Expats in France: what do they like most and least?

PUBLISHED: 15:16 20 May 2021 | UPDATED: 15:16 20 May 2021

Expats in France appreciate taking time to enjoy the simple pleasures of daily life

Expats in France appreciate taking time to enjoy the simple pleasures of daily life

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Quality of life and work-life balance score highly for expats in France but they’re not so keen on the language barrier, says a new global survey

Dreaming of a new life in France? Then you might want to see where it sits in a survey of the best and worst countries for expats.

The Expat Insider 2021 report from InterNations, the world’s largest expat community with around four million members, analysed 59 destinations around the world, ranking them as the best and worst countries for expats in terms of quality of life, cost of living, personal finance, working abroad, and ease of settling in.

In the number one spot is Taiwan, followed by Mexico and Costa Rica. You have to scroll down a bit before you come to France, in 25th place. So what does our Gallic neighbour score highly in, and which areas let it down?

Healthy outlook

Some 78% of expats in France are generally satisfied with their life abroad (versus 77% globally). The top three reasons they move to France are to live in their partner’s home country or for love (15%), to go to school or university there (10%), and to enjoy a better quality of life (10%).

Furthermore, France comes third out of 59 in the health and wellbeing subcategory, with most expats rating the affordability of healthcare positively (87% versus 61% globally) and being happy with the quality of medical care.

The country also scores highly in the travel and transportation subcategory (14th), with 90% of expats rating the travel opportunities positively. Additionally, most are happy with the natural environment (89%) and the water and sanitation infrastructure (85%).

While the country also lands an above-average place in the personal finance index, but a mediocre result in the cost of living index.

Language barrier

On the downside, 38% of expats rate the cost of living in France negatively, but it’s learning the language (47%) and settling in (55%) that they really struggle with. Despite that, 96% of expats speak at least a little French. This comes from necessity, of course, as more than half the respondents (52%) said they’d find it difficult to live in France without local language skills (versus 29% globally).

Just 37% of expats find it easy to make local friends in France (versus 44% globally). Interestingly, close to one in four expats in France (24%) still describe their friends and acquaintances as mostly local residents and almost half (46%) have a fairly a mixed group of friends that includes both locals and expats.

Work-life balance

France performs better than average in the working abroad index. While 36% of expats rate the local career opportunities negatively, more than two-thirds (69%) are generally satisfied with their job. Moreover, 69% rate their job security positively and 70% are satisfied with their working hours and their work-life balance (versus 66% globally). An American expat living in Colmar says: “People take the time to live life, and work in order to live.”

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