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I love France. But sometimes I don’t. And some expats never do. Every country has its pros and cons, its lovers and haters. But few are as much of a mixed bag as France. This beautiful country is one of the most popular tourist spots. It seems glamorous and romantic and exciting.
Emigration is obviously very different to a holiday. With France, the difference can be particularly jarring. The people are tough nuts to crack, and the language is definitely not intuitive (especially if you’re trying to count past 69!).
In my opinion, it’s worth every single challenge. The French can be rude, but that makes it all the more rewarding when they open up. The language is difficult, but beautiful once you get the hang of it.
Before you make the move, there are a few things you should know. These are the 5 tips that will help you make the transition, without all the frustration and disappointment.
Bureaucracy is a disaster in almost every country. It’s a word that strikes fear in the heart of the average person. The bad news is, French bureaucracy is almost always worse than you expect. This is not because they’re inefficient. It’s because you’re probably not prepared for how easily they’ll dismiss you until you’ve got everything perfectly in order. They’re not going to mollycoddle you (or give you much help at all) through the process.
So, be thoroughly prepared, and have extra copies of every document you could possibly need.
While English is a somewhat universal language, and much of the population of France is fluent in it, that does not mean they’ll forgive you for speaking it. French is the language of France. The French are a proud people, and you’ll be seen as arrogant for expecting them to change their language to suit your needs.
It’s very tempting in any new country to stick to the people you know. And it’s important that you have a strong expat community to support you through the tough times. But in France, many expats give up on making French friends early on. This is because of the tremendous culture gap.
French people are rude, arrogant, brash, and inconsiderate. At least that’s how it looks to outsiders. In reality, they just have a different idea of “manners”. Spend enough time around them, and you’ll realise the benefits of not apologising for everything you do, of getting straight to the point, and being pragmatic when others are not. You’ll see that French rudeness has nothing to do with you, and if you get used to it and act the same way towards them, they won’t bat an eyelid.
It will be tough, but do your best to make French friends and appreciate the advantages of the French attitude.
Taking your money abroad is no simple matter. There nothing as annoying as messing around with IBAN or SWIFT numbers. There’s endless paperwork involved in setting up a new bank account, not to mention getting your money into that bank account. And it can be very costly. Banks will charge you through the roof simply for moving your money to a different country. This is an unfortunate reality wherever you go.
But you’re not the first and you definitely will not be the last. The vast number of people moving between countries has created a need for better solutions to money transfer issues. Foreign exchange firms have popped up, offering rates that are far lower than what the banks ask for. This includes better exchange rates. Offering below-market exchange rates is another way banks take advantage of us, skimming more money off the top.
Companies which offer money sending to France services also give you the advantage of dedicated dealers who will help you with the transfer process, along with setting up your French bank account and get you in touch with the right people to help with mortgage loans and the like.
I usually hate the term “be positive”. If you’re feeling bad, being told to be positive is the most useless advice. It invalidates your feelings without providing anything in return.
But when you’re discovering something new, to “be positive” has a specific meaning. Don’t pretend the challenges don’t exist. Don’t pretend you don’t miss your old home. But make a point of noting the advantages of your new home. Every time you notice something different about France that you’re sure to love in the future, note it down. This will help put things in perspective for you. It will be a reality check, showing you that things are likely to get better.
Moving to France is tough, but if you have good support and an open mind, and are prepared for everything you’re about to face, you’ll end up loving it and never want to leave!