Our expat life in Northern France


Hello, my name is Roz and in 2009 along with my Husband John we moved to Northern France, Pays de la Loire Dept 53 where we had owned a house for 9 years (now 13 years).

We had for a long time known that we wanted to live in France but had no idea how we would make a living (it is very difficult to find work here in rural France) our whole lives were consumed with trying to find a way to make the move.

In 2008 I decided to start a business which luckily was one that we could run from anywhere in the world with a view to being able to bring it to France and eventually live the good life. We probably would have gone on thinking about it for a few years should we or not, but in December 2008 John was made redundant and this was the push we needed. We decided that there would not be the daily jaunt to the Job centre looking for a job that 600 others were applying for, we sat down and did the maths and made the decision to move lock stock and barrel.

It was a very scary experience I can tell you; we set out with a van full to the hilt with our worldly possessions and two very good friends who tagged along to help us at the other end and in the very depths of winter too.

After we had unpacked the van and spent a lovely weekend surrounded by boxes, eating and drinking wine, our dear friends returned to England, we sat and thought what on earth have we done, we had left a perfectly comfortable centrally heated house to come to a 200 year old stone and very cold house.

Luckily we had furnished the house already as it was our holiday home, but there were still renovations to do in some parts of the house. The garden had been covered in plastic for 9 years in an effort to keep it somewhat tidy while we were not here, we had immediate neighbours on both sides so had a commitment to them to keep it tidy. Our first job as soon as the weather permitted was to get the garden sorted as we wanted to grow our own veggies.

Now 4 years later I can tell you it is the best thing we have ever done. We love every minute of it here where life is so much slower and the simpler things are enjoyed so much more. Just as we enjoyed life back in the 50′s & 60′s – where the only traffic we very often see is a tractor and farmer with a wind reddened face. There is always a celebration of some sort happening in the village, the French love to celebrate and do so without excuse.

We survive now solely on our pensions and are managing quite well, some things are expensive here but some things are cheaper, it is swings and roundabouts but I think we have a far better quality of life here, we are safe, largely due to being rural. We are more than happy to go out after dark, not something we would have done back in England happily.

The one piece of advice we would give is, learn to speak French, because without it you cannot join in or have a decent conversation with your French friends. Also, 2 years ago I had to spend some time in hospital and that can be scary at the best of times, but when you don’t speak the language it is even harder.

Do we have any regrets? Yes, we didn’t do it earlier

Please feel free to follow our blog at: http://france-ourlifeinfrance.blogspot.fr/

Roz Russell
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Married to John for 30 years, In 2009 we decided to up sticks to Pays de la Loire Northern France, we love it here where life is so much slower (we are very rural) and values are as we knew them back in the 50's & 60's - we are living the dream.