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Living in France – Expat Financial Tips

French Wealth Tax

Expat Living in France / South of France? Wondering where to start?

Whether you call it the South of France or the French Riviera, when living in France the French will soon remind you that’s it’s actually called the Côte d’Azur!

A topic that needs no debating among expats living in France is the lifestyle in the South of France. With the delights of Nice, Cannes, Monaco, and Saint Tropez on your door step, the French Riviera remains a popular destination for expatriates.

Living in France as an Expat can be a demanding experience though and so our Harrison Brook French Advisors have compiled their following top financial tips for you.

1)    Purchasing Property in France

The Côte d’Azur is a prestigious region so being realistic with your budget is important. The chances of finding a picture perfect property that will triple in value as your second home is becoming more unlikely. This strong regional demand does however afford buyers the safety net of stable and rising property values.

Many properties with stunning views and deep architectural character can be found well within the €500k bracket with those on the sea rising towards and beyond €1m. A popular and growing alternative for couples and retirees are apartments which can be found for as little as €160,000 in the some of the region’s most vibrant areas.

Our dedicated page on purchasing property in the South of France covers this expansive topic in greater depth.

Our #1 financial tip is the competitiveness and timing of your foreign currency exchange deal. High street bank charges are extortionate and representatives are unlikely to have the expertise or incentive to advise you upon the best deals.

Harrison Brook specialise in such currency matters so get started today to ensure you get the best advice.

2)    Cost of Living in France

This will vary with the lifestyle and level of comfort you desire, but excluding mortgage costs, €2,500-3000 pm (65% for singles) is suffice for a couple to enjoy an active and rewarding social life.

Obviously for those wishing to frequent the regions hotspots, dine in Nice, Cannes and Saint Tropez’s more esteemed restaurants, and enjoy the odd flutter in Monte Carlo, an increased budget is advised.

An crucial factor to consider is the ‘high season’ between June – August. The population of coastline swells during this period so prices become inflated. A plat du jour or Set Menu may increase from €15 to  €20-€25. Though frustrating, this at least ensures that an equilibrium is maintained and that service and standards of restaurants are upheld.

The worst offenders are the more touristic restaurants of Cours Saleya in Nice. However once living in France you will discover the more authentic places to wine and dine, including my personal favourites Bar de la BourseJan and Melody.

living in france


3)   International Schools when Living in France

A strong educational background will empower your children to shape them own destiny doing something they enjoy, making for a content and satisfied life.

Fortunately, many reputable schools exist when living in France including Mougins School (Sophia Antipolis), the International School of Nice (Nice) and the International Bilingual School of Provence (Aix-en-Provence).

Mougins is a prestigious school with 50-years experience located by the Sophia Antipolis technology park, a 30-minute drive from Nice. It follows the English national curriculum which has the key advantage of students easily integrating into the UK higher education system.

Mougins 2013/14 tuition fees:

  • €5,900 – Early Years (Mornings only)
  • €11,400 – Reception (Full day)
  • €13,700 – Years 1-6 (SATS Key Stage 2)
  • €14,600 – Years 7-9 (GCSEs)
  • €16,200 – Years 10-13 (A-Levels)

Thoroughly planning current and future educational costs should form an integral part of any expats financial strategy when living in France.

4)   Setup an Offshore Bank Account while living in France

The term ‘Offshore’ often attracts negative publicity and is commonly portrayed as a dark and deceitful world where the super-wealthy hide their yachts and fortunes. This depiction is inaccurate though, and is akin to describing all sports fans as hooligans.

An offshore bank account is simply an account located outside the depositor’s country of origin. No Ferrari needed. In fact, offshore banks offer the most cost effective and convenient way for expatriates living in France to manage their global payments and financial obligations.

Offshore bank accounts afford numerous benefits for those living in France:

  • Convenience – Same bank no matter where you move
  • Easy global access – Choice of multi-currency accounts
  • Geographical freedom – Online and telephone banking
  • Relaxation – Discussing finances in English with a familiar representative

Experience at Harrison Brook has taught us a simple rule: If you are from country A and you live in country B, you should bank in country C.

An Offshore Current Account France swiftly eradicates the bureaucracies of living in France, allowing you to enjoy your reasons you moved for in the first place.

living in france

 5)   Financial Advice for living in France

France’s famous laissez faire’ approach is a key attraction for living in France. This attitude is great for many aspects of your life, however it can be very frustrating when dealing with your finances.

For instance banks in France are generally closed on Mondays and shut for two hour lunch-breaks during the week. At Harrison Brook we respond and where possible resolve all enquiries within 24hrs as we understand the importance of service.

Furthermore, the UK is arguably the most regulated financial advisory market and the ‘Twin Peaks’ model enforced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) & Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) ensures that clients receive only the highest levels of advice and protection.

Get started today with professional, expert expat financial advice from a UK qualified French Adviser through our easy online advice service.

6)   Review your Existing Pensions & Investments

Living in France without fully understanding your financial situation is not advised. A free evaluation will help assess how robust your existing arrangements are for attaining your long-term personal objectives.

Additionally, the rules and regulations regarding your pensions and investments whilst living in France can be complex. Where are you liable for tax purposes? Can your pension provider make payments overseas? How are your lump sum and lifetime allowances affected?

Whatever your plan for living in France, taking expert advice today is an essential step in ensuring your every possible success.

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