Q and A – Pursuing the Dream: Living and Investing in France
Saturday evening I gave a presentation on Zoom for the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA—Pursuing the Dream: Living and Investing in France— to an audience of 250 from all over the world. I raced through 21 PowerPoint slides in about 40 minutes with very “dense” information and then opened it up to a Q and A in the chat section. While I answered a lot of questions after the presentation, there were still many unanswered.
You can watch the video of the webinar at your leisure by clicking here.
But, here and now are answers to some of the questions we didn’t get to! Watch the video first, then come back to the questions!…
Q: I’m ready to move to France, but I need advice on how to structure my two US businesses and my investments to minimize the 40 to 60 percent tax burden on my heirs. Can you recommend a financial expert to talk to?
A: I imagine this question has to do with inheritance taxes, although that’s not entirely clear. We have a wide range of financial advisors who can help a French resident plan for inheritance issues. I am in the same boat, working right now to minimize the taxes my daughter will pay when she inherits not only my French properties, but all of my US assets because I am tax resident in France and subject to the French tax laws. Please see our website for some of these advisors, but when you work with us on a consultation basis, we can recommend and advise you more precisely.
Q: What can you tell us about co-housing in France?
A: I’m not so sure “co-housing” exists in France. But, Fractional Ownership does. Visit our Fractional page to learn more.
Q: What about our dog?
A: What about your dog? You can certainly bring a dog to France! See this site for more information.
Q: What are the medical insurance options available to expats?
A: Medical insurance is available to everyone in every form and every level…and a lot less expense than in the US!
Q: Can you comment on the visa renewal process post property purchase once living in France. Is it more or less automatic?
A: Owning a property in France changes nothing regarding visa procedures or requirements.
Q: Can we utilize an Adrian Leeds Group consultation to assist is obtaining the vaccinated restaurant entrance card, if that is still an issue five months down the road?
A: I believe the question has to do with a “pass sanitaire.” You don’t need an official French pass sanitaire to enter a restaurant—your US card is widely accepted. We can assist you in acquiring the pass, however the information you need is here to accomplish this easily yourself. Also visit this site.
Q: I bought an apartment with Adrian in 2015. It is a jewel. It is my second home. Since then it has become illegal to rent a second home. Is this still true? Are we able or unable to rent our apartment?
A: The rental laws apply to cities of 200,000 population or more, but each city can enforce the laws to their own discretion. The following full explanation is thanks to medium.com:
On October 1st, 2017, the city of Paris put a registration process in place necessary for those who offer short-term rentals. Registration is not necessary if you’re only offering private rooms for short-term rental, but is necessary if you’re renting an entire property, and if the property is your primary or secondary residence.
If you manage multiple listings, you’ll need to register each listing individually, receiving a registration number for each property you intend to list. Hosts listing an unregistered property in Paris are subject to fines of up to €5,000. Be aware that you do not need to register with the city if your property is categorized as a non-residential space and thus falls under one of the three specific business accommodation categories outlined by the city: bed and breakfast, tourism residence, or hotel.
Categorizing your listing is especially important if you’re looking to short-term rent a secondary residence in Paris. Before you can register and list your secondary residence on a short-term rental or home sharing platform, you’ll need to file and receive permission for a change of use for your residence from the Paris city hall. (Comment: This is near to impossible to accomplish!)
Be aware that in case of infringement regarding proper declaration, change of use, and registration of a secondary residence, you expose yourself to litigation before the court of Grande Instance of Paris and a fine of €50,000 per location.
Mobility Lease: Registration is not required in Paris if you’re seeking to rent your property for longer than three consecutive months. Furthermore, rentals with a mobility lease scheme that are for a minimum of one month do not need to be registered with the city.
Primary residences: Registered primary residences in central Paris can only be booked as entire home short-term rentals for a maximum of 120 nights per calendar year. If you’re renting to guests for a minimum period of 90 days or more, or have been away from home for more than four months this year due to health or professional reasons, you can complete a request form for a night limit exemption.
Q: All I want (giggle) is a full-service senior facility (starting with very independent) where a lot of people speak English in or near Paris XIX! No interest in buying.
A: Here’s a possible answer to this.
Q: How big an issue is the wealth tax (latest iteration, based on real estate holdings)? Given US property values, it’s not unusual now for Americans to have pretty high real estate holdings…a small condo in San Francisco, for example is worth $1 million.
A: Then be prepared to pay wealth tax. But, if you’re subject to the tax, then you likely can afford it! And tax in France buys you the best health care system, excellent education and quality public transport. This is a socialist democracy and the levels of wealth is more equal than in a capitalist society such as the US. It’s a big reason to live in France.
Q: How do you stay in France longer than three months as an American property owner in France?
A: You apply for a long-stay visa. Owning property in France has nothing to do with residency.
Q: Can you discuss prices in Paris? For example, how much can we expect to pay for a one-bedroom in the 6th or 7th arrondissement?
