Make your dream of retiring to France a reality. From navigating Brexit changes to embracing French culture, our guide has you covered. Learn more.

A Guide to Retiring to France from the UK: Tips and Insights

Dreaming of a serene retirement under the French sun, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and immersed in a rich cultural tapestry?
You aren’t alone. France has long been a coveted destination for British retirees seeking a change of scenery and a lifestyle transformation. With its mild climate, world-renowned cuisine, and excellent healthcare system, France offers a quality of life that's hard to beat.
Moreover, the French lifestyle, characterised by its slower pace and emphasis on enjoying life's pleasures, aligns perfectly with the ideals of a fulfilling retirement.
Making the move from the UK to France in retirement involves navigating a series of practical considerations, from understanding the French healthcare system to managing financial affairs like UK pensions and tax factors.
This blog aims to provide comprehensive guidance and valuable insights for UK retirees contemplating this life-changing move. We'll cover everything from the allure of French living to the nitty-gritty of residency permits, healthcare coverage, and managing your finances abroad.
Embarking on your retirement journey to France is about more than just packing your belongings; it's about preparing for a new chapter in life with excitement and confidence. So, let's delve into what makes France the ideal retirement destination and how you can make this dream a reality.
A Step-by-Step Manual to Retiring to France from the UK

Planning Your Retirement in France

Retiring to France from the UK is a dream for many, but turning this dream into reality requires meticulous planning and consideration of several key factors. The allure of French culture, cuisine, and countryside is undeniable, yet the practical aspects of making such a significant move—legalities, finances, and healthcare—cannot be overlooked.

Legal Considerations and Visa Requirements

Understanding the visa requirements and residency options is crucial.
Post-Brexit, British retirees looking to make France their new home need to follow the latest rules set by French authorities. Securing a long-term or retirement visa as part of the French Residency process is the first step towards your new life in France. It's imperative to familiarise yourself with these requirements well in advance, as obtaining the necessary documentation can be time-consuming.

Paris city

Financial Planning

Financial planning is another essential component for a successful retirement in France. This involves not just managing your UK pension but also understanding the tax implications of your move. France and the UK have distinct tax systems, and your income, including government pension, rental income, or any investment returns, may be taxed differently.
Opening a French bank account, understanding France's healthcare system, and considering private healthcare coverage are necessary. It's advisable to consult with financial advisors who specialise in expatriate finances to ensure your financial health remains robust in this new chapter.


For UK nationals, managing pensions is a significant concern. It’s probably reassuring to know that a UK state pension can still be received while living in France; however, it is still advisable to carefully consider any decision to transfer other pension funds, keeping in mind the potential tax implications and currency exchange rates.
Investing in property in France is another option many retirees consider, which requires understanding the local property market and legal processes.


The French healthcare system is renowned for its high standards of care, but accessing it requires preparation. UK nationals who wish to retire to France must navigate between enrolling in the French healthcare system or securing private healthcare coverage. The Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) may offer some coverage, but it's crucial to have comprehensive healthcare plans in place.

Mont Saint-Michel

Choosing a Reliable Removal Company

Finally, a seamless move requires the services of a reputable removal company. Gentlevan Removals offers valuable insights and services to ensure your move is as stress-free as possible.
With experience in assisting British expats relocate to France, Gentlevan Removals understands the intricacies involved in such a move, from packing your belongings securely to navigating customs requirements. For more information on making your move after Brexit, visit our detailed guide here.

Choosing the Right Location

Selecting the perfect location is one of the most exciting parts of planning your retirement in France. The country offers diverse landscapes, climates, and lifestyles, ensuring an ideal spot for every retiree's taste and budget.
Regions such as Provence, Dordogne, and Brittany have long been favourites among retirees for their stunning beauty, agreeable climates, and welcoming communities.
  • Provence is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, lavender fields, and sunny climate. It's a haven for those who love the outdoors and enjoy a vibrant cultural scene.
  • Dordogne appeals to those looking for a slower pace of life in the countryside, with its medieval towns, rivers, and affordable property prices.
  • Brittany offers a milder climate with its rugged coastline and Celtic influences. It's ideal for those who love the sea and seek a strong sense of community.

