Expat life in France can become a personal nightmare

Expat life in France can become a personal nightmare

Expat life in France can become a personal nightmare

The majority of expats who choose France as their overseas home are happy to have done so, but what makes a dream turn into a nightmare?

Survey after annual survey praises France as an expat destination, especially for Britons, with many having lived there for several decades. Most say their quality of life has improved considerably, others praise French cuisine and wines, and healthcare is considered affordable and excellent. However, not every new arrival in France falls in love with the country, and some wish they’d stayed at home. The transition to a French lifestyle and the necessity of learning the French language can simply b too much of a challenge for unprepared expatriates.

Disenchantment with a lifestyle choice isn’t confined to unhappy expats in France – it’s a syndrome experienced all over the expat world, especially with those who’ve nurtured a romantic image of their chosen destination. In some ways, France sets itself up for misconceptions of this type, which always result in the reality being very different from the dream born after a stress-free two-week vacation in a rural gite or a honeymoon in Paris. Translating these experiences into reality is a tough call which some simply can’t make.

For Britons moving across the Channel for work or retirement, it’s sometimes a shock to realise the French don’t make friends easily, especially if the incomer doesn’t speak the language. This is a fact most would-be expats in France don’t quite get, with those that do making an immediate and serious effect to learn French and understand the culture in order to successfully integrate. Others don’t realise the huge gulf between living an urban lifestyle in the UK and living in a rural setting in the French countryside. Customs, habits and even shopping are very different in these two extremes.

Another mistake often made is underestimating the actual monthly amount of cash necessary to live comfortably in France after buying a property. Unprepared expats as well as those now affected by the fall in sterling are being forced to give up and return to the home country, and a few aren’t even able to afford to move back. This and many other problems, including Brexit at the present time, can wreck personal relationships as well as ruining a long-held dream.

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