Retire in France
Wondering where to spend your retirement years? Why not consider a retirement in France? For the retiree, France offers an excellent quality of life along with all the modern comforts you enjoy at home.
While France does not have a special incentive visa for retirees, the process of retiring in France is quite simple. You apply for a long-term visa at the nearest French consulate in your home country, after which you obtain a carte de séjour visiteur. To prove you have the financial means to retire in France, you’ll have to provide statements from your pension plan or bank. Be sure that your health plan covers you in France, or obtain a suitable plan that would cover you in France.
Before making a definitive move, we recommend a three-month trial in France to find your home base and to network with other retirees. Because Paris is the most expensive place to live in France, you may want to consider retiring in the French countryside or other vibrant cities, where real estate, rents, and the cost of living are cheaper.
How to Retire in France
Generally, it isn’t difficult for North Americans to gain long-term residency and retire in France, but you should check out your particular situation before making plans. Plenty of documentation will be needed, and current requirements are as follows:
- A passport, signed and valid for three months after the last day of stay
- One application forms, signed and legibly filled out
- One passport-size photo glued/stapled to the form
- A current passport
- Proof of means of income
- Proof of medical insurance
- Proof of accommodation in France
- Proof of legal status in North America (copy of green card, etc.)
- Letter promising not to engage in employment in France
- Marriage certificate, if applicable
- Processing fees
- An e-ticket or reservation record showing date of departure to France
- One long-term residence form, which must be completed, dated, signed, and notarized
Please check with the French consulate nearest you for complete instructions.
The Climate in France
France has a mostly temperate climate, though there are many regional variations. Average winter temperatures range from 32° F to 46° F and average summer temperatures from 61° F to 75° F.
For the most warmth and sunshine, look to the Midi, the term the French themselves use for the deep south of the country. The Provence and Languedoc regions are characterized by mild winters and blisteringly hot summers.
Along with the north and central regions, Paris has cool and fairly rainy winters, though summers here are usually hot. Winters are a lot colder in the eastern regions of Alsace-Lorraine and in the mountainous regions of the Alps, the Pyrénées, and the Massif Central.
Be aware that the French use the Celsius temperature scale (° C), so don’t expect to see temperatures given in Fahrenheit once you’re there.
5 Reasons Why You Should Retire in France
By Stewart Richmond
There are many reasons you should consider a move to France: The beaches of Normandy, the stunning Paris cityscape, the resorts of the Atlantic and Mediterranean…but France is more than just a pretty place to live…
France is also, undeniably, a pretty place to live.
As IL’s South of France Correspondent, I’ve lived here for a few years now and discovered it’s also a highly practical place to retire to… Here are my top five reasons why:
1. Low cost of living
While many items are a similar price to items in North America, many are much, much cheaper. France has a thousand different cheeses and they start off at a tiny $1.15 for a home-brand camembert or brie. You can try a different cheese every day of the year without breaking the bank.
Wine, beer and spirits are ridiculously cheap. You will find a red or white from the hundreds in the local supermarket that suits your individual palate for around $3.50. You can get a supermarket baguette for 40 cents or an artisan baguette from the boulangerie for $1.15. French supermarkets are not allowed to throw food away, so there are always plenty of bargains.
2. Cheap real estate
Sure, if you want to live in 6th Arrondissement in the center of Paris or in a Mediterranean resort town, it’s going to cost. But there are hundreds of properties in beautiful country towns and villages with all the work done at very affordable prices. You can get a small townhouse for as little as $34,400, or less if you want a project to fix up. For $92,000 you can get a terrific house with a garden. Imagine selling your house back home, buying a wonderful home in France for under $100,000, and living like royalty on the balance.
3. Cheap and Easy Travel and Connectivity
France has a brilliant rail system and there are terrific discounts for people over 60. Its biggest international airport, Charles de Gaulle, has a TGV (very fast train) station underneath the terminal so you get off the train, go up the escalator and you’re in the airport terminal.
It is also well placed for easy travel to the U.K. and the rest of Europe. There is free movement between France and Spain, so go for a drive. Same for Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. There are also lots of regional airports which have connecting flights around the world. My wife recently got a return flight from Limoges (Limousin) to London Stansted for under $30. Roads are good and, while tolls on the big motorways can be expensive, the routes are well maintained.
France also has terrific broadband and an ongoing fiber roll-out with a choice of excellent mobile phone providers. Free Wifi is available in most places, especially the more popular tourist areas.
The health system in France is the best in the world (WHO rankings). A visit to the doctor costs about $30 and after three months residency you can get 70% back. Hospitals are terrific and specialist fees are fixed by the Government. Prescription medicine is less than half the price you pay in the U.S. If you do develop a long-term illness such as cancer, diabetes, liver or kidney failure, then medication is free.
5. You Can Drink Water Straight from the Tap
One of the first questions at any International Living event is: “Can you drink the water?” France has a remarkable setup for making sure water is potable straight from the tap. Every city, town, village and hamlet is connected up. You will never have to buy bottled water again.
Bonus: France has a polite, friendly population with a good sense of humor. The French are welcoming, and if you learn a few words and phrases they will go out of their way to help you.
We’ve recently moved after spending three years in a stunning maison de maitre in Bellac, a small community in the Limousin. We’re now living in the Aude, part of the Languedoc- Roussillon where you can find a home within easy reach of Mediterranean beaches, historic towns to explore, a couple of hours drive to ski slopes and a short run into Spain for some tapas. I’ve seen terrific village houses for under $105,000.
Decide on your own criteria and you may have more than the five I’ve listed, but before you make any decision on where to live the dream overseas, check out France.