We are planning to stay in France for 8 months, maybe more. We would like to stay in different areas and rent a house in a village for 2 months at a time. Any recommendations for how to go about finding a house. We plan to buy a used car for trips around France. We will be taking the train for long distances or out of the country. Should we wait to get there before finding a car? How would we go about it. Are there websites like Craigslist there? Any ideas and help is appreciated. Thanks! Virginia
While I am sure such careful planning has already included getting the necessary visas, I thought I would mention it "just in case."
Unless you can arrange for a long stay visa you can only stay within the Schengen Zone in Europe for 90 days.
Long stay visas are possible to get but require a great deal of paperwork and bureaucracy. There are 13 separate forms that must be accompanied by the appropriate documentation, background checks, etc. + an appointment with your local French consulate where every jot and tiddle must be in order for them not to send you away. Forms must be filled out for each person who is planning to stay. You must also have an address in France where you register with the local police. Click here for the website for one of their consulates which has detailed information.
If you are successful then probably a long term leased car would be the best deal for you while there.
If you plan to stay for 8 months then you might want to consider a home exchange. It would cut down on your costs and you would be living in a real home without the expense. You could travel using that as your home base and it would give you an address for registering with the local police. We've done many exchanges over the years and use homeexchange.com.
Extended stay visas if you are American are not easy to get; give yourself plenty of time. You need both health insurance to the level of that provided in France (very expensive when we looked into it) and to demonstrate wealth so there is no risk of you becoming dependent. We did this once for Italy and it took us months; we had our passports back literally the day before our flight and we started months in advance.
Of course if you hold an EU passport then lucky you. I'd look into a long term lease for the car.
Yes, they do have Craigslist: http://paris.craigslist.fr/. If you Google "How to buy a used car in France," you'll get lots of promising looking links about the registration and insurance procedure from expat-focused resources. Note that some of them might be aimed at Brits, who are EU members.
Thank you for the responses. We understood the visa situation to be ok if we leave the country before being there for 6 months. We were planning to take 2 week trips to Italy, Scandinavia, etc. with our home base being France. Is that true? Thanks! Virginia
No, for an American entering as a tourist, you can only stay in the entire Schengen zone, which includes most of western and central Europe, for 90 days during any 180-day period. This period is constantly rolling, renewing and recalculating every day. The UK and Ireland are outside this zone, and allow longer stays. Morocco, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania are examples of other countries you could reach easily that are outside the zone. See also https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/trip-planning/travel-documents. If you're making multiple entries and exits, you can use this calculator.
Another list used in France is pap.fr
Try ex-pat forum for more info on visas, buying used cars, etc. expatforum.com
Wow your response about 6 mos and considering going to Italy to break this suggests you have done no homework on this at all. The rule is 90 days (not 3 mos) in all of Europe (Schengen contains most of Europe and the countries you have listed. You cannot break the 90 day limit by going from France to Italy because both are covered by Schengen. And once you leave, you have to be out 90 days before returning. IN days before terrorism and computerization people cheated and stayed in European countries without too much hassle for longer periods if they kept a low profile. This is harder to do now. For example. As I was leaving from Amsterdam on the 89th day of our trip, we got pulled aside because the Roman inspectors had not stamped our passport on entry. We had to prove when we entered with ticket receipts and hotel receipts. This took over an hour and I had all the documentation. The guy who got pulled over with us missed the plane because he couldn't prove his date of entry..
You could do 90 days in Europe and then 90 days in the UK and come back for another 90 but you can't stay in France for 6 mos or use a trip to Italy to break the continuity. And you can't just step over the border for a couple of weeks and re-start the clock. Your 'understanding' as noted earlier is complete erroneous with regard to visa requirements for Americans. This is the first step in planning such a trip.
Virginia - as Janet has pointed out, your understanding of the visa situation is completely incorrect. You need to get that figured out before thinking about anything else (car, house, etc.).
Thank you all for the replies. We are not planning to go until January of 2018. A friend from England told us about the visa. I will be contacting the French consulate to make sure we do everything correctly. I am guessing that now is not too early to start researching! Thank you all for pointing me in the right direction! Anything else you could tell me will be highly appreciated. We have traveled in France, Spain, Italy, and England/Scotland before. Each for 3 weeks in different years. I can see where this is going to be much more involved than finding a cheap airfare and a nice BandB! Thanks again! Virginia
Now you're on the right track Virginia, and with a January 2018 departure, you'll know well within time what is doable and what is not. Be sure to come back when your plans are firming up a bit more and we can be of help. Good luck with the visa research.
Getting a long-stay visitor visa is not as complicated as indicated above. I applied through the French Consulate in Chicago and there were no "background" checks that I'm aware of. Yes, the insurance requirement was a bit daunting, but after lots of research I found that I could purchase a travel plan from Allianz for 364 days that met the requirements. It cost a whopping $79.
Additionally you have to provide proof of accommodations, but at the Chicago Consulate they were willing to accept either a hotel reservation or a short-term apartment rental. Unfortunately these requirements vary based on the consulate.
After that you just need to prove that you have funds to support yourself. A couple of other documents are also required, but they are not difficult at all.
The biggest problem that I see is that after you are here for 8 months, you will not want to go back.
Tripatty - could you elaborate a bit more please. Are you saying that 365 days of health insurance cost you only $79? Details on this aspect would be most helpful.
I am surprised they accepted a travel insurance policy and we sure as heck can't get one for 79$ -- of course we are old and they do get crazy expensive for Olds. We were told when we inquired that we had to have a policy that was equal to the French national health insurance. Those policies which pick up 'first dollar' are thousands a year.
If you have adequate personal wealth which you document with bank statements the other requirements are easy to meet. It still took us months even with health insurance in hand to do this when we did it years ago for Italy.
When preparing for my visa application, I e-mailed the consulate in Chicago and received the following answers to my questions about insurance and housing:
- The insurance must cover you for at least $50,000 with no deductible in emergency medical expenses. Repatriation must be included, too. Finally, it must cover your whole stay in France.
- Yes, a short-term lease or a hotel reservation would suffice.
Then, after a lot of research I found a basic travel plan with Allianz. Since I didn't really need to cover any travel expenses and was just interested in the medical I chose a minimal amount trip cost - I think it was $1,000. And my policy was $79. I had some friends - who were in their early 70's moving to France at the same time and their coverage was $250. Similar plans with other companies ranged from $1,200 to $2,000 - or more.
And I'll add that my friends received their visa in less than a week. Mine took a whopping 2-weeks.
Now I get to see how it goes in a couple of weeks when I apply for my Carte du Sejour at the prefecture in Paris.
And the minimum amount of personal funds required is the equivalent of the French minimum wage - which is about 18,000 euros.
So if you got information from a friend in England, the 6 months makes sense. For the UK 6 months is not at all unusual.
It is for the Schengen Zone, just 23 miles across the Channel, though.
This strategy wouldn't work for the UK either as they are on the look out for people with extended stays and short trips out of the country attempting to get a further 6 months clearance. American citizens are considered one of the highest risk nationalities for this kind of activity
I would like to add my 2 cents...
I am French and my husband got his "titre de sejour" easily, provided we had all the paperwork in order.
On another side, I didn't know at all about Craigslist in France, I will need to give it a better look to see if it is also for other cities. But go to Airbnb for the apartment. I am a host and never had any problem with guests. I also travelled as a guest and had good experiences too. I am going to do it again in Nice.
For anything else check leboncoin.fr.
Thank you all for the great tips and resources. I'm sure to have more questions as I prepare for this. Virginia