DON’T MOVE TO FRANCE COMMENTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS FROM OTHER PEOPLE
Please feel free to contribute yourself by emailing the author, John Bradley
JohnMartinBradley … at … gmail.com
I came across your blog and found it quite entertaining. We just recently returned from a 1 year stint in France and I am happy to share my experiences.
First of all, I cannot understand the British fascination with France (I am German myself). The only reason why we went to France is because our jobs in Spain had come to an end and with the crisis there no jobs were coming up so we moved there for economic reasons as we were both offered a job there, rather than for sentimental ones.
First off, I think we should straighten out some myths about France:
1) Social system & healthcare: France as a good social system and but the health care system is certainly not “the best in the world” as claimed by some comments on your site (or Michael Moore for that matter ;-)). I found it extremely overpriced but no better than say the German one. My monthly deductions for the “assurance maladie” (health insurance) are of the order of 1200 Euros (!). In most other countries I could probably hire a private nurse for this money, in France this gets me a 60% insurance cover. Yes 60%! If I go to the doctor, I still pay 40% of the consultation fee, and also the medicines. At the dentist you are likely to pay something around 80-90% of the bill. If you want 100% coverage (including dental), you need to purchase an additional insurance (mutuelle). I have to say that I don’t get sick a lot and I was lucky enough to never have to test the system how it is when you are seriously ill, but for small things I prefer the Spanish, German or UK system any day. In Spain my deductions are of the order of 150 Euros and I pay nothing at all when I go to the doctor. In Germany the deduction can be a little higher (about 250 per month) but then you also get 100% coverage for most things except maybe gold crowns. So 1200 Euros for 60% coverage simply seems crazy!
2) Tax burden: as it so happens, today I received my bill for the “tax d’habitation”, it is a tax that does not even exist in Spain or Germany and which has to be paid by every French resident for the “pleasure” of having to rent an already overpriced apartment. Apparently this tax is to some extent arbitrary and can be adjusted by the councils on short notice for filling holes in their budgets. My bill came to about 1000 Euros for a 60sqm apartment in a relatively shabby area of Marseille. I should say that Marseille is probably one of the shittiest cities in Europe (and I have lived in quite a few). The streets are permanently dirty and the public transport unworthy for a city with >1 million inhabitants (buses stop at 9pm!). As a result there is a permanent traffic jam since everyone uses their own car. So for the pleasure of living in this hell-hole I was presented with a 1000 Euro bill. Nice. In addition, I pay about 60% in social security deductions and income tax. Not to mention all the other things you have to pay for which are often free in other places (motorways, museums, child care facilities, etc). If I was living in Norway where taxes are equally high but then all public facilities and services are free, I would say “OK, fair enough”, but in France you pay a lot of taxes and then on top of that you also pay for everything else as well. Seems a rip-off to me.
3) Friendly people. Well … maybe this is a Marseille thing, but if you can see past their arrogance and apparently limitless capacity for self-overestimation, I can’t really say that French people are particularly friendly. In a conversation, they do appear polite (although for me personally I find their constant “bonne journées” rather fake and tiring), but when they are driving (under the cloak of anonymity so to speak) they seem to reveal their true character which is anything but nice. Apart from what I have seen in southern Italy, I would say that the French are among the most egotistic and rude drivers in Europe. But again, this may be particular to Marseille. Regarding foreigners, I don’t think that French people are particularly open to foreigners (this they share with their neighbours in the UK ;-)). In contrast, I have lived in Spain for 4 years and Spanish people are much more welcoming and open in that sense. They tend to accept that you are different, may even find this difference interesting, but will integrate you nonetheless in their community without you having to give up your identity. In France this is not possible. To be able to integrate into a French group you basically have to give up your identity and become exactly like them, French. To that I say: no thanks!
4) Education: I can’t say anything about the secondary education system, but since I worked in the tertiary system, I can say that this is chronically underfunded in France. The available resources in the UK and Germany are typically much better and also a little more evenly distributed. In France, they have created some elite schools which seem to get all the funding while the rest can barely find enough money to buy a computer. Egalité my ass!
5) Quality of life: to us, France seems completely overrated. Especially the south. Yes the weather is nice, but no nicer than it was in Spain where people are friendlier, food cheaper and often better(!) and where people are simply more relaxed and let you be. French people always seem to feel an urge to judge your every move and need to let you know whether it conforms to their (narrow) set of norms. This becomes really tiring after a while. We found in Spain a much nicer home.
So overall, this 1 year in France has been a very disappointing experience. I did not have any particular opinion about France before but now I can safely say that I do not ever want to live there again.
Hope this is of some value to others …
Dear John, I have found your site a few days ago while looking for opportunities to emigrate out of France, and I was quite surprised, and pleased, to see that there was someone who actually tried to warn people about the real dangers of moving to France. As a native, wishing to get out of this country as soon as I can, I applaud your initiative, and I valid everything written in these articles. After 18 years I have decided to leave, because I know that if I’m forced to stay any longer I will end up mad, pretty much like all the others. In France, you won’t find any happiness, unless you close your eyes and ears to the truth. People are hostile to anyone who doesn’t look like them, act like them, and this is happening inside families as well (my parents want me to leave for confessing that I am unhappy here, that is to say…). The government and its institutions are a blood-sucking monster that will try anything to steal your money and waste it on unnecessary projects or keep it for themselves. The bureaucracy is the same as them. They will never give you a rest, and drive you mad slowly over the years, which has happened to my parents. And if you think that Paris is the best place in the world… well, this is the crown of lies; the pretty monuments are the attraction out there, not the city; the city is dirty, polluted, and populated in majority with the worst of French people. Another thing: they don’t give a damn about suicide. They condemn it, but when it’s someone close to them trying to do it, they shun him for being depressive… surely, what could go wrong?If you want to move there as a family, this is the worst idea you could have for your children. French schools should be given in dictionaries as the definition of hell. The educational system will turn them either into unbearable bullies that will succeed in life at the price of others’s suffering, or into victims that will get rolled over by the preceding type for the rest of their lives. And don’t think that private schools are any better, I’ve fallen to that honey trap more than once.There is so many things to say against France and the people in there, but one thing is important: don’t move there. This is for your mental safety. If you really don’t find yourself comfortable where you live in this moment, it’s alright, many people are this way and this isn’t a crime. But, please, avoid France at every cost, there are so many better places than there. Think that there are many people (like me) who would give everything to get out of this madness and leave everything behind.Sincerely, LG.