A: I regularly write about property values in Paris and the rest of France. Visit our site for recent articles or visit the site for Paris Notaires, but keep in mind that the recorded prices do not directly correspond to the current market values for a variety of reasons. You can best determine this simply by searching the real estate portals and comparing prices!
Q: Will there be anything covering potential career advice to then gain the capital to purchase property/rent in France?
A: I can certainly do this during a personal consultation!
Q: When on a long-stay visa, what limits do you experience traveling to other EU countries?
Q: What are the best months to find an apartment/start a lease in Nice/Côte d’Azur?
A: The only NOT GREAT times are at the height of the summer holiday season or between Christmas and New Years.
Q: Can you sign your children up for school with a long-stay visa?
A: Yes, of course!
Q: Will landlords draw down rent from the year’s worth of escrow or does it just sit there and you have to pay rent on top of that?
A: No. It just sits there and you have to pay rent on top of that.
Q: While I know France does not offer the Golden Visa program, are there any advantages/benefits afforded to people who own property in France?
Q: Is it correct that you need a monthly net income that is three times the monthly rental charge?
A: This is the general rule of thumb, but it’s not a law. The landlord can take any tenant they wish.
Q: What if you are turned down for a mortgage because you are retired but have a pension? What options do you have? Can you shop around for a mortgage broker?
A: Sure, you can “shop around” for a mortgage broker, but they will all give you the same story, as they work with the same limited group of banks. I recommend contacting Brian Dunhill of Dunhill Financial to seek our creative solutions.
Q: If someone lives six months in US and six months in France, can they claim either home as their primary residence?
A: Yes, in theory, but both the IRS and the Fisc will set out to determine where you truly call home.
Q: Do you ever connect people looking to find another to split 50/50 property purchase in like Paris?
A: I could do this, but I don’t recommend it!
Q: Does anyone have a good reference for understanding inheritance taxes in France?
A: I could point you to a dozen advisors, websites and the like, but even the lawyers can’t fully grasp the complexity of it! Try this on for size.
Q: Do you need to maintain some sort of residence in the US if you are living in France for part or the majority of the year?
A: No, but you should for a long list of reasons…at least an address at a relative’s or friend’s, and never close your US bank accounts!
Q: How do you find good schools in France for the kids?
A: The same way you find them anywhere: search the Internet, ask friends, get referrals.
Q: Is it possible to find an apartment in Paris with a decent kitchen and at least four burners and an oven?
A: Of course it is, but if it’s not there, you can create it. You buy what you can’t change. Everything else can be recreated the way you want it…unless it’s a rental apartment.
Q: How does the purchase process differ for fractional shares?
A: The purchase of fractional shares is completely different because the shares are sold from a US company and don’t pass through France. It’s very simple. You sign contracts, send your money and you acquire a share certificate!
Q: What’s the American expat community like in the Bordeaux region?
A: Growing, but not as large or active as in Paris or Nice.
Q: Must a person get residency to sign up for PUMA health insurance?
Q: Do you deal at all in Belgium or Luxembourg?
A: No, only France.
Q: If I bring my car, is it easy to find garages to rent if the building does not provide parking?
A: Where is the question? In Paris, no, and you wouldn’t want a car there. Nice, yes, and it’s easy, but you don’t NEED a car there, either!
Q: What are property taxes per year? I hear they are not too bad by comparison to the US.
A: Property taxes are roughly .001% of the value of the property—therefore about one-tenth of what they are in the US!!!!
Q: What are the logistics to pay housing bills—utilities, property taxes, etc., be paid on line or otherwise long distance when not in France?
A: It’s easy and recommended to set up an automatic debit for utility bills so you never have to worry!
Q: Should one open a French bank account?
A: It’s near to impossible to live in France without one.
Q: If your French property is a vacation home, can you obtain homeowners insurance even if your property is sitting empty for six months? Or does this cost a lot more?
A: You must have homeowner insurance, regardless of your use of the property, and, it is not expensive.
Q: Do the sellers prefer all cash offers or does it matter?
A: A “cash” offer means there is no mortgage and therefore no chance of the sale not taking place, so yes, they favor a cash purchase.
I hope for all of you, this was helpful! But, there is nothing that replaces a one-on-one consultation with me to really get your project to live and/or invest in France off the ground!
The Federation of Alliances Françaises USA is featuring a consultation with me in their online auction, which is open to everyone through November 23rd. Visit their site and scroll down the page to view the items. Bidding is open to everyone—so be sure to join in the fun and support the Alliance Française!
And for those who don’t bid on the auction, contact us for more information on how to arrange for your consultation!
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and even though we’re here in France, we sill love celebrating it! One of the best ways to get your turkey and fixin’s is at Breakfast in America! Join us on Thursday, November 25th, for a REAL American Thanksgiving! I’ll be there and you could be, too! See their site to make a reservation, and don’t delay!
P.P.S. Yesterday’s Après-Midi gathering with American attorney Amber Johns was alive and happening…thanks to live wire Amber and her presentation about how she fulfilled her dream to live in France, then discovered acute cultural differences in the workplace that led her to leave her cushy French job and go out on her own! Be sure to read more about it in our report.