• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
More and more French are moving abroad, but where to?
Photo: Joe Lodge/Flickr

More and more French are moving abroad, but where to?

The Local · 16 Mar 2016, 13:54

Published: 16 Mar 2016 13:54 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Mar 2016 13:54 GMT+01:00

The number of French expats rose by 2 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year, making a total increase of 4.14 percent in two years.

There total number of French nationals registered abroad has reached 1.7 million, according to France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

However, while the figures reflect the growing tendency to move abroad, they don't tell the full story. For a start, the 1.7 million is lower than the real number of French abroad, estimated to be around 2.5 million, as it only includes those registered with foreign consulates.

This means that it is more likely to include expats who are staying abroad permanently or long-term, rather than a study abroad year for example.

The figures show a strong preference for francophone countries, with Switzerland remaining the country with the most French expats: 175,700 in 2015, a year-on-year increase of 5 percent. 

There was also a rise of 6 percent in the number of French people moving to Canada, with total number of expats now reaching 92,116 and a smaller rise in those living in Morocco where 51,000 French nationals now call home.

As for Canada's neighbours the United States, the country of Donald Trump and co continues to prove attractive to French nationals looking to move abroad.

There are now 142 000 French living in the United States, officially anyway. As for the UK, well Paris on Thames is also still proving attractive with 128, 000 living in the UK. That's slightly more than the 114,000 French nationals in Germany and 121, 000 French living just over the border in Belgium. 

All the countries above saw a rise up to 5 percent in the number of French expats living there.

(Map courtesy of Le Figaro)

However, France’s Mediterranean neighbours Spain and Italy were proving less popular, with both countries seeing a decline (of 5 and 3 percent respectively) in the number of French expats in 2015.

Destinations further afield are quickly gaining in popularity, with the French-speaking Republic of the Congo, Mali and Algeria all reporting dramatic increases in French expats of 19 percent, 14 percent and 12 percent respectively - though the total number of registered expats is still under 1,000 in each of these countries.

Marie-Pierre Parlange from the newspaper Petit Journal, which writes for French nationals abroad told The Local that language didn't act as a barrier to those who start a new life abroad, pointing out that half of all the French living abroad are in Europe, where, other than some parts of Switzerland and Belgium, it's necessary to speak either English or the local language.

"The French who choose to try their luck abroad have higher language skills than the average - most have a degree, and many of them learn the local language very quickly even if they don't know it when they leave," she said.

While high taxes and high unemployment are often the reasons cited for why so many French are heading to the exits, the reality is that most simply want an adventure or want to expand their horizons, whether personally or professionally.

Story continues below…

While young Brits have been moving abroad for years the younger French generation only recently cottoned on to the idea.

“The world is smaller now with cheaper plane tickets and communications, and more students spend time abroad for Erasmus, so people are more likely to think about trying their luck in another country,” said Parlange.

However there are some French exileswho leave in acrimonious circumstances like the entrepreneur who posted a parting rant at France on her Facebook page titled: "Adieu France". It's worth a read.

Last year a study from Petit Journal found that that two thirds of French expats don't plan on returning home within the next five years, often citing a more attractive professional life abroad or dissatisfaction with France's political system.

But in case you're tempted to join them, here are twelve great reasons not to leave the country.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
 France makes it easier for pupils to get morning after pill
Photo: AFP

France has scrapped a clause in the rule book that meant only pupils "in distress" could get the pill.

IN PICTURES
Warnings for downpours and floods spread across France
Paris hasn't been spared in the storms. Photo: AFP

France has been hit by violent storms all day - and there are more to come.

French tax cops barred from using Google to probe Google
Photo: AFP

Investigators were not able to use Google to help them probe Google.

A complete guide to France's (many) ongoing strikes
All photos: AFP

It seems like all of France is on strike - here's how you can be prepared.

Air France pilots vote in favour of 'long strike'
Air France pilots at a strike in 2014. Photo: AFP

Just when you thought there couldn't possibly be another strike in France...

Verdun anniversary
Children jog among graves at Verdun: Was it 'indecent'?
Photo: AFP

The images of thousands of French and German children running through the grave stones to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the WW1 battle of Verdun has been slammed as “indecent”. Was it really?

Tourists turned off by all the French strikes and protests
France should be bustling with tourists at this time of year. Photo: AFP

The ongoing strikes and protests in France and putting tourists off coming.

PSG player Aurier held for hitting French policeman
Photo: AFP

French police detained Paris Saint-Germain star Serge Aurier on Monday after he hit an officer outside a nightclub, police sources said.

Storms in France: How to avoid being struck by lightning
Photo: marcgg/Flickr

Crucial reading for those in France at the moment.

'There will be petrol': France says shortages will ease off
Photo: AFP

Even though this week is set to be hit by further transport strikes the French government has defiantly declared “there will be petrol” as the fuel crisis eases.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
National
How you'll be affected by France's ongoing strikes
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
What to expect when working in a bar in Paris
National
Violent storms in France: How to avoid being struck by lightning
National
Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
'You're not welcome': French police chief warns English yobs
How to avoid running out of fuel if you're coming to France
National
The French fuel crisis for dummies: 27 key questions
National
The trials and tribulations of moving to rural France
National
Five free smartphone apps to help you find petrol in France
Culture
Paris: Street artist makes the Louvre pyramid disappear
Interactive map: Where to find petrol in France
Who is the French union in a 'fight to the death' with the government?
Society
Opinion: Why the French are absolutely right to go on strike
National
Here's why both sides despise France's labour reforms
National
Who is really to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
National
Here are the parts of France hardest hit by the fuel shortages
Travel
It will soon be time to say 'au revoir' to the Paris Metro ticket
Culture
Revealed: The ultimate sex map of France
National
Migrants at Calais camp given dignity in death
International
How good is security at Charles de Gaulle airport?
Culture
How to make a traditional French cassoulet
Culture
IN PICS: Commuter trains in Paris get royal makeover
International
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
2,736
jobs available