March 19, 2024

Top 7 Mistakes when Moving to France – and how to avoid them

Do you want to live, work or retire in France?

In an study of 53 countries, expats ranked France:

  • 6th for Healthcare
  • 14th for Quality of Life
  • 15th for Environment and Climate
  • 15th for Leisure Options

Overall 75% of expats say they are happy living in France, compared with 72% globally. And for good reason:

🇫🇷 France is the  world’s most popular tourist destination

🥐 Its gastronomy is a UNESCO intangible cultural world heritage

📖  It has the most Nobel Prize winners for literature

⛰️ Europe’s highest mountain and three major mountain ranges are located in France

🧳 Travel easily throughout Europe with the continent's 2nd largest rail network

⛵ Enjoy beaches, rivers, lakes and the famed Mediterranean blue sea 

If you are ready to make your dream of living in France a reality, we want to help. Read on as we share some common mistakes that people make when they move to France — and top tips to avoid them. 

Top 7 Mistakes people make when moving to France


#1 Not knowing if you need a French visa to live in France

Do you need a visa to live in France? The answer depends on your planned length of stay and your country of citizenship, among other factors.

To find out if you need a visa to live in France, use our helpful links below:**

If you are a UK citizen, you may be wondering Can Brits still move to France after Brexit? Usually yes, but it is not as simple as before the withdrawal agreement.* To learn more about your requirements and eligibility to get a French visa, visit the French government website. You may also contact your nearest French consular services in the United Kingdom for additional information. *Those with specific pre-existing family links to a Briton already established in France may have some additional options under the withdrawal agreement.

Nationals from EEA/EFTA states and EU citizens typically may move to France without an entry visa, but they may need to apply for a residence permit (Carte de Séjour). Research your requirements to legally move to France using this French government website.

Citizens of all other countries, including US citizens who want to live or work in France should check the French visa wizard to determine what type of French visa they need and how to apply.
All new residents in France, regardless of country of origin, should check with their local authorities to determine how to register their residence and meet any other requirements for their specific situation. 

**Immigration and local registration rules change frequently and can vary based on your country of origin. Check the French government website or the French embassy in your country to see the complete current requirements for your nationality and instructions for how to apply for a French visa. The above information is provided as an overview and does not constitute legal advice.  

#2 Not knowing where to live in France 


Before you decide to move to France, do your research:

What part of France should you live in?

If you have a choice of where to live in France, take time to scratch below the surface. Paris may be your dream destination (mais oui bien sûr!), but there are also less-famous towns and villages that are well worth considering. Why not look at the stunning mountainous regions; lively Mediterranean beaches; the world-famous wine and gastronomic regions of the interior; or the beautiful Atlantic coast?

Should you live in the city or French countryside? 

French cities usually offer a very high quality of life, including excellent restaurants, cultural offerings, and international schools. In the suburbs and French countryside, you usually find a slower pace of life and a lower cost of living. If you choose to live in the suburbs or country, check your commute times to work as well as access to shopping and other conveniences.

For suggestions on where to live in France, read Retire in Europe | The Ultimate Guide.

#3 Assuming your family is as excited to move to France as you are


Some of us love to travel, and the thought of moving to another country is exhilarating. But others prefer to stay in their home country, close to family and familiar things. 

If you are moving to France, help your family get excited about the adventure. Take a pre-move trip to France to learn about housing options, international schools in France, sporting facilities and other places that matter to your family. 


#4 Not creating a support network in France


When you move overseas, one of the most important things that you can do is to build a support network.

  • Try to meet other expats in your area. They understand the challenges of moving to a new country and can provide a wealth of information about getting settled in. They are also typically open to meeting new people because they have left friends and family at home. 
  • Integrate into your community if you can. Good places to make friends in France include school activities with your children, gyms and sporting clubs, volunteering opportunities and language exchanges. 

For suggestions and helpful links, read our guide, How to build a support network overseas

It can be difficult to break in, but it can be well worth the effort!

#5 Not learning French


The French are rightfully proud of their culture, gastronomy, and beautiful mother tongue. But let’s be honest - French is a challenging language to master, and it can be uncomfortable to try to speak a new language in front of strangers. 

But don’t give up! Unless you are living in Paris or somewhere very popular with tourists, you will need to speak some French to get by. Fortunately there are a lot of ways to learn French, including apps, hybrid courses, or in-person French language instruction. YouTube videos and Instagram are also great ways to learn commonly-spoken French contractions, verlan, and slang. 

#6 Not making a checklist for moving to France


Living abroad requires a lot of planning.  A checklist for moving to France should include – but definitely isn’t limited to:

  • Apply for a French long-stay visa (VLS-TS) and then Carte de Séjour depending on your circumstances
  • Research high quality movers to France
  • Notify your current local council or authorities that you are moving abroad
  • Validate your VLS-TS after you enter France (deadlines and details vary based on your circumstances)
  • Find accommodation and keep proof of rental or residential purchase agreement
  • Open a French bank account: A “current” account (compte courant) for access to ATMs, bill pay, and purchases with a debit card; a general savings account (livret); and/or a long-term savings account (compte à terme or compte d’epargne logement)1
  • Obtain a tax ID number (numéro fiscale). Work with your accountant to observe tax treaties between France and your home country
  • Register with the French health insurance scheme - Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMa) or purchase health insurance depending on your circumstances2
  • Get a French drivers licence (permis de conduire)
Take note! This checklist for moving to France is just to get you started. Check the specific requirements and your eligibility to live and work in France based on your country of origin and specific personal circumstances. The French government website has an easy interactive site that can help you understand how to apply for a French visa and how to stay compliant with French immigration laws.  


#7 Not knowing what to pack when you move overseas 


When you move overseas, make sure to pare down your belongings. There is no point bringing items that you won’t need or use. 

On the other hand, don’t rely on buying everything you need either. Buying or renting new furniture can be even more expensive — and have a higher carbon imprint — than hiring a house removals company to move your personal goods. 

To help you decide what to pack to move overseas, read our guides:

Moving Overseas | What to Pack, Store and Give Away

How to reduce the carbon footprint of your international move

Let's get started!


If you would like a quote for house removals to France, reach out today. Our move specialists average 12 years in the industry and are experts in international moving. Read real reviews by customers of our Sterling Lexicon house removals services.   

Get a moving quote for France today. Our home removals teams in Paris and around the world are ready to help make your move a success.


How to open a bank account in France the easy way


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