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Americans are Moving to France in Record Numbers…Are We Surprised?

Carte de Sejour long-stay visa for France

By the time you read this, I’ll be on a train headed back to Paris after many weeks in the south. I’m actually looking forward to the cooler Paris weather as Nice has been unusually hot this summer. Yesterday was my last chance for an afternoon on the beach, but badly-needed rain got in the way. I can’t really complain. It’s been a great stretch.

Nice has been chock-a-block with tourists. Untold numbers of accents can be heard on the streets, but along with them are a large number of Americans. As it turns out, Americans are bombarding France, not just by visiting, but by moving here or purchasing property. We can tell because we’ve never been so busy.

As per the findings of the European Commission, the year 2022 saw 12,229 initial resident permits issued to American citizens, enabling them to reside in France. This contrasts with the 9,214 permits issued in 2021. That makes it an all-time high, even surpassing the number of permits granted to individuals from the United Kingdom.

Graph showing the number of first residence permits issued in the EU

Though these statistics come from Eurostat and include 6,000 student visas, the surge in the allocation of non-educational permits is noticeable, with an average of over 5,000 granted in three of the past four years. Between 2013 and 2018, the overall average of permits granted stood at approximately 7,000 per year. However, in three out of the last four years, that number has exceeded 9,000, with two of those years being impacted by the Covid pandemic.

The British are moving over, too. In 2022, 7,927 permits were extended to UK citizens, an increase from 4,324 in 2021 and 7,706 in 2020. But, Brexit might have a lot to do with that. The number of British citizens moving to France has dwindled in recent years, a decline largely attributed to Brexit. Two decades ago, sales to British buyers who were not residents numbered in the double digits, but the figures have now dropped to a few thousand each year.

Discounting student visas, the tally of non-educational resident permits granted to US nationals outpaced those granted to UK citizens by just a few, but in 2021 the number was almost double American to UK (5,147 compared to 2,695).

For both UK and US citizens, the remaining reasons for granting these permits are categorized as family, employment, and ‘other,’ primarily encompassing retirees. But last year UK citizens coming to France for employment/business reasons, nearly tripled the number from 2022 to 2021, a year marked by movement restrictions due to the Covid crisis. The increasing interest of US citizens in residing in France is mirrored in real estate sales data. And again, don’t we know it!? I’ve been booked up with one-on-one consultations daily.

Graph showing the reasons given for first residence visas

Their reasons are very different than Americans’. I was joking with a client the other day that when George W. Bush was in office, we were really busy. Then Barack Obama was in office for eight years and things were quieter, although we watched their savings recover from the 2008 financial crisis and that meant having the means to purchase second homes. Then Donald Trump took office and we suffered through the Covid-19 pandemic. Moving wasn’t possible during that time, but making a purchase was, so we became busier than ever, performing searches for properties with clients purchasing property sight unseen.

Now we have the threat of another political upset and that has everyone nervous. Every person to whom I speak starts out with “My greatest fear is that he (we know who) will actually get re-elected,” or “I just can’t take this political environment anymore,” or “I want more out of my life than I can get here,” and they end by saying “Get me out of here.”

Meme for getting out of the US and moving to France

Americans are clearly dissatisfied with the politics, their lifestyle, and what might be on the horizon, which is not looking very hopeful or progressive. This past weekend, Yolanda Renee King, aged 15, was among those who assembled on the National Mall on Saturday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington—an iconic event within the Civil Rights Movement where her grandfather, Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. Addressing the crowd, Yolanda expressed that if she had the chance to converse with her grandfather today, she would convey, “I apologize that we still find it necessary to convene here to recommit ourselves to accomplishing the tasks you set forth.” “Six decades ago, Dr. King urged us to combat the threefold challenges of racism, poverty, and bigotry,” she articulated. She went on to add, “In the present day, racism persists. Poverty endures. And now, the scourge of gun violence has invaded our places of worship, educational institutions, and shopping centers.”

