudeix • Mon 14 Jul 2008 21:07

Well I'd heard that rose tinted glasses were half price on the ferries :) .... provided you handed over your common sense :)

My favourite is "well you don't need planning permission for it in the uk"

Minimum size for a septic tank (fosse septique) is 3000 litres. All installations must conform to DTU64.1 The S.P.A.N.C. technician will verify this. A principle piece is a room without water larger than 7 metres square.
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Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by tomdenne • Mon 14 Jul 2008 22:46

Dave; I suspect that you're just trying to wind us up a little because your title is only a partial quote. The full text is "Don’t move to France... until you have done your homework."

Now surely nobody can object to that. But, then again, perhaps that was your reason :!:

Great post and good replies. Look forward to reading many more comments.

Cheers, Tom

ps. Weren't the parachutists great today :?:

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Jan 2008
Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by plantboy • Mon 14 Jul 2008 23:44

Hi,
I was just wondering about things people do in France,again and again,then having a few beers and laughing about it afterwards, that they would not dream of doing in the UK,can someone give me examples please, :wink:

plantboy
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Feb 2008
Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by tomdenne • Wed 16 Jul 2008 00:15

To be strictly serious for once...

One of the reasons I really like being in France is that they pay me a state pension, along with an occupational pension, after having only worked here part-time for slightly more than four years.

If you tried that back home you would have to work for a minimum of ten years to get any state pension at all.

As an unexpected bonus the pension that I had earned was increased by just over 17.6% because I was slightly over sixty five when I finally retired.

Now is that generous or what?

tomdenne
133
Jan 2008
Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by Mikeovers • Thu 17 Jul 2008 01:33

In a way, I'm glad you have kicked this off again Dave, but I reckon it's going to fall on stony ground once more. There are a lot of people who have totally unrealistic ideas about a life in France, and are very reluctant to face facts.
I have lived here for four years, I worked in France on contracts, 2 or 3 times a year, for thirteen years, I was the technical assistant to a Professor from the Sorbonne for 2 years, I have designed equipment for the Earth Sciences department of the University of Clermont Ferrand, and so on, but, I am still learning about life in France!

I love it, and I knew, many years ago, that I felt very comfortable in France, but I was also aware that, despite superficial similarities, it is a very different place to the UK.

There are a lot of people who think that it's the same, but they speak another language. Get a grip! France is a world apart from the rest of Europe, just the same as the UK is!
First off, it's an enormous country, three times the size of the UK, the regional differences are equally great, and the Creuse is just about the most de-populated part of France.

You might find a few French people who know a few words of English, certainly the estate agents, but by and large, if you cannot, or don't want to, speak French, don't even think about coming here. If you won't speak French, all that will happen is that you will alienate your neighbours, and end up living a wholly artificial life in a little pseudo brit community. If the price of housing is the only criterion for a move to France, well, give it a whirl, but I promise you, you will need a great deal more commitment to the French life for it to succeed! I totally agree with Annick that the "Don't Move" website is mandatory reading.

I would not want to give the impression that I don't get a lot of pleasure from contacts with other Brits, this website is a good example, I have tried some of Goose's wonderfull recipes, I am a member of the English Library in Dun le Palastel, I get the Guardian Weekly on subscription, but in the end, I live in France because I prefer it to living in the UK.
Kind Regards,
Mike

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Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by moses • Fri 18 Jul 2008 02:11

hi all
i bought my place solely to be a maison secondaire having visited this area a great deal, i saw all my potential neighbors prior to viewing anywhere so as to ensure they were happy to have a brit holiday home owner(and i was told they minded a few times hmmmmmmm good job i asked).

like many others we all know people who have had disastrous experiences in france eg some friends of mine moved to normandy but split up after 1 year he loved the place and the wife just could not integrate, last i heard dennis was running a market stall and happy as larry.

i must admit after 3 years of owning our place i have more friends in france than the uk(french and english) and my french is totally awful, being willing to get involved with your neighbors is the biggest issue rather than language.

as the previous poster said i feel comfortable in france which sums it up for me.

if i were looking to bring my family down and earn a living i seriously think we would go bankrupt and be back in about 2-3 years feeling very disillusioned and quite penniless.
our family moved from rural devon to the industrial midlands mostly because of problems experienced with rural living NO LOCAL WORK???? add language problems to that and you have a very big challenge.

