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Essential Things to Know When Moving to France From the US

Kate Holland December 22, 2015
Posted December 22, 2015 In Living Abroad,
Kate Holland

A true grunge and rock music fan born in Seattle, Kate has moved across the country and started writing about her experience.

Planning on moving to France from the US sounds both exciting and romantic. It’s no wonder because it’s considered one of the most beautiful countries in the world. But before you make this big step, you should know a thing or two about the requirements, as well as culture.

It’s a nation with a lot to enjoy, from vibrant cities to the breathtaking coastline and both the Alps and Pyrenees. The country which draws the most tourists in the world, is also one of the best European countries to reside in and, as such, is a popular destination for expat communities. But, can a US citizen move to France? The answer is – oui! But first, you’ll need to figure out which type of visa is most suitable for you and check out all the requirements for moving across the world and staying in la République.

Depending on Whether You’ll Be Working or Studying, You’ll Need a Work or Other Type of Visa

If you’re wondering, “Can I just move to France?” – the answer is that you can stay up to 90 days without a visa as a visitor with an American passport. But if you intend to prolong the stay for more than three months, you should consider which direction you are headed during your time within France’s borders. And then gather all the documents needed to live abroad. There are several types of visas you can acquire:

  • If you manage to get a job in Europe as an American, and your position is somewhere inside this beautiful country’s borders, you can apply for a work visa. After you get hired, there’s a lot of paperwork to handle. The French Labour Ministry should approve your work contract, and additionally, the employing company may need to explain why they’re hiring a worker outside of Europe.
  • Can I move to France without a job? If you manage to find employment within the three months of time you spend there as a visitor, you can use the opportunity to apply for a work permit.
  • If you are moving for love (oh, l’amour!) because you’ve married a French citizen, you can get a visa valid for a year. The paperwork you should prepare on time includes proof of your spouse’s residence and nationality.
  • If you consider this nation one of the friendliest in the world and you want to stay here to study, you can get a student visa. Among the required documents, you should gather proof of enrollment in one of the French universities and papers from the campus, and financial guarantees.

Other visas include exceptional talent and an au pair visa, but these are not that common. Although figuring out how to move to France as an American will require many documents and overcoming obstacles, it’s one of the best places to live in Europe, so it’s definitely worth the trouble.

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You Can Move to France From the Us and Get Permanent Residency or Citizenship

If you are wondering how to live abroad inside this country and become eligible for permanent residency, you are required to be living there for at least five years. However, the period is reduced to three years if you join a family member who is already a permanent resident. The same applies if your spouse is a French national. These residency cards are called Carte de Résident (CR), and they are valid for ten years and can be renewed. If you leave and don’t return to the country for more than two consecutive years, you will lose this residency status.

Citizenship can be acquired through naturalization or marriage. Suppose you live overseas in this nation for more than five years. In that case, you’ve fulfilled the first requirement for citizenship. Other requirements include integration into the culture, a 55 EUR fee for applying, and a signed Contrat d’Intégration Républicaine (CIR.)

From Paris to Marseille – Choose the City You Want to Reside In

If we sit to think about the best countries to be living in and the most astounding city in the world, most of us will think about Paris. That’s why we’ll start our list of France’s most prominent cities with the City of Light. We’ll quote Thomas Jefferson – “A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.”

The City of Light, the City of Love

Contrary to popular belief, the Eiffel tower isn’t the most visited monument in the city; the first place is reserved for Notre-Dame cathedral. The Louvre is the most popular museum on the planet, that hosts more than 35,000 art pieces, and is home to one of the most famous paintings – the Mona Lisa.

But besides the world’s renowned monuments and museums, it’s a place that has it all – even beaches. A small section of the river Seine has spots on its banks where you can sunbathe and play volleyball. Paris is a must-visit for historians, foodies, hopeless romantics, and fashionistas, and it’s a city that will help you keep in touch with friends since you’ll have so much to show them.

A Few Useful Details on Marseille and Bordeaux

You can start enjoying Marseille from its iconic Le Vieux-Port, where you can find the French Riviera’s famous fish market in the morning hours. Luxury villas line the walkway along the beautiful seaside promenade La Corniche. You can even gaze upon the famous Chateau d’If mentioned in the novel The Count of Monte Cristo. Still, you also shouldn’t miss out on the Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean (MuCEM), an architecturally stunning structure. It displays one of the largest collections of Mediterranean art and culture in the world.

