Join now
Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

France Connects Expats with Europe but Offers Few Career Opportunities

Despite stellar healthcare and opportunities for travel, France presents expats with a laundry list of challenges.

Expats rank France 38th out of 53 countries in the Expat Insider 2024 survey. The country excels in some aspects of the Quality of Life (13th), making it an attractive destination for a decent standard of living — expats’ overall satisfaction with their lives there ranks 23rd. However, France performs lower than average for the other four indices (sub-30 rankings), indicating potential challenges for expats in areas related to careers, social life, and administrative topics.

How Expats Rate Life in France

Stellar Healthcare Combats the Poor Air Quality

France secures the 13th spot for Quality of Life, its highest ranking for an index. The country shines in the Healthcare Subcategory, ranking 10th. The affordability of healthcare lands in the top 5 (4th), with 81% of expats praising the quality of medical care (vs. 66% globally).

The Travel & Transit and Environment & Climate Subcategories are also decent, ranking 19th each. More than nine in ten expats (92%) appreciate the opportunity to travel (vs. 83% globally), and 76% rate the availability of transportation as good (vs.72% globally). And although the air quality performs poorly (31st), around three in five respondents (62%) enjoy the climate & weather (vs. 58% globally).

“I like the beauty of the cities and the geography, as well as public transport and the work life balance.” – Colombian expat

Things are more dire for the Safety & Security Index (32nd), requiring expats to be cautious: personal safety fell five spots to rank 42nd, with more than one in ten respondents (12%) rating it negatively (vs. 8% globally).

A Lukewarm Reception

A low-ranking Ease of Settling In Index (34th) indicates that taking up the French lifestyle may present expats with some hurdles, especially with regards to Local Friendliness (42nd) and Finding Friends (34th).

Nearly half of respondents (46%) agree that it’s not easy to make local friends (vs. 41% globally), with the friendliness of locals towards foreign residents ranking 42nd out of 53 countries. It’s not surprising that 32% of expats are unhappy with their social life in France (vs. 29% globally).

“It’s hard to make friends and maintain friendships.”Mauritian expat

The Culture & Welcome Subcategory ranks 28th, reflecting a lukewarm reception for expats. So although making friends might be challenging, 60% of respondents find it easy to get used to the local culture and feel at home there (vs. a global 59% and 58%, respectively).

Stable Employment Yet Poor Satisfaction

France ranks 35th in the Working Abroad Index, reflecting the challenges expats face in terms of career prospects (37th) — less than half of respondents (48%) agree that moving to France improved their opportunities (vs. 56% globally), and 35% negatively rate the local job market (vs. 31% globally).

When it comes to Salary & Job Security, France is in a modest 27th place, offering security (25th) but not fair enough compensation for work (47th). Things are more balanced in the Work & Leisure Subcategory (29th) thanks to the country’s shorter than average workweeks (39.3 vs 42.5 h globally in a full-time position) and generous vacation days.1

“Work-life balance is excellent here at most levels.” – British expat.

However, Work Culture & Satisfaction performs poorly (43rd). Only 54% of expats are satisfied with their jobs (vs. 60% globally) and agree that they’re paid fairly for their work (vs. 58% globally).

A String of Challenges amid High Living Costs

France once more finds itself in the bottom 10 for the Expat Essentials Index (44th). Although Digital Life (24th) shows promise, the Language Subcategory (45th) presents a significant challenge. Around 61% of respondents agree it’s difficult to live there without speaking the local language (vs. 33% globally).

In 35th place is the Housing Subcategory. Nearly half of expats (48%) agree that finding housing is difficult (vs. 34% globally), with 44% rating the affordability negatively (vs. 47% globally).

Admins Topics (41st) present more challenges for expats when it comes to opening a local bank account (35th) and dealing with local bureaucracy (39th). In fact, 57% of expats find it difficult to deal with the bureaucracy or authorities (vs. 42% globally).

Money matters are not great but could be worse, too: 41% of expats rate the cost of living negatively (vs. 39% globally), and 29% are not satisfied with their financial situation in France (vs. 26% globally).

The Typical Expat in France

Further Reading

External References

  1. Le site officiel de l’administration française. Paid Leave. 10 Apr 2024.