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What I Love About Living in France: Case Study

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 10 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
France Living Life Family Expats Move

We’ve all watched those ‘living the dream’ type television shows were people move to France and it ends up one of two ways – either a better-than-perfection life where nothing ever goes wrong, or a total disaster! The truth for most expats is usually somewhere in between.

For Melanie Taylor, 43, moving to Beziers in the south of France has been an exciting adventure in some ways, but difficult in others. Her real-life experience of making the move is a clear illustration of why the television programmes don’t choose normal families!

Melanie explained, “Like everyone else, I’d watch those ‘escape to the sun’ programmes and think that it couldn’t possibly be like that in reality. I’m pleased to say that our experience of moving to France has been nothing so dramatic, rather more a change of life to one of a pace we can cope with!”

Time for Change

Before Melanie, her husband Daniel and their two young children decided to move to France, they were living a hectic life in London, with both parents working full time, hardly seeing the children and barely having time together as a family.

Melanie continued, “Daniel and I decided that something needed to change. We both worked long hours in central London and although we earned good money, we found that we were having to spend more to stand still – childcare costs, holidays to wind down, transport, eating out because we were too tired to cook – not to mention hardly seeing each other, our children, our friends or family. We were lucky enough to only have a very small mortgage on our home, with no debts, so we decided to sell up and buy a coffee shop in Beziers. We found a business with a large apartment above it. We enlisted the help of a friend to build a website as we decided to run the coffee shop as a flexible work space as well as a ‘normal’ coffee shop.”

Positive Aspects

Now that Melanie and her family have been living in the south of France for just over two years, she is clear about the most positive aspects of the move.

“We certainly have less money than we had in London, both because we earn less and because the taxes are higher, but we get to be all together for dinner every evening, we eat locally sourced food from the wonderful local market, either Daniel or I walk the girls to school every day and we feel more relaxed.”

She continued, “We’re only half an hour from the beach so we often leap in the car after school and have an hour or so in the sea. We’re working hard to build up the café but we’re not so career focused that we can’t just enjoy what we’ve already got too – it’s no longer about more, more, more. We’re content with a good day’s work that earns us enough to live a good life. We have fewer expensive clothes and treats, but I can honestly say that we don’t feel the need for them anymore. It’s a lovely life as long as you accept you have to do things the French way!”

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