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Priorities That Change When Moving to France

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 11 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
France Priorities Priority Expat

It is hard to put into words how much your priorities can change when you start your new life in France. Even if you have planned to change your life and that is your key motivation for moving, the actual details may surprise you.

It is important to allow yourself to experience and embrace the changes in your priorities, or you will feel confused and stressed. Many expats make the mistake of trying to live as they did before, just with more sunshine. In order to make the most of the opportunities of moving to France, you need to adopt some of the ways of local people.

You may find that your priorities change in ways that you had never thought of, with the change of culture, language and weather all having an effect.

Let's look at some of the potential changes and how to handle them.


Many expats find that they are more than happy to live on far less money than they were used to in the UK. Even those who do not notice a considerable change in their outgoings find that they spend their money on very different things. There is not the same 'keep up with the Jones' attitude in France, so people do not spend so much money on updating their homes, white goods, gadgets or cars.

Expats who have recently moved to France from the high-powered and/or well paid jobs in the UK often say that they want a change of pace after years of lengthy commutes and only seeing their children asleep or at weekends. As their new life usually involves a new job - whether it's running a gite, working from home or living off savings and investments - most people find they have far more time to spend with their family.

While we all need a certain amount of income to pay for our mortgage, food and bills, many expats feel more content with a simpler way of life. They find they spend less money on the latest toys, two week long all inclusive holidays are no longer appealing and the idea of buying this months 'must have' handbag seems ludicrous when you are in the middle of rural France.


The changes in your lifestyle when you start your new life in France will affect every area of your life. The positive affect far outweigh any negatives, although it is important to take them into consideration.

The first thing you will notice is that the family is more important than the corporation. Shopkeepers close up for two hours at lunch time to enjoy a home cooked meal with their families, including school age children who choose to come home. Even workers who do not work near their homes tend to enjoy a longer lunch, often with wine. There is not the same 'the customer is always right' attitude - everyone expects to be treated with respect and rightly so.

You will also notice that there is very little processed food available, although sadly this is increasing. The image of a French market piled high with local produce is a reality - people do tend to choose their food for that day, or two days at most, squeezing and selecting the ripest looking fruits. You do not see harassed mothers pushing screaming kids around the supermarkets as French children are brought up to be more confident that children in the UK. This is largely because school teachers have more power to discipline children and also because they have a family meal every evening. Many expats are pleased to adopt these habits and appreciate the French teacher's methods.

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