anthony

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Aug 2006
Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by beetle • Sun 20 Jul 2008 12:23

Brain washing thats the technique. People are addicted to TV, the brain is coasting almost asleep and then they pounce with a story of how green the grass is elsewhere. Cast away all your problems life is wonderfull here (wherever they are). Well that sounds fantastic I'll pack up all my toubles in the old kit bag and smile, smile, smile. America, Australia, Greenland, here I come. Greenland? yes it worked in the Viking age too. The audiance was a little smaller but the story tellers, told a good tale. The system works it is still being used today. Skip over all the complications. We do not want any negatives in the script anyway our programme sponsors do not like it and they are paying the bills. They want happy smiling faces and a happy ever after ending, just to round things off nicely. Follow-up story? No, it shatters too many dreams, no negatives is the rule. OK maybe one follow-up, but make sure they really are successfull and happy,happy,happy.
The moral of this tale is keep all your senses on full alert, the course you set is not across uncharted seas with a little (a lot of) preparation you can avoid the rocks, wrecks and storms to reach calm waters and new challenges.
Do not listen to the songs of the sirens.

If you never find what you seek, you never wanted it badly enough in the first place.
beetle
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Dec 2007
Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by baywindowgirl • Sun 20 Jul 2008 22:06

This thread seems to be turning into a four legs (people who are already over there) good, two legs (those of us who haven't made it yet) bad diatribe, which I think is a little unfair. Yes you do see people on those TV progs who obviously don't have a clue (the ones who can't speak any French but seem to think that they will pick up work of some sort are particularly scary). However, there must be many others like myself and my husband, who have been coming to France for many years, have our eyes wide open, are waiting until our circumstances are right and are doing lot of research and improving our French in the mean time. Reading some of the above, I'm starting to be more afraid of our reception at the hands of the ex-pat community than the locals. Do you have your own wicker men over there for unfortunates who don't come up to scratch??!

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Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by plantboy • Sun 20 Jul 2008 22:43

Didn't you know it was a competition about who can intergrate the best,speak the language like a native and stay the longest,and if you go back to the UK,you get pointed at with that look of "they didn't do their homework"? Hey,if things don't work out so what,you had a go,it's France,I know people who came back from Aus,New Zealand,Africa,India for various reasons,but they are far more interesting people for their experience. . . 8)

plantboy
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Feb 2008
Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by Mikeovers • Tue 22 Jul 2008 23:46

It's strange how what was intended as genuinely helpful information can so very easily be perceived as being either arrogant, or sounding superior, and I'm sorry if my posting gave that impression.

In fact, just the contrary is the case. Because of my very long association with France, I am quite amazed by the way a lot of people come to France, with very little experience, and still manage to make a wonderful life for themselves, and I think Plantboy is spot on when he says what the heck, you gave it a whirl, if it doesn't work, it doesn't matter, and as for the "four legs good, two legs bad" reaction, I try very hard not to divide either people, or things, as "better than", or "worse than", rather, I have always preferred "different to". There are many exceptions to this rule though, law abiding is clearly better than law breaking, politeness is better than rudeness, tolerance is better than aggression, and so on, but just because someone holds, or expresses a view or opinion that is contrary to ones own, it doesn't necessarily make them worse than, or better than, just different to, that's all.

The forums on this site are an opportunity for English speaking people who live in or around the Creuse, either permanently or occasionally, to exchange info, ideas, and yes, even express an opinion. The fact that we mostly speak English, and are familiar with a lovely area of France, will not, in itself, make us similar, or even friends. I imagine that there are more individual backgrounds than you can poke a stick at, so it would be nothing short of a miracle if we all held similar views.

