Retirement goals often help keep you motivated and energized as the years go by. While all retirement goals require some degree of planning and preparation, some goals are more extravagant than others. If you wish to retire to France, for example, do your homework first. Retirement in France requires significant preparation to ensure that you have the resources to live comfortably.
Add your monthly retirement pension income, monthly investment income and monthly Social Security benefits together. If you have retirement savings, divide it into an estimated monthly portion and add this figure to your monthly retirement income. According to the U.S. News & World Report website, a monthly retirement income of between $1,000 and $1,500 is probably enough to retire in France, as of 2012.
To retire in France, you must apply for a “long-term visa,” which is valid for one year. This involves visiting one of the French consulate offices in the United States with a valid passport. The passport must be valid for three months past the last day of your long-term visa period. The long-term visa does not allow you to work or study. For those pursuits, you need a professional or study visa. You must provide four photocopies of the identification page of your passport to the French consulate. You must also complete a long-stay application form, printed in black ink and signed. If you need a translated application form, use it to fill out the form, but you must submit the application in French. Provide two recent passport-size photographs of you with a head shot. Complete an OFII form (also in French) and submit it to the consulate, which will stamp it and return it to you. You must submit the stamped OFII form to the local French OFII office after you arrive. Provide the consulate with a financial guarantee that proves your ability to support yourself financially while in France -- bank statements from all bank accounts showing recent transactions and daily balances. Furnish proof of assets and funds, if applicable. Furnish proof of medical insurance that will be valid in France. Write, date and sign a statement to promise that you will not engage in any activities in France that require a work permit. Furnish a notarized deed or rental contract for your residence in France that covers the entire period of the visa. Pay the processing fees.
Living in France is not as expensive as you might assume. Many activities are available for free or for very small expense, including galleries, performances, exhibitions and tourist attractions, such as the Seine and the Latin Quarter. Many outdoor cafes provide inexpensive dining. France also has an extensive train system and infrastructure that provides high-tech services. Life in Paris is more expensive than living in the French countryside. Many quaint villages offer simple lifestyles with modern amenities.
U.S. retirees relocating to France have the benefit of a U.S.-France double taxation treaty. This treaty exempts Americans who live in France from French taxes on income such as U.S. pensions and Social Security benefits. After living in France for five years, however, France will levy a 0.55 percent tax on “net worldwide assets” for assets over $1.2 million. Assets over $24 million are subject to 1.8 percent taxation.
Extending Your Visa
Contact the French local authorities to extend your visa. You must submit an application for the extension. You will receive a permanent resident card that will be a separate document in addition to your current passport.
Remember that Medicare will not cover you in a foreign country. If you retire to France, you may not be eligible to join the French national medical insurance coverage, Couverture Maladie Universelle, but private insurance is generally affordable and readily available. Look into the cost before you travel.
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