The actual move: Moving to France

There is no doubt that moving in any circumstance can be a very stressful and worrying experience. Moving abroad of course tends to be even more so as not only does it involve the physical move but also a transition to a whole new world – culture, language and legal requirements. Below are a few thoughts before booking a removal firm, based firmly on my own ‘moving experiences’

Most importantly, do not underestimate the time and preparation necessary for a move. It is essential to have some idea of where you are going to be living in order to know what to keep and what to sell/bin. When I moved, I paid a silly amount of money to have all my goods and chattels transported from the north of England to the south of France, along with a fat and obligatory insurance policy for their safe arrival.

In fact, when they arrived, I found that many of them were quite useless (carpets in an ‘all tiled’ villa!?) or did not fit in with my new home or life style. (parasol patio heater in south of France!)

Do also beware of ‘ticklist estimates’ for your removal costs. I had £800 added on to my original estimate after the deed was done. I had ticked all the items on the list conscientiously but obviously not all settees, bookcases, beds, tables and dressers are the same size! I therefore wound up with nearly double the cubic metres I had originally been quoted and allocated. You can avoid this by asking for an assessor to come round to your property and give you a quote; in this way it is his/her responsibility if the estimate is wrong.

So……..a few things to think about BEFORE you move to save you paying the transport and insurance costs of bringing over items, just to store them in the garage and throw away 5 years later.


Bear in mind that insurance policies for transportation will only cover replacement value, not sentimental value, therefore anything that you really could not bear to lose is worth leaving with family or friends until you are established, and maybe able to transport it yourselves.


As already mentioned, do you really need them? If you are moving to a hot climate like the Pyrénées-Orientales, tiles (le carelage) is so much cooler and of course much more hygienic and easy to clean. We tend to spend much more time outside and the continuous coming and going for barbecues, pool etc is hard on carpets.


I have no technical or electrical knowledge. This article is written purely based on my own experience, and in some cases the experiences of others. Modern tellies should work in France, but if you have an older television, it is definitely worth checking  before you leave.   Your local electrical goods shop should be able to help you out there, or check with our Facebook group where you’ll find loads of useful information from a whole range of generous and well informed members.

TV webtv4me
Your TV licence application, or ‘contribution à l’audivisuel public’ will be automatically included with your first Taxe d’habitation bill.  In 2021 this is 138 euros. You can opt out of this if you have no TV by ticking the box on the first page of your annual tax declaration.

Gas bottles, petrol mowers etc

Removal firms will not transport items that could be potentially dangerous. If you have a gas BBQ or calor appliances you cannot bring the bottle with you – but don’t despair; You can buy calor gas and its equivalents all over France in supermarkets, service stations and DIY shops. Make sure you take the adaptor off the bottle that you leave behind though! Thoroughly empty any fuel appliances like lawn mowers – even then some removal firms will not transport them if they smell of petrol.

Electrical appliances

Most small electrical appliances that you use in the UK can also be used in France. You will simply need to change the plugs when you arrive (or get somebody to do it for you – a good way of meeting your neighbours) Don’t forget to take plenty of adaptors to make the initial arrival smoother – you need to at least be able to plug the kettle in!

French kitchens

A changing trend but in this area, kitchens in older houses tend to be smaller than elsewhere and often more basic as we spend so much time outdoors and priorities are different (Excuse me for generalising – there are some really lovely, spacious kitchens around here too)

If you think your appliances might not fit, sell them and buy new or second hand when you arrive. Think of the cost of transportation versus the price (and pleasure!) of refitting your kitchen. My move cost me nearly £4000 to transport (amongst other things) a nine year old dish-washer and a seven year old washing machine. It was only as I was signing the cheque that I realised that for half the price, I could have re-equipped my whole house! It’s worth thinking about anyway!


Beware! In France, windows open INWARDS so it can make life very awkward for opening and closing if you have pelmets and heavy curtains.

Now try opening your windows! Very pretty.

Do you have any tips to make the move smoother? Contact me on


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