Published on Expatfinder
We’ve had the chance to talk to Jason Barnard, 48, a British expat who has moved to France alone. Mr. Barnard, who has been living there for 26 years, now works as SEO consultant.
Read more about his experiences in the full interview below.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Leeds, UK
Q: What made you move out of your home country?
A: To see the world from a different angle
Q: Where are you living now?
Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?
A: I was travelling and just happened to get the opportunities here. Firstly a job teaching English, then playing the double bass, then getting married, then making cartoons and now public speaking in SEO…
Q: How long have you been living in France?
A: 26 years
Q: What has been the most difficult experience you’ve had when you were new in France?
A: Getting through the barrier of being alone and not speaking the language. I almost went back to the UK on several occasions in the first year. Glad I didn’t.
Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance were particularly difficult in France? What was your experience with these?
A: Initially, yes as movement within the Eurozone was not as easy as it is now
Q: Are you living alone or with your family?
A: I became an expat at 22 years old – before having a family
Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialize with other expats in France? How did you manage to find a social circle in France?
A: Once I picked up some of the languages, making friends was quite easy. After 26 years, I speak French almost like a native, and making friends is even easier! I have friends from all sorts of backgrounds / nationalities.
Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?
A: Go to local events, even if they are outside your comfort zone. Joining in the local life with an open-minded, friendly attitude is vital if you want to fit in.
Q: How does the cost of living in France compared to your home?
Q: How much is a cup of coffee?
A: 1.50 EUR
Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?
A: 12 EUR
Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?
A: 40 EUR
Q: How much is a bottle of wine?
Q: How about a pack of cigarettes?
A: 8 EUR
As I left 26 years ago, I don’t know what the equivalent prices are in the UK.
Q: What do you think about the locals?
A: The French are wonderfully friendly people. If you make an effort with the language, and have an open-minded, friendly attitude they will be welcoming.
Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in France?
A: Positive – the food, the weather, the friends.
Negative – the cost, the administration.
Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?
A: Not very often
Q: How do you cope with homesickness?
A: I don’t suffer from Homesickness
Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?
A: Maybe. I have moved around quite a lot over the years so there is no reason I wouldn’t, if the fancy takes me :-)
Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
A: Running out of money and having no job a few years ago. But even then, the desire to move back to the UK was not strong.
Q: What tips can you give other expats living in France?
A: Make an effort to learn French – it makes all the difference in relationships.