Archive for the ‘Moving to France’ Category
We’ve been meaning to settle down to write our book for years now but have only just gotten going properly on the initial stages of it over the last week or so.
Our working title is that of the original incarnation of this blog: Living in France without a TV crew. We figured that we needed at least a working title to focus our attention on what material would go into the book and what wasn’t really that relevant.
We’ve even got a very broad provisional structure:
- Choosing a place in France, of which we’ve nothing formally written yet;
- Moving in which’ll likely draw mainly on the articles here from 2004-2005;
- Some chapters looking in more detail at various aspects eg learning the language, education, etc.;
- Moving back, which raised more issues than you’d expect.
To see what we’d already written, I’ve been pulling together the relevant posts from 2004 through to 2009 which, even after loads of deleting, amounts to 322 pages and 180,000 words ie we’ve loads to work with.
Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.
I’ve a few things that I’ve been toying with pulling together into book shape so last week I thought I’d see what was involved in putting them on Amazon. As I’d James’ school project sitting on the computer in good shape, that turned out to be the easiest thing as our first attempt in publishing.
So, step 1, get the book into an appropriate format. They accept a whole range of formats including the normal wordprocessing (e.g. DOC) ones, ebook formats and PDF. I list PDF separately as it’s probably the worst format to use if you’re publishing to Kindle since they have to run their OCR software on it to pick out the words which is asking for trouble as they don’t need to do that for any of the other formats. In theory, your best bet is an ebook format as that’ll let you add the appropriate chapter and section headings to be included in the table of contents but I think you can do that via the DOC format too. For our first attempt, I took the lazy approach and used DOC and didn’t bother with a clickable table of contents, though I will add one later.
Step 2, is to register with the Amazon publishing platform for which you can use your existing Amazon account. A related stage to that is to register for tax which you may as well do upfront though you could wait until the payments start rolling in.
Once you’ve registered, you’re set to upload your first book. The first step asks you to create a cover for it and they’ve a rudimentary cover creation application to do that online which was certainly good enough for our first attempt but you’d want to put more effort into it if you were publishing a more serious book. Next, you upload your book and finally you set the price and format. Everything’s priced in dollars by default but you can set prices for individual countries. If the price is above £2.99 you can set a 70% commission rate but otherwise you get 35%. You can even add an optional print on demand option which will let you produce a paperback version when someone orders it but they charge $2.50 for that so obviously your price needs to be more than that; in practice I just ran with the Kindle version as it’s just a trial.
Finally, you click on “save and publish”, wait a few seconds and you’re away. Well, it puts your book in the system but it takes about 12 hours before it appears on the site.
So, if you want to buy James’ book, just click on Une Année en France.Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.
One of the greatest hassles in our lives at the moment is that we’ve to try to sort out some administration with the French tax and social security people whilst we’re in the UK.
You’d think that it would be relatively easy to do as you can obviously use email, faxes, phone calls and even letters but in practice it just isn’t. For one thing, French fax machines seem to work on a different standard as other places as faxes from the UK aren’t accepted by the French fax machines that I’ve tried (even sending from a French fax machine!). Phone calls just don’t seem to get you anywhere and emails rarely receive any response. You might think that leaves letters as a workable approach but even that doesn’t always seem to work. In fact, the French lettre recommandé is the only approach to use but, of course, that’s not available outside France, is it?
Actually, even in France we found that the only really reliable way to do things was to visit the office concerned though flying over all the time is hardly a viable option.Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.
French banking practices are very different from those in the UK in several key areas and it’s those differences that we’ll concentrate on here.
In the UK, a bank advisor is there to do things like advise you what to invest your money in and to sell you insurance but in France Conseilleurs don’t do anything as complex as that and are required to do really simple stuff like changing a direct debit or opening a savings account. This wouldn’t be so bad but you always need to make an appointment to see “your” advisor because, for reasons which escape me, the others that may be there on the day you go in can’t do that kind of simple task for you. Of course, this approach means that each advisor is clogged up with work at the trivial end of the scale. If you want to open a savings account in the UK, you fill in a form, hand in ID and cash and the cashier opens it there and then. Here it can take several weeks to open even the simplest account. So, ’tis best to develop a relationship with your advisor here as you’ll be making untold numbers of appointments to see them.In the UK, a bank advisor is there to do things like advise you what to invest your money in and to sell you insurance but in France Conseilleurs don’t do anything as complex as that and are required to do really simple stuff like changing a direct debit or opening a savings account. This wouldn’t be so bad but you always need to make an appointment to see “your” advisor because, for reasons which escape me, the others that may be there on the day you go in can’t do that kind of simple task for you. Of course, this approach means that each advisor is clogged up with work at the trivial end of the scale. If you want to open a savings account in the UK, you fill in a form, hand in ID and cash and the cashier opens it there and then. Here it can take several weeks to open even the simplest account. So, ’tis best to develop a relationship with your advisor here as you’ll be making untold numbers of appointments to see them.
Overdrafts in the UK are “permanent” in that there is no problem in running an account that is constantly in the red. In France, you can only be overdrawn for 10 days per month and for the rest of the month the account must be in credit. That said, you can get a permanent overdraft facility from some of the proper banks. They all seem to implement this by giving you a credit card which is linked to your current account; when you are overdrawn outside the 10 day limit an automatic cash advance from this card takes you back into credit. French banks don’t charge cash advance fees so in practical terms this gives you something that works very like a UK overdraft.
Debit cards come in two basic varieties: immediate debit or deferred debit. Immediate debit operates just like a UK debit card ie purchases are charged to your account right away. With deferred debit, your purchases are charged to your account at the end of the month. In both cases there is a spending limit of around EUR 3000 per month and a withdrawal limit of EUR 300 per week.
Credit cards are quite rare in France at the moment but operate much the same as in the UK with the exceptions that there is no cash advance fee and they charge per transaction for all international purchases. Interest rates are generally higher than in the UK too. The other difference is that the amount you repay per month isn’t a set percentage but goes in bands eg EUR 15 or EUR 30 per month.
Store cards are available but usually require proof of your French income so can’t be obtained until a year or two after you get here. The one exception that we’ve found is Auchan which offers you it’s store card about a year after you sign up for it’s loyalty card and doesn’t require anything beyond a passport.Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.
For historic reasons, the various post offices and co-operative banking organisations in Europe maintain loose connections with their opposite numbers in other countries and it’s therefore often useful to open accounts with these organisations before you move.For instance, the co-operative bank offer a service called Tipanet which offers quite cheap international money transfers: around £8 as compared to the £25 that a normal bank would charge you. In the UK, it’s the Co-Operative Bank that does this, in France it’s Banque Populaire. The co-operative movement is quite frequently used by various unions and in France Banque Populaire offers special deals to public servants.The post office links are even more widespread and various special arrangements exist between considerable numbers of national post offices for their account holders. However, information on these isn’t widely distributed and it can take a little searching to find out about them. One advantage that almost all give you is that a post office account effectively gives you government issued proof of address once your first statement arrives.Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.