Moving to France: Here’s what you need to know before you go

by Andrea Byaruhanga
September 10, 2021
Moving to France- young woman sitting in a street café

You’ve spent some time living in France, and you’ve (understandably) fallen in love with it. Now, you want to take the leap and move there permanently. But moving to France—or any new country, really—isn’t always simple. From financial considerations to residency permits to language requirements, there are some essential things you need to figure out before you can call France your home. 

So, what are the requirements for moving to France? And what else should you know before you relocate? 

Below, we’ll discuss what to know before moving to France so you can decide if it’s the right choice for you. Read on! ]

  1. Visas and other permits
  2. Getting health insurance 
  3. Money matters
  4. Where to move in France

Visas and other permits

To live in France, you might need a visa or another type of permit—it all depends where you’re from. 

An EU citizen moving to France

If you’re an EU citizen, you’re in luck! You won’t be required to get a visa to relocate to France. However, if you’re trying to move your family to France with you and they’re not EU citizens, they’ll be required to get a residence permit.

If you’re a citizen of an EEA country or Switzerland, all of the same rules and benefits apply to you. 

Moving to France from the UK after Brexit

Things have become a little trickier for UK citizens, thanks to Brexit. While people from the UK are able to stay in France for up to 90 days with no permit, the path to living there long term has a few more steps. Let’s review the different types of permits available.

Permits for non-EU citizens

While there are short-stay visas for those who wish to visit France for 90 days or less, we’re focusing on longer stays. And the first step to staying in France long(er) term is to apply for a long-stay visa

The long-stay visa, which is valid for between four and 12 months, and is a type of residence permit. There are different types of long-stay visas (which will determine your maximum length of stay), including those for tourist reasons, medical care, education, and various business reasons like self-employment and being posted to work in France by a non-EU employer. Whatever your situation, you’ll need to provide documentation to ensure you’re eligible.

You can learn more and apply for your visa here

Permanent residency card

After you’ve secured a long-stay visa, you can apply for a permanent residency card, or carte de séjour. To be approved for a carte de séjour, there are a few more requirements. To be approved, you’ll need a monthly income of approximately €1250 (for a single person), and you’ll also need to be able to communicate in French at a CEFR level of A2

There are five different types of permanent residency cards in France. Learn more about your eligibility.

Getting health insurance

If you’re moving to France, health insurance is an important consideration. Everyone is required to have either public or private insurance.

Fortunately, France has a great public healthcare system called PUMA (Protection Maladie Universelle). If you’ve lived in France for at least three months, you’re eligible for public health insurance. PUMA operates on a copayment system, offering anywhere from 70 to 100% reimbursement on medical costs such as doctor visits and prescriptions.

To get health insurance, you can apply through the local health authority, called Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (CPAM). There are several offices throughout every department in France.

Money matters

We can’t talk about moving countries without discussing money! And, although France has some more affordable areas, it’s not cheap. So if you’ve been trying to figure out how to move to France with no money, it may not be quite that simple. However, here’s some general price info to help you budget accordingly!

What are the costs of moving to France?

  • Housing: In Paris, a one-bedroom apartment can cost around €1,200 per month. The price in the suburbs, however, can be half that price.
  • Utilities: Water, heating, trash pickup, and electricity will cost you approximately €180 per month, based on a space of around 85 square meters.
  • Internet: You’ll be paying roughly €29 per month for internet coverage.
  • Public transport: A monthly pass to use public transport like the bus and metro is about €75 a month; single tickets start at €1.90.
  • Gas: If you decide to buy a car, the price of gas is about €1.50 per liter. 
  • Groceries: Obviously, this will vary from person to person, but don’t be surprised if your groceries cost more than €250 per person per month.  
  • Dining: A three-course meal for two at a fairly nice restaurant could cost you around €60.

Where to move in France

When you think of moving to France, you probably think of Paris first. However, France is a beautiful, dynamic country with areas that appeal to all kinds of people. Whatever your lifestyle, you’ll find somewhere that suits you! Here are just three of our top picks for where to move in France.

1. Annecy

Are you into outdoor activities? Annecy might be for you. Located close to the Swiss border next to Lake Annecy and surrounded by mountains, this is an outdoor junkie’s dream, offering cycling, skiing, sailing, and hiking. 

2. Toulouse

If you’re looking for a picturesque place with warm summers and mild winters, consider moving to Toulouse, France. Like Annecy, Toulouse features a variety of outdoor activities all year long. This family-friendly city is also known for its good schools

3. Rennes

Brittany’s capital city is often voted one of the best cities to live in France. This city is known as one of France’s greenest cities, with 42 m² of green space per resident and 60 city parks. Residents can also enjoy fine art exhibits, opera, and various historical sites. On top of that, there’s world-class food and wine at several award-winning restaurants in this charming city.

Get ready for life in France

Moving to France is a big decision that takes a lot of preparation: Applying for permits, budgeting for daily costs, and choosing where to live are all important factors. We hope the details we’ve covered above will help make your move as smooth as possible.  

To make your transition even easier, remember to get your French skills where they need to be. Sign up for Lingoda’s 7-day free trial to learn how we can get you there!


Andrea is a Canadian freelance writer and editor specializing in English, e-learning, EdTech, and SaaS. She has a background as an ESL teacher in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. In her free time, Andrea loves hanging out with her husband and son, creating recipes in the kitchen, and reading fiction. She also loves camping and jumping into lakes whenever possible. Learn more about Andrea on LinkedIn or check out her website.

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