We recently had the pleasure of talking with a young Cornish-born lad called Michael, who left behind his life in Cornwall in order to start his own farming business with his wife, Sophie, in Limousin, France. While talking with Michael over the phone, I could hear excited sheep baaah-ing in the background and, it's possible, I could even hear the sun beaming down on his lucious green fields. We asked Michael about his move to France because we wanted to understand more about the reality of the emigration process to France. After another expat interview we conducted recently, we found similarities between each person with their likes and dislikes about moving to France. See what you think.
Q. What was your main reason for deciding to move to France?
A. We decided to leave our family farm in Cornwall so we could set up our own farm in France. This meant we could afford a much bigger property and set up a profitable business over here. We’d thought about it for a while and decided to make the move in September 2014 because the exchange rate was so good at the time, at GBPEUR 1.25.
Q. What made you decide on the location you chose in France?
A. My wife and I are quite young looking to achieve our dream of running a farm in France, so we were really driven by choosing the cheapest region for that. We settled in Limousin because it had what we wanted and the layout of the land is pretty similar to what we’re used to in Britain so it was an easier transition into farming lifestyle than what we thought it would be in other regions.
Q. What were some of the most challenging things about moving to France?
A. You’d think it was learning the language but we didn’t find that – it was actually the bureaucracy and the red tape of setting up your own business that we found difficult. Also setting up our social security – it was just a lot harder than we thought it would be.
Q. Tell us about a normal day for you in France.
A. At the minute, my wife and I tend to our livestock and make renovations on our house. The property we bought was quite rundown so we’re always tidying it up and getting it up to standards. My wife likes traveling the 5 miles to the local market town. There’s not much nightlife around here so we spend evening indoors relaxing.
Q. Would you say you have a better quality of life than you did in the UK?
A. Materialistically definitely but socially no, but then we haven’t been here that long. We’ve only been living in the farm since November 2015 so we haven’t had a lot of time yet to settle into the community but we love that we can afford more with our money. Also, it’s great having more sunshine and less rain.
Q. What’s your favourite thing about living in France?
A. I hate saying it but probably the weather because it’s just so nice for us being outdoors people. Also the food and the way everything here is much more personal. For example, when you go into town to the bank or the shop you will deal with the same person every time because it’s so small. Beats all the call centres you get in the UK.
Q. Would you consider moving back to the UK?
A. Oh definitely. Not because I don’t enjoy France - I love it here - but Cornwall is still home to me. We’d love to move back to the UK but it just makes more sense for our business to be out here in France... as a farmer, you get opportunities in France you wouldn’t get in UK.
Q. What advice would you give to someone considering moving to France?
A. Biggest piece of advice would be research the emigration process well, and secondly when looking at French property don’t think of it as such an investment as it is in Britain as property value doesn’t go up like it does in Britain. If you were thinking of moving to France and downsizing, then I would recommend downsizing your property in the UK first and then using the extra money to buy your property in France. Then at least you have property investment back in the UK.
Q. If there was anything about your emigration process you could change, what would it be?
A. That’s a difficult question… but I would say my wife and I definitely could have done more research into how to set up our business so we didn’t face unexpected red tape etc. We also wish we’d done a bit more exploring of the regions in France before settling down in Limousin – perhaps 6 months traveling around would’ve given us a better idea of what was available to us. However, we’re really happy in France and it’s an amazing experience.