How much do French homes cost?
The French property market is booming and is likely to reach one million sales in 2017, once figures are confirmed in the next few months, say market experts. The leading foreign buyers are from Britain, Italy, Belgium and Scandinavia, according to data from Notaries of France. Values of older apartments have risen 3.9% in the year to February 2018, a little more than older houses at 3.1%. In Greater Paris, second-hand property prices rose 4.8% in the year to the third quarter of 2017. Apartment values increased 7.8% and house prices 2.7%.
Bordeaux tops the ranking of cities with more than 150,000 inhabitants with prices per square metre for older apartments at €3,730, Nice is close behind at just €10 per square metre less. Prices in Bordeaux have risen 11.9% in the last year, more than anywhere else in France. This has been boosted by the new TVG high-speed train, which has cut the journey to Paris by 75 minutes to two hours. Lyon is in third place on €3,670 per square metre, followed by Lille on €3,130 per square metre. The least expensive cities are Saint-Etienne (€890/m2), Le Havre (€1,590/m2) and Angers at €1,870/m2.
If you are looking to buy older houses, Nice is most expensive, followed by Toulon with an average sale price of €359,800, up 3.7% year-on-year, Marseilles/Aix-en-Province on €341,500, up 9.4% and Lyon on €335,000, an annual rise of 3.1%. If you are on the lookout for French property, it is worth knowing that prices look set to rise 2% for the next three years, predicts financial services company, Standard & Poor’s.
One increasingly popular option is for property owners to generate cash through short-term rentals. Paris is now the largest market for Airbnb. The median selling price of home sales in Quarter 3, 2017 is €307,400, up 2.7%, according to Notaries of France data. In Marselles/Aix-en-Provence, the median is even more, at €341,500, up 9.4%. In Bordeaux, the median is €310,000 up 8%. The lowest price is in Châteauroux at €120,000, up 0.2%. The average price in the UK around the same time was around €257,000, while the average price in London is €830,877.
Can I save money by living in France?
Think you can save money by living in France? General living expenses for a family of four on average is €36,824, according to a survey from the INSEE statistics website. However, this excludes mortgage and tax payments. In the UK in 2015, the figure was around €46,000. But be aware that you may need to spend a little more in reality, as those filing in survey details often underestimate their true cost of living. You can, however, save money on your currency exchange needs by seeing the latest rate from Halo Financial. Compare our rates with other providers and see how much you can save. The Numbeo website provides an idea of the cost of living in major cities in France and you can compare that with other cities around the world.
Where do most immigrants in France come from?
Around one in ten people in France are immigrants and around half have come from Europe – led by those from Portugal, Spain, Britain, Italy and Germany. Put together, the largest number of first and second generation immigrants come from European nations, followed by those from French-speaking Algeria. In 2015, around 250,000 immigrants arrived in France and the proportion of women has risen in recent years. Once they arrive, six out of ten immigrants live with other family members at least in their first year of arrival, data suggests. After living in France for five years, migrants can usually apply for French citizenship or permanent residency. A permanent resident holding a carte de resident can stay in France for ten years at a time. French citizenship become citizens of the European Union and enjoy freedom of movement across member states.
What about the weather in France?
Think of the weather in the south of England, and you will have an idea of the climate in the north of France, as the two are near neighbours. In Paris, the climate tends to be mild and fairly wet. Summer temperatures range a bit from 15°C – 25 °C (59 °F – 77 °F) but can reach as high as 32 °C (90°F). Central, inland France generally has cold winters and hot summers. The Mediterranean coastal regions enjoy warm winters and hot summers. Opinions and statistics differ over the sunniest location in the land, but you can’t go far wrong with the French Riviera. That said, surprisingly Cote d’Azur receives more rain than Paris overall, although across fewer days. Near the Pyrenees and Alps, you will get four defined seasons, with often significant rainfall in autumn and winter.
What are the best ways to travel to France?
Wherever you are travelling from around the world, there are many flight options available. European travellers are likely to be able to choose from budget flight options, keeping down the cost of their journey. This makes France a strong option for immigration, especially if you need to keep in touch with friends and family at home or make regular business or personal trips to your native homeland. Rail options, including those from the UK via the Channel Tunnel, are quick and convenient and ferries may be useful choice, too.
I am thinking of settling in Bordeaux. What are the flight options?
