Helen has lived in France for 15 years, and shares with us the highs and lows of living there.
1. Where are you from originally?
I was originally born in Surrey and moved around the South East of England before making the leap to France.
2. Where do you live now?
Quettreville sur sienne, Manche in Lower Normandy, France.
3. What first attracted you to your new home? Did you try anywhere else on the way? Did you move for work or for lifestyle?
I have lived in the Manche for nearly 15 years, first coming to this part of the world to be nearer my now ex in laws and have a better quality of life for our family (I was pregnant when we moved). Family situations (seperations) have led me to have a number of homes within this departement.
4. What kind of property do you live in now? Will you stay here? What’s your ideal place to live in within your new country?
I currently live in an hlm wooden rented house, for the time being we will stay until it is too small for us. Ideally I would like a bigger home and a small garden is a must.
5. Are you speaking a new language? If so, how did you learn?
I speak fluent French and English, my French only really becoming fluent 8 years ago when my ex husband filed for divorce and I had to learn the language quickly to understand what was happening.
6. What do you do for a living? Where do you physically work from? Do you work with clients/customers back in your home country or your new one?
I am an Independent Phoenix Trader (selling cards and stationery) based here in France. I physically work from home but my customers are based throughout the world (though prodominantly UK and France).
7. Do you work online? If so, what is the internet connectivity like? What software do you commonly use on day to day basis? What would be your top tip for online working from your new country?
I have a website as well as my Facebook page which has a good following (300+ likes).
8. Are you paid in your new home currency or in pounds/dollars/euros? Do you exchange money often? If so, what service do you use?
My sales are all in euros, people from other countries often PayPal the money to me using PayPal to do the exchange rate.
9. Do you have children? If so, how did they adapt to the move? How are their schools? Are they bi-lingual? Are their good future career opportunities within your new country?
I have 2 children, aged 14 and 5. Both have lived here all their lives and speak French as a first language. Freddy (14) also speaks fluent English and reasonable German as well as studying Latin. Maxence (5) is still young but is learning English with me (I used to teach English as a foreign language for the state).
10. Did you bring any pets with you? Or leave any behind? How did this work out?
All pets from France.
11. Is your life better than it was before? If so, how?
Difficult to say but overall yes better – I doubt I could afford the house I have here in the UK.
12. What are the best things about living in your new country? Has the move been good for the whole family?
Best things – laid back family life.
13. What are the most challenging things about moving to and living in your new country?
Paperwork!!!! and fear of not having understood things properly.
14. Are you here for good? If so, why? If no, why not?
Yep here for good as legally I can not leave French soil with my sons.
15. Any parting word to people thinking of moving to your country?
Do your homework re: healthcare, benefits, area, – if you can rent first before committing to France.
Helen has lived in the Manch departement of Lower Normandy since 2000, where she brings up her 2 children and, since 2013, brings Phab Phoenix to the French. She also volunteers within the local community at the school council and online running a support group for women with mental health problems and a networking community for French based Facebook pages.