Yes, you can move to France; just follow these 10 steps for a smooth transition
If you want to be living the dream, take these 10 simple steps to get settled into your new French home, says Julie Savill
Your bags are packed, you’re ready to go, and you have your checklist of integration tips firmly in hand. Good, this is going to be fun!
1) Isolation or privacy? At the beginning of the search for your new property, you need to have in mind what you want on a social level. When you say you’re looking for isolation, do you really mean that?
Isolation is easy to find in France (it’s about three times the size of the UK with a similar population). In rural areas, such as the Auvergne region, for instance, population density goes down to 50 people per square kilometre. Compare that to Shropshire, one of the UK’S least densely populated counties at 136 per square kilometre.
It may be that isolation is not what you want and that privacy is what you should actually be looking for. You can live on the edge of a French hamlet, or in a property a few hundred metres from a village, and be extremely private but still have the support and security of not-too-distant neighbours.
Move a couple of kilometres further from a village (a nice cycling distance, for instance) and you can crank up the music, dance naked in the garden and not scare anyone.
2) Start the school year right
Get your timing right if you have children. If you can arrange to move to your new home during the summer holidays, you can all get settled, enjoy a lovely French summer and get them ready to start school in September.
Most villages have a centre aéré or centre de loisirs. It’s like a day camp for kids where they do lots of activities. Over the course of a summer there might be swimming, fishing, kayaking, gardening, painting, singing, a trip to a theme park and so on. Food is provided and more and more of the centres have canteens that use organic ingredients.
There is likely to be a mix of nationalities but it will be predominantly French so language skills will come on in leaps and bounds amidst all the fun – and they might well make a friend or two who will be a familiar face when school starts.
Ask at your local mairie (town hall) for details and try to book early as the numbers are limited. The cost is around €10 per day. If you are registered with the CAF ( Caisse d’allocations Familiales) in France and receiving payments (similar to family allowance in the UK), the cost can go down to €3 per day.
3) Kid speak
Sticking with the language theme, there are a few things that will help children. The younger they are when they make the move, the easier they will find it. Young brains are like sponges and within weeks they’ll be chatting with friends and correcting your pronunciation.
Above primary school age it gets harder and they’ll be dealing with a level of study that is hard in a new second language. There are solutions. France has some excellent international schools and this can often be a
Do you really want splendid isolation...