You’re in luck! Budget airline easyJet has just launched a new base in Bordeaux for spring 2018 and new flight destinations. Carolyn McCall, CEO of easyJet, says both the country and the region are well-served by flights, “France continues to be a central part of the easyJet strategy and it is the largest market in terms of bases outside of the UK.” The new routes are yet to be confirmed, but Bordeaux is already served by around 30 European destination by easyJet alone.
I know Charles de Gaulle is one of the world’s busiest airports. How about the other airports in France?
Yes, Charles de Gaulle Airport, in Paris, is the 10th busiest airport in the world and the second busiest airport in Europe, behind London Heathrow. In 2017, the number of total passengers grew 5.4% to 69.4 million. The second largest airport is also in Paris, Orly Airport, Paris, which handles just over 32 million passengers, up 2.6%. It is the 12th busiest in Europe. Next busiest is Nice-Côte d’Azur Airport, which reaches 13.3 million passengers in 2017, up 7.1% annually. Lyon-Saint Exupéry handles 10.3 million, passengers, a rise of 7.7% with Toulouse-Blagnac Airport at 9.2 million, rising an impressive 14.6% and Marseille Provence Airport, on 9 million passengers in 2017, up 6.2%.
How well is the French economy performing?
France has the fifth largest economy in the world, which is impressive. It also makes up around a fifth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the Euro area. Not only that, but in 2017 French GDP grew 1.6%, according much faster than expected. Future performance looks to be strong. For instance, experts from the Focus Economics Consensus Forecast expect GDP to grow 2.1% in 2018 and 1.8% the following year. Most trade (around 17%) is with Germany and France’s main exports include machinery, transport and aerospace equipment. Tourism is a major contributor, as France is the most visited country in the world.
Does France have a wide choice of banks?
Yes, France has eight main banks – Crédit Agricole, BNP Paribas, Société Générale. Caisse d’Epargne, Banque Populaire, Crédit Mutuel, La Banque Postale and LCL (formerly Crédit Lyonnais). Its central bank, Banque de France, was created in 1800 by Napoleon Bonaparte. But the institution with the most branches is La Banque Postale – France’s post office, which has more than 10million customers. The French banking sector is strong, but it historically has had a reputation for lacklustre customer service.
Can I open a French bank account while outside the country?
Any citizen of a European country can open a French bank account, even when not resident in France, but the easiest way to do so is to go to a branch. However, there may be restrictions on elements of the account while not in the country. Your best bet if outside the country is to choose an international or online bank. As in other countries, most banks charge for current and savings accounts, but if you shop around, you can find free or discounted options. To open an account, you will need to have evidence of your identity via a passport, proof of address, through recent utility bills or similar, employment history and status in France. These will need to be translated and notarised if not in French. Be aware that staff may only speak French and that normal opening hours are 9am–5pm on weekdays. When you need foreign currency exchange, talk to the experts at Halo Financial about how you can beat typical bank rates and save money.
Is the French healthcare system really the best in the world?
You should have no worries about the quality of healthcare in France. It has been judged among the best available – and came top in a global report by the World Health Organisation in 2000, although standards and spending remain high to this day at around 11% of Gross Domestic Product. Most French Healthcare is delivered through a public insurance scheme. Users have to sign up with an approved insurer to be reimbursed for treatment. Under Protection Universelle Maladie or PUMA, all French residents have access to healthcare after three months of living in the country, as long as they intend to live there for more than 183 days a year.
The system combines social security payments of around 8%, along with a larger contribution from employers. Upfront payments to doctors have been withdrawn. Around 70%-80% of doctors’ fees and hospital costs are reimbursed by the heathcare system and some suffering longer illnesses may have even more of their costs taken care of. The rest is paid through insurance. This top-up health insurance, or l’assurance complémentaire santé, can be taken out through a mutelle – a mutual society – or another provider. As always, when taking out a policy, take professional advice.
If you have low-earnings in France, you may be eligible for free or reduced supplementary health insurance – CMU Protection Complémentaire (CMU-C). Self-employed workers and business owners typically get French healthcare cover from day one of starting their business. The process is not automatic, however, so you will need to follow each step of the process. Those not eligible for PUMA should take out private insurance to cover the gap. To register for PUMA. visit your local Caisse Primaire Assurance Maladie (CPAM) office in France.
As an expat, can I claim a state pension in France?
To receive a full pension, workers have to have paid in 164 trimestres or quarters – the equivalent of 41 years – into the system. The pension is then calculated on the average of the highest 25 years at half that amount, capped to €35,000. If you haven’t contributed as much, you can receive pro-rata benefits. The minimum level of contribution for a pension is 10 years’ worth of trimestres. In the case of those who have worked in other European countries, it may be possible to combine the years worked to qualify for an enhanced pension.
