Guide to Moving to France from the U.S.

Moving to France from the U.S. is a dream for many people. Seeing new places and living in a country so rich in history and culture can be a drastic yet fulfilling life decision. While it can feel exciting to move to France, it is wise to be aware of the risks and challenges associated with moving overseas, which is why we’ve created this comprehensive guide to moving to France from the U.S.

If you have already decided to make a move to France, Suddath can help get you there. Get a free international moving quote and advice on your next steps with our Complete Guide to the International Moving Process, or continue reading to learn more about moving to France from the U.S.

Most Popular Destinations in France for People Coming from the U.S.

Here are some of the most popular cities for those moving to France from the U.S.:

  • Paris
  • Marseille
  • Lyon
  • Bordeaux
  • Mont Saint-Michel
  • Montpellier

Documents You May Need When Moving to France

When relocating to France, you must have all the proper documentation to help you get established. Here are some of the documents you may need when moving from the U.S. to France:

  • Your birth certificate
  • A marriage certificate, if you are married
  • Health insurance documents
  • Medical records and documentation
  • Vaccination records
  • Educational records, such as diplomas or other certificates
  • Visas and work permits
  • Driver’s license
  • Previous two years of tax returns
  • Veterinary records and vaccination records if you are bringing pets

Having all your pertinent documents in order, with copies made, is a great way to help move the process along without unexpected bumps in the road when moving to France. 

Once you have all these documents collected and copied, you may want to open an account with a French bank. The next step is to find a house or apartment to live in, and once you do, reach out to an international moving company that will help make the process as easy as possible. At Suddath, we pair you with an experienced move counselor to work with you and make your transition as smooth as possible.

Visas and Work Permits

There are several different types of French visas. For moving to France from the U.S., you will probably want a long-stay visa. Typically, these are valid for one year and must be renewed before the first year is over. After the first year, a long-term residence permit must be obtained. 

The application process is pretty streamlined nowadays, and the internet makes the process less stressful than it used to be. However, it is a good idea to go ahead and apply for your French visa as soon as possible to avoid any hiccups in your relocation process. 

Work and study visas are other options, but these tend to have higher requirements and are not intended to be long-term solutions.

Bank Accounts

To rent or buy French property, you may need to open a French bank account. Having a French bank account will make buying and selling property easier in France and make everyday local payments go smoothly. 

Once you decide where you want to move to, it will be good to investigate local banks in the area and consider opening an account.


France has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. The low cost and high quality of healthcare in France are just two of the many perks of moving to France from the U.S.

Even foreigners have access to healthcare in France, and as an ex-pat, you can apply for healthcare benefits after living in France for three months.

What It’s Like to Live in France

While many aspects of everyday life will look the same as living in the U.S., living in France may expose you to differences and nuances that you may not have anticipated. France is a developed country that offers much of the comfort that most of us are used to. 

France is known for its beautiful language, rich culture and cuisine, beautiful climate, and more.


French is one of the five Romance languages, which are languages derived from Vulgar Latin between the 3rd and 8th centuries. French is a beautiful language, and it is relatively easy for an American moving to France to learn. Some say that learning French is easier than learning English. 

Like many European countries, about two-thirds of the people in France can speak conversational English, so you aren’t totally out of luck while you try to learn the language. However, some basic classes in French could give you an advantage before moving to France from the U.S.


France is known for its rich culture. French culture has influenced the world’s art, fashion, cinema, and cuisine since the 17th century. French culture is known for being passionate about all areas of life, and this is reflected in its food, its literature, and its art.


Many of the dishes served in fine dining restaurants all over the U.S. are inspired by classic French dishes, as France has set the standard for fine cuisine for decades.


The Louvre is one of the world’s best-known art museums and is home to many of the paintings that American children learn about in school. Some of the most talented painters in history, such as Claude Monet, are from France, or others, like Vincent Van Gogh, spent a considerable amount of time studying in France.


Les Miserables, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and The Count of Monte Cristo are a few examples of great works of literature by French authors. 

Depending on the area of France you move to, daily life may or may not look drastically different from what you’re used to, but one thing is certain—there will be no lack of new and exciting things to experience.


Much of France is within a moderate temperate zone, where you will experience cool winters and mild summers. Most of France experiences four distinct seasons, except for the area along the Mediterranean, which tends to have hotter summers and milder winters. 

For most Americans moving to France, the change in climate will not be too drastic; however, adjusting to the Celsius scale from Fahrenheit may take some time to get used to.

Transportation: How to Get Around in France

Moving around large, densely populated French cities may seem daunting. While the quickest and most reliable method of transportation is to drive a car, parking is incredibly scarce in France and may make a car trip less convenient.

Luckily, France has an excellent public transit system, and its extensive train and bus routes can help you navigate all but the most rural areas of France. 

For just getting around the city, many residents prefer to use a bicycle as a primary method of transportation, as biking can help one avoid traffic, and bikes don’t require as much storage space as a car.

Moving With Pets

It is possible to move to France with most pets. Nowadays, dogs and cats don’t have to be quarantined like they used to. However, birds must still be quarantined for 30 days upon entering the country. 

Dogs and cats require inspection by a certified vet, must have updated vaccinations, must be older than 12 weeks, and must be microchipped. Certain breeds of dogs are not allowed to travel into France without registration from the American Kennel Club, such as Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, and Mastiffs.

