Moving to France – the Ultimate Guide for Expats

You won’t be surprised if we tell you that people adore France for its rich history and diversity. Its countryside, beautiful landscapes, and amazing views are the birthplace of Impressionist art. Authentic French cuisine is well known and appreciated worldwide, as you can enjoy fine dining and Michelin-starred restaurants. Here, stunning coastlines and beaches are characterized by the Mediterranean climate.

Do you think that moving to France is an exciting decision? Still, you might be worried about certain circumstances. In that case, IMovingTo will dispel your doubts and allow you to become a French expat without any obstacles.

Brief Info about French Culture & Language

Let’s start with understanding the basics of French culture because diving deep into cultures is always a great way to get the most out of your expat experience.  


In contrast to some other countries, France puts a high value on manners and etiquette. French social etiquette can create the impression that individuals are more reserved than they are. For instance, it is not common practice to socialize with employees outside of work. Although they are direct, French people are not always rude.

The historical experience of France, a homeland of rich culture and diversity, is significantly based on the language, considered a vocal expression of poetry. So guess what? 

If you’re planning to become an expat in France, you should try to make French your only language of communication. So, once you move to France, consider taking a class or purchasing a language learning app.

Living Standards & Costs in France

The standard of life in France ranks among the highest in the world. There is a strong sense of community; 90% of individuals consider they have somebody they can depend on when they need support. Most French people are more civically involved, which means they genuinely care about what happens in their country.

France’s cost of living is higher than its neighboring Western European countries. However, Paris is primarily responsible for this indication. The cost of living is lower in other regions, particularly in rural areas in the south of France. On average, a family of four needs approximately €3,000 per month, excluding rent, while the average monthly expenditure of an individual is about €800, excluding rent.

According to statistics, 21% of French citizens are either experiencing financial hardship or material and social deprivation. Single-parent families are particularly vulnerable to poverty; 42% of these families report experiencing financial, material, or both aspects of poverty.

How to Relocate Your Belongings?

One of the first things you should keep in mind while considering how to transfer furniture and belongings in France is that certain products, such as alcohol, cigarettes, and animal products, are restricted by French customs.

If EU citizens can show thorough documentation confirming they have paid VAT on the goods they are shipping, they will be entitled to pass customs duty-free. You should prepare to pay VAT and customs tax on every item if you are coming to France from a country outside of the EU.

You have to choose which household items to ship based on the size and weight of your belongings. Keep in mind that you have 3 options for moving your belongings: by air, sea, or land. If your possessions are damaged while shipping, you should also consider purchasing insurance for the transportation.

Consider that antique furniture is exceptionally affordable in France, and brocantes (second-hand shops) are where you can find whatever you need at a lower cost than shipping.

Can You Move Your Pets?

Let’s discuss some rules you should know if you intend to move to France with a pet. Initially, you are only permitted to enter the country with a maximum of 5 animals.


You should be aware that until they are 12 weeks old, puppies, kittens, and ferrets aren’t able to enter France from within or outside the EU. They will also require a 15-digit pet microchip, proof of rabies vaccination, and even a health certificate, depending on the country from where you are moving.

Visa Requirements for Expats in France

Depending on your country of origin, you may be required to apply for a French visa if you’re moving to France for employment-related purposes. 

Filling out an online visa application on the website of the French government is the first stage in the process of acquiring a French visa, which begins in your place of residency. After submitting your application online, you will schedule an in-person meeting at one of the several visa processing centers.

Applications for visas cannot be made more than 3 months before your travel. You must compile the collected details before you initiate the application process:

    • 2 photos the same size as a passport.
    • A passport that is valid and has at least 2 blank pages.
    • Proof of health insurance.
    • A cover letter outlining your request for the visa, your itinerary, and the location of your accommodation.


  • Admissions documentation.


  • A declaration that you won’t look for work.
  • A financial guarantee that is equivalent to the French minimum wage.

Work Permit Requirements in France

Your capacity to obtain a work permit in France mostly depends on whether you have an accepted employment offer, how long your contract will last, and even your field of work. 

