6 reasons to retire to France

The Local France
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6 reasons to retire to France
A pensioner takes part in the typically French activity of protesting. Photo by Jacques DEMARTHON / AFP

From paperwork and healthcare, to living costs and quality of life, there are plenty of good reasons to retire to France.


We're not suggesting that anyone do this on a whim - moving to another country is a big step and one that requires some advance planning. But if you're considering it, here are 5 good reasons to retire to France.

Visas/residency permits

Some countries make it very hard to move there unless you have a job or existing family connections, making it very difficult for non-EU retirees to get the relevant visas or residency permits.

This is not the case in France, and it is perfectly feasible for people to move here as retirees without having any family or financial activity in France. 

For most retirees the best visa option is the visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour visiteur or VLS-TS, commonly known as the 'visitor' visa.

READ ALSO France's visitor visas explained

In order to get this visa, you will need to provide a dossier of documents and also prove that you have the financial means to support yourself and will not become a burden to the French state. This can be either in the form of guaranteed income such as a pension or in the form of savings.


The amounts required are not overly burdensome. They are based on the French Smic (minimum wage), which is updated regularly in line with inflation but at the time of writing requires people to have either a monthly income of €1,398.69 or savings of €16,776.  

Once settled in France you apply for the resident permit known as the carte de séjour visiteur.


French healthcare is generally agreed to be pretty good, and one of the best things about it is that it's also open to foreigners.

Once you have lived in France for three months, you are entitled to register in the French healthcare system. The registration itself can take some months but eventually you will receive your carte vitale - the magic card that entitles you to state-funded healthcare.

In France, you pay upfront for medical costs such as doctor's appointments, prescriptions and hospital stays and then the money or fully or partially reimbursed, depending on the type of procedure.

READ ALSO How the French health system works

Exactly who reimburses your healthcare costs depends on your nationality and your situation.

If you are British or a citizen of an EU country and you have reached retirement age, then you apply for the S1 form in your home country, as well as the carte vitale. The money is then reimbursed by your home country.

If you worked in France before retiring, then you are covered by the French system.


If you have not yet reached retirement age, or you come from a country such as the US which does not have a state-funded healthcare system, then you can register in the French system via PUMa - full details here.

In most cases you will not be required to pay any annual fees towards the cost of healthcare, although in a small number of cases (usually concerning early retirees who are living off income from property or investments) an annual charge known as the CSM might be applied - full details here.

Cost of living

The cost of living in France varies quite dramatically depending on where you are. No-one in their right mind would describe Paris as a cheap city but in small-town or rural France is it possible to live quite cheaply.

One of the more reasonably-priced areas is south-west France, which is one of the reasons why it has proved popular with retirees over the years.

READ ALSO How much money do I need to live in south-west France?

If you're going to live in the countryside you will probably need a car, but on the plus side property in rural France is usually significantly cheaper than in the UK or US - so if you have a house in your home country with a fully paid-off mortgage, you're likely to be able to buy a French property outright and end up with some money leftover. 


While some aspects of life in France can quite expensive, French residents also benefit from things like the government price cap on electricity bills, which help to keep the cost of living manageable.

The cost of living in France in 2024

Benefits and perks for pensioners 

Talking of the government, they might also help you out financially.

France is a country that values its older people and there are quite a few perks and benefits available, some of which (although not all) are available to non-French citizens who live here on a permanent basis.

There are several benefits available to make daily life a little cheaper, from the senior railcard to the reduced entry rate for museums and leisure centres and the grants available for holidays (depending on income). 

READ ALSO Bikes, gig tickets and holidays: 7 things the French government might pay for

At Christmas time, your local mairie will likely either give you a food hamper or invite you along to a free lunch.

Home help 

If you get to the stage where you need a little more help around the house, France has an impressive social security net with many services aimed at allowing older and/or ill people to stay in their own homes for as long as they want to.


This includes home visits from healthcare staff and the aides domiciles who can help with things like washing and getting dressed. There are also government grants available to older people to cover things like the cost of fitting a stair-lift or accessible bath.

You can find more information on help available here, while your local mairie is also a good source on the help available in your area.

Explained: The help available for older people in France


Due at least in part to the factors mentioned above, France is a popular destination to retire to.

This means that it probably won't be hard to find people in a similar situation to you and make some friends. There are many Facebook groups and online forums dedicated to foreign retirees in France, which are great places to find potential friends and ask for advice.

There are also plenty of opportunities for older people to learn French - which is both a practical skill that you will need and a way to make friends. Nothing bonds people faster than battling it out in the trenches of the passé composé versus the passé simple.

READ ALSO Tips for learning French as an older person in France

If you're considering a move to France (at any age) you can find more information in our Moving to France section HERE - you can also sign up for our monthly Moving to France newsletter, offering practical help with all aspects of the move. Sign up HERE.


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