France: Good Job Security, but Tough Language Barrier
- France comes 3rd out of 59 countries in the Health & Well-Being subcategory.
- 87% of expats rate the affordability of healthcare positively (vs. 61% globally).
- 52% find it difficult to live in France without local language skills (vs. 29% globally).
- Just 37% of expats find it easy to make local friends in France (vs. 44% globally).
- Close to seven in ten respondents (69%) rate their job security positively (vs. 61% globally).
High-Quality & Affordable Healthcare
Coming in 25th place out of 59 countries worldwide, France performs slightly better than average in the Expat Insider 2021 survey. In fact, 78% of expats in France are generally satisfied with their life abroad (vs. 75% globally). The top 3 reasons for expats to 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%).
The latter seems to be a good reason for relocating since France performs best in the Quality of Life Index (18th). The destination even comes 3rd out of 59 in the Health & Well-Being subcategory, just behind Taiwan (1st) and South Korea (2nd). The majority of expats rates the affordability of healthcare positively (87% vs. 61% globally) and is happy with the quality of medical care (87% vs. 71% globally). A US American expat especially likes “the high quality and abundance of food and healthcare”.
The country also receives good results in the Travel & Transportation subcategory (14th), with 90% of expats rating the travel opportunities positively (vs. 84% globally). Additionally, the majority is happy with the natural environment (89% vs. 84% globally) and the water and sanitation infrastructure (85% vs. 77% globally) — placing France 22nd in the Quality of the Environment subcategory.
Struggling with the Language Barrier
France ranks lowest in the Ease of Settling In (45th) and Cost of Living (36th) Indices. In fact, 38% of expats rate the local cost of living negatively (vs. 34% globally).
In terms of settling in, just 55% find it easy to settle down in France, compared to 62% globally. The fact that 47% consider the local language difficult to learn (vs. 42% globally) may be one hurdle. Despite that, 96% of expats in France speak the local language at least a little (vs. 87% globally). This might be out of necessity, as more than half the expats (52%) find it difficult to live in France without local language skills (vs. 29% globally).
“At the moment, the language is really a barrier, and it will take ages before I can develop a friendship with locals,” shares a Brazilian expat. Just 37% of expats find it easy to make local friends in France (vs. 44% globally). Interestingly, though, close to one in four expats (24%) describe their friends and acquaintances as mostly local residents (vs. 20% globally), and close to half (46%) have a fairly mixed group of friends that includes both locals and expats (vs. 48% globally).
The language is really a barrier.
Expats Enjoy the Work-Life Balance
France performs better than average in the Working Abroad Index (21st). While 36% of expats rate the local career opportunities negatively (vs. 33% globally), more than two-thirds (69%) are generally satisfied with their job (vs. 68% globally). Moreover, 69% rate their job security positively (vs. 61% globally). Most expats in France are satisfied with their working hours and their work-life balance (both 70% vs. 66% globally). A US American expat living in Strasbourg says: “I like the job that I do and the working life in France — the French really try to have a work-life balance.” And another US American expat living in Colmar shares: “People take the time to live life, and work in order to live.”
People take the time to live life, and work in order to live.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Expat Life
Almost half the expats (45%) intend to stay in France forever (vs. 34% globally), while 16% plan to stay for longer than five years (vs. 20% globally). Close to three-quarters of expats in France (73%) say that COVID-19 has not affected their plans for their current stay abroad — ten percentage points more than the global average (63%). Just 4% will move back home sooner than originally planned (vs. 5% globally), and 14% have decided not to move back home in the near future due to the pandemic (vs. 18% globally).
Exactly one out of three expats in France (33%) feels the biggest strain of the pandemic on their social life (vs. 24% globally). For the future, close to a quarter (23%) expect their personal travel to be especially affected by COVID-19 (vs. 25% globally). Among expats in France, the top 3 sources of information regarding COVID-19 and related regulations are official government channels (55% vs. 48% globally), local news (50% vs. 47% globally), and social media (38% vs. 40% globally). Almost three-quarters of expats (73%) are satisfied with the official communication regarding COVID-19 (vs. 66% globally), with 63% of them saying it is clear and easy to understand (vs. 60% globally).