30 September 2016

Rod Fleming - Expat in France

Rod Fleming - Expat in France

We’ve had the chance to talk to Rod Fleming, 50+, a Scottish expat who has moved to France alone. Mr. Fleming who has been living there for almost 23 years, now works as a writer and photographer.

Read more about his experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Arbroath in Scotland


Q: What made you move out of Scotland?

A: I have lived away from Scotland several times. This is the third time I have lived in France. This time, it was because my wife and I divorced and in the division of assets, I got our house in France. So I moved.


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

A: Cote d'Or in Burgundy, France. Fairly close to Autun. As I wrote above, I had a house here which my wife and I had owned for almost 20 years at the time we split. How did we choose? We both liked France.


Q: How long have you been living in France?

A: Mmm difficult. This has been my principal residence since 2012 but during that time I have spent almost two years travelling, mainly in the Philippines. However, we bought the house in 1993 and had two periods of full-time residence here prior to my present one.


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

A: I live alone. However, in the past, I lived here with my wife and children. The kids adapted well with no problems at all. We never lived an 'expat' lifestyle, nor do I now. We lived a French lifestyle.


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

A: This is home. I do miss my family of course. I can remember being homesick when I was younger, but it never happens now. Perhaps something to do with the death of my mother in 2005. If it happens, go home, even for a visit.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: Entertaining. Read my books!


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: Reasonably easy. I avoid ex-pats and I don't know any here at all, although I do know a couple of foreigners with holiday homes in the area. But they are rarely here. I am fairly sociable, it's easy to make friends.

If I were being asked for advice, I would say, 'Do as I do and stay away from ex-pats. You can never assimilate into French society as long as you remain a part of that group.' There are some amusing and useful anecdotes about this in my books 'French Onion Soup!' and the forthcoming 'Croutons and Cheese'.


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

A: Markedly cheaper. I would say about 30% so. Obviously, I have no mortgage or anything like that.

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: No idea, 1,50E maybe.

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

A: I guess 8-15 Euros.

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

A: As much as you care to pay.

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

A: From about 2 Euros up, but cheaper if you buy in VRAC. I don't smoke.


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

A: It's easy, you just need a passport and some proof of address, like an electricity bill. And some money.


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

A: I need neither visa nor permission to live and work here. This is Europe, and I am European. All other necessary contacts with the state you do through the local Mairie. Easy.


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

A: Excellent and reliable. Probably the best in the world, in my experience. Fast, well-trained, extremely sympathetic and free. I use the local doctor; he seems efficient.


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: None is required, for a European. This is Europe. We have proper healthcare systems here. When I am travelling I have insurance through my credit card and in the Philippines I also take PhilHealth, about 4 Euros a month.


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: My car caught on fire once. Other than that, nothing specific. Moving is always stressful. I used a company called Pollock. They were very good.


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

A: Well I'm hardly new. I've been here, on and off, for 23 years. The biggest challenge is, obviously, language.


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

A: It's a nice place to live. Winters are too cold, but I spend those in Asia.


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

A: There's nothing to do here. You make your own entertainment.


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

A: Mmm at the moment, not really. This house will get too big for me when I get older, and I might sell then. If so I should arrange things such that I was in Scotland for 3-4 months in summer and in Asia the rest of the year. Otherwise, I shall go on as I do now.


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



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

A: Rod Fleming (my own)

I don't use any others really except