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A moving to France blog

After four years in Jersey we have moved to France and are facing our new adventure with a mix of excitement and trepidation, more  will be posted as things develop!

Beware the call centres!

posted 31 Jan 2017, 03:56 by Robert Luscombe

Recently we have been completely inundated, in fact plagued by nuisance calls (up to 10 a day usually).  I have tried telling them not to ring, to tell me what they want in English, that I'm not interested, 'DO NOT CALL ME/NE M'APPELLE PAS" all to no avail.  Also tried answering and saying nothing, letting the answer phone get it but it all just encourages them I'm afraid and they try even harder to get hold of you!

Orange suggested registering with Bloctel.gouv.fr which we have done (we shall see) or I can go ex-directory (at a price of course).

The usual profile is an initial call, long pause on answering then 'click beep beep beep'.  Then a follow up call, long pause click and connected to a call centre (lots of background noise usually) and they WILL NOT speak to you in English, (apparently they are not allowed to) so instead they just hang up on you with no apology or anything.  An hour or two later they will try again (presumably because their records are very poor or they think you may have taken a 'speak French evening class' in the hour or so since they last tried you!  Very irritating especially when it is so often.  Orange can only block numbers to mobiles but not on your landline even though we are using VOIP so we will just have to see how it pans out.

The offending numbers concerned are these:
033257840199 (main offender - 6-8 times a day normally)
09??????????? - hasn't called for a couple of days!

Still here, still travelling!

posted 27 Jan 2017, 02:41 by Robert Luscombe

As I said in a previous post I'm no ones idea of a 'blogger' but its probably good to at least pop in occasionally and give an update (just in case anyone is listening!!).

Well cannot believe it is almost 6 years now since we took the plunge and moved lock stock and barrel to France, maintaining links with Jersey as I work for a Jersey based company and commute on alternate weeks, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future (at least until the Euro-millions comes up or 'Great Uncle Rupert' (Brewsters millions) leaves us a fortune!!  Well the travel can be a bit of an undertaking but it has to beat the daily commute Plymouth to Exeter that I used to do or heavens forbid the train commute into London from the home counties that so many people do on a daily basis!

The house is old and always needs something else doing but it is home and the modifications and improvements to keep it i n shape continue to progress and reward us for our efforts.

The whole 'Brexit' thing (!) has caused some exchange rate woes and we aren't out of the woods on that one yet but we will just have to hold on tight and see how that one develops won't we?!

Ah well, thats it for the time being; it'll probably be another four years until I set out any more thoughts but who knows!!


Double taxation issues?

posted 28 Jan 2013, 08:48 by Robert Luscombe   [ updated 28 Jan 2013, 09:02 ]

Well I haven't written anything for the French blog for a ridiculously long time, its probably fair to say I'm not a good 'blogger'!  Initial rushes of enthusiasm are soon followed by frank indifference or at the best 'oh I must do that soon'!  As usual real life and 'being busy just takes over!!  Anyway what is good to know is that whilst I may not be a habitual writer about the 'doings of the French Luscombes' someone must have been reading the wretched thing as I had an email from a newly expat Jersey resident a week or two ago asking about the whole double taxation and residency thing!!  To summarise I have taken the soft option and transcribed the email exchange here but in short its fair to say everyone is probably different and we all have to make our own path! (ooh that sounds like a cop out!!).

"Sorry to trouble you but I read your blog some time ago and was wondering if you would be happy to share how you managed to sort out earning money in Jersey and the tax situation.  My husband works in Jersey and I have recently moved into our maison secondaire with our two children, I am not earning he is but france has this little sentence that means hell of a lot "you are tax resident where your children are" this puts us in an awkward situation as he is also resident in Jersey."

