Not so sweet dreams: reality check

Spending your days quaffing wine by your swimming pool is not the reality enjoyed by everyone who quits Britain for a new life in France. The dream can sometimes become a nightmare.

That is the conclusion of the British Charitable Fund, the BBC reports. The charity supports Britons facing severe financial hardship in France.

It was set up in 1823. Back then, the bulk of its work was with servants and low-skilled labourers in Paris.

Now, however, the majority of calls for help come from families in rural France, for whom the dream has turned sour. Their hopes of running a chambres d’hôtes alongside some other work has fallen through for one reason or another.

The problem, the charity says, is that ex-pats haven’t built in any contingency in case things go wrong. One couple in Pitou, for example, found themselves struggling when a serious accident left the husband unable to work. When his wife was then diagnosed with cancer, they were left with no income.

Their story isn’t atypical.

Brits in France can get financial help from the state, thanks to the UK’s membership of the EU, but many simply don’t have the language skills to navigate the system. France is a country that likes its bureaucracy, after all.

Many have relied on the buoyant British housing market to fund their new lives in France, where houses are often much cheaper. However, if things go wrong, they can no longer afford to go back.

They are left taking charity hand-outs in a country whose language they don’t speak and in which they feel more and more isolated.

For anyone – like me – thinking of making the move, it’s a sobering tale.

This entry was published on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 07:40. It’s filed under News and politics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “Not so sweet dreams: reality check

  1. Think we are pretty sober about this move anyway!
    The key is the language, yours seems pretty good and our is improving week on week.

    What drives me to despair is the Brits or other expats who have no intention of learning any more than they need to “get by”. In other words they love the sun, the open spaces, the bargain properties and the cheap wine but don’t see why THEY should learn the lingo.
    WE meet these all the time.
    Sorry but if you don’t make the effort, a reality check is inevitable

    • I find it incredible that people would move to another country and not learn the language. Without that skill, you would effectively be handing control of parts of your life to other people. Surely, no one wants to be so disempowered.

  2. seems sensible to me, but sometimes think we are a different species to most French property buyers-

    We aren’t rich, we are “working class”, we don’t have good pensions, we aren’t building or buying a featureless modern box on a big plot, we like getting our hand dirty, we rather admire the a***y French attitude, we admire their tenacious loyalty to and pride in their country and culture and we feel incredibly lucky to have found something affordable we will enjoy living in.

    Oh, and we plan to be fluent ASAP meanwhile, at least we try…..

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