Moving to France

Well, I’ve done it now… I finally got my act together (after more than 10 years) and figured out how to move to France. Basically, it just comes down to having enough money to obtain the long stay visa. OK, it’s a little more complicated than that, but the financial guarantee is what took me so long. After visiting the Consulate, I felt a rather unusual mixture of relief, excitement, and terror at the same time, but I think once I get over there I’ll feel like I’m finally home. 🙂

Topics: France

17 thoughts on “Moving to France

  1. Geraldine says:

    Wow, Im impressed! Are you moving soon? I have a feeling your blog is going to get very, very interesting….and make sure to share all the gorgeous scenes too.

    Im envious Laura, but very happy for you, sounds like a dream come true. Ours is to move to BC, its been way too long a wait, hopefully not much longer.

    G. 🙂

  2. I’m leaving at the end of July. I recently got back from 3 months in Toulouse (Jan-Mar) and it made me realize that I need to live there longer.

  3. Chris says:

    My husband and I spent a year in Toulouse in 1994, and now spend a month or two a year at our pied-a-terre in Castanet. The long stay visa process was quite involved, and it’s not over when you get the visa stamped into your passport. Once in Toulouse, you’ll have to jump through a few more hoops–it took us 9 months to get our carte de sejour. One of the most amusing hoops was the medical exam (although we had submitted a medical report with our application, that wasn’t good enough). Basically the doctor asked us if we were healthy and if we had had our shots, and the nurse gave us a cup and told us to “faire pipi” in it. Our French teacher at Alliance Francaise was horrified that a medical person would use that terminology with an adult!

  4. Eden – Merci bien. 🙂

    Chris – Yes, the Vice Consul stressed the fact that the visa is not what actually gives one permission to live in France, that upon arriving I need to head to the préfecture pretty much immediately. BTW, I’ve noticed that the French really like to say “faire pipi.” I remember listening to this radio interview with a guy of about 20 or 21, and he used that term too. It seemed kind of odd that a “cool” guy in his early 20’s would use baby talk, but I guess it’s not quite the same thing as saying “go potty” in English.

  5. Salut Debra,

    The financial guarantee is proof that you have a certain amount of either savings or income for each month you apply for. This amount is not spelled out, but the current thinking is $1,000 to $2,000 per month. (So to be on the safe side, you want to shoot for the higher number.) The proof can be recent bank statements (including savings, checking, brokerage statements, IRA, etc.), a letter from your bank stating your total balance, a letter from a parent stating that they will cover you for xx amount per month, or a letter from your employer stating that you earn xx amount. We simply used bank statements, as that was the easiest. Good luck! 🙂

  6. Patrice says:

    In my 3+years and multiple medical exams and tests I have never heard any phrase but “faire pipi”! Is there actually another term???

    btw, my medical exams also included a chest x-ray and eye exam, and they did more than ask if I had my shots. As the French all have their little carnet with all their vaccination information, the doctor was quite upset that not only did I not have an official record, I really couldn’t say what shots I had or not since birth. So gather as much of that info as you can before you go.

    I also echo Karen’s sentiments above, you have to be prepared for “real life” not “vacation life”, but as long as you are, you will love France.

    Good luck!

  7. Eden says:

    I hope you will be very happy there, Laura.

    You’ve encouraged me to keep the dream alive! Thanks.

  8. Debra says:

    Felicitations Laura! It has always been my dream to live in France again and I feel I’m getting a bit closer. Thank you so much for documenting the process. I love the step by step. I don’t want to get too nosy but can you define “financial guarantee”. I understand that that means you won’t be looking for work in France but do you have to show a guaranteed monthly income? How does it work and what do they require? Thanks so much!

  9. Dee says:

    I completely understand and applaud your decision to move to France. After numerous vacations in France, we finally decided to buy a timeshare as a first step toward our dream of retiring in France. Our anxiety was high, mostly because we had to quickly learn French real estate and banking terms. But without a doubt, we feel that we are closer to “going home”.

  10. Karen says:

    Hi Laura

    Well done in making the decision. We moved to southern Brittany just over four years ago and it was the best decision of our lives. We miss the family a little, but hey, what a great community we live in. I sing in three local French choirs; my hubby plays pool for the local team – we have great neighbours and with the help of French classes and your daily lesson we are also cracking the language. We have no regrets. We feel we have totally intregrated into the local community and have fab neighbours. I started a business working with French and English speaking house owners taking bookings for holiday (vacances) makers who wish to rent gites, and that also helps with the language as I end up doing translations between the owners and the holiday-makers! Our eldest daughter even decided to have her religious marriage service here, which takes place in two weeks, so again that has helped with the language. Not that you will have any problems on that score! As long as you have not thought you want to live here with your “holiday head” on your shoulders, you should be OK. Did you know that there are more people (especially English) who are leaving France to go back to the UK than there are coming here? True, there was an article in yesterday’s Telegraph online. As long as you have thought about how you are going to earn a living, and how much it costs to pay towards your cotisations….. you should profit from lower health care costs than across the Atlantic! There are several ex-pat websites if you want a link to them, ask and will post them on your blog. Good luck, I am sure you will love living in France full time…..

