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Mistakes expats make in France

Hello everyone,

Did you make any mistakes when you first moved to France? What were they?

How did you address your mistakes? Did you learn anything from them?

With hindsight, what would you do differently?

Are there any tips you could give future expats in France to help them avoid these kinds of mistakes?

We look forward to hearing from you!


Hello everyone.
I would never try and put anyone off buying a property in France or moving here...however.
What I would say is make sure you do plenty of homework before you set sail across the channel, as it could cause you problems if you do not research in depth about moving abroad and all the implications of changing your country of residence.
I will admit that although we thought we had done plenty of research, in fact, we hadn't done anywhere near enough.
Renovation of old properties can be very expensive if you need to pay for all the work to be completed by tradesmen. Where I am reasonably DIY minded, my husband is definitely not.  We also fell foul of some tradesmen, who suffice to say let us down badly, which meant using more of our budget having work re done. On hind sight, this was our first mistake...we came to France with a smallish budget, which didn't really allow for having to have work done twice. So this put us under pressure as a couple, at a time when we should have been enjoying the whole experience. 
Tradesmen...check, check and check again all credentials, go and see work they have completed, ask around, join Facebook and other forums and don't be afraid to ask people and for referrals of good tradesmen.
One thing I would stress more than anything...Do not ever think of having tradesmen work for you on the 'Black' (meaning you pay them cash), it is illegal, and you could face a hefty fine. You must also take into consideration the tradesmen who are working legally, who are paying their taxes, insurances etc, and can not compete in price with those people who are working for a bit of pocket money. If you can't afford to pay proper tradesmen rates, then quite frankly you should not be buying a property in France.

Please don't be swayed at what kind of large property your money will buy...if it has lots of land...Stop and think, how you will manage the land, it all comes at a cost. You either have to buy machinery large enough to tackle the land, or you will need to budget for a gardener to do the work for you, but take into consideration that they have to buy their expensive machinery, so they charge accordingly. Also if you have paddocks/fields, these may need fencing, which is expensive and very hard work if you plan on trying to do this yourself.

Try and learn French, don't be like some of the English and not bother, you will find that the French will appreciate you a lot more if you at least try. Don't expect them to speak English, that's just lazy.

Stop and think before you leave the UK about how you will feel being separated from your family and friends, because this can cause heart ache for you, and put pressure on relationships. Once you have bought a house here, you have to remember that properties don't sell as quickly as back in the UK, so you could face being homesick for quite a long time while you wait for your house to sell. You could vastly reduce your property price to sell it quickly, but not everyone is in the fortunate position to be able to afford to, after all you will need money to return with.

Don't think that life comes easily to a lot us in France. If you are retired, then you'll be able to relax a lot sooner. However...if you are moving and aim to set up a business, be prepared that your customer base will be a lot smaller than in the UK (unless it's internet based) if you are basing it on the British customers.
With hard work, and a lot of determination you can eventually make a good life here. Good luck to everyone who has the dream to start again in beautiful rural France.

Hopefully it will be this summer when we make the move. In a few weeks we should begin looking for a place to rent in earnst. The plan is to arrange several viewings then come over and view and with a spot of luck select to one we like the best.

Once in France I need to find some lessons in french as mine is poor and the computer programme that we bought ............................. we let's say we don't seem to get one. Am thinking that I learn better from a person!

You make some good points and ones which we have been considering for a while. At least for us this is not a spur of the moment thing it has beena long term desire especially for Mother. The only thing is that she never thought it could really happen so we are doing our best to make it happen for her. As for family well in our case there is really no family left and those true friends will be on the end of the phone or even computer nowadays and as they all live several hundred miles away now it really won't be that different. The would be friends have over the last few trying years proved to be just that and so will not be missed and as we should be so isolated in France as we are looking for a place more in touch with a village or town than we are here in the UK there should be ample oppertunity to get to know new people.

Hobbies and interests should help by us getting involved this should also help pick up French.

No doubt there will be trials to be overcome but we are up for it.

Regards. Kevin

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