As far as making it work goes, I reckon Baywindowgirl is on the right track, by spending some time on researching the options, because despite all the "devil may care" bravado, something over 50% of all Brits who come to live in France permanently, are back in the UK within four years, probably with a very nasty dent in the wallet! It is certain that there are all sorts of reasons for this, and one of them has to be that the reality didn't come up to the expectations, and also, that it is almost impossible to predict exactly how the absence of family & friends will affect us. The latter cannot really be researched, and is possibly a great source of unhappiness, but the former most certainly can, and the purpose of my post was to try to help this along by describing my own observations, not rattle the bars of any cages!
Regards, Mike

Mikeovers
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Nov 2004
Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by tomdenne • Wed 23 Jul 2008 01:15

It's strange how what was intended as genuinely helpful information can so very easily be perceived as being either arrogant or sounding superior, and I'm sorry if my posting gave that impression.

Mike; never thought that for a moment about your post.

Just to add an opinion to the lines already raised by this thread…. Full integration in France is mission totally impossible. Doesn’t matter how well you speak the language, how much you admire the culture (or the cuisine) or how friendly you are with all your neighbours, you will still be a stranger.

When I was very young my family relocated from south Kent, where both my parents were born, to north Kent because my father got a job in London. One day I overheard, through the hedge, someone asking directions to our house. A local man replied “Oh, you mean those foreigners who have just moved in….”

Decades later, while working in Nottingham, builders started to redevelop a large site opposite. I jokingly said to a couple of the young women on our staff “There you are girls, you can now take your pick!”
“Not bloody likely” was the immediate response “they’re all from Derby.”
Now Derby is less than twenty miles away from Nottingham but in the eyes of our lasses it might just as well have been Mars.

So when I speak a few words of French, no matter how hard I try, I just know that everyone knows I’m a stranger … but there is one great consolation, at least nobody thinks that I originate from Paris.

Cheers, Tom

tomdenne
133
Jan 2008
Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by Kaz1 • Wed 23 Jul 2008 09:52

CHOICE – IS EVERYTHING…!!!
(Be it informed, or experienced)

1. If you are Happy, Content, Enjoying life and not wasting good energy on negative things………….then you have obviously made the right choice/s!

2. If you are feeling unhappy, discontent, not enjoying life so much and forever trying to sort out how to make things go how you want/need……..then you are doing something fundamentally wrong or perhaps you have just made the wrong choice/s.!

At the end of the day, folk just have to do things they feel that’s right at the time and realize quickly if things are not feeling so right for them after a while…….the answer is… to CHOOSE something different….you can put it down to experience, make a different choice and start the process again, hopefully choosing the best thing to do for you.

At the end of the day we all have to do what we feel is right for us and not all the time are we of sound objective minds to make choices that work, but we can be strong enough to say well that didn’t work and move on to something that does…….life is so simple, why complicate it…!!
I mean which would you choose to be feeling….1 or 2….?

ANY information we ‘gather’ in life about life - arms us in the process of making good choices in life for ourselves.

CHOICE IS EVERYTHING…..!! …………….and very individual….!!

The only two things we can’t choose for are Illness and Death.. Everything else is total free range - is that not ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT...!

Kind regards
Karol.

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Oct 2006
Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by beetle • Wed 23 Jul 2008 21:06

"Life is a gift and it is upto us to decide what we do with it"
"You only have this moment in time, once in your life and when it is gone it is gone forever"

If you never find what you seek, you never wanted it badly enough in the first place.
beetle
147
Dec 2007
Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by FionaFrance • Sun 27 Jul 2008 14:06

All very interesting. I'm a firm believer in doing your homework before making any decisions (I barely buy a toothbrush without reading Which? :lol: )

But we also find as we get older (!) that we are more likely to 'seize the day'/ follow our hearts - and other cliches of ths type - albeit after doing said research.

I think the most important question you should ask yourself is 'What's the worst that can happen?' If you are realistic and know the answer, and feel you would be able to face it, then at that stage - go for it.

That was our stance when we bought our little (holiday) cottage in the Creuse and so far I can say, hand on heart, 'Je ne regrette rien'! :D

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FionaFrance
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Oct 2007
Re: Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
by moses • Mon 01 Sep 2008 01:38

hi again
france occasionally sends me mad but i love the place, if your looking to come here for a maison secondaire and love the french way of life why not go for it??

if your going to setup a business etc i would seriously seriously do your homework before you come, always have an escape plan with any business. eg what if you dont earn enough/any money etc

but i must admit the biggest problems we have had are with language skills or lack of them.

anthony

moses
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Aug 2006
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