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How to Retire in France
Do you want to retire in France? Living abroad, particularly in France is a great way to spend your golden years!
Many Americans at retirement age find themselves in a new home somewhere else around the world. France is becoming increasingly popular for those who wish to retire abroad as it offers many benefits for those living there.
France is a beautiful country with relatively variable weather. It has a beautiful Mediterranean climate in the south with light breezes and palm trees. In the north, the weather gets colder with snowfall in the winter.
Living in France will allow you to benefit from being able to get in the car and just drive to another country whereas, n the US, it almost always requires a plane trip.
It's likely you're already aware of the geographic benefits of living in France. However, you may have many questions as to your retirement is handled in France, so I wrote this guide in hopes of answering some of these questions.
Using Your Pension Plan in France
If you’ve got a US-based pension plan, you probably have a lot of questions regarding whether or not you can use it in France. In the US, you must pay tax on your pension and when you bring in an income in France, you must a pay a tax. So which tax do you pay? Do you get double taxed? The answer is no, you do not get double taxed on your US pension in France.
You can take your US pension plan to France free of tax. This way you will only pay French income tax on it, and not both French AND US income tax. There is a form you’ll fill out (it's an American form) after you move to France which basically tells the US government that you’re paying French taxes on your income instead of American tax. Under French law, pensions are taxed very similarly to regular working income.
French Health Care for Retirees
Wondering about your access to the French healthcare system when you retire? Since you’ve not grown up in France and never really paid into the tax system (besides any sales tax), you might be wondering if you will be allowed to utilize the French socialized health care system.
If you go through the proper ways to attain residency and/or citizenship in France, you’ll be covered under France's universal health care system.
On top of this, there are many people who also carry health insurance on top of the national health. It's important to note that unlike the US, insurance in France doesn’t increase the amount of care you receive, it's just handy if you’d like some of the hospital luxuries like a single room.
Where to Live
Where in France do you want to live? This is a big question that many expats ask themselves and there is no easy answer. It really depends on what kind of money you have (Paris is very expensive) and really what kind of area interests you.
If you're interested in retiring in warmer areas in the countryside, the South of France is wonderful. There are also many cities in Southern France, such as Marseille if both warmth and city life appeal to you. The northern areas of France are absolutely gorgeous, too! Central France has a number of cities and villages if this is an area that appeals to you. Do you want to live by mountains? On the Mediterranean? On the Atlantic side? In a tiny, out-of-the-way village? In a metropolitan area in a city that never sleeps?
If you're not sure where in France you would like to live, it's a good idea to take a few trips driving around France to find an idea of where to retire. There are many villages, towns, and cities to choose from so it's a good idea to get the region down first because it's literally impossible to visit every city, town, and village in France!
© 2009 Melanie Palen