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Article: Embracing the French Way of Life: A Guide for New Expats

Embracing the French Way of Life: A Guide for New Expats
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Embracing the French Way of Life: A Guide for New Expats

Moving to a new country is an exciting adventure filled with new experiences, challenges, and opportunities for personal growth. For many, France is a dream destination, known for its rich history, exquisite cuisine, and unparalleled cultural heritage. If you’re planning to move to France as an expat, here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate this new chapter in your life.

Preparing for the Move

Visa and Residency
The first step in moving to France is understanding the visa requirements. Depending on your nationality, purpose of stay, and duration, you may need a long-stay visa or a work permit. It’s essential to start this process well in advance, as obtaining the necessary documents can take several months and may need translation. The process will go through the French consulate or embassy in your home country. Keys to France is here to help you navigate this process if needed!

Language Skills
While many people in France speak English, particularly in larger cities and tourist areas, having a basic understanding of French will significantly enhance your experience. Consider taking French language classes before your move and continue learning once you arrive. Immersing yourself in the language will not only help with daily interactions but also deepen your appreciation of French culture.

We recommend using apps such as Duolingo, Babbel and Rosetta Stone. Youtube is also a great free resource when learning a new language. There are many in-depth videos explaining grammar rules, vocabulary and sentence structure. To help with comprehension, watching your favorite shows or movies in French or with French subtitles is a great start before arrival. Also check out podcasts for language learning which could be great on the go! Bon courage! 

Settling In

Finding Accommodation
Securing a place to live can be one of the most challenging aspects of moving to France. Websites like Leboncoin, SeLoger, and PAP offer listings, but it’s also helpful to join local expat forums and Facebook groups for advice and potential leads. Be prepared to provide documents such as proof of income, a French bank account, and a guarantor. Some apartment owners only accept a French guarantor. We recommend renting an Airbnb for your first month so you can visit apartments during that time. Another great option is using expat rental agencies such as Paris Attitude and Lodgis.  

Banking and Finances
Opening a bank account in France is essential for managing your finances. A French bank account is needed to get a yearly transportation pass, utilities, a phone plan and an internet plan. Major banks like BNP Paribas, Société Générale, and Crédit Agricole offer services tailored to expats. You’ll need identification, proof of address, and your residency permit to open an account. Consider setting up automatic payments for utilities and other regular expenses to simplify your financial management.

Navigating Daily Life

Healthcare System
France has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Once you have your residency permit, you can register for the French social security system (carte vitale), which entitles you to public healthcare services. This process takes a while so it is best to submit after your first 3 months in France. Keys to France offers administrative assistance to make this process easier for you. Additionally, many residents opt for private health insurance (mutuelle) to cover the remaining costs not covered by the state. This is usually provided by your employer if you are working in France. You can use the application DoctoLib to familiarize yourself with local doctors, clinics, and hospitals in your area and to book appointments either in-person or on video. 

France has an extensive and efficient public transportation network, including buses, trams, and trains. In cities like Paris, Lyon, and Marseille, the metro system is a convenient way to get around. For those living in more rural areas, owning a car might be necessary. Remember to exchange your foreign driver’s license for a French one if required. Keys to France offers this administrative assistance to make this process easier for you. Check that out under our 'Services' tab.

Embracing French Culture

Cuisine and Dining
French cuisine is renowned worldwide, and living in France gives you the opportunity to experience it firsthand. Embrace the local markets, try regional specialties, and indulge in the café culture. Dining in France is often a leisurely affair, with an emphasis on enjoying good food and company. The best way to get familiar with French food is to go to a brasserie, bouillon or boulangerie. Bon appétit !

Social Integration
Making new friends and building a social network is crucial for a fulfilling expat experience. Join local clubs, attend community events, and participate in activities that interest you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to fellow expats and locals alike. The French are known for their warmth and hospitality, and making an effort to integrate will be greatly appreciated.

Overcoming Challenges

France is known for its bureaucracy, and dealing with administrative tasks can be daunting. Patience and persistence are key. Keep copies of all your important documents, follow up regularly, and don’t hesitate to reach out to Keys to France if you need any help with your immigration process. We have gone through this process and are here to make it easier for you. 

It’s natural to feel homesick when you move to a new country. Stay connected with family and friends back home through regular communication. Exploring your new surroundings, engaging in hobbies, and staying active can also help ease the transition and help you find your community abroad. Expat Facebook groups, instagram and Bubble BFF are also a great way to meet new people. 

Final Thoughts
Moving to France as an expat is a rewarding experience that offers a unique blend of challenges and delights. With careful preparation, an open mind, and a willingness to embrace new experiences, you can make the most of your time in this beautiful country. Luckily, Keys to France is just a call away if you ever need any help! Bon voyage and bienvenue en France!


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