When the French ask me why I moved to France, I reply: “Bon pain, bon vin, et Serge Gainsbourg.” I’ll roughly translate that rhyming phrase to: Good bread, good wine, and why not be serenaded by the dulcet tones of French troubadour Serge Gainsbourg! It was self-evident to a Californian like me that moving to France would increase my quality of life.
But putting aside the food, and aside from the fact that Paris is one of the best positioned train hubs in Europe to go other countries with relative ease, here are five reasons why you should consider moving to France:
1. Healthcare as “Obamacare ++”
A few years back, a friend of mine from Madagascar had to be driven to the hospital by an ambulance. Given the out-of-pocket expenses of ambulance rides for those without healthcare in the US, I worried that the costs would ruin him financially – but it only ended up costing 225€.
Another time, a friend from Afghanistan had a burst appendix. I called “SOS Médecins” and it cost just 55€ to get a doctor to make a home visit.
Healthcare is a basic right in France – and much more affordable, in my experience, than the US. As French immigration consultant Jean Taquet once described it to me, “French healthcare is like Obamacare + +,” in that they want everyone to be included in the system. Under French social security law, everyone residing in France for more than 3 months is entitled to it – and that includes foreign students and those on the Visitor visa.
French public healthcare (called CPAM) covers the majority of medical expenses directly, and residents in France usually sign up for a top-up insurance called a “mutuelle” to cover the rest of the expenses.
2. The French culture takes a different approach to debt
The concept of “credit card” is not well known in France. French banks issue debit cards that the French call a “carte bancaire” or “carte bleue”. So, the French make purchases with money they have in their account. In the American Expat groups on Facebook, from time-to-time people ask about how to have a good “credit score” in France – but it doesn’t exist as a concept.
For student loans, it’s an entirely different story. Gabriel, a French art student, took out 17 000€ in student loans, Matthieu took 10,000€ to finance his housing costs while in French medical school. Students don’t take huge American-style loans to finance their studies.
3. Job stability for employees
I spoke with a cousin who works in California, and he confessed, “My greatest stress is that my company might fire me. I don’t feel like I’ve got job security. I get worried any time I’m called into the boss’s office.”
I like to say that unlike America, where the customer is king, in France, it’s the employee who is king. Par exemple, there are two types of contracts: indefinite term contracts (the CDI) and fixed-term contracts (CDD). The default contract type is CDI – the employer has to justify why they’ve only proposed a CDD. And CDD’s can only be for up to 18 months – after that point, the employer either has to let you go, or offer a CDI. French employers are thus forced to prioritize long-term contracts.
Once you’re hired, it’s very hard to get fired. They have to come up with grounds for firing you – from economic reasons, to personal fault. If they fire you, the employer pays a part of the social benefits, meaning they’re disinclined to fire anyone.
4. Work-life balance for employees
When one of my family members to America, his first employer didn’t offer any vacation days in the contract. (US employers are not required by law to offer vacation days). In contrast, the standard amount of vacation in France is 5 weeks – and unlike the US, it is paid vacation. This then creates a culture where for the whole month of August, France goes on vacation.
In terms of working hours, every French role is covered by a collective bargaining agreement (“convention collective”) which dictates what the work conditions are like, including standard number of hours worked per week. (It’s usually 35-hours a week, which is 7 hours a day; though for certain collective bargaining agreements it can be 37,5 hours a week or 39 hours a week.)
Employees can also accrue extra vacation days with a concept called “RTT”. In short, for those who work more than 35 hours a week, they can recuperate those hours as extra days off.
During the lockdowns in 2020, the French government mandated that French employers must allow for teleworking (if possible). This shift towards teleworking has created new hybrid work models, where French employees are often able to work from home several days a week and in the office if their employers require it.
5. You can become French
France allows for dual nationalities (and even multiple nationalities), just like many countries do (US, Canada, UK, etc.). The ground rule is 5-year presence living in France (with shorter periods if you’re married to a French national, or if you study in France). There are of course, other requirements (speaking French at an intermediate “B1” level, having a clean criminal background check, etc.).
The benefits are manifold: voting in French presidential and national elections, moving to 25 other EU countries, passing the nationality onto your children, and my personal favorite: getting in the good line at the airport.
Born and raised in San Diego, California, Daniel is a dual-qualified French-US attorney, and practices exclusively French in-bound immigration, with a focus on private clients.
Like to learn about how to make the long-term move to France 👉 reach out to Daniel today!