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Retiring in France: key questions answered

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

Find out how to retire in France, including tips on visa and pension regulations, the French healthcare system, and the regions that are the most popular among retirees.

France has plenty to offer retirees regardless of the sort of lifestyle they want for their golden years. From vibrant towns and picture-perfect villages to the glitz of the Mediterranean coast, this region has it all. It is an excellent location to enjoy a high quality of life because of the high standard of healthcare provided by the state and the relatively low cost of living.

You need to be knowledgeable about pensions, taxes, and wills if you wish to spend your retirement years in France.

Taking your retirement in France

The climate, cuisine, and way of life in France all draw retirees from all over the world, making France one of the most popular destinations to retire in all of Europe. The country is especially well-liked by people of English, American, and German descent who are interested in relocating to another country.

In the OECD Better Life Index for 2020, France received ratings that were above the norm in areas such as safety, housing, and health, but ratings that were below the average for environmental quality, employment, and incomes.

France, despite its sustained appeal as a retirement destination, received only mixed scores in the 2021 Natixis Global Retirement Index. France ranked 25th out of 44 nations for the second year in a row, maintaining its position from the previous year. The quality of healthcare in France was ranked an impressive fourth, while the country's overall financial situation was ranked dismal forty-first.

Who can retire in France?

There is no need for a visa for those who are citizens of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland. However, non-EU nationals need to apply for a French visa to visit the country. You can verify, in a matter of moments, using the visa online site of the French government, whether or not you will need a visa to visit France.

If you are moving to France from a country that is not part of the EU, EEA, or Schengen area, you will need to apply for a long-stay visa (visa de long séjour), and you will also need to apply for a residency permit within two to three months of your arrival. Both of these processes must be completed before you can begin your new life in France (depending on the type of visa issued). You will be able to stay in the nation legally for up to a year if you do this. Retirees can apply for a tourist visa (VLTS-TS Visiteur visa). To be eligible for a guest visa, you will need to demonstrate that you have a stable source of income that will allow you to live comfortably in France (such as income from a pension, savings, or investments), as well as proof that you have private medical insurance. In addition to this, you need to file a statement that states you won't be working for a salary while in France.

Evidence that you have a stable source of income or finances that are at least comparable to the minimum salary in France is required by the France visa service (salary minimum interprofessionnel de croissance – SMIC). Before taking into account deductions for things like taxes and social payments, the SMIC will be 19,237 euros per year in 2022. Following the application of all applicable deductions, this results in a monthly net income of 1,266 euros (or about 15,200 euros annually).

After one year, you will be eligible to apply for a visitor's residence permit instead of your VTLS visa. You are eligible to apply for permanent residence after five years.

Retirement age in France

The minimum age required to qualify for retirement in France is 62. (60 if you were born before 1 July 1951). When you reach the French state pension age of 67 or 65, depending on the statistics shown above, you will be eligible to receive the entire amount of your pension. This age was set five years later.

Pensions in the French Republic

When you retire in France, you'll need to familiarise yourself with the country's complex pension system, which is comprised of three distinct components: the state pension, mandatory supplemental pensions, and optional private pensions. Before becoming eligible for the full state pension in France, retirees must have worked in the country for a minimum of 42 years. If you were born before the year 1952, this number drops to 40 years. To be eligible for a pro-rata pension, you will need to have made contributions for a minimum of ten years.

Supplemental pensions are those that are paid into by both the employee and the employer. These pensions are administered by industry groups. Again, these benefits are typically payable at the age of 65 or 67 in France, which is the French pension age (depending on your year of birth). The sum that you will get is often calculated based on an average of all of the salaries that you have earned throughout your working career.

In addition, private pensions are accessible to residents of France. The term "pension" may refer to a variety of different kinds of programs, such as individual pensions provided by insurance firms, corporate savings plans that are maintained by businesses and last for a certain time, and company pensions provided by corporations to their employees.

Transferring an international pension to France

You may be able to transfer your pension to France if the country in which you now reside has a bilateral agreement in place with France, such as the EU-wide agreement for residents of other EU countries. Through a program known as QROPS, people of the United States can transfer their pension, and there is also an arrangement in place for inhabitants of the United Kingdom. Citizens of countries outside the EU are advised to verify the regulations with the French consulate in their own country.

Taxes on retirement in France

When you become a tax resident of France, you are required to pay taxes on all of your income, regardless of where it comes from. You are required to provide the French government with information on your bank accounts. If you fail to do so, you may incur a fee.

