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France - Retirement

In France the retirement age is 65, although many people choose to retire from the age of 60 onwards. This is permitted providing the correct amount of contributions have been paid into the social security system so that you can claim a pension. There is also a clause in the system which states that people can work until the age of 70 if they wish. Some early retirement programmes have been established in certain professions such as mining and train driving. Women gain two years for each child so their contributions are reached earlier.

If you are on a salary or are working as a civil servant you are entitled to 50-55% of your salary. There are two parts of the pension system. There is the social security pension to which everybody is entitled. Everyone can then supplement this with a private pension. There are corporate pension schemes in place in a number of organisations but a personal pension is also an option. Company pensions are becoming more popular, particularly in the larger organisations.

For expats from the EU retirement in France is fairly straightforward as there are many agreements in place concerning pensions and the health system. Those who are from outside the EU will find these issues a bit more difficult. The US embassy in Paris has a federal benefits unit that can give further advice to US citizens.

A UK state pension cannot be paid out by the French authorities, but it can be paid to you by the UK authorities and sent to you in France or paid to a UK bank account while you are in France. As with a French pension the payments you receive depend upon the contributions that you have made. For those from other countries checks should be made with the relevant government department in your home country. If your state pension cannot be paid into your French bank account you should still be able to claim it in your home country and make the transfers yourself. There may be banking charges for doing this.

UK citizens can also take advantage of the QROPS system which can transfer private pension funds abroad. This can only be done if the scheme to which the pension is being transferred is registered as a QROPS scheme. QROPS stands for Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme. There are some schemes in France which qualify as QROPS. Many of these schemes are company pension schemes but others are personal pensions. Funds can also be transferred into offshore pensions and savings.

There are no specific schemes designed to bring retirees to the country but provided you meet the criteria for a long term visa then you will be able to retire to the country. In order to qualify you will need to prove that your pension or other finances are enough to keep you during your retirement and that you have a health plan that will meet your health costs. EU citizens are entitled to some health benefits within France but it is often worth having a private health care plan as well. The health care system in France is one of the best and retirees need to take this into consideration when deciding where to live. It is considered that the public hospitals offer just as good service and facilities as the private hospitals.

There are many attractions in France for retirees. One of the main advantages of moving to France is the great climate. Many areas have good levels of sunshine and warm temperatures all year round and there are large swathes of unspoiled countryside which are ideal for enjoying all the activities which are made possible by the good weather. The way of life in France is at a much slower pace than in many other countries and this is another reason why people want to live there. In rural areas it is still common to have a 2 hour lunch and avoid supermarkets in favour of local individual shops. Many rural areas do not have much crime and this is also attractive to expats. In contrast the cities in France are very cosmopolitan and those who prefer a busy lifestyle should find everything they need there.

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