It takes courage to move to a foreign country. When you are single and retired, it takes even more. Would you even consider it, if that country is almost 6000 miles away and you haven’t spoken the local language for 30 years?
The dream of a new life in France is often enough pull for people to take the leap. The pace of life is slower, the weather is warmer, the rich history is fascinating, the healthcare is excellent, and the food and drink delicious!
A courageous lady and a big adventure
Renestance was created to help make your dream life in France a reality. In late 2017 we helped Linda, 69, move from Morro Bay, California to a new home along the Languedoc coast with the New Nest service.
Here’s what she has to say about going through the process and her new life in France.
Where did you move from?
Morro Bay on the west coast of California, between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
How long had you been dreaming of living in France?
I used to regularly travel here on business in the 1980s. I felt a real magnetic attraction to the place, it just felt like somewhere I belonged. I always found it very hard to leave. At that time I spent most of my time in Paris and Troyes. I love the history and architecture there – especially all those wonderful old half-timbered houses leaning to the side, but still strong and still occupied.
When did you decide you wanted to move to France?
I made the decision the first time I came here, but for health reasons, had to wait thirty years. When I was finally recovered and well enough to make the move, I started making definite plans.
Why did you choose the Languedoc area?
Quite simply because of the climate. I cannot tolerate the cold and rain!
Do you speak French?
I used to 30 years ago! It’s coming back slowly. I’m working on it and I can get by OK.
When did you decide to contact Renestance?
I spent a lot of time researching information on the internet. I have always been a very independent person but quickly realized that it wasn’t going to be easy doing everything on my own. This is one time I’m very glad to let someone else tell me what I need to do.
Just getting the required long-term visa has some major challenges. For example, you have to prove you have a place to live for the 12-month period of the visa. It’s pretty much impossible to get a place to live without a French bank account, but getting an account at a French bank while living in the United States is a challenge. Despite hours of research, I never did figure out how to do it.
Getting the visa is only the first step in meeting a lot of very precise government requirements. Certain things have to be done at specific times. Numerous pieces of documentation must be provided at every step. This could be very stressful if you are trying to figure it all out on your own.
People say that the French paperwork is a difficult process. It’s not that it’s difficult, it’s just ‘different’. It’s so easy to innocently overlook something very important. I consider it invaluable to have an expert in your corner that understands the process in France. Renestance has the experts that you need.
What kind of property were you looking for?
I was originally looking for an old house, but most of the old houses here can be hard to heat and usually have stairs – something I need to avoid with my bad knees. The apartment you found me in Sète is in a modern building (11 years old), with all the latest conveniences, and best of all, it has a beautiful view of the lagoon. I got it at what I believe was a great price. The location is perfect for an older person.
I decided not to have a car here in France, which is fine because the bus service is great, and everything I need is very close to home. A couple of blocks to the east is a shopping district with pretty much anything you could want. There are two businesses in this building – a dentist and a bank. The hospital and my doctor’s office are both just a block away.
How else has Renestance helped you?
Finding me a good doctor, and doing most of the work required to set up water, electric, Internet and phone service so I didn’t have to try to deal with the providers in my still-limited French.
What has surprised you most about France since moving here?
It snowed! I really wasn’t expecting that! Also there is a lack of infrastructure when it comes to accessibility to public offices and so on. I have arthritis and there are very few buildings with elevators. Anyone moving from the States should also be prepared for the fact that the size of properties is generally a lot smaller, and for the small closets, the rarity of clothes dryers, and the absence of window screens.
What has impressed you most about France since moving here?
Definitely the people – they are so friendly and helpful. Some people say the French are snooty, but that’s absolutely not true. In the cities, the people may be reserved, but that’s true of city people everywhere. I have found the people in Sète very welcoming and I feel really settled here already.
Have you met a lot of other English speakers here?
No, and that is by design. A couple of people suggested I join an expat group, but I moved here to integrate as much as possible into French society. I didn’t move here to live in an expat colony.
How would you summarize your experience working with Renestance and using the New Nest service?
It’s clear that you are very genuine in your approach and passionate about doing something very worthwhile. Now well into my new adventure, I know I’m up to date on everything that needs to be done to keep me here forever, and that I will be reminded and helped as each new government requirement comes up. For me, this New Nest service has been priceless.
Dennelle is the President of Renestance and a bilingual American who’s lived in France since 2000. She loves so many things about France, its language, culture, geography, quality of life... that she started a business to help others realize their dreams of living in this incredible place.
All articles by: Dennelle Taylor Nizoux