Toll Free 800-599-0190  |  USA 562-408-6677
International Vehicle Shipping and
Moving Specialists Since 1977

Get Your Quote Today:

Top 10 Things to Know When Moving to France from the US

Paris Skyline Moving to France
Are you dreaming of moving to France and experiencing the charm of French culture, cuisine, and lifestyle? Moving to France involves careful planning and understanding the ins and outs of your new home. If you’re a US citizen considering a move to France, here are the top 10 things you need to know:

1. Visa and Residency

Before moving, familiarize yourself with the visa requirements for US citizens moving to France. When moving to France, you should consider a long-stay visa or a residence permit. A long-stay visa is for a visit between 90 days and one year. For anything over one year, you will need a residence permit. Learn more about France Visa requirements and applications at

2. Healthcare System

France boasts a renowned healthcare system, but you’ll need to understand how to access healthcare services as an expatriate. You must have health insurance if you plan to live in France for three months or more. Expats must register with the Sécurité Sociale and often take out supplementary private health insurance (mutuelle) to cover additional costs.

3. Language and Culture

While many people speak English in urban areas, learning French will significantly enhance your experience and integration into French society. Take French language classes and immerse yourself in France’s rich culture and traditions. Practice speaking French daily, even if it’s just basic conversations. Language exchange meetups can be very helpful.

4. Housing and Property

Understanding the French real estate market is crucial whether you’re renting or buying. Seek local advice on neighborhoods, lease agreements, and property ownership regulations. You can find properties for rent and sale on websites like before moving. In cities, apartments are more common than houses. Housing can be smaller than you are used to in the US. The rental process can be bureaucratic. Be prepared to provide extensive documentation, including proof of income and a guarantor, if you don’t have a French employment contract. Many rental properties do not include appliances, so you may need to purchase or rent them separately.

5. Transportation

France has an efficient public transportation network, making getting around without a car convenient. Familiarize yourself with your new city’s train, bus, and metro systems. If you want to drive your car in France, you will want to use a reliable moving service like Schumacher Cargo to transport your vehicle to France. You may be able to use an international driver’s license while driving in France, but you will eventually need to obtain a French driver’s license.

6. Banking and Finances

Some of the central banks in France are BNP Paribas, Société Générale, Crédit Agricole, and international banks like HSBC and BNP Paribas. Do research to find out which bank is right for you. Opening a bank account in France is essential for managing your finances. Current accounts (compte courant) for everyday banking and savings accounts (compte d’épargne) for savings. The Euro (€) is the official currency. Keep an eye on exchange rates for the best deal when transferring money.

7. Education and Schools

Consider a bilingual or international school if your child still needs to become fluent in French. Be prepared for cultural differences in teaching styles, discipline, and parental involvement. Understand your area’s options for public, private, and international schools.
Type of Schools in France:

  • Public Schools: Free and open to all residents. The curriculum is standardized across the country.
  • Private Schools: Can be secular or religious (often Catholic). They may offer a different approach but must follow the national curriculum.
  • International Schools: Offer international curricula, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the British curriculum. These are ideal for expats who may move frequently.
  • Bilingual Schools: Offer education in French and another language, which can benefit non-French-speaking children.

8. Work and Business

If you’re relocating for work, research and follow French business etiquette. The French value time off. The 35-hour workweek is standard, and taking long lunch breaks and frequent vacations (especially in August) is expected. If you want to work in France as a digital nomad or offer freelance services as a contractor, getting a Profession Liberale Visa will allow you to work as a self-employed person. This visa is valid for one year and can be renewed. No matter what you do for work in France, you must understand your employment rights and obligations.

9. Legal and Administrative Matters

French bureaucracy can be complex and slow. Be prepared to fill out paperwork and wait in lines. Patience and persistence are essential when dealing with administrative matters in France. Keep copies of all documents and follow up regularly. Seek guidance on tax requirements, residency documentation, and other bureaucratic processes. Consulting with financial advisors familiar with US and French systems can help smooth the transition.

10. Embracing the Lifestyle

Finally, embrace the renowned French lifestyle of leisurely dining, appreciating the arts, and savoring the simple joys of everyday life. Allow yourself to adapt to the slower pace and cultural nuances of France. Keep an open mind and a positive attitude. Engage with expat communities online and offline. They can provide valuable advice and support. While adapting to a new culture, staying connected with your roots is also helpful. Maintain relationships with family and friends back home.

Living in France

Understand that cultural adaptation takes time. Be patient with yourself and others as you navigate this new culture.
Here are some bonus tips about life in France.

  • Greetings: When entering shops or meeting people, always greet with “Bonjour” (Good morning) or “Bonsoir” (Good evening). Use “Madame” or “Monsieur” for politeness.
  • Politeness: Say “Merci” (Thank you), “S’il vous plaît” (Please), and “Excusez-moi” (Excuse me) frequently.
  • Formality: French society can be more formal than American society. Use the formal “vous” instead of the informal “tu” until invited to do otherwise.
  • Dining Etiquette: The French take meal times seriously. Meals are social events. Lunch and dinner can be long, and it’s common to have multiple courses. Respect the dining etiquette, such as keeping hands on the table (not in your lap) and not rushing through meals. It’s essential to wait until the host starts eating before you do.
  • Punctuality: Being on time is vital in professional settings, but social gatherings may be more relaxed.
  • Dress the Part: French people generally dress more formally than Americans. Paying attention to your attire can help you blend in.
  • Lunch and Dinner: Lunch usually lasts from 12 PM to 2 PM, and dinner is around 7 PM to 9 PM. Adjusting to these meal times can help you adapt socially.
  • Local Markets: Shopping at local markets for fresh produce is a common practice. It’s a cultural experience and often offers better quality than supermarkets.
  • Appreciation for Arts and Leisure: The French strongly appreciate arts, culture, and leisure. Take advantage of museums, galleries, and cultural events.
  • Importance of Family and Community: Family and social connections are highly valued. Building relationships with your new French neighbors and participating in community events and activities can enhance your experience.

By understanding these essential aspects of relocating to France, you can ensure a smooth transition and fully enjoy all your new home has to offer. Bon voyage!

If you need assistance with your move to France, our experienced international moving specialists are here to help you every step of the way. We provide options for moving your household items and vehicles overseas, tailored to any size of your home and budget.

Contact us today at 1-800-599-0190 to learn more about our relocation services or get a free quote for your move to Frace.

Accreditations Accreditations Accreditations Accreditations Accreditations Accreditations Accreditations Accreditations

Schumacher Cargo Logistics utilizes insured, secured and bonded facilities. We provide warehousing, packing, crating, trucking and loading services out of our own warehouses here in the USA - Los Angeles, Houston, Savannah, Miami, New York, and New Jersey. All other worldwide destinations are covered by our affiliated organization member companies.