Even if you do not have any taxable income, you are still required to complete and submit an annual tax declaration. Several of France's neighbors in Europe as well as other nations all over the globe have signed agreements with France. As a result of these accords, many persons who retire to France will not be subject to double taxation.

Property holdings worth more than €1.3 million are subject to a wealth tax in France. However, it is important to bear in mind that there are certain exceptions to this rule. For the wealth tax, for instance, if you have just moved back to France after living abroad for five years, the only assets that count are those located inside the nation. Similarly, if you are a tax resident of another country.

Best places for expats to retire in France

Prices of homes in France might change drastically based on the region in which you choose to make your purchase.

The epidemic caused by COVID-19 has had a profound influence on the market for real estate. According to research carried out by Meilleurs Agents, one of the top real estate firms in France, property prices in rural regions increased by 6.4% in the year leading up to September 2021. When compared, price increases were 4.1% throughout the country's 10 most populous cities. This was caused in part by people living in cities searching for larger homes on the outskirts of the city or in rural areas. The cost of living decreased by 1.5% in Paris.

Where in France would be the greatest spot for you to retire, given the sort of life you want to have in your golden years? Every imaginable kind of retiree may find a suitable lifestyle option inside this nation. According to a survey that was released in October 2020 by the French daily newspaper Le Figaro, the following fifty cities in France are the best options for retirees in terms of housing, services, climate, and social life.

The top five towns were Andernos-les-Bains, Arcachon, Vannes (Brittany), Narbonne (Occitaine), and Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez (Vendée). Both Andernos-les-Bains and Arcachon are located south of Birdeaux. It was reported that Andernos-les-Bains is popular with "young, athletic retirees" who are searching for a more active retirement lifestyle.

Well-known cities and regions in France, such as Paris, Brittany, Aix-en-Provence, Bordeaux, and the Dordogne, are all contenders for the title of the finest place to live in France.

French expats of a certain age have access to several services, organizations, and groups.

When you retire in France, becoming active in the local community by joining a club or an expat organization may be an excellent way to integrate into everyday life in the country.

There is a plethora of organizations that cater to English speakers from which to choose. You may use this list of expat groups and clubs in France as a starting point for your investigation. It provides contact information for a variety of organizations that are organized according to nationality and similar interests. You may also investigate community groups in your area by using Facebook or Meetup.

Wills and inheritance in France

The rules of inheritance in France are determined by the individual's place of residence. If you pass away in France, French law will govern your estate by default, although you may have been a citizen of another country. However, there is a technique to get past this obstacle. You have the option of stating in your will that you would want the laws of your native country to be followed. Keeping this in mind, you must make sure your preferences are expressed in a will that is written in French.

In France, inheritance is determined via a system known as compelled heirship. In most families, children are given priority status as heirs. This indicates that they are entitled to a certain share of their parent's wealth automatically. If there is just one kid, that child will get 50% of the estate; if there are two children, they will share 66.6% of the estate; and if there are three or more children, they will share 75% of the estate.

While spouses are not required to pay the French inheritance tax, all other relatives are subject to a graduated tax payment schedule. For instance, a kid or grandchild owes no tax on the first €100,000 of their inheritance and then pays between 5% and 45% tax on the balance. Other relatives get much lower allowances and are subject to a greater percentage of inheritance tax payment.

Healthcare for retired expats in France

The mandated payments that employees make into a health insurance system allow France to maintain its high standard of medical treatment across the country. Co-payments are required under the French national healthcare system, however, patients do get reimbursement for the vast majority of their out-of-pocket expenses.

Get the best expat health insurance quotes

For instance, if you go to the doctor, you will often have roughly 70% of your expenditures refunded, but if you go to the hospital, you would typically have 80% of your costs covered. Additionally, coverage under a private health insurance plan may be obtained on an opt-in basis. "Topping up" their coverage with a private plan is something that many people who live in France and work there do.

In addition, private health insurance may provide coverage for specialized medical care as well as alternative or complementary treatments, which are often not included in publicly funded medical care.

The following are examples of private health insurers in France that provide additional coverage:

● Allianz Care

● Cigna Global

To get access to state healthcare services, retirees from the European Union, the European Economic Area, the United Kingdom, or Switzerland must first fill out an S1 social security form in their home country. If you are not a citizen of a country in the EU, you will very certainly be required to get private health insurance.

You will be required to hold a valid medical insurance policy to be considered for long-term residence in France. After you have been granted formal residency in France, you will be eligible to participate in the French national healthcare system.

Useful resources

● The French government – for a helpful tool to check visas

● France-Visas – official news about immigration issues

● OECD Better Life Index – for France's main statistics


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