04 Jul 2022 | Things to know before shifting to France
Things to Know Before Shifting to France: A Comprehensive Guide
Shifting to a new country is an exciting adventure, and France offers a unique blend of history, culture, and lifestyle. However, before you embark on this journey, there are important things to know before shifting to France. From navigating the visa process to understanding the local customs, this guide will provide you with essential insights to ensure a smooth transition.
Understanding Visa Requirements: Before packing your bags, ensure you have the appropriate visa. Depending on your nationality and purpose of stay, France offers various visa options such as tourist, student, work, and family visas. Research and apply for the right visa well in advance to avoid any last-minute hassles.
Mastering the Language: While many French citizens speak English, having a basic understanding of the French language can significantly enhance your experience. Learning common phrases and expressions will not only help you communicate but also show your respect for the local culture.
Cost of Living: France is known for its high standard of living, especially in major cities like Paris. Research the cost of accommodation, groceries, transportation, and other essentials in your chosen city to plan your budget effectively.
Healthcare System: France boasts a top-notch healthcare system, but it's important to understand how it works. Expats can access healthcare through the public system or opt for private insurance. Research your options and ensure you have adequate coverage.
Cultural Norms and Etiquette: French culture has its own set of norms and etiquette. Familiarize yourself with basics like greeting with a kiss on both cheeks, dining customs, and personal space expectations to avoid any cultural misunderstandings.
Finding Accommodation: Securing accommodation is a priority. Whether you're renting an apartment or a house, start your search early. Consider factors like proximity to work or school, public transport access, and neighborhood safety.
Education Options: If you have children, research the education system in France. From public to international schools, understanding the options available will help you make an informed decision for your child's education.
Employment Opportunities: If you're moving to France for work, research the job market in your field. Networking and connecting with expat groups can provide valuable insights into employment opportunities.
Banking and Finances: Opening a bank account in France is essential for day-to-day transactions. Research different banks, account types, and fees to choose the best option for your needs.
Public Transportation: France boasts an efficient public transportation system, especially in urban areas. Familiarize yourself with metro, bus, and train routes to navigate the city conveniently.
Climate Variations: France experiences diverse climates across regions. Research the weather in your chosen city to pack the right clothing and prepare for the changing seasons.
Social Life and Networking: Building a social circle is important for a fulfilling expat life. Attend local events, join clubs, and engage in activities aligned with your interests to meet new people.
Legal Residency Requirements: Understanding the legal requirements for obtaining long-term residency is crucial. Research the necessary documents, deadlines, and procedures to ensure a smooth transition.
Taxation Laws: Familiarize yourself with the French taxation system. Depending on your income source and status, you may need to pay income tax. Consult a tax professional to navigate this aspect effectively.
Cultural Experiences: Immerse yourself in French culture by exploring museums, historical sites, and local traditions. Engaging in cultural experiences will enhance your understanding and appreciation of your new home.
Emergency Services: Know the emergency contact numbers and services available in your area. Understanding how to access medical, police, and fire assistance can provide peace of mind.
Respecting Privacy: French citizens value their privacy. Be mindful of noise levels, photography etiquette, and other behaviors that might infringe on others' privacy.
Local Cuisine: French cuisine is renowned worldwide. Embrace the local food culture by trying traditional dishes and exploring local markets for fresh produce.
Integration Challenges: While the expat experience is rewarding, it can come with challenges. Be prepared for moments of homesickness or cultural adjustment. Connecting with fellow expats can provide valuable support.
Driving Regulations: If you plan to drive in France, understand the local driving regulations, road signs, and licensing requirements. Adhering to these rules is crucial to ensure road safety.
Leisure Activities: Discover leisure activities that align with your interests. France offers a plethora of outdoor adventures, arts and entertainment, and recreational options.
Sustainability Practices: France places emphasis on sustainability. Familiarize yourself with recycling practices, public transportation, and other eco-friendly initiatives in your area.
