Expat Retirement in France

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Expat Retirement in France

If you’re intending to live out your golden years in an overseas location – enjoying a different climate, food culture and way of life – there are several things you need to consider, including how you plan to fund your retirement and what retirement rules are applicable in the nation you plan to move to.

Over the next few months we’ll be getting to grips with all the ins and outs of Expat retirement, and today we’ll be looking specifically at retiring to France.

First, a little background information on the French retirement system

In France you may retire from the age of 62 as long as you have been in employment for 42 years, although people generally retire at 67. Whilst you can work up to the age of 70 most don’t chose to do this, and in some professions it’s even possible to retire at 50/55 (people working in public transport have this option).

Women are also entitled to retire two years earlier for every child they have.

The pension system in France is a little different. The nation’s social security pension works on a repartition basis, in that money collected from people in employment is distributed among those in retirement on a yearly basis. Of course this means that pension entitlement varies annually and is dependent upon population and employment rather than financial markets. A benefit of this system is that it is unaffected by inflation and means that retirees are protected during economic crises, but a drawback is how sensitive the process is to longevity, which decreases the contributing actives/benefitting retirees ratio.

French citizens can also enter into corporate or personal pension plans.

With married couples the ‘pension de reversion’ rule entitles the surviving spouse to half the pension of the deceased for the rest of their lifetime.

Now, here are some things to think about if you plan to retire to France…

EU citizens will find the process of retiring to France much easier because of all the reciprocity treaties covering areas such as healthcare and taxes, but citizens from nations like Australia and the US may have more things to work around and organise.

US citizens will need to communicate with the Federal Benefits Units at the US Embassy in Paris to make sure they receive the benefits they’re entitled to.

As it stands, EU citizens who have retired to France are entitled to vote and participate in local elections. Whilst this isn’t something non-EU citizens can do at the moment, President Hollande did vow to change this situation when he was elected in 2012.

If you plan to spend your retirement in France you must pay local taxes, even if your income comes from another nation.

Compared with many overseas locations, buying property in France as a foreigner is fairly simple and the majority of estate agents are experienced in helping expats purchase their dream home. That being said, be sure to look into local restrictions and seek the advice of a reputable, independent advisor.

Expatriates intending to retire in France must be covered by a health programme (comprehensive private medical insurance etc).

France is known for having a comparatively high cost of living, with food, entertainment and clothing being particularly pricey. However, as things like education, rent and healthcare are often subsidised by the government, costs do balance out.

In France retirees qualify for daily benefits and perks, such as discounted or free entrance to museums and attractions, not having to pay TV tax and being able to use public transport for a reduced fee (this doesn’t apply in Paris).

Take time exploring the different regions of France and really consider what you want out of your retirement before you chose where to live. Some areas of France are obviously more densely populated than others, while some offer better weather or lower property prices. A little initial research can save a lot of problems and regrets further down the line.

Retiring in France will be a more enjoyable and rewarding experience if you can speak the language, so you may want to make an effort to learn at least conversational French. The more of the language you know the more easily you’ll be able to interact with your new neighbours and other residents. The fact that you’ve made the effort could also result in locals looking at you more kindly.

Many French cities feature a ‘Maison des Associations’ which operates as both a meeting and activity centre.

It is also worth noting that some French universities run a ‘Université du Troisième Age’ programme, which translates as University for Seniors. So if you want to learn a new subject or skill in your retirement this might be worth looking into.

If you’re considering retiring abroad keep track of our posts over the next few weeks.

Also, if you have retired overseas and have information or advice to share please get in touch via Facebook or Twitter, or leave a comment in The Expat Hub forum.

Luca Smith
This post was written by
After spending the summers of his childhood in Burgundy with his French grandparents, Luca moved from the US to Digoin on a permanent basis when he was seventeen. After completing his studies Luca pursued a career as a writer and now produces articles for local and national publications.