Nice to hear from you (and that someone actually reads my blog, perhaps I should start updating it again!!).  As you say it is something of a minefield, I was not aware of the 'children clause' but as we don't have dependant children living with us the question wouldn't arise. We did find though that we had to declare our France house as our primary residence to get the mortgage and avoid import tax on our belongings when we moved then promptly 'move back' to jersey (figuratively speaking) once the house was officially ours.  We rent a flat in jersey which for tax reasons is our primary residence and though I work from home in france part of the time and in the office in jersey the other part I have to make sure I am in jersey for not less than 6 months or France will clobber me for tax as well as jersey.  Having the jersey address has meant France is our second home and though my wife spends far more time there than me she is not in full time employment (she works part time from time to time in de Gruchy when she comes over to the island with me!) and is to all intents and purposes holidaying there (and I get to visit her ;-) !!  We have been in France for just under 2 years and have not yet been asked to fill out a tax return so the acid test has yet to follow! We are also awaiting our 2011 habitation tax bill which we were told would be sent to us in October!  I am presuming your children are in full time education now in France which will undoubtedly make matters difficult as it removes the argument that your house in France is your holiday home?!  Good luck with it all, there are specialist tax advisers/accountants who will be able to provide better and fuller information than I can I am quite sure but if there is anything else I can help with don't hesitate to get in touch.

"Thankyou for your reply, It is a minefield but hopefully the fact that (my husband) is in Jersey for the majority of the time may go in our favour.  

At the end of the day we can say we are separated, it is for them to prove otherwise!  

I love Jersey just couldn't find work so had no choice but to leave and France was better for Sean to still see the girls regularly (not my choice as I am ex UK)"

Good luck guys, we never stop learning and if it was easy everyone would do it!!

Merci Mathieu!

posted 20 Jul 2011, 07:42 by Robert Luscombe

Where would we be without friends!?!  Mathieu is a friend and Jersey based radio amateur who originates from Brittany and has helped us out so many times now with translation for letters and forms I have lost count!  As good a tool as Google translate and Babel Fish may be they lack the accuracy or feel for the language you can only get from someone who actually speaks and understands the language and we are still struggling with the learning.  A good translator is very often an essential but having a friend who you can ask for an opinion as well is heaven sent.  Mathieu has been a big help with the mortgage and health forms, thank you once again Mathieu, I owe you!

Big News!

posted 8 Jul 2011, 08:48 by Robert Luscombe

Well, big changes are afoot!  This afternoon we went in to the Notaires office, went through all the paperwork and have now signed our 'Compromis de Vente' (preliminary contract) for the house!!  It is all subject to obtaining the mortgage and the seller putting right some matters with a damp window reveal and the electrical earthing but none of which (hopefully) will prove to be an issue and with a following wind we should be moving at the end of September or thereabouts.  The contract is effectively binding on both parties (theres no gazumping in France!!) unless either side encounter a problem in achieving what has been agreed in the Compromis.  Not a bad system and so far has been a lot less stress than buying in the UK (language notwithstanding).  Exciting times!

Don't get ill (unless your British!)

posted 7 Jul 2011, 07:10 by Robert Luscombe

Cheers Jersey!!  As a condition of obtaining a French mortgage we need to register with a local Doctor and potentially have a health check (gulp!).  Only trouble is the French authorities don't regard us as EU citizens as we come from Jersey (and are still working for a Jersey company) not being part of the EU even though most of our lives have been spent paying into mainland UK tax and National Insurance.  Apparently we would be okay if we were retired (no such luck!!) or had moved straight from England to France.  Seems the Jersey factor is once again proving to be an issue but we'll get there.  The French social security office in Morlaix couldn't really have been less helpful but mercifully their English speaking telephone inquiry line was quite the opposite and is sending us a batch of paperwork to fill out (deep joy!).

