France is a country of superlatives, with sumptuous cuisine and wine and lavish art and fashion. Beautiful and romantic …
Retirement in France is more affordable than you think
Some of the best products that France has to offer are free. Picnics in the Luxembourg gardens, long walks along the Seine and lost afternoons among the cobblestones of the Latin Quarter do not cost a penny. Most museums, including the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, waive entry fees one day a month. The metro will transport you from a restaurant to a nightclub or from a museum to a café for less than $ 2, and even the most chic Parisians do not hesitate to use it to get around the city.
Paris is an endless celebration of gallery openings, special performances, exhibitions and celebrations, many of which are available at low cost. You can join free chat groups, discussion groups, book clubs and even cooking classes. You can enjoy fixed price meals for $ 25 or less, and you can spend hours in a café, see and be seen, for the price of a single café au lait.
The more practical necessities of life are not free, but they are more affordable than you imagine. You can purchase a cable TV, Internet and telephone package for $ 50 which allows free calls to anywhere in Europe and North America.
[[[[See: The 10 best places to retire in Europe.]
Various lifestyle choices in France
France is remarkably diverse geographically, from sophisticated urban centers to picturesque rural villages, and from scintillating seaside towns to alpine mountains.
You can settle in Occitanie and enjoy the best of country life in the south of France. This region has historic and romantic cities, varied outdoor leisure possibilities and more than 300 days of sunshine a year.
You could try life in Morbihan, a mainly rural area on the south coast of Brittany rarely visited by non-French tourists. Life here is centered around the Gulf of Morbihan, and the coastline is worth exploring. The expatriate community in Morbihan is small, but if you are proficient in French, it is an excellent base for a cultivated and sophisticated coastal life.
Annecy, a mountain town also known as the pearl of the French Alps, is said to be a phenomenal home base. The century-old city is like Disneyland comes to life. In summer, life revolves around the crystal blue lake of the city center. In winter, the focus is on the snow-capped Alpine peaks all around. Annecy appeals to nature lovers, museum aficionados, gourmets, adrenaline junkies and fashionistas.
You can call Ground Zero of Refined Western Culture your home by settling in Paris. With hundreds of museums and galleries, a vibrant coffee culture and revered cuisine, as well as space to breathe in parks and sprawling woods, Paris can be the ultimate dream of a retirement abroad.
Learn to speak French
In some regions of France with a strong tourist presence, notably in Paris, you can count on someone who speaks English, which means that you don’t have to learn to speak French if you don’t want to. If you want to live in this country but have no interest in learning a new language, Paris is the place where you can find English news services, bookstores, religious associations and a large community of English speaking expatriates.
Outside of Paris and in more rural areas, waiters, traders and local bank machines are less likely to speak English. To get the most out of French countryside life, you will want to make an effort to at least learn conversational French.
[[[[See: The best places to retire in 2020.]
Public transport in France
As with learning French, whether or not you need to invest in owning a car will depend on where you settle in. The best way to get around Paris is on foot. When your feet get tired, you can get on a bus or the subway or take a bike or a scooter. All these options are available throughout the city for a few euros. Having a car in Paris would be an unnecessary expense.
However, if you live in the south of France, a car will help you enjoy all that this part of the country has to offer. France’s national road network is well maintained and you can easily connect to other destinations in Europe thanks to the excellent motorway network. Note that gas prices are higher in France than in the United States, so getting around by car can significantly increase your budget.
France has well-established rail systems which facilitate travel within the country and throughout Europe. Domestic rail, called SNCF, is easy to navigate, affordable and fast, and fares are reduced by 25% for senior travelers.
Become a resident of France
Americans can stay in France for up to 90 days as a tourist. No visa or permit is required, and you can travel beyond France anywhere in the Schengen area during this period. To stay in France beyond the tourist window, you will have to prove that you can meet your financial needs and present proof of health insurance.
You must begin the residency process in French from your country of origin. If this is not the case, you will have to leave France, return home, then return to France after obtaining the appropriate stamp in your passport. This process provides you with a one year long stay visa. You may be able to extend a long-stay visa with local authorities in France to permanent resident status.
Beware of taxes in France
In France, you will only pay taxes to the central government. There are no state or county taxes. Although calculating French tax can be complicated, the amount of tax you are likely to pay in total between taxes paid in France and taxes paid in the United States should be roughly the same as you pay now, thanks to the tax treaty in force between the two countries, which eliminates the risk of double taxation.
Health in France
Health care in France is among the best in the world, and it is possible to access this high-end health care for free. However, you will need to show proof of insurance when applying for a long-stay visa and keep this insurance for the first five years of your stay in France. After that, you can request to participate in the public system. To be eligible, you must be employed in France, self-employed and contributing or at retirement age.
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How to retire in France originally appeared on usnews.com