Note: when I asked L if I had her permission to post her email to the site, she responded as follows: Of course John, I really support your site and if I can help people making the right decision by sharing my experience with France as someone who grew up there, you have my full agreement to post it.
Hi. I have looked at your site with great interest and do admire the outspoken way you have handled things! We have lived in France since 1989 and have never really particularly liked it. As it happens our business is here, which is why we stay. We raised our three children here and, as per several of the other comments, found the education system to be out-of-date and very boring. Lots of learning off-by-heart and no room for imagination.
My biggest gripe, however, has been the bureaucracy. If you are running your own business it really is a nightmare, even now after several changes for the better. If you read through my blogs on turquoisemoon.co.uk you will see some of the stuff I was put through – and only because I wanted to work !! (SEE CAROLINE’S FIRST BLOG:http://www.turquoisemoon.co.uk/blog/it-happened-like-this-an-english-family-move-to-france-part-1-2/ ).
My second-biggest gripe is the people – it is that old joke, isn’t it ? – France would be great if it were not full of the French! Despite fluent French I have never been able to integrate – they just don’t want you to. My best friend here is from Mexico.
I love the UK and although I perhaps wouldn’t live there full-time again, it does grieve me the way the British complain so much. Britain is a lovely country and one to be proud of.
Best Wishes,, Catherine Broughton, author. www.turquoisemoon.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/catherinebroughton2 join me on Facebook!
You posted some comments from me some time ago when I was in the process of trying to leave the French system and relocate in Australia. I am now well clear, so I have the following comments to add:
10 years ago we moved to France as permanent residents. It’s a wonderful country with some wonderful people, but we now give thanks that we’ve escaped from their fiscal and economic system. In the 10 years we were there we were treated like shit. Edited highlights :
– The French government held a public enquiry enabling them to knock down the house we had just bought on a mortgage, without telling us, or any of the other people whose houses they proposed to knock down. We found out about this by accident on the last day of the initial public consultation, leaving us with just 6 hours to formulate and deliver our objections. There followed a string of meetings and 2 public enquiries, but these counted for nothing- the decision was already set in stone by the public consultation that we weren’t told about. Our neighbours were desperate to sell their house, so they accepted the official deal for compulsory purchase. After they’d given notice to their tenants and spent a year begging to be paid for their newly empty house the government told them that they didn’t have enough money to buy their house and wouldn’t have for at least another 3 years. In desperation our neighbours sold the house for a third of what the government had offered them. Our other neighbours were made of sterner stuff- they sued the french government and got their demolition plans kicked into touch . After 3 years of pretending that the original project was still ongoing the planning authorities eventually admitted the truth, ie that the project was cancelled and we were able to sell our house. We did much better than our neighbours – we got about 2/3 of what it was worth without the planning blight and re-zoning. The ski company paying us rent in the winter was told they couldn’t continue to cook food for their guests because they didn’t have official French approved smoke alarms in the bedrooms. They asked what they should do and they were told to re-register their business in a different way, then everything would be all right. This was a con trick.They re-registered their business and then the officials took great delight in telling them ( in a legal injunction deliverd to us in both french and english) that the new business they’d just registered had to comply with all the rules immediately, whereas their old business would have had 5 years grace. As a direct result their business folded.3 years later all the new rules were abandoned when the officials tried to apply them to the French, by which time we’d lost 3 years income and 2 good friends. Before we decided to become French resident we received copious positive advice from our accountant’s boss. The boss then left and we found out that we’d already been declared french resident without our knowledge or consent and that all the positive advice from his boss was a load of complete bollocks. When we told the accountant the advice we had received he went white as a sheet. We complained that we now had a serious problem. The accountant’s response was “never mind you, if Car***** Do****** told you that I’ve got a serious problem”. Clearly he was very scared of the authorities and didn’t give a toss about us. French “professionals” don’t seem to be liable for their cockups. Even if they were how would we ever make it stick- they have all the paperwork and it’s of such byzantine complexity that no-one with a life can understand it. And when it gets a bit tough for them they can always pretend that they can’t understand out version of French any more.
“Minor” irritations we encountered in addition to the above:-Being sued (unsuccessfully) by the French government because we refused to pay the social contributions they were chasing us for, but which were owed by someone else, with a different name, who lived 400km away. They did have the same national insurance number though- how on earth can that happen?
Notifying the bank in Morzine that we’d newly moved to an address in the UK and then being asked to pop in in person to discuss it. DOH! Maitre Boobieri and his incompetent clerk Lucenda who couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery and wouldn’t pay us a cent in compensation despite admitting to many manifest errors which cost us hundreds of euro.
La Mure trying to impose a maintenance contract on us when it had already expired.
French mechanics. No more need be said. Being pushed around by petty officials and professionals who were heavily conflicted
.If anyone would like to know more I’ll happily provide the information from my new home in Australia- I think that’s far enough away that the French authorities won’t come after me. Even if they do it’ll probably take them 10 years to catch up 🙂
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