28 September 2016

Katie - Expat in France

Katie - Expat in France

We’ve had the chance to talk to Katie, an American expat who has moved to France with her husband. Mrs. Katie has been living there for 12 years.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Minnesota.


Q: What made you move out of USA?

A: We wanted to do a Guest House in Ireland.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: We went from Ireland to Andorra (work related) then decided to move out of the mountains. We picked France.


Q: How long have you been living in France?

A: 12 years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: Just my husband and me.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Of course I miss family – Skype and email are great, plus my phone plan gives me two free hours a month to the US.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: We’ve lived in two places in France, and the locals have always been friendly and welcoming.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in France? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: It’s easy to meet people, making friends is more challenging. In our first house, there were fewer expats to making friends was easier, as was joining the book club, etc. Here there are a lot of expats so breaking into the social like takes more effort.


Q: How does the cost of living in France compared to your home?

A: It’s much less expensive to live here in France – but we’re in the country, not Paris.

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: A euro or 2 – I never have a solo cup... always something with it so I really don’t know.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: 12 – 15 euro.... a pizza place would be cheaper.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: In our area, with wine would be 60 – 80 euro – but we like good wine.

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: You can get something drinkable for 5 euros, something decent for 10.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in France?

A: Not really – it’s pretty simple, but be prepared for lots of paper.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: Our story to get residency is long and complicated with lots of mistakes on everyone’s part – the first one was issued a year after it expired. It should be easy but time-consuming. Be prepared, be organised and keep copies of everything in a separate folder – even if it’s copies of copies.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in France is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: It’s wonderful – also a long story.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in your home or France? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: We had expat insurance (BUPA) for the first years until we became residents. As residents, we were entitled to French coverage.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to France? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: I packed our airline tickets in the shipping container.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Language – not the day to day stuff, but becoming proficient.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in France?

A: Positive? The bread, cheese and wine, no negatives.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: We’re in the middle of nowhere – but we can drive all over Europe!


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: No.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Nothing specific – just relax and enjoy it.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about France?

A: Thyme for Cooking