One increasingly popular way for Brits to afford live abroad is by using their property for business purposes. For UK and other EU residents, there are no restrictions to working or setting up your own business – other than you have to comply with the relevant local legislations and tax criteria.
Many people rent out their property as a holiday let when they are not using it to offset the cost of the property, whilst some choose to turn their property into a profitable B&B (chambres d’hotes) or gîte business. If your house is large and you have some spare bedrooms, this can be an excellent way of making some money. To set up as a chambres d’hotes, you have to register with the local mairie providing as much information as possible – including the number of rooms, guests and operational periods. Since August 2007, all chambres d’hotes are limited to having a maximum of five bedrooms and 15 people staying at any one time.
The mairie will then pass this onto the local prefecture who will process it and then, once approved, will add the chambres d’hotes to its list in the community. The mairie should also be able to provide advice on standard charges and how one can advertise locally.
Chambres d’hotes are popular in France and require a reasonable level of commitment, providing breakfast, keeping the house clean and tidy with fresh linen and towels. But once this is done, it can be a great way of using your property to its potential, as well as earning you an income.
If this isn’t for you, there is nothing to stop you from setting up your own company. You can buy a franchise, buy out an existing company or start something from scratch. This is by no means an easy or risk-free option, but if you have previous experience in running a successful company it could be a good way for you to maintain your lifestyle in France. Whatever your previous situation, it is important to remember that it is difficult enough to start up and manage a business in the UK – in France, there are even more forces that can work against you. Locals will usually support other locals instead of foreigners, and tax and employment regulations often do not make financial sense for small companies – even before you factor in the language barrier! We really recommend learning French to a reasonable standard, and this may be crucial for success in France!
If looking for a job, you will also need to bear in mind the difficulties of competing with the local market. You should research the demand for employees in your area of interest, and bear in mind that France currently has unemployment rates higher than in the UK – so you will be competing in an already saturated job market. If you are thinking about trying to find a similar job to the one you had in the UK, you will have to bear in mind that you will have to qualify in France – for example, the French do not accept English teaching qualifications. Skilled craftsmen such as builders, stone masons, plumbers, decorators and the like can often find work in rural France. Remember that many British people buy properties which need some sort of renovation, so there will always be work out there if you have such skills. British expats often like to deal with their fellow English speakers and there is a huge market of expats all over France.
Teaching English as a foreign language or translating can be another possibility, and there are plenty of internationally recognised courses around such as TEFL and CELTA. Another idea is to register with ANPE (Agence Nationale Pour Emploi), or “Pole Emploi” as it is now called, which is a nationwide resource for jobs of all types.
If none of this appeals to you, you could create a business online; find a product to sell, write an eBook, or advertise your services as a proof-reader. There is a huge amount of information available on how to generate money by building an internet business, and the options are limitless. Even without setting up a business, if you have a skill which allows you to work from home you can earn a living. There are a number of different project-based work opportunities for writers, editors, programmers, graphic designers, project management, accountants, telesales, etc. The great thing about internet project work is you can pick what you want to do, and how much you’re happy of handle. After all, you don’t want to spend all your time in your new country in front of a computer!
No matter your choice, make use of all the contacts you will make as you settle into France. There is nothing to stop you putting an advertisement in your local paper or shops offering your services. Take advice from anyone you know who has sought and found work in France before you, and remember to embrace the French way; you are then far more likely to find exactly what you are looking for.