NOW OR NEVER
QWe’ve been planning a move to France for some time now and the Brexit result has made us decide to do it sooner rather than later. However, we are of course thinking about the impact Brexit will have and whether we’ll be able to earn a living. Our original intention was to set up our own business, and we wonder if this is still a realistic option for us.
think it’s an entirely realistic option, with I’m going to say, the obvious proviso that you have already sourced a business which is likely to succeed in France. I don’t believe that Brexit will make any difference at all to those of us who are in France, with a properly registered business, and paying into the French tax system.
However, some misconceptions still remain and I was interested only a very few weeks ago to talk to a couple who were hoping to be in France within a few months and already had an idea of what they might do. They asked me if they should do something else while the new business took off. That is a hugely difficult question to answer without sounding either patronising or rude, because the truth is that there is very little they could do while the new business took off – far better to pour their energies 100% into networking and marketing their new services in the locality.
There is no ‘shelf stacking in a local supermarket’ safety net option in France to bring in some euros while you develop your new business. Unless you speak fluent French you are extremely unlikely to be picked over a French national for part-time unskilled work, and if there are any opportunities to work on a casual labour basis, these will normally have been snapped up by the expats who are in France already and who are now trying to augment their depleted pensions – because of the weak pound they may find themselves in a different situation to what they had expected.
Whatever you do, don’t lose heart: work out what business would work both in terms of your own skills and potential demand in the area where you hope to settle, and research the opportunities open to you and consider a franchise. In France these are well regulated and regarded as a step-up on the business ladder because you have an immediate brand, a web presence, and a certain standing.
In the meantime, as you make your plans, regard the interim as the ideal opportunity to hone your French language skills and again don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do without a proper framework and foundation for this. If I had a euro for every time someone settling here said, “I don’t really need to learn the grammar, I just want to make conversation,” I would be a rich person living it up in my villa in the south of France by now. Once you are here the early months will pass in a whirlwind of activity, so if you can crack on with learning more French before you arrive, then that’s ideal. So, get cracking and bonne chance!