Long time since update!

posted 7 Jul 2011, 06:57 by Robert Luscombe   [ updated 7 Jul 2011, 07:04 ]

Gosh, its been a busy old time here in rural Brittany (and elsewhere!), so much so the routine 'chores' I always feel I should get to (such as keeping the blogs up to date) has taken a back seat.  Work is as busy (if not busier) as ever, so much so that I am seriously contemplating reducing my Jersey visits and catching up with the paperwork at the home office here in Huelgoat.  At least alternate weeks in Jersey and the commute means that the travelling has not been too troublesome (despite the best efforts of Condor Ferries to muck things up with their mechanical problems) and the lighter mornings have helped towards that with a commute usually starting with hitting the road at about 4.30am!  Big news is that we have found a house we want to buy so we are trying to sort out mortgage, reports, rating, healthcare etc. etc., you name it really!  Anyway, it'll be nice to finally get somewhere that will be ours and to call home.  More will follow (honest!).

Survival kit!

posted 5 May 2011, 08:29 by Robert Luscombe   [ updated 5 May 2011, 08:41 ]

Wow!  France Telecom / Orange.fr initially take a little while to sort out but in their very great favour have an english speaking service (courteous AND helpful).  So we now have phone (unlimited free calls to landlines), broadband (fast and stable) and our TV (including some bi-lingual programming and a handful of British channels) all through a wire!  Unfortunately out TV is about 3 years old so despite being a modern LCD flat screen can't actually be used to surf the net otherwise we could watch online TV as well, though we can at least look at photos, listen to music and watch videos saved on the computer.  What we can do is watch iplayer, itvplayer, 4 o/d etc on the computer.  Your not supposed to be able to but have been tipped off to a pretty clever site which gives you a temporary, UK based IP address so 'tricks' the system into thinking you are in the UK and allows you to watch the latest programmes.  J is thoroughly enjoying the latest series of Bargain Hunt!!!  That and an English bookshop has opened in the village so its almost like being in Blighty!
PS. We have a claim to fame, some of the local expats were going to the Brittany Pub in the square to watch the Royal Wedding last week so we joined in.  There was even a camera crew there from France 1 and lo-and behold we ended up seeing ourselves on the local TV news after the Wedding had finished.

Expat tips!

posted 28 Apr 2011, 02:29 by Robert Luscombe   [ updated 28 Apr 2011, 02:36 ]

Tax matters still need sorting out but the recommendations we have had from the locals have been, don't worry about 'habitation tax' until next year, it won't apply until 1st January in any case if you move in during the year, income tax is payable on key dates during the year and at present the tax office will be chasing up last years tax payments so are really not too bothered yet about this years as apparently its payable retrospectively, just make sure you have the money available to pay it when it becomes due!

In the meantime we now have internet TV courtesy of Orange.fr which seems to work pretty well and a good many programmes are available in English as well as French though you don't know if it has English available until its actually on!!  The TV decoder will connect to the PC so you can view photos, videos and listen to your iTunes music but so far we have not succeeded in linking in to iPlayer and the like for UK channels though there must surely be a way.  More digging and research of the internet into the small hours likely to be needed on that one though at least we have sorted out access to UK only websites with a temporary IP address.  All clever stuff!  Where there's a will there's a way!!

Language woes (and tax!)

posted 26 Apr 2011, 07:08 by Robert Luscombe   [ updated 26 Apr 2011, 07:15 ]

One common issue we keep finding is how woefully inadequate we feel not speaking the language.  We have started over with Michel Thomas which does at least explain conversational French in a way that we can understand and makes it make sense.  J is persevering with the local 'babble' group but I am only to well aware that I can't really blag 2 hours out of my home office on a Tuesday afternoon so for the time being she will continue going and I'll try to keep up as best I can from her experiences!  We really need to sort it though.  I am sure (and know) a lot of expats are not too bothered with learning but that's not our take on it, especially ringing someone up and 'Parlez vous Francais?' is met with a curt 'Non!!'  That was the response when trying to sort out an appointment with an accountant and tax adviser recommended to us and similar when trying to get in touch with the local tax office.  Mind you that could turn out to be just as incomprehensible as the tax office in Jersey ultimately so we'll just have to reserve judgement on that one!!

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