There’s a good portion of romantics out there that dream of retiring and living in France. But is it the place for you as you age? Will you have reliable elder care in France as an expat? Read on to find if you should say oui, oui to a golden years move to this country of love.
Quality of Life in France
France has been rated as one of the best places to age because of its high quality of life. The Annual Global Retirement Index rates France as one of the best places for ex-pats to retire as well. It also has one of the world’s longest life expectancies, 83 years. There are approximately 6 million people over the age of 75 living in the country. Over 60 percent of this population are women. The average age for senior women is nearly 90.
France has lovely countrysides, beaches and of course Paris to add to your enjoyment of life far from the fast lane. The southern area has warmer temperatures year-round for more outdoor activities. Eating is nearly the national pastime. You can expect to have gourmet-quality food no matter where you live with the freshest ingredients available, usually paired with a glass of wine (or two).
France’s Residency Requirements
In order to get residency in France, you’ll need to begin the process at the consulate in your home country. Otherwise, you’ll need to leave and return to France to get your one-year visa. You’ll also need bank statements showing you can support yourself as well as proof of health insurance with a minimum of $40,000 in coverage. French citizenship can be granted after living in the country for five years.
Cost of Living in France
France isn’t the cheapest place to live, especially Paris. It ranks 14th on the Cost of Living Index, below Bermuda and Japan but more than the U.K. and the U.S. You can expect utilities like cable, electricity, internet, and water to be similar to the U.S. Rent is about average as well. A one-bedroom apartment might cost between $600 and $900 per month. You’ll generally need about $2000 per month for a comfortable life in France (more in Paris).
France has a well-maintained road network. Driving can take some getting used to, even in rural areas. Gas prices are high and toll roads can cost more than $30, so if you do decide you need a vehicle, you’ll need to budget accordingly.
France has a train system that not only allows you to travel within the country but also connects with the rest of Europe. The national railway system, SNCF, offers a discount of 25 percent for seniors.
Health Care in France for Expats
France’s health care quality is excellent. It has been rated the best healthcare in the world. The country has mandatory universal coverage. For the most part, 70 percent of all health services are covered. Some prescription medication is covered. Others have a co-payment. If you have a long-term health problem such as diabetes or cancer, all of your medical expenses are covered. Not all dental, vision, and hearing services are covered. Most everyone has private insurance for these services. However, as of 2021, adults can get a pair of glasses without cost every two years.
All legal residents, including ex-pats, are eligible for health care coverage. You can apply after you’ve been in the country for three months. You’ll need private health insurance until then. Every two years, you can have free medical checkups and other preventative care services. Wait time for appointments can vary greatly depending on the medical professional you are seeking treatment from.
Elder Care in France
About 25 percent of elderly French residents receive home care. The Allocation Personnalisée d’Autonomie (APA) is the name of the mandatory state insurance covering this type of care. The amount of coverage depends on your income bracket. Those in the lowest income bracket pay nothing towards their care, while those in the highest may pay up to 90 percent of their services. Because of this, many have supplemental private insurance to cover part of the high co-pay.
French citizens over the age of 60 and have physical or mental conditions that do not allow for continued independent living often move to an établissement d’hébergement pour personnes âgées dépendantes (EHPAD). There are 7,200 facilities in the country that provide care for the elderly. About ⅓ of EHPAD residents did not choose to be admitted to a long-term care facility and are unhappy with their independence loss. More than half of EHPADs are public while another 30 percent are nonprofit. The remaining 20 percent are for-profit nursing homes.
The national healthcare covers all the medical costs for those residing in EDPAD homes. The housing costs are about $2000 per month and are paid for by the resident or family. Hospice care is fully covered.
Because of the large population of seniors, it is suggested that France will need to double the number of available spots in EHPAD facilities by 2050. One study demonstrated that the quality of life for EHPAD residents is below that of nursing home residents in the UK and the US.
Drawbacks to Moving to France
Language is the number one drawback to moving to France. Larger metropolitan areas such as Paris will have a sizable number of English speakers. However, outside of that, you’ll need to know the lingo to manage. The French can be a bit snobbish when it comes to their native tongue, speaking French even if they are fluent in English. So having a good handle on the language will help you successfully navigate daily life.
Getting permits, driver’s licenses, and other government forms may require a lot of patience. The bureaucracy at the government level can be exacting. Office hours might not be regular. Paperwork might need to be submitted several times for any results.
If you are willing to pay a bit more, France may indeed be the right place for you as a senior. The healthcare system is excellent, and you’ll have plenty of company in your age bracket. Long lunches, an afternoon glass of wine, and a beautiful sunset over French vineyards are certainly reasons to start your residency process today!
Want to read more above and beyond elder care in France? We recommend the following titles:
- DK Eyewitness France
- Fodor’s Essential France
- Lonely Planet France
- Retirement Without Borders: How to Retire Abroad in Mexico, France, Italy…
- The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris
If you want to read about elder care options in other countries popular with expats, read our articles on:
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand