Can you live in France and work in the UK?
PUBLISHED: 10:52 14 November 2018
Thanks to advances in low-cost travel and with the many benefits of modern technology, it's easier than ever to live in France and commute to work in the UK, as one British family have found since moving to Limousin
“International commuters make up a significant proportion of our younger clients,” says Fiona Watts, managing director of International Private Finance. “Whereas in the past, a permanent move to France would require you to find a new source of income, the reality is that with the advances in technology and cheaper air travel, now you can continue in the same job and move your entire life across the Channel. And with French mortgage rates still at historic lows, a French home can even reduce your monthly outgoings, leaving more spare cash to enjoy the fine wine, cheese and other delights that are now right on your doorstep!”
Of course, there are a few practical considerations to think about, such as the tax implications and how you would manage if an airline stops operating a low-cost route to your nearest airport, but there are plenty of benefits too.
Solicitor Sam Boarer moved to Limousin in Nouvelle-Aquitaine with her husband Luke, their three boys Alex, James and George, and her parents, and has been commuting to work in Kent for almost three years. We asked how she manages to have a foot in both France and the UK.
Why did you move to France?
It was very much a family decision to make the move to France. We all felt we were in a rat race and we wanted to change our lifestyle, and it also meant that we could all be mortgage-free. In England I was working pretty much full-time and spending a fortune on childcare. Here I don’t have a mortgage, I work six or seven days a month and the quality of life I have is brilliant. The children were four, three and five weeks old when we moved, and I was on a year’s maternity leave from my job as a solicitor in Kent.
How easy is it to commute to work in the UK?
I have an arrangement where I go back to the UK on alternate weeks – I usually fly out on a Monday morning after taking the children to school and fly back on a Friday. I’m here by the time they get home from school so it’s only Tuesday to Thursday that I don’t see them. I fly from Limoges most of the time to Stansted and I sometimes use Brive, but it depends on the flight times and costs. Luke often works away too and he travels all over France but we’ve worked out a system where he works one week and I work the next, so we’re together at weekends and we don’t need childcare.
Is it worth it financially?
I crunched the numbers before we did this because I knew I had to be sensible about it, and it really is cheaper for me to live in France and commute to England than it is to live there and work 20 miles up the road. Being able to buy somewhere remotely near where I come from with enough land for the horses was out of the question in terms of the deposit needed and the mortgage repayments. I used to work in Portsmouth when I lived in Kent which meant a five-hour round trip, and I spent more money on petrol than I do on travelling to England now. Yes the flights can be more expensive in the summer but I’m lucky enough that I can do more work from home during this period, but most of the time I can get to work for £10 with Ryanair. Summer holidays are expensive but it’s a huge cost saving for me because if I take time off in the summer I’m not flying anywhere, and I’m at home in a holiday destination so I don’t need to pay to go anywhere.
How have other people reacted?
The reactions from other people have been quite mixed and it has surprised me how negative some have been. Some said they couldn’t believe I was leaving my children – I’m not leaving them, they’re with my husband and my parents. If I was a single parent and my children saw their father on alternate weekends, I’d actually see them less than I do now. I think people struggle with the concept because I’m a mother and I’m the one who works away – nobody bats an eyelid when Luke works away from home.
Did you make the right decision?
There are downsides and I do miss out sometimes but I always make sure I’m here for the big things like the first day of school, and I make a big effort to join in with the community when I am here. My arrangement has given me the opportunity to be in better contact and spend more time with my friends in the UK than when I lived there, which might sound ridiculous but I never had time before because I was juggling so much. I love my job and it might seem like a strange set up but it really works for us. Our lifestyle here is so much better and our quality of life is brilliant. I love the country and being outside and I wanted my children to have that experience too. It takes a lot of planning but it’s absolutely worth it.