You do not require a work permit to start a job in France if you’re an EU or EEA citizen. If you are a foreign employee who will work in one of the following fields for less than 3 months, you are excused from requiring a work permit:

  • Sport, culture, the arts, and science.
  • Trade exhibitions, conferences, and seminars.
  • The creation and release of films, television programs, and recordings.
  • Artistic posing and modeling.
  • Domestic and personal service workers are employed in France while private employers are there.
  • IT audit and consultation, management, finance, insurance, architecture, and engineering services under the conditions of a service agreement or intra-company transfer agreement.
  • Occasional lessons taught by invited lecturers.
  • You are also excluded if you are a French citizen’s spouse or a French kid’s parent.

Otherwise, regardless of the length of the stay, residents from anywhere else typically require a work permit. A long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS) or a residence permit is an exemption. These visas also serve as work permits.


How to Find a Home in France?

In France, most individuals prefer to rent rather than purchase their accommodation. Multiple rental options are available, including various houses in rural areas and apartments if you live in a city, which is perfect for expats. 

For instance, you can find furnished houses and apartments for rent in France if you decide not to transport your belongings. Unfurnished flats, on the other hand, offer better legal protection and a longer minimum lease, typically 3 years, while furnished apartments tend to be quite old.

Airbnb is a great resource for temporary rentals. However, you can go directly to a rental agency if you prefer a long-term rental. In popular locations such as the south of France or larger cities, most agents speak English or at least have a basic understanding of it.

Since many landlords and real estate professionals are on vacation in August, the best time to look for an apartment in France is from May to July.

French Healthcare: How to Get Health Insurance

France indeed stands out in Europe with its healthcare system. In this country, the healthcare system typically pays 80% of hospital costs and 70% of medical fees when you visit a doctor. All costs are reimbursed in full in the case of a serious illness.

A foreigner who relocates to France won’t be automatically enrolled in the government’s health insurance program. In order to be eligible for healthcare insurance, you must have lived in France for 3 months or gotten a job there.

Arranging to get private health insurance in France will satisfy the void while you wait to fulfill the residency criteria to access public healthcare. You will be qualified for a European Health Insurance Card once you are a part of the French healthcare system, which reduces hospital costs throughout the European Union.

Banks & Finance System: Things You Should Know

French banks provide various services, including mortgages and various borrowing options. In addition, there are French bank accounts designed specifically to satisfy the needs of expats and non-residents.

Opening a bank account in France is simple — you’ll just have to show documentation of your identification, address, and residency status. If you can provide the required papers, some banks will assist you in opening an account before you move, whereas other banks offer non-resident accounts that can be opened from abroad. Your checkbooks and any required bank cards will arrive in around 10 days.

Pros & Cons of Moving to France


Convenient urban transportation

In France, most cities offer convenient and accessible public transportation at a highly affordable price. A comprehensive urban transportation system includes metros, buses, and trams

A number of regional airports and train stations help expats easily connect to other European countries. Still, despite this sophisticated transportation system, you should have a vehicle to ride in the French countryside.

Authentic cuisine and great wine

France is a universal country with its diverse cuisine and ancient culture of winemaking. Traditional French cheese and delicate croissants blend perfectly with the environment and cannot leave you indifferent. 

The quality of the food here is strictly controlled, so you can rest assured that everything you eat is of the highest nutritional value.

Healthy work-life balance 


The French have a great work-life balance and adhere to the unwritten rule that they live to work, not the other way around. The norm for paid vacation days is 25, but some jobs provide more than 40 days. 


The normal workweek was established to guarantee that workers receive pay for overtime pay. The average workweek in France is 35 hours because people want to spend their free time with their families.


High Tax system


France is one of the ten nations with the highest tax rates. In France, the income tax rate is 46%. In addition, there are TV and housing taxes.  It should also be mentioned that despite France’s high taxes, these funds go toward services like healthcare, unemployment compensation, education, and transportation.

Language barrier

English is currently widely spoken throughout Europe, although France is not one of them. Thus, if you choose to relocate to France, you must learn the language. All of the advantages will become clear after you begin learning. 

Making new acquaintances, visiting the doctor, and navigating the bureaucracy will all be simpler. Both in-person and online courses are quite reasonably priced. Additionally, the government provides free courses if you have a long-stay visa.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, moving to France is quite convenient in general. Still, you should be aware of several aspects before relocating to any foreign country, which is why you should consider our unique recommendations.

So, take advantage of the relocation services at IMovingTo. We’ll make sure to streamline your moving process without any hesitation!


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