Factors to Consider

When choosing your retirement location, several factors should be at the forefront of your decision-making process:
  • Climate: France offers a range of climates from the Mediterranean warmth of the south to the temperate regions in the north. Consider what type of weather you prefer and how it might affect your health and lifestyle.
  • Cost of Living: Some regions of France are more affordable than others. Areas popular with tourists and expats, like the French Riviera, tend to be more expensive. Consider your budget and what you can afford in terms of housing, daily expenses, and leisure activities.
  • Healthcare Facilities: Accessibility to quality healthcare is crucial, especially in retirement. Ensure the area you choose has adequate healthcare services, including hospitals and English-speaking doctors.
  • Proximity to Amenities: Consider how close you want to be to shops, restaurants, cultural venues, and transportation links. While some may prefer the quiet of rural life, others might value easy access to amenities and community activities.

Arc de Triomphe

Tips for Visiting Potential Locations

Before making any decisions, visiting and exploring potential retirement locations is essential. Spend time in each area to get a feel for the community, the lifestyle, and whether it meets your expectations.
Talk to local expats and visit at different times of the year to understand seasonal changes. Renting the area before buying property can also provide a deeper insight into living there full-time.
Choosing the right location for your retirement in France is about finding a balance between your desires, needs, and budget. With careful consideration and thorough exploration, you can find a place that meets and exceeds your expectations for a fulfilling retirement.
For more guidance on choosing the best place to live in France, including insights on different French regions and what they offer to retirees, visit our blog post here.

Navigating Legal and Administrative Procedures

For retirees dreaming of a French idyll, understanding and dealing with the new Brexit requirements and France's legal and administrative landscape is crucial. The transition from the UK to France involves a series of steps and documentation to ensure a smooth and lawful resettlement.
Here's what you need to know about obtaining residency, registering for healthcare, and handling other essential administrative tasks as a UK citizen in France.

Arc de Triomphe Street view Paris

Obtaining Residency in France Post-Brexit

Since Brexit, the process for UK citizens to obtain residency in France has changed significantly. Retirees from the UK must now apply for a Long-Term Visa, known as a "Visa de Long Séjour," before moving, which serves as a precursor to obtaining a residency permit or "Titre de Séjour." This process involves applying to the French Consulate in the UK, including proof of financial means, health insurance, and a valid passport.
Once in France, you must visit your local prefecture to convert your visa into a residency permit, providing further documentation, including proof of address and income.
The list of required documents can be extensive and varies depending on individual circumstances. Generally, you'll need:
  • A valid passport
  • Birth and marriage certificates (translated into French)
  • Proof of income (to meet the minimum income requirements and demonstrate financial stability)
  • Proof of health coverage (either private coverage or eligibility for the French government healthcare system)
  • Proof of accommodation in France (rental contract, property deed, or letter from a host)

For healthcare registration, once you have your residency permit, you can register with the French healthcare system, which involves obtaining a social security number and a health insurance card known as "Carte Vitale." This enables access to subsidised healthcare and prescriptions.

Resources and Assistance

Navigating these procedures can be daunting, but several resources are available to assist retirees from the UK.
  • The French Consulate or Embassy in the UK can guide visa and residency applications.
  • Local prefectures in France offer assistance with residency permits and integration into the French system.
  • Legal advisors and expatriate service organisations specialise in helping UK nationals adjust to life in France, offering advice on everything from legal paperwork to healthcare registration.

Lyon city Saone River

Healthcare and Insurance

The UK and France offer high healthcare standards, but vital distinctions exist in how services are accessed and funded. The UK's National Health Service (NHS) provides residents free healthcare at the point of delivery, funded through taxation.
In contrast, the French healthcare system operates on a state-funded insurance model. It offers public and private healthcare services, with costs typically shared between the state and the patient. The system is renowned for its high quality, accessibility, and efficiency. Still, individuals must contribute to healthcare costs through social security contributions and supplementary health insurance.

Accessing Healthcare in France

UK nationals can access healthcare in France by registering with the French healthcare system or using private care. Here are the key pathways:
  • Registering with the French Healthcare System: Upon obtaining residency, UK nationals can register with the French social security system to access healthcare. This process involves applying for a social security number and subsequently receiving a health insurance card ("Carte Vitale") that covers a portion of health costs.
  • Using Private Healthcare: Alternatively, retirees may opt for private health coverage to cover healthcare expenses in France. This option can offer quicker access to certain services and additional coverage not included in the state system.
  • The S1 Form System: UK state pensioners have a unique option through the S1 form, a mechanism that continues under the new Brexit agreements. This form entitles them to access healthcare in France on the same basis as a French resident, with the UK covering their healthcare costs. S1 applications are made to Overseas Healthcare Services. The Department of Health and Social Care advises that if needing treatment while waiting to be registered, S1 holders should use a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) service.