Yolanda Renee King

Americans in France protesting gun violence

Can you blame Americans for wanting a better life that can be easily achieved in a place like France? Over lunch Sunday with American clients who have a second home here, they remarked how different women in France seemed to be, by virtue of their confidence to move freely, dress how they wish (feminine and even provocative), and not live in fear of being mugged or raped, or worse, shot. It’s true. The paranoia I once lived with on a daily basis, fearful of my safety and life, went out the window once I moved to France. It’s not a feeling to which I ever wish to return, and fortunately, there’s no reason to.

Heading back to Paris means “La Rentrée” is on the horizon. Back to School is Monday, September 4th. Between now and then, all of France is packing up, heading home, and preparing to start off the new year feeling refreshed and rejuvenated from the summer holidays. It can be very frustrating when you need a plumber, a doctor, or some important service, only to discover they aren’t anywhere to be found, or if they can help you, the price is exorbitant. But all in all, it works pretty well for everyone to be on vacation at the same time since not much can get done anyway.

Return to school schedule for various regions of France

Sign for summer closure on a business in Paris

I remember when we first arrived on September 4th, 1994…1,512 weeks ago, or 10,584 days. Our daughter, Erica, aged 8-going-on-9, started school on Wednesday, September 7th—barely enough time for us to catch our breaths. She attended a bilingual school across town and came out of her new class on the first day with a long list of school supplies to buy. We didn’t know what (almost) any of the words meant, but there was a “papeterie” nearby run by an elderly couple who was able to fill the list for us, and then presented us with the bill. We were floored by the total—about $200! They weren’t messing around!

It’s funny how certain situations stick with you for years, or get forgotten in an instant. Those first few days living in France are still some of my most memorable because everything was so new and different. We were on a serious learning curve at the time…although the learning and discovery living in France never wanes.

SPECIAL NOTES:

Before Paris becomes the subject of my writings, I’d like to share with you a few more great Nice restaurant finds. The newest additions to my list are:

LA VAGUE
8 rue Dalpozzo
06000 Nice

By chance, I ended up in La Vague two nights in a row. Their “Bouillabaisse La Vague” for 35€ was the best I’ve ever eaten, as were their “Moules Marinière”

The bouillabaisse at La Vauge

Bouillabaisse La Vauge

CITRUS
7 rue Sainte-Réparate
06300 Nice

It’s been around since 2017, but somehow I had missed it. Never again. I seriously “ummed” through every morsel of every dish.

Melon soup with ham at Citrus

Melon soup with ham at Citrus

DANTE
5 rue Dante
06000 Nice

Dante’s chef is a native Niçois with long experience of cooking and gastronomy. The decor is more Paris than Nice (old stones, high ceiling, mirrors, etc.), but that’s one thing that makes it different from the rest, as well as its good fare.

The interior at Restaurant Dante in Nice, France

For more restaurant recommendations, see this past Nouvellettre®.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds in Nice, FranceAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

P.S. Now that summer is winding down and we’ve had our month off, you may be curious about who will be presenting at the next Aprés-Midi in Paris or Nice? You don’t have to wait until we announce it, you can look into the future right now! Visit our Aprés-Midi page to see who will be there 2023/24.

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5 Comments

  1. Kristine Hendrickson on August 28, 2023 at 11:55 am

    Those figures aren’t even taking into account the American and U.K. citizens who are coming to France with Irish passports and don’t need a visa.

  2. Brenda F Files on August 31, 2023 at 8:10 pm

    Really enjoyed this one…

    • Adrian Leeds Group on October 4, 2023 at 5:09 am

      Thank you!

  3. Judy Burmaster on September 4, 2023 at 3:35 pm

    Dear Adrian:
    Congratulations on the beginning of your 29th year living permanently in France. I admire your tenacity in making a life for yourself in this beautiful country. I will be celebrating my 29th year of living in France on
    September 18th. Looking back I’m not sure how my husband and I accomplished the huge task of uprooting our lives in the U.S. to move here but somehow we did, knowing this is where we were meant to be, and we never looked back. We settled in Ferney-Voltaire, Ain, Rhone-Alpes,, walking distance from the Swiss border and Geneva. I LOVED your cartoon of Lady Liberty. Priceless!
    Best regards,
    Judy B

    • Adrian Leeds Group on October 4, 2023 at 5:09 am

      Thank you! and congratulations to you too!

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