Moving to another country, whether just a short train ride away or the opposite of the world, is always a little daunting. If you’re moving to France, hopefully you are more excited than nervous, but to help make your move and integration as smooth as possible, we share five top tips for settling in.
Plan until you can’t plan anymore!
If we could only give one piece of advice it would simply be to plan, plan, plan. Research the area you are moving to. Are there any places you want to visit nearby? What is the local culture like? If you have children, what are the schools and extracurricular activities like?
It is also important to be completely on top of your property purchase and overseas move. Make contact with a good lawyer to avoid the common pitfalls of buying abroad, a currency specialist to ensure your budget is protected against currency fluctuations and it can also be useful to get your property checked over by a trusted surveyor. Other things to consider include removals, healthcare and how to bring your pets with you to France.
Be prepared to feel lost
Once you arrive in France you might feel somewhat lost and out of place. You’ll likely miss home and your support network but understanding that this is completely normal can help to tackle this anxiety early on. Verbally telling yourself that this is your new home will also help to shift your mindset from holiday-mode to permanent-mode.
Going on a walk or drive through your new area is a great way to explore your new home and discover potential hangout spots, such as a coffee shop, where you can meet new people.
Join local clubs and take French lessons
It really is important to put yourself out there when in a new environment; making friends can help you feel more at home. A great way to find likeminded people is by joining local clubs, whether that be a book club or sports club. Why not join an English language club to help people learn English?
It would also be useful to take some French language lessons too. The locals will definitely appreciate some attempt to learn their language – don’t stress about mistakes! To get you started, try to learn the French formalities. Take the word “you” for example – if you are addressing someone older than you, your superior or if you do not know them, use “vous”. If you are addressing a child, you can use “tu”. Using the wrong formality can come across as rude and offensive, so be careful. If in doubt, always go for ‘vous’!
Invite your neighbours over
Another easy way to make friends is to introduce yourself to your neighbours early on. Invite them over for a drink or ask them if they could show you around the local area. We’ve heard from other expats who have already made the move to France, and they say French neighbours are usually very keen to show off their neighbourhood!
Immerse yourself in the culture
Finally, try to immerse yourself in the culture as much as possible. Read up on traditions, etiquette and lifestyle. The French love to greet one another, whether with a kiss on the cheek (la bise) or a cheery hello – it is an essential part of French day-to-day life.
The French culture can seem rather direct and abrupt if you’re not used to it. They often ask direct questions. They are not intending to be rude; they just want to get straight to the point!
Local markets are often the hub of the community, especially in rural areas. Many towns and villages have weekly markets with fresh produce, flowers and arts and crafts. It is a time for friends to catch up and spend time together. So, make sure to visit your local market!
If you would like further advice on the selling process in France, download your free France Guide.
Why not split the cost and double the fun of owning a holiday home in France by buying with family or friends? Read our guide to Buying Abroad with Family.
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