Being fluent in French will make your life a hundred times easier, perhaps even a million times easier to be honest. Speaking the local language can avoid misunderstanding, miscommunication and basically getting the mundane administrative work done faster.
Making French friends takes a longer while than what you are used to. This correlates to understanding and speaking French but adding in cultural differences can make it both easier or harder. It really depends but generally speaking, it can also be more difficult to forge long friendships. Expatriates often come and go for professional or personal reasons
French people are often shy or do not want to converse in English so you really have to make an effort to communicate in French. This point may not necessary be a negative. French is the main language after all. Having said this, most French can understand basic English but may or may not reply in English
You will probably always feel foreign but that has it’s upsides too : ) Here’s a quote I wrote on my Instagram recently – “Too foreign for home, too foreign for here and never enough for both. The loneliness of the expatriate is of an odd and complicated kind, for it is inseparable from the feeling of being free and of having escaped”
Moving with a family, a friend or a partner makes the transition easier. You will need language translation, cultural explanation or even emotional support at some point
Be ready to make major lifestyle changes as you adapt to the French way of life – Restaurants strictly open at meal times, shops are closed on Sunday and public holidays as everyone is home spending time with family
Customer service can be a very flexible term in France. Depending on your expectations, I personally found that it is quite at its extremities. Either really impressive service or absolutely nasty.
The French bureaucracy can be a big headache and drive you nuts. You need is a whole lot of patience, piles of papers and constant push calls – the hard stuff. It took me months just to secure an appointment on the website to renew my visa and also my Singapore driving license conversion. In addition, I waited a year to get my health card “Carte Vitale”. Patience is definitely key!
Take-away food is not impossible but is definitely rare and hard to come by. Off my mind, it’s only pizza, salads, sandwiches and fast food chains that are easy to get them takeaway but you’ll have low chance to takeaway something like beef bourguignon, steak frites etc. Thankfully there’s food delivery companies for a variety of food options delivered to your doorstep but I have to admit I miss the convenience and takeaway food culture in Singapore’s foodcourts & hawker centres
Sports facilities and exercise studios. French people lead active lifestyle in the nature and outdoors but I notice that most do not like working out in a confined space. There are gyms, pilates and yoga studios around but I do not / rarely see spin classes, pole dancing or belly dancing studios
Better quality of life (of course this depends on your definition of quality) but generally speaking, the french have their priorities right when it comes to lifestyle choices. Work-life balance is truly a balance. French usually eat seasonal produce which are the best and freshest, businesses closes on Sundays which cultivates quality time to rest or do whatever you wish
Unspoilt natural environment, fewer people, more space, rare traffic jams and uncrowded roads. The true vast amount of land space and nature in France is really something to boot
Great environmental awareness and responsibility. Recycling, lower/zero waste is huge here. Recycling bins are everywhere and very well utilised – this includes recycling glass bottles, plastic, papers and clothing. From 2020, France will stop selling disposables such as plastic straws and cotton buds. Awesome
Fabulous and varied landscapes and climate. Its territories comprise of the metropolitan France that extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. Countries boarding France includes Andorra, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Monaco and Luxembourg
Paradise for children with lots of freedom. In my honest opinion, I see more children in France than in Singapore. I also notice that children are generally well behaved at the restaurants and they also get to really play and have fun. I think it’s back to my point on work-life balance but in this relation, play-life balance
Fantastic nature and outdoor activities (if that’s your thing). Living in the South has it’s pros. Close to the mediterranean sea means there are beaches in the proximity. Hiking, canoeing, kite surfing, cycling… it’s easily accessible
Stunning homes – Old stone houses, beautiful classic and timeless french architecture as well as affordable property prices. A petit village and leave you in awe. I’ve seen homes that look unimpressive at first glance but the interior is ohh-la-la!
The health service. It really is as impressive as everyone says. Top notch, really… since I’ve seen the dentist, several general practitioners, gynaecologist, midwives, pharmacist, laboratories for my recent pregnancy
Sense of tradition and identity and strong family values. I’ve never seen or know any french who is not close to their family. French people often value traditions and are close knitted despite not always living in the same city as their parents or siblings
High quality and delicious food and wine with abundant local, seasonal, organic fresh food and wonderful local markets. Meats, vegetables, cheese and wine are great here. Even if you stay in a quaint village far from the city, there’s surely a supermarket or farmer’s market in the vicinity. French enjoy their food and they need pride in knowing and eating the best produce for sure