Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Moving in to our new home in France

French Village Diaries moving to France
The furniture arrives

Here is the final part of our moving to France story. If you have missed any previous posts you can find part one here, part two here and part three here.

French Village Diaries moving to France
Ed gets a ride in the removal lorry
The next few days were a blur of arrivals and departures, and that included the sunshine. The removal men arrived on 10th August, unloaded and left, but with our familiar things around us we were able to make up our beds, reunite Ed with his toys and start to make our new house a home. Ed’s little green and yellow bike that he hadn’t seen for a month was the first item to come off the lorry. This simple and unexpected gesture made such a difference to him and showed us the removal men were not only experienced movers, but good parents too.

The first night brought with it the realization that we were not alone. We might have moved into a small village but there was life and lots of it; the screech of the barn owl was both wonderful and terrifying and the mustard yellow carpet in Ed’s new bedroom (the only carpet in the house) was alive with fleas that were delighted to feast on fresh young blood.

We soon realised that shutters were the most wonderful things that enabled anyone (even a three year old) to sleep through dawn and wake up refreshed from a good night. The morning church bells at somewhere close to (but never exactly) eight o’clock were the perfect reminder that if we didn’t get up soon the boulangerie would have run out of croissants, and I still love the fact that we can sit in bed with the windows wide open, listening to the birds, with the smell of freshly baked bread drifting in on the breeze.

French Village Diaries moving to France
The cats arrive 

We welcomed our first guests that week, Adrian’s parents, who had bravely made the noisy drive down with our two cats, Poppy and Willow. Their arrival meant we now had plenty of manpower to rip up the carpet and discover the local déchetterie.

French Village Diaries moving to France
Heading to the park in the sunshine

The weather and our moods often swung from stormy to sunny during that first week that ended with Adrian making the first of many trips back to the UK for work. I soon found myself alone with a three year old in a house whose creaks and grumbles were still unfamiliar, but I have fond memories of walks to the village park on sunny afternoons and big messy painting sessions held indoors as the rain and thunder played outside.

Things might not have gone quite to plan to begin with, but we were in France and had survived our first week and we learned that sometimes the best thing to do is to carry on without a plan. Things were new and unexpected then and everyday was an adventure and experience. We have since slipped into a routine, which is comforting, if not fresh and exciting but we both still pinch ourselves with the realisation that we took the huge leap to live our dream. We have a large house in France, with land and a privileged lifestyle that gives us plenty of family time together and we are very happy.

However changes are afoot once more. The Brexit vote has shaken the foundations of our life in France to the core and I can’t help but worry. I get that the EU wasn’t working for everyone. I get that it is a bold and exciting step to take, to put all that is wrong with the past behind you and step into a new future and the possibilities that holds. I was that brave person who set off to a new and unknown future. I embraced all the EU had to offer with my heart. Now my heart is broken.

We are EU migrants, given the chance to widen our horizons and experience life somewhere other than where we were born. We made the leap into the unknown because we had the right to do so. No one knows what the future will hold for migrants like us, from the UK who are now living in other EU states or those who have made the UK home. No one knows and so no one can reassure my worries or fears. The future in no-man’s land looks bleak, all we know is that our lives and rights will form part of the Brexit negotiations, which doesn’t do much to inspire a promising future.

I can only hope that we will have many more years here, being active members of our village and sharing our life in France on the blog.

Brexit Update August 2018
I wish I could say that my initial fears were unfounded. They were not. 

I wish I could say that the UK has worked hard to achieve a deal that offers a better future for all; including EU citizens who have made the UK their home and UK citizens who have made their home in other EU countries. They have not. 

We are all still in the limbo we were thrust into in June 2016. We still feel as though no one cares. The UK government don’t seem to care about us, only the ‘will of the people’, meaning we are not considered ‘people’ worth listening to. 

The leave voters don’t seem to care that lives are being ruined, both financially and emotionally with the uncertainty of what will happen. We are considered poor losers who do nothing but moan. 

No one could give me answers two years ago, no one can give me answers today, maybe if they could I wouldn’t feel so afraid. The French authorities are trying, but they are almost as unsure as we are as to what we/they should be doing. We have now secured an appointment for residency cards, but in our area, they are unable to cope with the sudden increase in demand (current regulations do not require UK citizens to apply for residency cards) and so the delay for our appointment is over six months. 

Our income is directly related to the £/€ exchange rate, which dropped in June 2016 and has continued to fall in the two years since the referendum. The financial impact of this has meant a loss of income of 22% in the last two years. We are used to living with the uncertainty and fluctuations of currencies, but what is more alarming is that the UK seems to be hurtling towards a no deal exit from the EU, putting Adrian’s ability to work cross borders in jeopardy. Currently services supplied by one VAT registered company to another in an EU member state are not subject to VAT. With no deal, there is the very real possibility that we will be required to charge our UK clients 20% TVA, immediately pricing us out of the market, or having to take this charge ourselves, which will reduce our income even further. 

We are considering our options carefully. We are within our rights to apply for dual nationality, but our income among other things will be scrutinised for this. It is rather ironic that Brexit is forcing us to think about this at the same time it is reducing our income drastically. I fear we are likely to be looked upon as financial burdens to the state and refused. This is not just the French being picky. We have a German friend who has lived and worked in the UK for many more years than we have been in France and is married to British man. The difficulties the British authorities are already imposing on her and her right to remain, make the French system look like a piece of cake.

Another option is for Adrian to return to UK for a full-time position with a UK company. This again poses as many problems as solutions. We have no home in the UK to move back to. Do I go with Adrian or do I stay with Ed, who is about to begin his university life in France this September? Whichever we chose Brexit is dividing our family and is a real risk to our futures.

Thank you for reading, liking, commenting and sharing these posts on social media. It has been great fun reliving those early days and sharing our adventure with you. Knowing you have been enjoying it too makes me very happy.


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