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Should You Make the Move to France

Should You Make the Move to France

2018-11-20 System Administrator 0 French Life Tax and Finance

Whether you’re looking for a holiday home or a place to retire with a slower pace of life, moving to France might be the right choice for you. However, with sterling still below pre-Brexit vote levels, is it still an affordable option? And what are the financial options for retirees?

Moving to France from the UK The average house price in the UK now sits at around £227,000 - up 5.58% year-on-year, yet a budget of just £100,000 could easily land you a spacious three-bed stone cottage property in France in many rural parts of the northern coastline, such as Brittany and Normandy and could be paid for with a fee-free international money transfer.

Go further afield into the Massif Central region, the same budget would buy you a couple of farmhouses. And even if something with a luxuriant feel is more up your street, then a chateau would certainly be achievable if selling an average-priced UK property.

In contrast, a 50 square metre pied-a-terre in Paris would set you back about €400,000 (or £350,000 at the time of writing), with anything in the first arrondissement proving significantly more expensive.

Where in France should I choose? Access, climate and budget are three deciding factors. The top tranche of the country is within a reasonable distance to drive and is therefore popular with families seeking beach or activity breaks, with bikes and paddleboards on the roof rack.

Beaches in France Normandy and Brittany offer fabulous beaches and plenty of properties near them for under £150,000. Half-timbered village houses and granite farmhouses are the local vernacular, respectively.

Sunshine in France For guaranteed sunshine, the South is an obvious choice. Languedoc (average price €179,000) can provide an affordable alternative to the sought-after Provence / Cote d’Azur region. Whilst the French love new-build homes, British buyers prefer traditional village houses, farmhouses (mas) or country houses (bastides) with more character.

Ski chalets in France Up in the Alps, for example, the traditional Savoyard chalet is the dream for many, but there are now plenty of new stylish lock-and-go ski apartments.

Getting your finances in order Banking in France is broadly similar to that in the UK. The main retail banks in France are BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Societe Generale, while there are many branches of international banks such as HSBC, Barclays and Deutsche Bank. The most popular form of banking in France however is La Banque Postale, the French equivalent of the Post Office.

A current account is known as a compte à vue, and once opened, you should get your bank cards within a week to ten days. To open one ahead of your move, you would need the following:

A valid passport (or ID card if you are a non-British EU citizen) Proof of residence (if you are a non-EU citizen) Proof of a French address (rental agreement, utility bills etc) Proof of employment or other earnings A reference from your UK bank (if you need a loan or overdraft Sending money to France Sending money to other countries via bank transfer can come with high fees, with UK banks charging up to £40 per transaction. A good way to get around that, and get value for money while using a fast, safe and secure service, is by using online international money transfers. Whether you are funding a property purchase, paying off the mortgage, or just sending over living expenses, fee-free Telegraph International Money Transfers can save you time and money.

Tax and pensions If you’re an official resident (183 or more days in the year living in France), you’ll have to complete a tax return as an expat, and be liable to tax on your worldwide income. You are taxed not only on income, but also social security contributions (France has one of the best in Europe) and tax on goods and services. Then there’s occupier’s tax and property tax. Finally, capital tax is levied on assets worth more than €1.3 million. It can be complex, so it’s best to look for specialist advice before you move to France. Your UK pension is payable even if you have moved to France - it’s best to contact the International Pension Centre (IPC) to ensure it goes through smoothly and you are also entitled to healthcare provision. You can choose to leave your pension pot in the UK or move it into a qualifying recognised overseas pensions scheme (QROPS).

Life after Brexit Has Brexit changed anything? The status of UK residents in France is a big issue. A deal reached in December 2017 with the European Commission has guaranteed the right to stay living and working in France - however there remains a lot of uncertainty over the rights of UK citizens to move to France after Brexit comes into force in March 2019.

For current residents, especially retirees, pensions and healthcare is a key issue. If Britain ended up totally separate from all European Economic Area arrangements, there is a possibility they might continue paying expats’ healthcare via the NHS and the S1 form, or even insist on private healthcare.

However, the expectation is that existing reciprocal arrangements between France and the UK will remain in place. An agreement with the EU means that pensioners will still see their state pensions increase year-on-year, while Britain’s ‘double taxation agreement’ with France helps to make sure that people don’t end up paying tax on the same income twice.

Article brought to you by The Telegraph. For more information please visit https://www.telegraph.co.uk/financial-services/currency-exchange/international-money-transfers/moving-to-france/

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