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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Happy Family Life, but Missing the Warm Welcome in France

Rising to 41st overall, the land of cheese and wine offers a strong infrastructure and healthcare system.
  • Popular among retirees; 40% plan to stay forever
  • Infrastructure and healthcare get positive ratings
  • Learning French is essential
  • Uncertainty about state of the economy
  • Expats work 36.3 hours per week (vs. 41.4 global average)

Expat Statistics 2016

Expat Statistics for France — infographic

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Romance Is Alive in France

France is a popular expat destination, especially among retirees — at 12%, the number of retirees is four percentage points higher than the global average. This could also, perhaps, explain why so many people in France say they plan to possibly stay there forever: two-fifths of respondents say that this is their plan, compared to a global average of 31%.

Of course, retirees are not the only expats who come to France. Expats hold multiple reasons for being drawn to the life of Breton tops and baguettes. The most popular reason to move to France is a better quality of life — 12% of those asked state this as their main reason for relocating. Meanwhile, a ninth of respondents (11%) chose to live in France because they wanted to live in their partner’s home country, with women somewhat more likely to move for love: 13% of female expats state this as their main reason compared to 9% of male expats. Similarly, there are more female (60%) than male expats in France (40%), compared to the global averages of 49% and 51%.

Offering a Good Lifestyle

“Many French people care about the quality of life, so food and culture and conversation are highly valued.”

France ranks well in the Quality of Life Index (15th out of 67 countries), showing no matter why people move there, they are happy with the life offered. In fact, 78% of the expats in France are overall satisfied with life abroad in general. Receiving particularly good opinions are the infrastructure and the healthcare offered in France: the quality of healthcare is considered in a positive light by 83% of expats and 40% of respondents consider its affordability to be very good. Consequently, France ranks in the top ten (eighth) in the Health & Well-Being subcategory of the Quality of Life Index. This, alongside the transport infrastructure, which is viewed positively by 83% of those asked, and the opportunity to travel while living in France — considered very good by more than half the respondents (51%) — make life in France appealing.

Difficulties with Acclimatization and the Economy

Although the quality of life in France is high, there are drawbacks such as the difficulty of settling in: France ranks 53rd in the Ease of Settling In Index. Over seven in ten (71%) agree to some extent that it is hard to live there without knowledge of the local language and only 14% are completely happy with the general friendliness of the population compared to the global average of 26%. Likewise, only 54% sense a friendly attitude towards foreign residents compared to roughly two-thirds globally (65%).

“It is difficult to make French friends; they tend to have closed, tight-knit communities.”

The economy is also considered a problem by expats in France, with just 49% of the respondents rating its state positively. What is more, only one in twenty feels very good about the state of the economy compared to 17% worldwide. Not only due to this, France nearly lands in the lower third of the Working Abroad Index with its 42nd place. Another drawback has proven to be money for the 40% of respondents who report suffering a loss in personal income when they moved to France. Money was also the greatest cause for worry prior to relocation — well over a third of respondents say they saw taxation (38%) and the cost of living (35%) as potential disadvantages when considering their move to France.

Favorable Leisure and Childcare Options

Although some expats report a decreased income, living and working in France is not as bad as it may seem. With just 36.3 hours per week, those working there benefit from fewer working hours on average than their global counterparts (41.4 hours). This allows time for leisure activities, which 84% of expats in France consider generally good; 37% even rank the available leisure activities as very good.

Although France has dropped out of the top ten this year in the Family Life Index, it still comes in 11th place out of 45 countries. Childcare options are considered, on the whole, to be better than the global average of 60%, with 69% of expat parents in France overall satisfied with this factor. In fact, France ranks ninth in the Costs of Childcare & Education subcategory with 49% of expat parents agreeing that childcare is overall easy to afford, and 76% saying the same about education. While the country does not rank quite so well in all aspects of family life, it can be found in the top 25 for all subcategories. Even the options for children’s education, with a 24th place France’s worst subcategory in this index, receive more than two-thirds of generally positive opinions (69%), representing the good quality of family life in France.

Further Reading