Spending your days quaffing wine by your swimming pool is not the reality enjoyed by everyone who quits Britain for a new life in France. The dream can sometimes become a nightmare.
That is the conclusion of the British Charitable Fund, the BBC reports. The charity supports Britons facing severe financial hardship in France.
It was set up in 1823. Back then, the bulk of its work was with servants and low-skilled labourers in Paris.
Now, however, the majority of calls for help come from families in rural France, for whom the dream has turned sour. Their hopes of running a chambres d’hôtes alongside some other work has fallen through for one reason or another.
The problem, the charity says, is that ex-pats haven’t built in any contingency in case things go wrong. One couple in Pitou, for example, found themselves struggling when a serious accident left the husband unable to work. When his wife was then diagnosed with cancer, they were left with no income.
Their story isn’t atypical.
Brits in France can get financial help from the state, thanks to the UK’s membership of the EU, but many simply don’t have the language skills to navigate the system. France is a country that likes its bureaucracy, after all.
Many have relied on the buoyant British housing market to fund their new lives in France, where houses are often much cheaper. However, if things go wrong, they can no longer afford to go back.
They are left taking charity hand-outs in a country whose language they don’t speak and in which they feel more and more isolated.
For anyone – like me – thinking of making the move, it’s a sobering tale.