Moving to France

Last updated: Dec 2, 2019

Everything that you may need to know about moving to France can be found on this page. This page has information that can help you apply for a work visa or get a better idea as to what the living costs are like. If you’re interested in finding a removal company, take a look at our top 10 international movers list.

Visas to France

In order to settle down in France, you will need to have a visa and a means of living. You will need a Schengen visa to be allowed to enter France and live there if you are a South African passport holder. The visa application process usually takes 10 days to process and can cost anything from 427R to 960R. Below are the Schengen visa requirements for your application:

  • Schengen visa application form
  • Original and copy of your SA passport
  • Two colour photographs
  • Proof of employment

You will need to book an appointment at the Consulate General of France in Johannesburg or through the website of a visa service provider and provide these documents. You can apply for a visa on the official website for France.

If you have your heart set on moving to France but are without a job, then you will need to find a job that can sponsor your visa which will allow you to live and work in France. Here are the types of visas that you can apply for:

  • Business Visa
  • Study Visa
  • Visa for official visits
  • Visa for visiting family/friends

If you would like more information on applying for visas to Switzerland, take a look at the Schengen Visa website.

Tips on Moving to France

Now that you know what living in France is like, here are some extra tips on how to settle down quickly and begin enjoying your life as an expat in France.

Jobs in France

Before moving to France, it may be a good idea to find work if that is the reason why you’re moving there. Being able to speak French is very important when applying for jobs in France. It may be hard to find English-speaking jobs, so think about taking language courses if your French is not up to scratch. Unemployment is slowly improving with the biggest jobs sectors being aerospace, motor industry, pharmaceutical, electronics and tourism.

There are many ways that you can find work in France, here are a few websites:

Moving to France

Banking in France

Making sure that you have a French bank account will help you when you start earning money with your work. It will also make transaction and paying bills a lot easier. Below you can find the most commonly used banks in France:

Healthcare in France

Another thing that you will need to consider is what type of healthcare you will need in France. After moving to France, you will need to register with l’assurance maladie as it is essential. You will need to go to the Caisse Primaire dÁssurance Maladie (CPAM) and take with you proof of employment, identity and legal residence and your birth certificate. Check with your work whether they will take care of this for you or if you will have it organise it yourself.

Once you have been registered, you will have access to Carte Vitale, which provides reimbursements and avoids you having to pay upfront for certain healthcare services. However, there are some things that are not covered, which is when you may have to take out extra private healthcare.

Moving-to-France

Living in France

This section will provide you with an idea of what living in France is like. We talk about the living costs, housing and what the education system in France is like.

Living costs in France

The cost of living in France will depend on where you decide to settle down. Overall, the cost of living in France is much higher than it is in South Africa. However, this balances out by higher wages. If you’re moving to Paris, then you can expect living costs to be higher than if you were moving to Lyon. Below you can find the average living costs in each city.

ItemCost in ParisCost in Lyon
Meal, Inexpensive244R195R
Domestic Beer105R98R
Cappuccino54R43R
Milk, 1 Litre18R16R
20 Pack Cigarettes130R122R

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Housing in France

If you’re planning on buying property in France, then we advise that you do this once you have moved and lived in France for a while. This way you can get to know the area whilst renting somewhere and get a better idea as to where you would like to buy.

In terms of house prices, this will depend on the city or area that you would like to live in. As you can expect, a one-bedroom apartment in Paris will be more expensive than a house in the countryside. On average, the monthly rent in the centre of Paris of a one-bedroom apartment is 18,900R, compared to 11,000R in Lyon.

If you would like to find a place to rent before moving to France, here are some websites that you can use to find something:

Education in France

Perhaps you’re moving to France to study at university, or maybe you’re moving with your family. Either way, you may be interested to find out what the education system in France is like. Children are entitled to free education whilst living in France and is compulsory from the age of 6 until 16. International schools are a popular choice for expats but can be expensive. State schools are allocated based on where you live, so if you would like to enrol your child at another school that isn’t in your area, you’ll need to process this with the town hall.

If your child is younger than six, then you can sign them up to a nursery (creche) or for kindergarten (Ecole Maternelle). Generally, these will be funded by local authorities, but they may require an additional fee.

France is also a great place to study in if you’re planning on continuing your studies abroad. There are over 80 universities available to international students. Some of the top universities in France include:

  1. Paris École Normale Supérieure (ENS)
  2. École Polytechnique
  3. Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC)
  4. Paris-Sud University
  5. Paris Diderot University
  6. Ecole Normale Supérieure Lyon
  7. Joseph Fourier University
  8. Paris Descartes University
  9. Aux-Marseille University
  10. University of Bordeaux

If you would like some more help the application process, Study in France has a good explanation on the requirements and how to apply as an international student.

Moving to France, Paris

French Cities

Perhaps, you’re undecided where in France you would like to move to. Here you can find a brief description on what the major cities in France are like to live in:

Living in Paris

Living in the capital of France seems like the dream for many expats! And why not? With big tourist attractions like the louvre, the arc de triomphe and, of course, the Eiffel tower, it’s no surprise that Paris is a popular expat destination. As the hub of fashion, cuisine, art and architecture, Paris has a lot to offer in terms of culture.

For a better insight into what life would be like in Paris, the Blog Hip Paris has a lot of interesting articles.

Living in Lyon

Situated on the Rhône and the Saône Rivers and as the second richest city in France behind Paris, Lyon also has a lot to offer expats in terms of culture and location. It also has the second largest mass public transit system outside of Paris, which makes it easy to get from place to place. A benefit of living in Lyon compared to Paris is that Lyon is regarded as a much safer place to live and most expatriates are unlikely to have any major safety problems.

For more information on living in Lyon, take a look at InterNations Guide on Living in Lyon.

Living in Marseille

If you want to be close to the Mediterranean, then Marseille may be more for you. A very popular location for many expats, and for good reason. Marseille has an abundance of museums, bars, restaurants and shops and the Mediterranean coast on its doorstep. Living costs are quite reasonable here compared to Paris and if you’re looking for more of a blend of cultures then living in Marseille may be for you.

What Next?

We hope you found this page about moving to France interesting and informative. If you did, then you may find these pages also of interest to you: