Q & A with Adrian Leeds…Post Webinar
Volume XXI, Issue 48
Our one-hour webinar on “How to Retire in France” this past Saturday with the Federation of Alliances Françaises U.S.A went swimmingly well—we had hundreds of viewers and some really wonderful questions. If you missed it, no sweat, AFU.S.A makes it available on their website, as do we (!) for your viewing and sharing with others. Click on either link to watch!
We didn’t get a chance to answer all of the questions that were asked in the Chat, so here are the answers to the questions you would have missed:
Q: What is best time of year to look for apartments in Nice?
A: Anytime except from mid July through August and between Christmas and the New Year.
Q: Is it possible to obtain a good estimate of one’s upcoming annual property tax before the house is actually purchased?
A: Yes. The taxes paid in the past are made available to the buyer prior to signing the pre-sale agreement.
Q: What is the typical length of time it takes to find an apartment in Nice?
A: It could take two days; it could take one year. We cannot invent the properties, only find them! The buyer must also be realistic as to what is possible within the parameters of the search…a budget that doesn’t match the requirements may result in never finding a property!
Q: To what extent did Brexit affect the market in France?
A: What has affected the market most is the rise in interest rates. Brexit itself has not affected the market, but it has affected the British who are buying, and has no relevance to our North American clients.
Q: Regarding French wealth tax (IFI): Who determines if and when one’s home rises above the 1.3 million Euro benchmark years later after the purchase to see if one has to pay the IFI wealth tax? Is it the owner’s responsibility, or the local Marie or the French government?
A: “Natural persons who are tax registered in France are theoretically subject to the IFI on the basis of all their real estate (whether located in France or abroad). Individuals who are tax registered abroad, are subject to the IFI on the basis of their property which is located in France. People who return to France after having resided abroad for the past 5 years are, during the 5 years following their return, taxable for the IFI only on their property which is located in France.”
Furthermore: “The value of the assets is based as at 1st January of the tax year. The principal residence benefits from a 30% discount on its open market value.”
Furthermore: “It is for each household to assess and determine for themselves whether or not they consider they are liable to pay wealth tax. There is no need for a professional valuation to be made. To some extent, therefore, there is an element of voluntarism in the declaration of tax liability! However, in the event that the tax authorities decide that you are liable to pay wealth tax, they are entitled to collect arrears of payment over the following 10 years. The French tax authority does have sight of all property transactions in the country, so will be aware of the price you paid for a property.”
Q: I was told it will be very difficult to rent a house for one year east of Bordeaux before we buy.
A: I can’t imagine why! A one-year lease is a furnished property. An unfurnished property comes with a three-year lease. Finding it is one phase; having landlord approval is the next phase, but both are doable. We can find rental property for our clients anywhere in France.
Q: Should a long term visa generally be applied for, before opening a French bank account?
A: It is not necessary. We can introduce a client to a bank in Paris and Nice without any requirement for a visa or a property.
Q: Can expats volunteer in France? I.e. work without salary?
A: Of course!
Q: I heard inheritance taxes are very high. Will my heirs be taxed in France for my retirement investments outside of France?
A: Once you are tax resident in France, your heirs will be subject to French inheritance taxes on your worldwide assets. This is why we recommend you consult our professional advisors. See our website for financial planning tips.
Q: Our retirement date hinges on the question of working remotely or not. We were told you absolutely can NOT work at all on French soil even if it’s all remote for a U.S. company.
A: That is absolutely untrue. The French government cares if you are taking a job away from a French national and if you are not reporting and paying your taxes. There is no restriction for working remotely at your current job for a North American company with North American clients that has nothing to do with France. Read this article for more information.
Q: Does a California Driving License have reciprocity with France?
A: No. The states with reciprocity are: Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Florida and Connecticut. Visit this site for information.
Q: How picky are landlords about pets? Specifically cats?
A: Landlords can be very “picky,” but pets cannot be legally denied. Therefore we recommend NOT declaring your pet(s) when submitting an application for a rental property.
Q: Can the landlord also cancel a lease with a 30-day notice?
A: No. The landlord must wait until the expiry date of the lease, except in the case of fault of the tenant for a legitimate and serious reason. The required notice period of 3 months for furnished accommodation and 6 months for unfurnished accommodation must be respected.
Q: Is it worth consulting with Adrian even if we’ve already found a property?
A: Yes! We offer a Purchase Assistance Service to assist a buyer throughout the purchase process and ensure that mistakes are not made.
Q: If I move to a place like Nice do I need a French driving license?
A: No, not if you don’t intend on driving! If you live in central Nice, there would be no reason to own and operate a car.
Q: What are a few locations to consider if I am looking to use France as a home base to travel in Europe?
A: Paris, Nice, Marseille—the three cities in France with an international airport!
Q: How difficult is it to travel in France with a small dog accompanying us?
A: Easy! “Dogs can be taken on all French trains. Small dogs (under 6 kg) placed in containers not exceeding 45cm x 30cm x 25cm pay no more than €5.10 per journey. Larger dogs muzzled and on leads pay half the 2nd class full fare (even travelling in 1st class).” More information for traveling with your pet can be found here.
Q: Can you confirm that any home purchase needs to be done with 100% cash payment and no loans?
A: No, that is not true. We have successfully arranged mortgages for many of our clients, but the requirements are limited mostly to people under the age of 60 who are salaried, not self-employed. See our website.
Q: Is it possible to retire in France half time and in U.S. half time? If you are there under six months do you pay the French taxes?
A: Yes. If you reside inside of France less than six months and maintain a home in another country, then you are not tax resident in France. But, retirees do not pay taxes on social security or dividends, so there may be no point to limiting your time in France!
Q: Other than Nice, what other places closer to Toulouse are good places to live.
A: My personal criteria has to do with the ability to travel easily. The entire southwest of France is dependent on Paris, Marseille or Nice where there is an international airport. One must calculate how long and how easy it is to get to those destinations to determine where is right for them.
Be sure to watch our past Webinar, “How to Decide Where to Live in France” to help you rationally choose a location!
Q: What if you DON’T have the French universal health care coverage…how does health care work? Do you pay out of pocket? And if so, what are healthcare costs like?
A: Simple. You make an appointment with a doctor and you pay the bill. You can claim it on your insurance or not as you like. Healthcare costs are roughly one-half of what they are in the U.S. according to statistical reports, but we personally find them to be about one-tenth when not considering insurance benefits.
Q: Can you talk about renting/buying property without having a visa? Or is it necessary to get a visa first?
A: Purchasing property does not require any kind of visa. To rent a property, it is not “required,” but a landlord will want to know they can count on you to legally be in France!
Q: How often do you have to renew your visa?
A: That depends on the type of visa. A Carte de Séjour Visiteur is renewed annually.
Q: When you say to avoid small towns does that include a town like Menton, which is close to Nice?
A: Menton is lovely, but it’s a long way from Nice and that means having to travel to Nice to catch trains or planes to other destinations. You will probably not be happy living there without a car!
Q: If you’re getting a monthly pension from the U.S., is it best to set up a “direct deposit” with a currency exchange service?
A: Yes, if what you want is “easy,” but no if you want to have more control over the rate of exchange by making the transfers when you want and how much you want.
Q: I know that Nice is still booming. Are the towns nearby more affordable, accessible?
A: Some of the towns are less expensive, but some are even more expensive. Adding to the expense would be the need for a car if you are living outside of Nice.
Q: What’s the one thing most people wish they had known before retiring to France?
A: Where in France to live that offers the most…
Q: Can you purchase a clothes dryer for a rental if you want one?
A: That depends on the space in the apartment and if the landlord agrees to it.
Q: If you don’t pay french taxes, are you still eligible for the french healthcare system?
A: Yes. When the French government issues you a visa, it also gives you the right (not the privilege) to the French healthcare system, even though you never paid a penny into the French social security!
Q: If you rent your purchased property, is the income taxed by the U.S.A or France?
A: You are expected to report the income in France and pay the applicable taxes.
Q: A three-year lease for a new expat in France sounds daunting. How much does it cost to break a lease?
A: Nothing. In Paris and Nice, a three-year lease has a 30-day cancellation without any fees.
Q: Is it hard to resell a share in a fractional ownership property?
A: Not if you hire us to sell it! We have easily sold our owners’ shares and always at a profit!
Q: How safe is Nice?
A: “Tourists can visit Nice without encountering troubles or safety threats, with France having a high safety score of 1.895 based on the 2022 Global Peace Index. The overall risk and crime rate are low and violent crime is rare. You have a slim chance of being a victim of assault or muggings, so you can explore the city and enjoy sightseeing with peace of mind.”
Read this guide about safety in Nice.
This answers most of the questions from the Chat. But, when you work with us individually, we do more than that—we guide and strategize with you.
Our client Tani wrote: “A consultation with Adrian is priceless. We spoke to her for two hours and our entire plan changed, and we are happier than ever. Priceless!”
Thanks, Tani! To schedule your consultation with me, visit our Consultation page!
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. Be sure to read the report and watch the video recording of our Après-Midi Tuesday with Annabel Simms at Le Progrès in Paris. Next month/next year, we will be back at Le Café de la Mairie where we can seat twice as many attendees!