Retirees coming from the UK must understand the coverage and costs associated with healthcare in France. While the French system provides comprehensive care, there are often out-of-pocket expenses for consultations, treatments, and medications.
Supplementary health insurance ("mutuelle") can help cover these additional costs, ensuring retirees are fully protected.
Arranging your healthcare and insurance in France requires thorough preparation and understanding. UK retirees should consider their health needs, explore their options for coverage, and ensure they have the necessary arrangements before moving. This proactive approach will help provide peace of mind and access to France's high-quality healthcare services.

Sunset view la defense Paris

Financial Considerations

Understanding the financial landscape is an important aspect of retiring to France from the UK, involving pensions, taxes, currency exchange and Brexit implications. Here's a brief overview:
  • Pensions: UK retirees can receive their UK state pension in France, but it's essential to understand the tax requirements and the currency exchange rates. Brexit has made it necessary to review the arrangement for annual pension increases and access to healthcare through the S1 form.

  • Taxes: Moving to France likely means becoming a tax resident there, subjecting your worldwide income to French tax laws. France and the UK's double taxation treaty helps prevent paying tax on the same income in both countries, but France's tax system—covering income, wealth, and inheritance taxes—differs significantly from the UK's.
  • Currency Exchange: The value of your UK pension and savings can be affected by GBP/EUR exchange rate fluctuations. Managing this currency risk is vital to maintain your financial stability in France.
  • Brexit has introduced additional considerations for financial planning, particularly regarding the transfer of pensions and accessing financial services across borders. There may be changes in how UK financial institutions can operate within the EU, affecting how UK retirees can access their funds from France.

Financial Management Advice

Retiring to France from the UK offers a fantastic opportunity for a fulfilling and enjoyable retirement, but it does require careful financial planning.
  • Seek Professional Advice: Given the complexities of tax and pension regulations, seeking advice from financial advisors who specialise in expatriate finances is wise. They can provide guidance tailored to your circumstances, including tax planning, pension management, and mitigating currency risk.
  • Budgeting and Planning: Establish a realistic budget for your lifestyle in France, including the cost of living, healthcare, and unexpected expenses. Consider the long-term financial implications of your move, including the potential for currency fluctuation and inflation.
  • Currency Exchange: Use reputable currency exchange services to manage transfers between the UK and France. Some services offer tools to lock in exchange rates or alert you to favourable changes.

Lifestyle and Integration

Retiring in France offers a rich cultural tapestry and the chance to immerse yourself in the famed French art de vivre. Here's a brief guide to help you adapt and integrate:
  • Cultural Adaptation: Embrace the local customs, from leisurely meals to participating in community events. Appreciating the French emphasis on quality of life can make your transition smoother.
  • Language and Integration: Learning French is a must for integration. It opens up social interactions and shows your commitment to your new home. Use language courses, apps, or local meetups to improve your skills.
  • Social Activities: France's diverse social scene offers numerous opportunities for hobbies and recreation. Join clubs, attend local events, or explore the country's scenic beauty to connect with your community and enrich your retirement.
  • Community Engagement: Engaging with your local community through volunteering or participating in markets and events can enhance your social life and deepen your cultural understanding.

Adapting to life in France involves embracing its language, traditions, and lifestyle. You can enjoy a fulfilling retirement rich in new experiences and friendships with openness and effort.

Wrap Up

Retiring to France from the UK involves meticulous planning, from understanding post-Brexit residency requirements to integrating into a new culture. Key considerations include navigating the legal and administrative landscape, managing finances such as pensions, taxes, and currency exchange, and choosing a location that suits your lifestyle and budget.
To truly enjoy your retirement in France, it is essential to immerse yourself in the local culture and participate in daily life. Thorough research and expert guidance are necessary for people who are ready to take this significant step.
If you need help relocating to France, Gentlevan Removals is at the ready to lend a hand. Start your adventure by getting a quote online. With the help of experienced professionals who know all the ins and outs of moving to France, you can confidently go forward.