Nearby Countries to Visit

Something new and interesting that you may encounter when moving to France from the U.S. is France’s proximity to other countries. The European continent contains many more countries than North America, and it is possible to travel to neighboring countries in a short amount of time, without having to cross an ocean or take a 6-hour flight.

Some countries that border France and can be traveled to quickly are:

  • Andorra
  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Spain
  • Switzerland

Once you are settled in and looking to explore some more of your new surroundings, why not take a trip to one of France’s neighboring countries for a day or so? There is so much to see and experience just a train ride away, and the more you learn about France’s bordering countries, the more you can understand the history of France.

Types of Housing Available in France

There are several different types of housing available in France. The first French Republic was founded in the late 1700s, and some historic buildings are hundreds of years old. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find more modern property types. 

Renting is very common in France, especially among ex-pats who have recently relocated to the country. Here are some different types of rental properties that you may encounter while looking for a place to live in France:

  • Bastide: These are detached stone buildings with flat roofs, typically found in the French countryside and Provence. Many of the bastides available in France are older buildings, but you can find newer ones. 
  • Chateau: These resemble castles or palaces. However, they are typically just the size of a single-family home. While a chateau can seem like an attractive and tempting option, be aware that renovation and upkeep costs can make these homes more expensive than you originally thought. 
  • Domain: This is a house that sits on a large plot of land. These can include vineyard properties or large farms. 
  • Fermette/Ferm: A type of rural farmhouse often comprised of several different buildings, and the amount of land they sit on can vary drastically. 
  • Hotel particulier: This type of grand townhouse in France used to house the most influential and wealthy members of society.
  • Longère: A long rectangular house, this type of property typically has one side open and will usually have a finished attic or loft space above the building. 
  • Mas: A rural property commonly found in Provence. 
  • Maison à Colombages: These are half-timbered, half brick, or plaster houses. These homes are desirable and can be found all over France.
  • Pavilion: These are detached houses, sometimes called bungalows. 
  • Pied-à-Terre: These are common apartments or flats found in urban areas of France. For your first move to France, a pied-à-terre is one of the most readily available types of housing. 
  • Villa d’architecte: This is a type of modern house designed by an architect. These contemporary homes are some of the most beautiful in France. However, they are pretty expensive and can take years to complete. 

No matter what type of home you want to live in, there are many options for different houses for rent and sale in France. However, it should be noted that renting is a much easier option, especially when you first relocate to France.


When most people think of France, the first city that comes to mind is Paris. Paris is the capital city of France, with a population of over 2 million living within the city boundaries, but the “metro area” of Paris, also known as Ile-de-France, has a population of over 12 million, or about 18% of France’s total population. 

Paris is more than 2,000 years old, with the first tribes settling here between 250 and 200 BC. Paris has always been a vital hub for fishing, agriculture, cuisine, and culture. 

Paris as we know it came into being in the late 1700s, after the French Revolution. The old-world charm is a big reason why many Americans move to France from the U.S. While Paris is a functioning part of the modern world, history can be seen and felt all around. It may be the perfect blend of the best of new and old.

Pros and Cons of Moving to Paris

Before moving to Paris, it is important to know not only the benefits but some of the complications you may face as an American living in Paris:

Pro: Historical buildings and old-world charm

Living in the U.S., most of the buildings you encounter daily are typically less than 100 years old, with most buildings being much newer than that. It won’t take much time exploring Paris to find buildings and architecture that predate the 18th century. This change of scenery can help give you a different perspective on history and provide a point of view that you may not have had before. 

Pro: The walkability of Paris

Many cities in the U.S. require driving to get from place to place, but Paris is a great city if you prefer to walk everywhere you need to go. Even if your destination is outside a walkable distance, Paris has a great transit system to help fill in the gaps. 

Pro: The food

One of the first things that people think of when they think of Paris is the food. Much of modern cuisine has its roots in Paris, and French chefs and restaurants are still some of the best in the world. Fresh baguettes, delicate cheeses, and exquisite wines are only part of the culinary repertoire that Paris has to offer. There is an upside, however: All of the walking you’ll do as you take in the city should help to offset your calorie intake.

Con: Meeting strangers

Parisians are not as chatty or friendly as many Americans, so it may be challenging to make friends when in Paris. Parisians are not the type to make small talk while waiting in line or sitting on the train, so don’t take it personally. Once you appreciate the vibe of Paris, you will find other ways to meet new friends. 

Con: The weather

Paris has an unusually rainy climate, and it can rain an average of 51 to 54 mm (two to three inches) per month. Sunshine will not be as common as you might expect, so plan to carry an umbrella and seize a sunny day when it happens. 

Con: The old buildings

While 18th-century architecture may be beautiful, it does come with its caveats. Eighteenth-century plumbing can have a litany of problems, and it’s rare that an 18th-century buildings has air conditioning. Thankfully, it doesn’t get too hot in Paris, so you will be able to adjust to living and/or working in these older (but often breathtaking) buildings.

Final Thoughts

Moving to France from the U.S. can be an exciting change, but it can be a significant task. Whether you are only moving for a couple of years, or want to make a more permanent move, Suddath can help you along your journey. We’re experts in helping U.S. citizens move abroad—in fact, Suddath has claimed the title of “International Mover of the Year” five times. 

If you need assistance with your international move, get in touch for a free international moving quote. There’s no obligation, and our international moving experts will be glad to answer all of your questions about relocating to France.