Now we had a signed contract, we had the mammoth task of working out the logistics, timings and actually making the trip over.
It’s probably at this point that I should state that I am a project manager by trade. I love a good project, and would even project manage making a cup of tea if I could. However by the time I had mitigated all the risks the water would have cooled down. I project managed our wedding to within an inch of it’s life, with spreadsheets all over the place, and uploaded them to a free project management tool called Freedcamp
Moving to France would be no different.
We had so many ideas running around our heads, covering so many different subjects. For that reason, we started off with a brainstorming, or mind mapping session where we collated the ideas we had and grouped them together in similar topics that would form the basis of each strand of the project. Below are the areas we covered. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and suited us. You can find other lists on various expat advice sites dotted around the internet.
We were of course still in a house, so had to work out when to serve notice on our existing tenancy agreement, how (and if) we would get our bond back, and anything relating to clearing/tidying the house before we left.
We had a cat and a dog to think about getting over to France. How were we going to do it? While the dog was small enough to smuggle into the country in hand luggage, the huge black cat (three times the size of the dog) would not fit (and anyway would not share with the dog). We needed to decide what we were going to do, and how. What vaccinations would they need to enter the country?
We take the NHS for granted in England. France has a health insurance system (like they do in the US). We put all health topics such as doctors, medical records, health insurance and carte vitale under here.
Banking in the 21st century is a lot easier and cheaper cross borders than it used to be, but still I get paid in UK sterling and need to work out how to make the best out of my money. How do we open bank accounts in France? What insurance did we need to take out for the property and our belongings. What about life insurance?
There were still many things – getting a french mobile number, how I would get to and from the UK. My wife on the other hand had the decision to make whether she remained in work, or took time out from work to get settled.
Internet, water, gas, electric, mobile phones, TV and subscriptions. Anything that we need to cancel in the UK and start in France.
What would we need to buy upon moving to France to ensure we had everything. White goods? Sofas? 56 inch TV?
Moving our stuff
We had stuff we wanted to take to France with us. Practical, useful, sentimental. We needed to work out what we wanted to take, what we wanted to get rid of (it’s amazing how much crap you accumulate in a few short years), how we would move our stuff, and who/which service we would use?
Legals / admin
What did we have to do when moving to France? Did we need to register with the authorities, given we are EU citizens? What does my wife need to do as a returning ex-pat?
Once we had all these topics, we opened up Freedcamp, ticked off a few of the final tasks from the wedding that were still open (it somehow slipped my mind to mark “tie the knot” as complete), and then started a new project, listing all the topics as part of the project.
Having everything arranged in topics (albeit with no tasks) in Freedcamp made it all a lot easier see where to start. It also made it fun. For me.