A little over ten years ago, we were busy preparing for our big move. We were full of anticipation and raring to go. We had battled our way through huge obstacles in selling our property in the UK and it felt we would never achieve our goal of moving to France. Despite the difficulties though, we got there in the end.
Life is often strange (well ours seems to be anyway). Maybe the difficulties we encountered were preparing us for what was ahead. If we couldn’t get through those trials, then there was not a hope that we could cope with the struggles we were to face after moving to France. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life (on the whole) and have no real regrets (well maybe a few), but I would definitely have done things differently had I known then what I know now.
So, if I could go back in time to ten years ago and talk to my 37 year old self, what would I tell her? Here’s a few things that spring to mind:
Tip 1 Don’t waste time
Stop wasting time reading books about the amusing experiences of wealthy retirees living in France – it’s nothing like life bringing up a family and trying to earn a living.
Tip 2 Improve your French
Concentrate on improving your French before you move as you’ll have precious little time to do it when you’re there. Not speaking French very well is a MASSIVE disadvantage and you WON’T just pick it up as you go along. I personally blame my French teacher Mr Walker for my aversion to French!
Tip 3 Sort out your Communications
Be prepared to be telephone-less for at least the first three months and make sure you get a French mobile or you’ll run up a horrendous bill with your English one.
Tip 4 Be Warned – it gets COLD
You might be moving to the South of France, but budget for insulating and heating (and replacing broken windows) as it’s blooming freezing in the winter.
Tip 5 Don’t rush to have all things French
Keep your UK driving licence as long as possible as the rigmoral of changing to a French one just isn’t worth the hassle and make sure you renew it before the photocard runs out.
Tip 6 Prepare to be Poor
Don’t expect to make your fortune in France, social charges, amongst other things, for the self-employed are far higher than the UK. Although take heart, your life will be rich in other, more important ways.
Tip 7 Use your Assets Wisely
Don’t take on a business property lease as you already own the perfect place to run your business.
Tip 8 Don’t try to Run before you can Crawl
Keep your business as simple as possible and don’t employ anyone if you can help it– the employment laws and costs of employing someone are counter-productive for small businesses.
Tip 9 Avoid Borrowing
Don’t rely on banks to help finance your business or help you in any way. They are inflexible, unhelpful and full of unnecessarily complicated, restricting, backward regulations and they will find any excuse to rob you of your hard earned money. (Not that I’m bitter or anything!).
Tip 10 Hold your nose and Jump!
You know you’re preparing yourself for the red tape and famous French bureaucracy, well brace yourself as it’s infinitely worse than you could ever possibly imagine.
Hmmmm, on second thoughts, forget all that younger me. Do yourself a favour and move to Spain… only joking…. I think