The notion that many of us dream of retirement in the sun may have become a cliché but that’s the thing about clichés: they’re usually true. Ex patriot Brits have been moving abroad in later life for decades and in such numbers that they have helped to create their own communities in foreign lands. Semi-retirement is equally attractive because it allows you to keep one foot in two countries while scaling down your working life. Spain is the destination most of us think of in this context, but our nearer neighbour France is an extremely popular holiday destination which also offers an excellent environment for semi-retirement.
The changes that have been made inevitable by Brexit have made this two-centre lifestyle more problematic but not impossible. You have to be aware of the restrictions that now exist not on your movements but on the length of uninterrupted time you can stay in your adopted country.
This is now limited to 3 months at a time and when this period ends you are obliged to return to the UK and stay there for another 3 months before you will be eligible to cross the Channel again. It allows you to live for half of every year in France. For the purposes of semi-retirement, this shouldn’t be too onerous, although you’ll have to plan your calendar carefully and won’t be able to make spur of the moment changes.
Bear in mind too that these 3-month limits apply to the Schengen area as a whole. If you travel to Germany from France during a 3-month stay, the time you spend in Germany counts as part of the period, so your time in France will be reduced accordingly.
Make sure you apply for a visa that is appropriate to your plans. If you are setting up a business, you will need to consult the French government’s visa website to find out exactly how to comply with the requirements, which may be subject to periodic change.
For non-commercial purposes, the 3-month (90 day) period is covered by a short stay visa but in order to live in France for up to a year, you will need a long-stay visa. Your application for this must be supported by evidence that you have adequate financial resources and medical insurance. If you are a retired couple you’ll need to satisfy the authorities that you have at least ?1200 per month.
There are facilities open to individuals to gain permanent residence rights, short of nationality, but these require extensive wealth or investment in property. However, you don’t need riches to enjoy semi-retirement in France because there is always the budget-friendly option of making a mobile home or caravan your part-time abode. This makes sense in many practical ways. For one thing, the initial investment in a mobile home or caravan, whether you let or purchase, is a fraction of the cost of bricks and mortar. Maintenance is also simpler and cheaper than for fixed buildings, which often require permanent local management.
Why not turn the limitations of Brexit into an advantage and transform your work-life balance into an ideal combination of work and play, at home and away?
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