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A 5-year plan for living in France long-term

By Jean
Reading Time: 4 minutes
living in france

When you envision your future in France, what do you see? Studying, then working? Learning the language, then pursuing higher education? Perhaps starting your own business? Whatever your vision, having a well-thought-out plan is essential for successfully living in France long term.

Navigating the various visa options can seem overwhelming, but we’ve put together a recommended 5-year plan to guide you.

First Things First: Is France Really for You?

Moving to a new country long-term is a significant decision. The first step is to determine if France is the right fit for you. If possible, visit France on a short trip as a tourist.

Many countries have an agreement with France, allowing their citizens to visit and stay in France for up to 3 months without needing to apply for a visa. More info here:

Remember, living in a country is very different from visiting it as a traveler. Reflect on whether you can see yourself living in France and why you want to live there. Be realistic and weigh the pros and cons before diving into the next stage of your plan.

If you need more insight, read our article that compares living in France to travelling in France here:

If you want to test out language lessons simultaneously, consider applying for a short-term course in one of our partner language schools.

living in france

Year 1: Master the Language

Learning French is crucial if you plan to live in France long term, especially if you aim to work or pursue further education. Most companies that hire non-French employees require at least a business-level proficiency in French, typically B2 level on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

If you start as a beginner at a language school, you can expect to reach a B2 level in about a year to a year and a half, provided you attend classes full-time, participate actively, and study outside of class.

You can obtain a student visa for up to 1 year, renewable if you need more time to reach your language goal. Bonus: you’ll be able to work part-time. For example, a student working 10 hours a week at minimum wage will earn approximately €370 net per month.

For more details about how French language schools work, read our article here:

living in france

Years 2 – 4: Pursue Higher Education

If you don’t already have a degree that allows you to find a job in your desired industry in France, or if you want to pursue further studies in France, the next step after language school might be higher education. This will also require a student visa.

The type of education you pursue will depend on your goals. Programs taugh at the university or in vocational schools range widely, from architecture and civil engineering to art and photography, design and fashion, business, management and finance, and more!

If accepted, you will study for a minimum of 2 to 3 years, depending on the curriculum. For undergraduate programs (first-cycle programmes), France offers 2-year undergraduate degrees and 3-year bachelor’s degrees. It is important to note that for programs taught in French, you will need to pass at least the DELF B2 exam. The DELF B2, as well as the DALF C1 and C2, allows you to enter French universities and some prestigious schools.

You’ll find more information about French diplomas here: and about the French education system here:

living in France

Year 5: Enter the Workforce

Even though holding a French degree is not necessary to find a job in France, it is certainly a significant plus on your CV, especially if you have no diploma and/or specific experience. It will largely open doors.

Use online job portals such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and Pole Emploi to search for opportunities. Networking is crucial, so attend industry events and leverage any existing connections. Additionally, your university or vocational school might help you connect with employers. Consider consulting recruitment agencies like Adecco, Randstad, and Manpower. By following these steps, you’ll increase your chances of securing a job in France.

To switch from a student visa to a work visa in France, your first need to secure a signed employment contract. Your employer must then apply for a work authorization to hire a foreigner through the Ministère chargé de l’intérieur (DIRECCTE). Gather necessary documents, including your passport, current student visa, signed employment contract, proof of qualifications (diplomas), and proof of residence. Apply online for a change of situation and schedule an appointment at your local prefecture or ward office. Attend the appointment, submit your documents, and await approval. Once approved, you’ll receive a residence permit allowing you to work in France.

living in france

Living in France

Whether you choose to stay in France or move elsewhere, ensure you have a valid visa and comply with its requirements if you wish to continue living in France long term.

If you wish to work freelance or start your own business, different rules and visas apply. These can be more complicated to obtain, so consulting and getting support from an immigration lawyer is advisable.

Ready to dive into your new life in France? Contact us to get your journey started.

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