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Re: Emigration

Postby Psamathe » 15 May 2015, 2:39pm

gentlegreen wrote:...
I have a modest company pension I can take from age 60 without losing too much, a frugal lifestyle, and actually enjoy growing my own food - I have the real beginnings of passable French - I've always had French colleagues and have dreamed of living in France since my teens...

When I moved to France I moved (by choice) to an area where there were no other British. When one of my local mayors heard I was moving to the commune he went out and brought himself an English-French dictionary !! I went out with o-level French from 30 years previously. I went out determined that my language limitations would not stop me doing anything and before moving vowed to never say "Do you speak English?" ever. And that helped massively. French language is very important to the French and you can crucify their language and they will love you for trying and as long as you try they will do as much as they can to help. I never once had anybody laugh at my attempts. for example, I was after a 2rd dog, a puppy, so I looked up the word for puppy in the dictionary and went on my search. And I did not glean from the dictionary that the "C" at the start is a silent "C" and that what I was actually saying was not something you would be asking about !! (in the end somebody at the dog agility club I was taking my other dog to quietly corrected my pronunciation ...

So never ever ever say "Do you speak English?" and always try and don't worry is you destroy their language. And never ever let language stop you doing anything.

gentlegreen wrote:...
The fly in the ointment is the danger that the UK will end up outside the EU so I'm guessing that I would have to carry on paying for health insurance even after I reach 66 ? Presumably I would still be eligible for my state pension thereby at least being able to afford healthcare ?

Assuming the UK stays in the EU, it is actually more complex that this. It is 6 years since I returned to the UK and health cover was the main reason I had to return - not that I needed any treatment or had anything wrong, just that I had to be covered by a health system and my circumstances and Sarkozy's changes meant that neither the French system not the UK system would cover me.

(Double check this as things may have changed but) the moment you set foot in France with the intent to emigrate there you are no longer UK resident. Meaning you are liable for French tax, and not covered by the NHS. If you get ill and return to the UK for NHS treatment you will not be covered and the NHS will charge you. To be covered by the NHS you have to be (or intend to be) UK resident. This seems to only apply to 2ndry health care (hospitals) and I found they do check. In theory you have to be or intend to be UK resident. In practice the 1st question they ask is if you have been resident in the UK for more than 6 months. About 9 months after my return to the UK I needed a minor operation and was referred by my GP to hospital and before I could see the specialist I had to fill in a form and somebody had to come and interview me and I had to take in council tax bill, utility bill, drivers license (can't remember what, but paperwork showing my residence).

Before retirement age, when you move to France the French will not pay for your health cover. When you depart you used apply to UK authorities for an S1/E106/E121 form (it's called something else these days) and based on you NI record, it undertakes that the UK will pay the French for your healthcare. It could run for max. 3 years (duration depending on your NI record). After that you need to sort out healthcare. I believe the UK has now given-up doing this so Google searches refering to it are probably out of date. If you are working for a French company your "NI contributions" will include health insurance (though you and many French will also take out "top-up" insurance but that was not a major expense). If you are not working, Sarkozy introduced a scheme whereby the French state would not pay for your healthcare and the UK will not either (beyond the E106 period). You thus need to take out private health insurance, in theory to provide cover to a standard defined by the French government. Once you reach UK retirement age and get your state pension, the UK government will start paying for your health cover in France. However, I gather (though it's a more recent change to you'd need to check) that after 5 years residence in France (under private health insurance cover) you do become eligible to join the French Healthcare system (to get you Carte Vitale)

(That was the issue I had, early retired, managed to fiddle my E106 to go beyond 3 years, but then the new health private insurance system introduced, nobody offered such an insurance policy at that time so I faced having no cover anywhere. I suspect that by not either the system has changed or insurance companies have offerings. Apparently, at the time I was there the new regs only impacted 3000-4000 people (i.e. those not employed and before UK retirement age)).

Things like EHIC (E111) are not relevant as they are for visitors not being resident in France.

I should emphasise, my info is 6 years out of date and things may have changed, but it is something to investigate before you make any decisions (as private health insurance can be important if on a tighter budget - maybe €1500 for somebody 55-59 in good health hospital treatment only, excluding GP visits).

If you need links to sites for more info, let me know and I'll PM you some.

Things probably get a lot lot more complex if the UK leaves the EU - but I can't see the French evicting all those UK citizens who are already resident in France.

(Sorry for my waffle and please, anybody knowing anything different d correct me as I am a bit out of date).


