Making any move can be stressful; moving to France really pushes the envelope. Not only are there the general moving problems: packing and shipping your belongings, getting use to a new place, etc. There are the cultural hurdles and language problems to overcome. France is a wonderful country with a rich culture and warm people. It is also a very different country, a difference not always obvious to a tourist.
I have encountered three different types of people wanting/needing to move to France here are my responses to each.
Many people write to me with the dream of moving to France. My reply focuses on the negatives: finding a place to live in France can be very hard. Landlords want three months proof of income, the French job market right now (January 2003) is horrible and the French bureaucracy is a nightmare. I do this not because I don't want more Americans in France, in fact I don't care one way or the other, it is just that I don't want someone making a huge mistake. Before you leap, please make sure you have answers to the following questions; How will you support yourself? How will you find a place to live? How will you respond to living in a foreign culture?
If you are moving to France because of a company transfer you should have a support system in place for you on arrival. You are still going to have some of the same pressures as the Dreamers, mostly culture and language differences. But just knowing you have someplace to live, can reduce the pressure. Some companies even hire relocation specialists to ease the transition. My suggestion: before moving find out what help the company will provide: housing, schooling for children, transportation, etc.
The positives of course are that one of you is moving back home and into their own culture. The negatives are the pressure put on the relationship.
The French person can feel like they are doing it all and their spouse is freeloading. Also, just because someone is moving back to her/his native land does not mean they know how everything works. My French wife, for example, had no previous experience dealing with the French bureaucracy. The non-French person, will at times feel isolated, this is normal. I felt this even though I speak French and lived in France before.
The best advice I can give you is lean on family. Families in France tend to be very supportive, but often the support needs to be requested.
Be prepared both financially and mentally for a difficult transition.
It takes sometime getting use to hearing a different language everyday, as does being emerged in another culture.
France does not have the same tastes, i.e. foods, which you are use to.
Life in France moves with a different speed and rhythm.
The first steps are the hardest, finding an apartment, buying a car etc…
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