The simple answer to this is yes. The more pressing question you should ask yourself is should you? I am writing this with 7 days to go before the UK exits the club of the European Union. After 40 odd years of membership and desperate to get into the club we have told them to do one. I am not a remoaner. I was a remainer. I am over it. I do not care anymore. If you are not at this stage yet, in particular if you live in France already, your aim is indifference!
Before I kick off about the differences between can you and should you – I have some friendly advice for any persons who voted Brexit and have now moved to France. There are many like you. Many that have just arrived or been in France for numerous years. Some who have been gone so long they can no longer vote in the UK but think Brexit is a swell idea. Fine. There are also a whole load of Brits living here that are fiercely pro-remain and embrace all things European. There are many that loved being European so much and responded to “well if you like it so much move there” they did just that. They voted with their feet. You can’t call them hypocrites.
Only today, in a Normandy forum, the subject of Brexit came up. The vast majority (not including the silent majority or just the ones that have more sense to openly celebrate about leaving) were sad and fully aware of the impending applications to apply for a Carte De Sejour that are coming to a stone house near them soon.
There are lots of resident Brits here that are not early or good and ready retirees. They have children in primary, college and lycee. They are working either self-employed or working for French companies and they (like myself) also have the added bonus of children that are in no ones land. Children who are rapidly becoming adults, where their status is changing from EU citizen to foreign student. Foreign student paying foreign fees and now an adult who needs to apply for a carte de sejour in their own right with no job, no income and no home ownership and the added bonus of non-EU parents. This applies to the ones that were born here to British parents.
So a word of caution, should you be proud as punch of your Brexit vote and wish to declare this to all and sundry in your chosen watering hole in a corner of Normandy, be prepared to never see some people ever again! You may be lucky and they might just make some polite excuses to leave or you might get a whole load of questions. But ultimately what they really want to say is “you bloody hypocrite!”.
Now you may have all the reasons under the sun but there isn’t anything you can say to me or people I know that will think anything else. They will think that if it is so bloody good to be a free trading, milk & honey, legoland utopia then why the hell did you move to an EU country? Or why don’t you go back. In fact, I have this discussion with someone I like very much (you know who you are – Tom!) but we will never agree and I openly call him a hypocrite whilst he thinks I’m a fool to think the EU is a good thing. I digress.
They will assume you moved here because it is better than the UK. It is better because of the “way of life”, the roads, the public services and the (affirmative) infinitely better healthcare. That capitalist broken down society that you wanted to flee from and move to a socialist republic smacks of hypocrisy. Not only that they will feel that you are the reason why they now have to apply to live here and prove they meet the income requirements.
We don’t hate you. We don’t know you. You are probably a good person but you will be instantly judged on this so do with that information what you will.
So without further ado, I shall give you some very good reasons why you can move over and some reasons as to why, perhaps, you shouldn’t. Ohh get you going all freestyle with your writing I hear you say!
In theory you can live anywhere in the world, however, in practice that can be quite tricky and actually turns out you can’t. For instance, you can’t just rock on up to Canada unless you have so many points and have something to offer. Unless you are Prince Harry then you can rock on up. Then you can.
At the moment for the entire year of 2020, whilst the UK may have officially left the EU, we are all in a ‘transitional’ period. We are like the Normandie cows all in a herding bay waiting to be milked. So yes, get your arse over as you can still rock on up, work, access healthcare, benefits etc within 3 months of living here. You are, in effect, treated by all intents and purposes as a native French person.
I did think there would be a cut off point when we moved, however time and time again the date was pushed back and it felt that my theory was never going to pan out. I am slightly pleased that #yay it should be easier to apply for a Carte De Sejour having lived here prior to 2021. But that’s more or less where my celebrations end. I don’t feel special in any way getting a BLACK – IT WAS BLACK FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! passport. Nor do I feel superior or special going through the non-EU lane or paying foreign university fees or not getting my son into a UK university because his parents income is foreign. Yarp special I am not. Shafted maybe. Special. Nope.
What’s the deal with 2021? Well that’s it. The transition period is over. This is when we will know if we are foreigners with a deal – aka slightly less hassle to deal with than if there is a no deal when it is just upgraded hassle. Hassle? Well, yes there’s freedom of movement to other EU countries, different queues going back to the UK and around Europe and basically tearing up 40 years of convenience.
You will also be able to ride on your EHIC although many forums will be saying you can’t do that – it’s only meant for holidays. Well sorry, take a chance and use them and don’t lose any sleep over it. Who’s really going to be checking they’ll all be too busy making trade deals and what not plus the card will be scrapped by 2021 – fill your boots. Whilst you’re at it get a newer drivers licence with a longer expiry, credit cards, stock pile prescriptions and get a shed load of over the counter anadin (enough for me as well) as its harder here now. Well they are behind the pharmacy counter. It takes more of an effort to kill yourself but where there’s a will….#dark
So can you work, live, get healthcare and make a life here in France now Brexit is a done deal? Absolutely. Get organised. Get smart. Get savy and Get out.
If that is what you really want. Which brings me to my next point.
It’s all very well hurrying along the process – It’s now or never (words that I said back in 2016). There is no more waiting and seeing. We have all waited and now we can see quite clearly. Decisions made like this, forcing your hand may not be quite as sensible.
Consider the following:-
Do you like the UK?
Do you like your friends and family?
What will you miss?
Do you understand that culturally the French and the British are very different and can think totally the opposite in terms of ways in which things are done. What you think is logical is a French persons madness and vice versa.
Do you like to be able to pop to the shops, services and enjoy the convenience of public transport?
Do you like the UK schooling system? Do you understand the French schooling system?
Do you have a plan to be something other than self-employed relying on the British community for work until your French gets better. Please note it will not get off the ground let alone ‘better’.
Do you understand that even with hours of French telly, radio, working with the French and not watching BBC Iplayer every night, that it takes an average person 3-6 years to class themselves as a fairly fluent speaker?
Do you realise that children do not pick up a language in 3 months? It takes a good year for them to fully understand most things and that’s with total immersion.
Do you like central heating? Do you want to manage large chunks of land? Do you want to spend all your time with your partner initially? Do you like your partner?! What are their expectations from the experience?
These aren’t meant to deter you or stop you following your dream of living a different type of life but they are serious questions that you need to ask yourself before you sell up lock, stock and barrel in a hurry. Dreams are sometimes dreams for a reason. They stay in you head and the outcome is always wonderful. Reality can be exactly like your dream or it can be verging on a living nightmare. And if you want to know the real warts and all of living in Normandy, France then trawl through this blog!
I have no regrets. What ever happens in my life going forward. It is/will be an experience, however, it was done with a plan and careful consideration albeit quite speedy prior to the move. If you have asked yourself all those awkward questions and still want to go more than ever, then what you waiting for?! The boat is that way….
Bonne Chance and see you soon minus the T-shirt!
You have been reading Our Normandy Life!