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Re: Emigration

Postby gentlegreen » 15 May 2015, 3:42pm

Embarassingly I had no idea that was the word for "puppy". :oops: - though I was certainly familiar with the similar word and its usage. :D

Yes, there are several embarassing pitfalls in the French language - one which I made when I stayed there as a teenager and several I've since encountered and which seem to be sitting there waiting for me to blunder into :oops:

The language and culture thing was initially somewhat scary, but it's now a very big part of the attraction - I'll be aiming for naturalisation by the time I get to UK retirement age.
Quite a change though from a moderate sized city and a big employer to a more rural lifestyle - hopefully it will force me to make the effort ...

I'm very grateful for having learned French at school - a shame I wasn't offered Spanish instead of Latin or German as a second foreign language (I remember very little German) - I would like to avail myself of the proximity of Spain once I'm settled on the continent - but I find myself very comfortable with the French people I have known.

I was browsing affordable coastal properties in Wales the other day and I just couldn't face the prospect of retiring to "a bungalow in Fishguard" ... it just "isn't me."


I've already factored in about £12,000 as part of the moving costs for heath insurance for 60 to 66 - I'm aware that there used to be ways to squeeze the last drop from "visitor" status ..
At the moment my company pension would actually be just about enough to cover the extra ongoing annual costs - I'm hoping I won't need to run a car (which I don't need in the UK) for more than a year or two - to see me settled - I've found an area with supermarkets potentially within walking distance.

Houses are still amazing value - especially with the favourable exchange rate - and local taxes amazingly low ..

If I get stuck, there are hundreds of holiday homes in the area with lawns needing mowing ... and I'm a reasonable gardener.

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Re: Emigration

Postby Psamathe » 15 May 2015, 9:22pm

gentlegreen wrote:... - and local taxes amazingly low ..

When looking a taxation, if you are using income from savings remember you will have to pay the prélèvements sociaux. When I lived there I got an accountant to do my tax returns, not that they were complex nor that anything "clever" was necessary - just that I would have stood no chance of understanding them. What many do is to get an accountant to do their return 1st year, then do it themselves subsequent years just copying the same form and changing the numbers as appropriate. Trésor Public are meant to be very helpful if you go in with the paperwork, numbers, etc.. My saving interest was in the UK and thus subject to UK tax so this was credited against my French income tax, but I seem to remember my prélèvements sociaux bill was around the same as my income tax bill. If I understood things correctly (a big if, particularly as I was early retired and not getting pensions) I believe that pension income after retirement age from another EEA country outside France (as long as you are covered by an S1 form) are not liable for prélèvements sociaux (and this should cover both state pension and workplace pensions). But, if this may apply to you do double/treble check and don't rely on my probably out of date and possible incorrect understanding.

gentlegreen wrote:Houses are still amazing value - especially with the favourable exchange rate - and local taxes amazingly low ..

If I get stuck, there are hundreds of holiday homes in the area with lawns needing mowing ... and I'm a reasonable gardener.

I've kept a bit of a "eye" on French property prices/market (I do periodically think about returning. The advertised price of properties is normally an "in my wildest dreams" price. People do put in offers (and buy) properties at way below the asking price.

Certainly in the area I lived (Centre), French tend not to live living remotely and prefer villages/towns. People that do live a bit remote tend to try and move into villages/towns as they get older. It is overseas buyers who like the rural properties (British, Dutch, etc.). Means that rural remoter properties tend to be cheaper but can be harder to sell (depending on property market for overseas buyers). In the Centre properties are not moving (the property sale web sites are very static, most properties having been listed for months and months). When listed by e.g. a one of those UK companies "selling" houses in France, they tend to advertise a property for a bit, then switch to advertising a different set of properties , then switch back again - so the sites then have more "New Listing" flags and it looks like a dynamic vibrant market - except it's the same properties remaining unsold. Which often means the vendor is open to a truly mad offer. Check on some of the "living in France forums" - there are quite a lot of stories of people buying at 60% of the asking price. However, difficult to know how this relates to the number buying closer to the asking price as there are no statistics collected. Plus, many immos will set the asking price low to start with just to try and move the property.


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Re: Emigration

Postby francovendee » 15 May 2015, 10:23pm

When we bought our house, initially purchased as a second home but now our permanent one we were lucky in our choice. However If I were to contemplate the move to France now I'd rent for a year and see if we liked living here before buying.
If you are under state retirement age and not employed then health care here is expensive. After living here 5 years you end up being covered by the French system. When we came here my wife worked and because she was working she had health cover which also included me.
Tax allowances are reasonably generous, on an income of under 27000 euros we paid no income tax but paid nearly 1000 euros in prélèvements sociaux on UK interest and my UK company pension.