This example is from the Europa.eu website: Rosa worked 20 years in France and 10 years in Spain. Both countries apply a minimum of 15 years of work to have the right to a pension. Each country will calculate Rosa’s pension: The French authority will make a double calculation. It will calculate Rosa’s national pension for the 20 years worked in France – let’s say €800. It will also calculate a theoretical amount, the pension Rosa would have had if she had worked the full 30 years in France – for example, €1,500. Then, it will determine the pro-rata pension at €1,500 x 20 years in France/30 years in total, which equal €1,000.
The Spanish authority will not calculate the national pension because Rosa has worked in Spain less than the minimum period required. It will only calculate the EU-equivalent rate – starting with the theoretical amount, the pension Rosa would have had if she had worked all the 30 years in Spain – for example, €1,200. Then, it will determine the pro-rata pension – the part of this amount which should be paid for the years worked in Spain: €1200 x 10 years in Spain/30 years in total = €400. So, Rosa will receive a total pension of €1,400. On pensions and other financial matters always take professional advice. Once you receive your pension, Halo Financial can provide expert guidance on how to maximise the rate you receive in foreign currency transfers. There are also various pension agreements between France and non-European countries. More information can be found on the How to Claim an International Pension page of the lassuranceretraite website, which also features a handy “ask a question” section.
Should I buy a car in France?
New cars in France normally are more expensive than in other European nations, but cheaper than in the UK. That’s why some buy in Spain or Belgium, where models can be almost 30% cheaper than in France. When doing this, drivers need to ensure that a French dealer will service it and honour the terms of the warranty. Looking at examples of new car prices, at time of writing, a Ford Focus can be bought from around €18,600. In Spain, this can be bought from around €13,500. The cost in Belgium is from €15,750. In Australia, you can also pay less, at around €15,400. However, in the UK, the Ford Focus costs from around £20,195 on the road, which is €22,870. Please note, these are general examples and actual prices may differ depending on the dealer, special offers and other factors. The price of used cars in France depends on the dealership and condition. When buying a second-hand car, a useful guide is L’argus, which lists various used car options, reviews and news. It is worth taking professional advice and carrying out extensive research before purchasing a new or used car in France. Should you need currency exchange, it is worth getting a quote from Halo Financial. The money you save could earn you an upgrade!
I’m ready to take to the road. Can I drive in France using my existing licence?
It’s good news, then! If you are a citizen of a European Economic Area (EEA), you will be able to drive indefinitely on your licence, if you are aged 18 or over. If you are from a European country, or from Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein or Switzerland, you can use your existing licence to drive in France as long as it is valid and has no endorsements, you are aged over 18 and you are following medical procedures. Should you commit an offence while driving in France, you will have to exchange your licence for a French licence. Exchanges can be made by filling in the demande d’échange de permis de conduire form, which is available at police stations. For non-European citizens, France has reciprocal arrangements with many countries allowing citizens living in France for up to a year to swap their licence for a French licence. If there is no agreement in place, you have to pass the French driving test.
How can I travel to France by ferry?
We’ve mentioned that France is one of the world’s leading tourism destinations and there is a wide choice of ferry options for passengers in Europe and North Africa travelling over the water. These include routes to and from:
- Corsica, France
- Mallorca, Spain
- Alderney, Channel Islands
- Jersey, Channel Islands
- Sardinia, Italy
- Algeria, North Africa
- Morocco, North Africa
- Tunisia, North Africa
A new cleaner, greener ferry, the Honfleur, powered by liquefied natural gas is set to begin crossing from Portsmouth, UK, to Caen in France. The £175 million state-of-the-art new ship is currently being constructed by Brittany Ferries. Brittany Ferries Chief Executive Officer, Christophe Mathieu, says, “In little over one year, a mighty ship will rise, ready to carry passengers in comfort, style and on the cleanest vessel regularly operating on the Channel.
Want a job? Mind your language!
The unemployment rate in France has fallen to its lowest level in five years dropping to 9.6% in the first quarter of 2018, a 0.4% improvement from the previous three months. If you are looking for a job in France, perhaps the most important factor is to be able to speak the language. When preparing your resume, keep it brief. It often helps to add a business-like photo, as some employers expect this. Search for openings online, join job board and French newsgroups and make use of any contacts you have. It also helps to be flexible and open to new and different possibilities to at least get a foothold on the French job market.