France is the most visited nation in the world and one of the most popular countries with would-be British retirees as well.
The reasons for France’s appeal lie in the beauty of the country, the history, climate and culture and therefore there are a million reasons to consider living there.
In this article, we’ll cover ten of the most popular reasons why people retire to France.
If you’re coming up for retirement or you’re thinking ahead and maybe planning where to buy a home overseas to enjoy now and then live in when you retire, why not consider France a little more closely? After all, with our top ten reasons to retire to France, you’ll be hard pushed to come up with an argument not to at least consider it!
France is conveniently close
France is so incredibly easily and affordably accessible from the United Kingdom. You have cheap flights available from all airports in the UK to destinations across France, you can drive and even take the train to France.
This means you can get back and forth easily if you buy a property in France before retirement. Even becoming a euro-commuter is no longer a novelty these days – there are people who live in France and work in the UK and commute daily to and fro.
Once you move lock stock and barrel across the Channel, your friends and family can easily come and visit you ensuring you never get lonely or lose touch.
France is well connected
Are you an explorer at heart? If yes, you will never be sorry about your decision to retire to France.
France is exceptionally well located in Europe and has excellent transport links inside the country and across the continent. Whether you want to see the Alps, bathe in the Mediterranean sea or enjoy the Atlantic coast – you can get across France easily and quickly.
What’s more, you need never be bored if you retire to France because you are in the heart of Europe and can easily explore all the nations around you.
More affordable property in France
Real estate – i.e., property and land – is far more affordable in France than it is in the UK. Okay, so Paris is expensive and the south coast may be out of your fiscal reach, but there are property bargains to be had in France if you just look hard enough.
Also, because so many Britons have already bought a property in France there is so much information and tips on purchasing a home in France available on the internet and in print to assist would-be buyers. This makes the whole process of buying a property in France that much simpler to navigate.
In addition to this, the French legal system is excellent and your rights will be well protected as a buyer if you use a reputable lawyer and take their advice.
France is stunningly beautiful and diverse
France is geographically diverse – therefore there is a region to suit everyone’s tastes and pockets whether you want a rural mountainous landscape, an alpine one, a beachside villa or a vibrant city based pad.
The country embraces everything from the highest mountain peaks to the most stunning sun-drenched beaches. Therefore it’s fairly safe to say that no matter what type of place you want to call home, France can offer it.
There are pockets of France that have been all but colonised by Britons: think the Dordogne, Provençal regions, the Riviera and Brittany to name but a few – and choosing an area where there are strong international communities can make sense for those looking for the fastest and easiest path to integration.
Narrowing down to a region is, of course, the place to start, and only when you have an area of France in mind can you choose the exact location to call home.
It’s really important to spend time travelling in any region you identify as offering everything you’re seeking in retirement. Amenities, infrastructure, even the pace of life can differ hugely between one town and the next in the same region.
Exploring the country to find the best places to live in France can be pure joy – there are fabulous locations across the whole country, and you can choose according to your climate and lifestyle preferences.
A lifestyle perfect for retirement
In France people work to live, they do not live to work! This attitude to life is evident in the people – far more emphasis in France is on enjoying life and having a good time. Naturally, in retirement, this is great news. So if you retire to France, expect to enjoy the pace of life and the attitude towards life.
The cuisine and the wine
Need we say more! France is a paradise for foodies and wine lovers. Suffice to say it is of excellent quality, it is sumptuous and wining and dining out is far more affordable in France than it generally is in the UK.
There are wine schools and wine clubs which you can join and get an exclusive knowledge of wines and wine-making and where the theory is pleasantly supported by practical lessons of wine tasting.
France has distinct regions that once used to be separate countries. Almost every region has its special cuisine and unique ways of preparing food and the cultural nuances live on in regional cuisine.
Good quality healthcare
The healthcare in France is excellent; the national system is funded by contributions to a social security fund, which is made up of both insurance funds paid into by French residents, as well as by fees charged at the point of treatment.
The healthcare system (l’Assurance Maladie in French) is funded via various health insurance funds including the Couverture Maladie Universelle (CMU), and it’s the specific branch that includes membership for expatriates in France, including those who retire to France.
The very good news for those of retirement age is, if you’re receiving the state pension you’re eligible to join the CMU and you won’t have to pay any extra.
Note, you will still have to pay top-up fees for many services and treatments, and many of those who live in France choose to buy voluntary insurance (assurance complémentaire santé) to cover the gap.
Big expat population
It is now far easier to retire to France than it once was before the internet fully blossomed. Every red tape related issue from buying a house to residency is much simpler to solve nowadays and there are always plenty of expat forums and websites available to assist you anyway.
Expat communities are numerous in many parts of France and they might become invaluable when it comes to everyday questions of local life. They are always ready to come to help, give advice, recommend local businesses, doctors, and inform you of all the essential local facts you need to know.
Comparatively favourable wealth tax
For those capital-rich retiring to France may bring one more advantage – the relatively low wealth tax threshold. You don't pay any wealth tax if your world-wide assets don't exceed €800,000. Also, for the first 5 years, your foreign assets are exempt from the tax.
Retire to France and enjoy a low-tax pension
In France, there is theoretically the option of taking your entire British pension out in one lump sum and only paying 7.5 percent tax on it. For those for whom an entire pension withdrawal will mean they are pushed into the highest tax bracket, this makes incredible sense.
In France lump sums from pensions are not taxed at marginal rates, they are only subject to a 7.5% income tax charge, no matter how big the withdrawal is.
Note: Generally, France is not a very tax-friendly country for regular pension income – only for a qualifying lump-sum withdrawal.
To qualify you would have to establish tax residency in France before taking your lump sum, and you would have to take expert advice to ensure your understanding of the rules and that they apply in your case.
To understand better your pension options in France read The Expat Guide To UK Pensions Abroad: Understand Your Options
France is a great choice for those seeking a fabulous retirement in a brand new lifestyle destination. The nation can also offer some tax advantages to retirees, a fantastic quality healthcare environment, and a very easy immigration policy.
If you’re looking for a home abroad in a country where your pension may go further with careful planning, where the lifestyle available is excellent, and where the standard of living is very high indeed, give France a close look.