May expat interview: Retiring to France
For our May expat interview, we spoke to Maureen Burge, a British expat who moved with her husband to the Deux-Sèvres region of western France in 2010.
Tell us about yourself to start!
Hi! My name is Maureen Burge, I don’t normally give my age away, but as it’s probably relevant I’m 58 years young! I am married to Les, who spoils me daily. We have 3 girls between us from previous relationships, they are; Daniella, Leanne and Remmi. I was born in Lancashire, England, into a large family. My mother was definitely the head of the household and I like to think I inherited her strength and determination. I have played badminton most of my adult life and I believe this has given me the perfect tool to meet people. I currently play for Moncoutant (our local town) and help train members of the club.
Why did you move?
We simply had the opportunity. I was able to take early retirement, my husband and his business partner had reached their 10 year plan and more importantly our children were settled, mine living away from home and Les’s daughter Remmi, then 18, lived with her mum. So we just jumped! Although we lived on the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England, we had a holiday home in France, which we had bought six years prior, so the destination was already made for us.
What is the best thing about where you live now?
We live in a village called Moutiers sous Chantemerle in the Deux Sevres, it’s peaceful, there is no pressure or sense of urgency, very different to what we were used to. Everyone speaks to each other, everyone helps each other and products appear on our doorstep throughout the growing season. The community respects and embraces all age groups, which is ‘a breath of fresh air’, we are lucky to have met new friends both English and French since our arrival in May 2010.
What (if anything) do you miss about home?
Family and friends. If I could put everyone in my pocket and move them all here, life would be perfect, but realistically – not going to happen.
If you could change one thing about where you live, what would it be?
As we never thought our holiday home would become our permanent home – ‘central heating’ is the one thing my husband didn’t include, that would have made a difference in the winter.
Do you plan on moving again in the future? If so where and why?
For the foreseeable future, we will stay here in the village. My husband is a carpenter and is always looking for a renovation project, if we do move then it will be because he has found his challenge, goal or dream.
What was the most difficult aspect of moving abroad?
Saying ‘goodbye’ to those we love, the language and the paperwork (taxes and health cover).
Share your top three pieces of advice for people thinking about moving to France
- Research the area you are interested in, make sure if you have a family you check out the local services, ie schools, sports facilities, clubs. Remember everything looks lovely in the summer but imagine life there in the winter as well.
- Don’t be isolated, there are plenty of web sites, clubs and groups that will be of great help and advice to you and your family.
- Give yourself time to adjust to your ‘new life’.
If you’re thinking of moving to France Just Landed’s expat guide to France has all the information you need.