  11. nadine says:

    Bravo, Laura! Un grand pas vers l’avenir!!
    Avec mon mari nous partons la semaine prochaine pour 6 mois, en France, dans plusieurs regions. En juillet, nous serons dans un petit village Durfort, pres de Toulouse et Revel. Je donnerai un atelier de Cours Intensifs (Total Immersion). J’aimerais beaucoup vous presenter a mes etudiants adultes si cela vous etait possible. ils sont tous d’un niveau INT-AVances.
    Semaine du 10 au 17 juillet.
    Je sais c’est encore loin…
    A tres bientot, j’espere,

  12. Sophie says:

    All right guys ! It sounds like some of you are quite intrigated by the fact that French people say “faire pipi” even when they are adults.

    Well, I can not believe that I am going to right about that topic but I know what it is to get confused or even “lost in translation” !

    Laura is right, “faire pipi” isn’t the translation for “go potty” which is “aller au pot” in French therefore “to have a pee” is the translation for “faire pipi” ! So, I hope you are still with me !
    “Aller au pot” is typically baby talk and it is mostly used when the babys are in their potty training period, then comes the “faire pipi” or “aller aux toilettes”. As an adult I will use “faire pipi” when I am with my familly and close friends but it might depends on the situation, then I will use “aller aux toilettes” in other situations or even the “veuillez m’excusez” in very situations such as when I am having dinner outside. In that case, you don’t have to be specific, the people know why you are escaping for a brief moment ! A nurse should use the appropriate verb “uriner” (“pisser” in slang) but in a way to be more friendly and well understood she might use “faire pipi”as well. I hope it will help those who wants to get the fluency in French !


  13. sabine says:

    Hi Laura,

    I am so happy for you. You get to live out your dream. I am inspired by your actions. It has always been my dream to own a home in Paris and to live in France. I know one day I’ll get there. In the meantime, I will settle for frequent trips to Paris. I will be there this summer, late July early August to attend my cousin’s wedding.

    While I am in France, I would like to take the DALF. They do not offer it in the U.S.–they do offer the TCF–but that is a certificate that expires every two years while the DALF is a diploma. Anyway, I wanted to take some courses at the Sorbornne to get ready for it, but they don’t offer these courses at the Sorbornne during the summer session. Since you’ve studied in France, would you please direct me to a school or organization that would prepare me for the DALF. If you know of any good books, workbooks that would prepare me for the exam, I would really appreciate it.

    Finally, how long do you intend on staying

    in France?

  14. Nadine – J’aimerais bien, mais je ne serai pas là avant la fin d’avril. 🙁

    Sabine – I know that the Alliance française (including in the US, I believe) offers the DELF/DALF; they may also offer preparatory courses. I’ve never taken it so can’t make any specific recommendations. Try googling the official site, which offers practice tests.

    My visa is for one year, but I’m hoping to be able to renew it indefinitely.

  15. isa says:

    Dear Laura, i have been reading you since the the french culture days on About (i was isamarguerite there) I was living in the USA then, but i moved back to France. infortunately not to Toulouse, but i go there very often, because i am from there and that’s where all my family is. My daughter (21) is there, and i am sure she would love to help you with anything (she is perfectly bi-cultural and bi-lingual, and so are you… you should get along 🙂 )D

    If you would like to meet me next time i go, just email me. we’ll try to go to places you haven’t seen yet.
    welcome in toulouse!


  16. Jill says:

    I am one of those people that never had any desire to travel to Europe. Then last year I moved to the south of France because of my husband’s job. Neither of us knew any French so I was pleased to find your French e-mail lessons. Thankfully, his company helped us through the move and carte de sejour process, but there was still quite a bit of culture shock. Since then I’ve read a few books on the French way of life that have helped me with the odd social differences. Learning a new language at age 45 is difficult, but most of our experiences so far have been very pleasant. The people are nice, the area is beautiful, and the food is wonderful. It’s a peaceful, slower way of life here. I know I could cocoon myself in the American groups that are here, but then I would miss out on half the fun. I’ll be here for another 3 years and I’m sure I’ll miss it when we have to leave.

  17. Laura, Congratulations! Both on moving to France (a life-long dream of mine) and on your cutting-edge contribution to teaching and explaining the French language. Bravo!

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