Moving overseas to Marseille means you will be in a historic place, but also not far from the modern atmosphere of a city. You can enjoy music venues, bars, street art, and many shops on Cours Julien, which contribute to the vibrant feel of this district.

Bordeaux will teach you many things about wine because you can visit the wine museum, take a wine tour, or sample wines on a yacht. If you like sightseeing, walk along Les quais de Bordeaux located on the left bank of the Garonne, and enjoy parks (which are especially great if you’re relocating with dogs), gardens, and many historic buildings that line it. You will be amazed by the stunning pool called Miroir d’Eau, which creates a mirror effect, and that’s made even more impressive by the 18th-century structures around it.

This country has many more places to impress you with, and you can see the top 10 cities listed in the following video and find out a bit more before relocating to France.

Know What to Expect in Terms of Prices and Quality of Living

Around 40% of citizens of this nation rent their homes and apartments, and it’s probably a wise thing to do for any expat who is just starting to live in another country. The rent will vary greatly depending on where you choose to reside, and you will pay it in the country’s official currency, which is the same as for the whole European Union – Euro.

The average monthly rental fee for a one-bedroom apartment outside the city center is at least 350 EUR (392 USD). But for example, Paris is much pricier, and a one-bedroom apartment in the center will cost more than 1,000 EUR (1,120 USD). If you plan on staying in a rental, don’t forget to invest in a storage service and leave your excess belongings behind.

The average price for square feet of an apartment in the city center is around 470 EUR ($560), and a bit farther away, the price is lower, around 330 EUR ($400.) The expected costs for the monthly utilities should be around 150 EUR or $180.

Healthcare System Has Publicly Financed Resources

The nation’s healthcare system is available for foreigners, but there are specific steps to obtain the right to use it. Any expat who has stayed in the country for three months and intends to stay for at least three more months can benefit from the healthcare system and insurance. When it comes to the quality of their universal hybrid health system, keep in mind that it’s considered one of the greatest in the world. It’s financed mainly by the government and partially by individuals. The high quality of healthcare, along with the benefits, makes this country one of the best places to live abroad.

The School System, From Primary to University

If you are worried about how to move to France from the US with your kids, you’ll be relieved to know that you can choose between several options for schooling. Your children may attend a state school, a private school that is state-contracted, or international and foreign schools. Although, your child will be breaking the language barrier faster by going to a public school and won’t need any tips for learning a new language. And, above all, the public schools in this nation are free, making it one of the best places to live abroad with family.

The Weather Is Mainly Temperate

If you’re not entirely sure what to pack when relocating abroad into this nation, make sure you bring clothes for all four seasons when movers arrive to take care of your belongings with their packing services. Different parts of the nation have slightly different climates, though. The oceanic climate is mainly present along the Atlantic coast, with relatively frequent rains. The east of the land has a continental climate, while the south is the Mediterranean, which perfectly fits Cote d’Azur.

Learn Some Francaise

We are perhaps stating the obvious, but your life would be so much easier if you commit to learning a language abroad. The main spoken languages in this nation are French, German, and Arabic. To avoid any relocating stress because you feel you won’t blend in easily, put some classes of Francaise on the relocating abroad checklist. Although you won’t be able to read Jacques Prevert in his original language at first, you should learn at least the primary language level so you can get around.

Take Your Car With You, Although Public Transportation Is Fantastic

Many people don’t want to part with their car, so they invest in vehicle shipping overseas. This nation certainly has many sites to see from your wheeler, but even if you decide to drive less, you can get around pretty much anywhere with public transportation. You can travel by subway, bus, tram or train, and you can buy multipurpose tickets for it.

Moving to France May Be the Best Choice of Your Life

In the end, is France easy to move to? Perhaps it does need some extensive paperwork and investing in different services from an international moving company, but this is the place that is more than easy to fall in love with. It may even be considered one of the best places to retire in Europe. Think of making a new home here, and you will start to get excited It’s hard not to feel amorous while walking down the glamorous Champs Elysees, with eyes drawn toward Arc de Triomphe, holding a croissant in one hand, with nostrils full of scents from the bakery you’ve been to. Because that’s what joie de vivre is all about.



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