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22nd September, 2020

France, international living

How to move to France from the UK

Planning on becoming an expat and moving to France? Read our guide on the best way to prepare for the new culture.

If you’re thinking of moving to France, you’re in for a treat. Famed for its luscious countryside, lively towns and cities and a flourishing arts and music scene, France has a lot to offer. Home of Paris, the ‘City of Lights,’ you’ll soon be able to find a region of France that you’ll be able to call home.

Moving to France before Brexit

If you’re a UK Citizen, you won’t need to get a visa if you’re moving to France before the end of the Brexit transition period (31 December 2020).

While you won’t need a work permit to look for work pre-Brexit, once the Brexit transition period ends this will most likely change. This will impact expats job hunting abroad, as they may require a work permit, as well as having a confirmed place of work before relocating to France.

It’s not certain how Brexit will affect the current arrangements, so it’s important to check with the relevant authorities on what you will need to work in France post-Brexit.

The impact of Brexit on moving to France

According to Gov.UK, If you are resident in France before the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, you will be able to stay.

All UK nationals resident in France will need to obtain a new residence permit in line with the Withdrawal Agreement. This includes:

● UK nationals with a European carte de séjour (even if it is marked “permanent”, or has no expiry date)

● UK nationals without a European carte de séjour (it is currently optional to have one)

● UK nationals applying for a second nationality

● UK nationals married to or PACSed to (in a civil partnership with) EU nationals

● UK nationals recently arriving or well established in France

You will need to apply using the updated online residency portal, which will open from the start of July 2020. You must apply before 1 July 2021.

If you applied for residency on the previous ‘no–deal’ portal, you will not need to re-apply using the new one. Your application will be processed by the appropriate Préfecture before the deadline.

For more information, please see – Living in France.

Before you leave the UK

Moving to a new country isn’t all about the rules and regulations. This adventure may be your life’s dream, for work or simply to experience a different culture and lifestyle.  In order to appreciate your new country, it’s a good idea to learn some simple French. Even if your accent isn’t quite there, the French will appreciate your efforts!

In order to make your move as smooth as possible, make a checklist of the things to organise before you leave. This list should include:

● Healthcare

● Worker’s benefits

● Specialist removal companies

● How to transport your pets

● Insurance

● Children’s schools

● Buying/renting property

Renting a property in France

You may be renting long-term or just long enough to understand if you like the neighbourhood before you buy. Either way, you should know how much you’re likely to spend on rent. The average cost of rent in Périgueux, the capital of the Dordogne region, is €9.10 per square metre per month. In Paris, however, this figure almost triples to €26.20 per square metre per month (source).

Be prepared to produce salary slips, income tax assessments and any other documentation that will act as proof of income for your landlord. You’ll be given a tenancy agreement to sign; it is worthwhile hiring a notary (or notaire) to go through this agreement to ensure that all is above board.

If you want to rent a property in France, online sites such as Green-Acres and SeLoger can help you find the right size, in the right location and within your budget. Of course, renting means paying your landlord – who probably won’t want to accept payments that aren’t in their local currency. This is where a service like PagoFX comes in handy as it allows you to transfer money from your UK bank account to bank accounts abroad with low costs and the real-time exchange rate – meaning you’re not paying more than necessary to pay your rent.

Cost of living in France

When you’re emigrating to France from the UK, you’ll have to take the cost of living into account. Paris is considerably more expensive than the rest of France, but on the upside, you’ll receive a better salary and be able to benefit from all the pleasures and excitement that come from living in a vibrant, fast-paced city. If you live in the suburbs of Paris and commute to the centre via the city’s efficient metro, you’ll be able to reduce your living costs. Many employers are willing to subsidise travel costs.

If you’re moving to France and your dream is to live in a quaint farmhouse in the heart of the French countryside, then you can expect to pay around €1.60 (£1.43*) per litre in petrol costs.

What is the weather like throughout the year in France?

France has a very varied landscape and climate – from cosmopolitan Paris to sun-drenched Cannes to dramatic Normandy – so it’s important to focus on what you want from your new home and how it suits your lifestyle and preferences.

Northern France has a very similar climate to the UK’s south with warm summers and cold winters. A little further south, Paris has pleasant, temperate weather from March to May – it’s often sunny but you also get rain to offset the heat. Summers are generally hot with temperatures consistent with the rest of Northern Europe – though the mercury rarely spikes above 35 degrees Celsius. Autumn brings some beautiful weather, though with regular rain showers and Winter is cold but not especially hard – snow will fall and settle but is far from guaranteed and your thermometer will sometimes register in the negatives.

Western France along the Atlantic seaboard has an oceanic climate, temperature changes moderately and winters are mild but wet. It rains often compared to Northern and Southern France.

Eastern France has a continental climate, summers are pleasantly warm with some thunderstorms to relieve occasional pressure and winters can be very cold, with temperatures occasionally dropping below freezing. Winter days in the mountains are frequently accompanied by snow.

The south of France is famed for its Mediterranean climate. Summers are hot and winters mild and dry. Autumn has the most changeable weather, often with thunderstorms and heavy rain showers that have historically led to flooding. From the south you have easy access to skiing in Andorra or the French Alps.


Food is not simply a necessity in France, it’s a little akin to a religion. Whether you’re in food-obsessed Lyon or a small rural village in Aquitaine, you’re entitled to expect the same high standards of cuisine. Restaurant prices and regular food shops in a market will cost considerably less than in the UK – and the quality of the produce is superb.  There are over 10,600 food markets across France, and the French expect to be able to test the produce and be offered a huge range of good quality fish, meat and vegetables. A useful point of reference for UK expats living in France is the online magazine, The Local.


Internet service with WiFi is widespread, and it’s the French government’s ambition to connect all households to the Internet by 2020. No matter how remote your new location you’ll still be able to remain in contact with the rest of the world.

A stunning country

France is organised on a department or province basis and you may find that the local town hall in one provincial district operates differently to another elsewhere. The provinces differ from each other in terms of geographical features as well as administratively. 

The main thing anyone moving to France from the UK should bear in mind is that the country is large, diverse and welcoming and you’ll be joining thousands of British expats who have also chosen to call this beautiful country their home.


Now that you now everything you need to know about moving to France (except perhaps the language!), it’s handy to have a service available to help make international payments. Whether you’re paying rent, settling bills, paying for services or even buying a chateau of your own, PagoFX gives you low costs, live support and the real-time mid-market rate – helping your pounds and euros go further. Backed by Santander, one of Europe’s largest banks, PagoFX has the bank-level security you need to feel confident moving to France. Bon voyage!

(Figures correct as of 1 Jun 2020)