Banking and Currency: Understanding the local currency, ATM locations, and online banking options will simplify financial transactions during your stay.
Celebrations and Festivals: Participate in local celebrations and festivals to experience the vibrant cultural tapestry of France. Research the annual events in your area to join in the festivities.
Document Translation: Keep essential documents translated into French, especially legal documents. This will be helpful for official transactions and communication.
Navigating Life in France: Essential Tips for International Students to Thrive in Paris
Studying or working in France is a dream of many, and this craving increases much after having French as an elective subject in school. Learning French is not just limited to the language but also about the rich culture of the French people. It was my dream to study abroad to travel and explore the beauty of France and live there for some time, and there I went for a short 12 months diploma course where I got closely witness the local life of French people. The main pointers to be taken care of before coming to France were avoiding being pick-pocketed, among other such considerations however, I feel there are a few more things that must be added to this list and are rather important to know before moving to France.
Don’t be full touristy and wish to see everything on the first day: Travelling to France can be very exciting, and you would want to see all the famous tourist sites and roam around like a true Parisian. Eiffel Tower and Louvre are the main tourist attractions, and walking around the city can be very overwhelming in a good sense. However, the first week of living in France can be used to get along with the neighbourhood, finding a local boulangerie, grocery shop and other essentials. France can be discovered with patience and explore the best of France, including the best food options. As a student, you will have months to explore the sites after class to places that are accessible.
Walking is the main mode of transport: I knew that having a city life would include travelling on public transport, but I was not prepared to walk so much around the city and catch such public transport. The metro system running Paris is a very cost-efficient and quick mode of transport for a student like me, but even this comes with walking a lot as the streets and even the metro exits are new for us, hence extra walking. I will add another suggestion to this one is to get good shoes because you will need them more than ever to avoid any blistered feet condition. Comfortable walking shoes such as sneakers were preferred more than wearing heels for me.
French people have powers to identify the non- French group: Fake it till you make it will not work when in France as there are many small things from which French people are different from all of us and, therefore, can identify the non-French among the population. At the initial stage, as an international student, one will be intended to roam around with their friends and moving in large groups and talking in your tongue is a very obvious way for the French people to identify the foreign people from the crowd. Let's talk about the small things such as talking in a metro. In a general sense, French people do not talk while in the metro and therefore is the quietest place, so when they hear someone talking and chitchatting in the metro, they will immediately know. Another interesting thing about French people is that they will avoid wearing ripped clothes, crop tops and darker shades, so pack accordingly!
Understand the metro line to avoid ending at a new location: Navigating the metro lines is real tricky during the initial stages as catching the right line can feel like a piece of cake while you might actually be going in the wrong direction. Now, this is not the place to be all panicky, but one in such a situation must get off at the next station and switch sides of the metro to reach the correct destination. The Metro system is very economical for international students like us, and therefore, it is important that you choose your apartment closest to the metro line. Understanding the metro lines and schedules will become easier with time and with technical applications that will help you map your trip and will keep track of the buses and metro times.
Q: Can I work in France with a tourist visa?
A: No, a tourist visa does not permit employment. You need to apply for a work visa to legally work in France.
Q: How do I find housing in France as an expat?
A: Start by searching online platforms, contacting real estate agents, and joining expat groups. These resources can help you find suitable accommodation.
Q: Is healthcare expensive for expats in France?
A: Expats can access affordable healthcare through the public system. Private insurance is also an option for additional coverage.
Q: What is the cost of living in Paris compared to other French cities?
A: Paris is generally more expensive than other cities in France. The cost of living varies based on factors like location, lifestyle, and family size.
Q: Are English-speaking schools available for expat children?
A: Yes, there are international schools in France that offer education in English, catering to expat families.
Q: How can I learn French before moving to France?
A: You can take online language courses, attend language schools, or use language learning apps to improve your French skills.