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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

France: Pleasant Life, Mediocre Economy

While it's not the easiest country to get settled in, France does offer a variety of appealing factors, including excellent traveling opportunities and high-quality schooling.

The French definitely know how to relax, at least according to the expatriates residing in the country. Low working hours (on average 37.6 hours/week across full-time and part-time jobs), widely available leisure activities with 86% positive ratings, and good travel options favored by 92% of respondents are likely to attract those who do not wish to spend all their time behind an office desk. However, career prospects and working life receive significantly less favorable reviews: while France ranks 14th out of 64 countries in the Quality of Life Index, it falls to the 48th position in the Working Abroad Index.

France's reputation as an exceptionally romantic country is also supported by the survey results. A quarter of the participants in France say that the most important reason for their relocation was related to their significant other: 14% wished to live in their partner's home country and 11% moved because of their partner's job or education.

Expat Statistics 2015

Expat statistics for France - infographic
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Easy Travel in the Land of Language Barriers

Moving to France seems to present a remarkable challenge for a majority of expats, though. The country performs very poorly in the Ease of Settling In Index, ranking as the sixth lowest (59th). Adjusting to the French lifestyle does not cause that much trouble, as 57% find it more or less easy to get used to the local culture, close to the worldwide average of 60%. However, it's probably the local population's less than welcoming attitude toward foreigners - experienced by almost a third of the respondents (32%) - that results in the low rank in the index; globally such problems were faced by only 16%.

Those who do not speak the local tongue are in an even worse situation. While the French may be sociable and loquacious, their ability or willingness to communicate in foreign languages is somewhat questionable: over three-fourths of the respondents (76%) say that living in France without speaking the language is tough.

In addition to fresh baguettes and world-famous wine, France offers excellent travel opportunities, as more than half of the participants (53%) rate them as very good, compared to the global average of 45%. A major factor behind the ease of travel is probably the local transportation system, which leaves only 5% of the respondents unhappy. Worldwide, expats were almost five times (23%) more likely to be displeased with the transportation in their respective host countries.

Unstable Employment

As mentioned before, France is probably not the best place for pursuing a career: in the Job & Career subcategory the country ranks 55th. Expats in France are also somewhat more worried about unemployment than the average: globally, 57% of respondents are happy with their job security; among the expats in France, the percentage is 53%.

The economic conditions in the country are not quite optimal, either, at least partially due to the still ongoing Eurozone crisis. Less than half of the expats in France (48%) rate the economy of the country positively; far below the global average of 65%.

Healthy and Educated

According to the survey results France is among the most family-friendly countries in the world, though. Childcare and education receive favorable ratings, as both are found to be affordable (ranking 8th in this subcategory) and widely available (ranking 13th). The participants in France are not worried about their offspring's health and safety, either, since 87% rate this factor favorably.

The effects of the less-than-ideal economic situation apparently do not reach the French schools, as 79% of the expat parents regard the quality of education to be generally decent, clearly exceeding the global average of 65%.

Along with education, healthcare in France seems to be outstanding. A vast majority of the expats, 81%, give the local medical care a positive rating. Also, a trip to a hospital should not cost an arm and a leg, figuratively speaking; 77% of the participants in France find the healthcare to be overall affordable, whereas around the globe only 55% of the respondents think the same.

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