Long stay expats in France see many changes

Published:  26 Oct at 6 PM
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Tagged: Moving, France, UK, Canada, England
UK expats who’ve lived in France for many years have seen both positive and negative changes in their lifestyles.

One of France’s major attractions for expats is that changes take far longer than in other countries, although all accept change is inevitable. Fortunately, most changes which have taken place of the past several decades have been expat-friendly and positive, with the possible exception of rising prices.

French food is justifiably famous world-wide, but it’s an unusual expat who doesn’t crave an occasional taste of home. Some 15 years ago, French supermarkets were exclusively ‘French’ with British and other international favourites literally unheard of Nowadays, foodstuffs from all over the world are easily found, including even love-hate spreads such as Marmite and Vegemite.

Eating out nowadays has a far more international flavour, especially in larger French towns and cities. Formerly, brasseries tended to serve the same, albeit delicious, French dishes, but many of the same locations have now converted to serving everything from Mexican through Japanese and Thai cuisine. For nostalgic Brits, a few have even gone so far as to open traditional fish ‘n chip shops.

Much to the relief of a huge number of long-stay expats, the notorious French bureaucracy has become more manageable and requires far less paperwork than in times gone by. It’s even possible to complete just about every official requirement online, thus saving millions of trees every year. Tax matters, arranging phone lines, insurance and much more is just a click away.

For all the upsides, the one downside seems to be that the cost of living has increased, with expats living along the Spanish border noticing it more than those in other locations. According to residents, it’s frustrating to note the differences between the cost of diesel fuel, and supplies in French supermarkets are up to 20 per cent dearer than at their Spanish equivalents.

Those searching for a peaceful rural life in the slow lane will be pleased to hear that most expats feel French villages are even less lively than they were. Cafes and bars are closing and many locals are moving to the big cities, but the plus point is that internet services are now available in all but the most remote locations.

Security is now visible in all France’s big cities, but the French seem to have become more welcoming and friendly towards incomers from the UK. Perhaps it’s because expats nowadays try to learn the local language, thus kicking over the social barriers.
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